Tuesday, December 30, 2008


At the request of a few, I have decided to post a few pics from my recent post-Christmas / pre-New Year's runs into New York City.

Just after Christmas (the Saturday following) I drove into the city to spend the day with friends up by Columbia University. I brought my PlayStation 3 along for the ride because we had planned for a few people to get together and watch our way through a few fun "Earth versus the Flying Saucers" type films in High Definition and at the moment I was the only one in the group that has a Blu-ray HD DVD player (though my friends by Columbia have a home theater to DIE for... seriously, it is better than going to the movies.) I didn't bother to to bring any of my cameras because, well, I knew I was going to be indoors nearly the whole time and, well, making the run into the city is getting a little old-hat, and while it is always a good time, I don't always want to drag a bunch of stuff around.

After I setup with my friend for "movie time" we quickly realized I forgot to bring along a fiber-optic audio cable... OOPS! That's half the experience, so I pulled out my iPhone, GPSed the nearest Radio Shack and after calling to confirm they had what I was looking for, I ran out the door to walk the 10 New York blocks down to the store. It was actually a fairly nice day and lots of folks were out for a walk. Now, since the store was a few blocks over on Broadway, typically I would have walked down Amsterdam, across the Columbia campus and on down Broadway, but as I was walking I decided, "Hey, I have never taken the time to walk very far (or drive for that matter) down Amsterdam!" so I decided to go ahead and walk as far down Amsterdam as I could, before turning toward the store. That is where I ran into St. Luke's church in these pictures here. It was huge and recently restored. I didn't take the time to go inside, but I did happen to remember that my iPhone had a camera so i grabbed a few quick shots of the church and this wacky sculpture sitting outside in the garden next to it.

Then a few days later, my cousin Jay along with wife Lisa and toddler Zoe got back from a week's get-away vacation and Jay had a spontaneous desire to make a run into the city again. So now it is Sunday evening and we've made plans to hit, a bookstore, some comic book stores, do some people watching and take in a nice lunch and dinner. We headed to Newark where we hopped on the PATH train and rode all the way to 33rd St and then rode up and down on the "6" train to various locations of interest. This time I brought my little pocket camera to grab some "city" shots and so here they are! We walked a bit, listened to college kids excitedly meet up with friends in Union Park, watch a busking band play for change in the subway, went into stores, talked to people (I met a 6'4" Japanese - Egyptian Photographer in the checkout line at The Strand bookstore... neat guy!), ate at a neat Korean restaurant and had fun flirting with a waitress at a Japanese karaoke-bar in the evening ... it was a fun relaxing time.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Anthropogenic Park!

If you’ve been reading my posts about Anthropogenic Global Warming then you know I have claimed that I am absolutely interested in personal and corporate responsibility but that I am in no way convinced that AGW is good science or that the US/UN government’s “tax our way to planetary health” plan is a remotely good idea.

I recently received an email from a friend who shared a blog entry with me. The blog is that of
the famous Michael Crichton and he has a few things to say about the new religion that is AGW:


Thank you friend, for sharing the link. You are not alone and the nay-saying minority is quickly becoming the sensible majority.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Global Warming: Educate Yourself

(Video Below)

Ok, so enough discussion from me on the topic. If you have watched “An Inconvenient Truth” or read (parts of) the IPCC Report on Anthropogenic Global Warming (i.e. AGW is Global Warming as caused by human factors) you should be quite familiar with the issues. Likewise you will note the simple and easy break between being interested in responsible sustainable environmentally conscious living and buying into AGW science. Having said that, most of us will continue to depend on scientists for a trusted explanation of facts and opinions and as a result be left to make what I like to call a “second hand” decision (since some of us either won’t understand the issue in its complexities or won’t bother to research it first hand.)

Recently a co-worker told me that he feels I am getting all conspiracy-theory on the topic of AGW. The trouble is that since the 1960s AGW nearly in the forms as it exists today has been pimped by some fringe scientist and viewed as an extreme and unaccepted theory by the scientific community. It wasn’t until “public consensus” got behind it that certain non-scientist public figures declared AGW “settled science.” Oddly enough the thousands of reports generated by 2000+ “scientists” (again the governments of the world appointed individuals to the IPCC team and some of those individuals were not scientists but activist) that went into the IPCC report on AGW were never asked to sign off on agreeing with the conclusions. Their names are bibliographic references but that doesn’t mean these folks a buying into the conclusion of the report (for which only 51 people literally put their signatures to the document as approval of its conclusions—not 2000+ scientists.)

The crazy thing is that I now hear people call AGW science skeptics “flat-earth” people, meaning that people denied the roundness of the earth once upon a time and look how crazy wrong they were. The crazy bit is that a scientist promoted round-earth theories and it was the flat-earth people who called their believes “settled science” (not literally, they actually called round-earth thinkers heritics.) The flat-earth people squelched any debate, study or examination of round-earth theories and socially shunned round-earth scientists who wanted to study the issues more. It sure seems to me that when you look at AGW, their approach is closer to flat-earth than the approach of the scientists who are not convinced and who want to study it some more.

To show that AGW skepticism is healthy and relevant and not a fringe-group of “global warming deniers” who need their perspectives done away with (as proclaimed by president-elect Barak Obama) take a look at the following video. John Stossel has won awards for exposing scams perpetrated on people. He is a major co-anchor for the respected news show “20/20” and he decided to expose the socially manipulative scam that surrounds the concept of “AGW settled science.” It’s not too long and it ran on ABC, a major U.S. TV network. Here it is:

Now that you have watched the video, you can see how some of the most foundational science to do with AGW is questionable at best (what is great is that the presentation doesn’t require a degree to follow. Good job John Stossel.) And following in like mind, this month a report will hit congress from a sub-committee that has 650 signatures formally bringing into question the science behind AGW and it’s proposed conclusions. It ends up the consensus is turning, which is why proponents of AGW are getting aggressively verbal about downplaying new studies that disprove AGW conclusions or badmouthing and socially manipulating the public through stronger language about “settled science.” But the fact remains that this won’t be the first time America (or other countries) brought into question other shenanigans coming out of the U.N., and I doubt it will be the last.

In the end, if you care about the environment, and the most we will see come from AGW science is a new AGW-backed carbon tax, then we are left with the same goals we ever had: personal environmental responsibility.

All of that being said, I am not read to throw it all away. I just want a real debate on the science, which hasn’t happened to date. So far, we have a report that 51 people at the UN consider settled and a non-scientist ex-vice president (who nearly didn’t get a passing grade in science at the college level) running around the planet playing spokesmodel for the new AGW religion. It is time to get serious. According to the AGW we should be in crisis mode. The opponents agree. We only have a few thousand years to figure out if this is yet (or even) a crisis.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Global Warming On It's Last Leg

I shouldn’t have to recap my personal commitment to seeing people be personal responsible environmentally (I know folks who believe in global warming and promote it in ignorance without being able to tell me which types of plastic should be recycled… or even how to quickly figure that out) but if I don’t start with this, then people will just think I am advocating for irresponsible living (which I am not.)

In the next couple of days the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public works will be presenting a report that sites 650 published scientists from over 2 dozen countries that voices significant objections to major aspects of the so-called “settled science” (previously marketed as scientific “consensus”) around Anthropomorphic Global Warming (AGW.) In 2007, the initial report included works and support from around 400 scientists and this new report includes additional peer-reviewed studies criticizing the climate science presented in the Nobel Peace Prize winning U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report. In fact the Washington Post previously declared 2007 to be the year that Global Warming fear “bit the dust”, but that was followed with increasing intensity around the issue in terms of alarmist language from pro-IPCC report advocates calling any AGW-denial to be equal with holocaust-denial.

Ellen Goodman, in an op-ed article in the Boston Globe declared, “Let's just say that global warming deniers are now on a par with Holocaust deniers…”

Not a short while ago some of the same scientists who contributed to the IPCC report presented new extremist reports about 2008 having the hottest October on record, but were later exposed for fraudulently using hotter September numbers in their October analysis. The fact remains that the last 18 months on planet earth have produced a new cooling trend. This is an undeniable fact, but at the same time the length of that trend is questioned: is it long enough, scientifically, to call it a trend? Geologist Dr. David Gee, the chairman of the science committee of the 2008 International Geological Congress and author of over 130 peer reviewed papers, seems to think so asking, “For how many years must the planet cool before we begin to understand that the planet is not warming? For how many years must cooling go on?”

What seems more obvious is that scientists are jumping the wall from AGW science to the skeptical side based on their own analytical work. Atmospheric Physicist James A. Peden, formerly of the Space Research and Coordination Center in Pittsburgh: “Many (scientists) are now searching for a way to back out quietly (from promoting warming fears), without having their professional careers ruined.”

So, why would I care about this issue? In the words of the U.S. Senate Committee website, “progressive environmentalists believe climate fear promotion has co-opted the green movement.” In a nutshell, there are so many practical ways that people can try and do their personal part to invest in environmental responsibility. Instead, everyone is worried about a global implosion of our ecosystem due to “carbon” pollution. But is that really the issue we should be concerned with? Al Gore would have us believe it is. Other scientists like Dr. Takeda Kunihiko, vice-chancellor of the Institute of Science and Technology Research at Chubu University in Japan, thinks AGW is a distraction with negative consequences as he explains, “CO2 emissions make absolutely no difference one way or another… Every scientist knows this, but it doesn’t pay to say so… Global warming, as a political vehicle, keeps Europeans in the driver’s seat and developing nations walking barefoot.”

The fact remains that AGW has only one proposed solution to date: carbon taxes. That’s right. We can tax our planet into “safe carbon levels” according to this great cloud of AGW expert witnesses that defined the IPCC “settled science.” Logically one might ask, “Who are these experts?” and as a result you might remember the IPCC (and, again, Al Gore) claiming something like 2,500 of the world best scientific minds. What they don’t tell you is that while many reports from many sources (easily 2,500 authors) may have gone into the bibliography of the IPCC report, only 51 scientists signed off on the report’s conclusions. Let me type that again…. NOT 2,500…. 51!

Let’s do some quick math together. This initial scientific report that debates the validity of AGW scientific conclusions had 400 published scientists signing off, and this updated report shows signatures from 650 scientists. With the IPCC “settled science”-consensus report on AGW having 51 names, and this new report containing 650 names, the new report dwarfs “consensus” by a factor of 12! To put that in Global Warming terms, if a Toyota Prius can hold 5 adults, then the AGW group fits into 10 Pruis cars. That is a fairly long processional drive to the world’s global warming funeral. At the same time, the anti-AGW group currently occupies 130 Prius automobiles. The important thing to understand is that those 130 cars are equally concerned with the health of the environment and want to take back the green movement, focusing on waste management, food creation and storage to fight starvation, recycling, cleaner water, and personal and corporate responsibility in ways that matter more than “carbon” taxation.

A friend recently asked me, “If we remain skeptical and AWG continues to the point that we are doomed, how did being skeptical help us?” After much thought, I would have to reply with a question: Since the IPCC report (and the more important social milestone of Al Gore’s film “An Inconvenient Truth”) what have these award-winning AGW-“scientists” (understand that of all of the individuals who collectively won the Nobel Piece Prize, not a single one was a geologist) proposed that we could do, outside of pay new carbon taxes or invest in non-regulated green-power (which isn’t a viable solution for most people), to solve the situation? Why are taxes really the answer? Would the world not be in a better place ecologically if we focused on more practical non-AGW science where there seems to be more real consensus?

I think what the average person looses in the hype of AGW are timeframes. It took a generation to supposedly ramp up the carbon problem (understand that AGW has been proposed and rejected since the 1960s and only now does it seem to have momentum.) It took the industrial revolution to be exact. Do we have the time to get real consensus, or should we just buy into this and accept carbon taxes as the answer (again, it is the only answer proposed)? The fact is that geologic-ecological-atmospheric science is seldom a sprint more than it’s cycles are like a long distance run. We won’t likely kill ourselves to take a less alarmist look at the science and then support a real agenda for improvement. And if carbon taxes are a part of a solution, then we should have a better understanding of what those tax dollar would be spent on to better the situation (i.e. I get it that on one hand the tax is a punishment for exceeding carbon limits in a given nation. But on the other hand, the UN is establishing a carbon credit trading market where largely industrial countries like America can buy carbon credits from less industrialized nations like Chad, but what is to ensure us that Chad doesn’t then industrialize in the wrong manner and continue the problem?)

Monday, December 8, 2008

Human Global Warming: Bringing Hole-ness

If you've read my blog for a while, you know that I am interested in serious measures that people can take to bring healing to our environment and encourage personal responsibility. I also believe in researching the research that is made available and being comfortable and clear with dealing in the hard questions. I have hard questions as do others and we need to patiently pursue wholeness of understanding.

I preface with that because I have done as much reading on human causes of global warming as I have done on the counter science and I am not yet convinced of the science for human causes for global warming (though i am not dissuaded from pursuing and encouraging personal responsibility.)

Recently MIT revealed a new study that defied an atmospheric menthane environmental trend that was necessary for the theories/science shared in "An Inconvenient Truth" and in the summary to the UN Report. You can read about the MIT atmospheric methane issue here. The very basic idea here is that the global methane atmospheric saturation level should be consistant and any anomoloes should be the result of human causes. But the methane saturation in the northern hemisphere in 2007 defied that science, which basically means... we don't know why that is going on.

Unfortunately, Al Gore was asked about this and he blew it off as a "little report" saying that stuff like this crops up from time to time and we need to stick to what he has called the "settled science" meaning, whether the science is right or not, it is the accepted science and apparently the "little report(s)" can be blown off without sciencific examination. Heaven forbid this become true. I have written previously about my ascertion that Al gore doesn't really understand the science he is pimping, which may be the real reason he is so quick to blow of questions.

The sad thing is that I don't think Al Gore understands what this discovery does to Human Causes of Global Warming. For the next year additional studies are being pursued to attempt to pinpoint the causes of atmospheric methane saturation, but in the mean time, this is a fairly large chink in AGW science. We shouldn't fear that. We should examine it. We shouldn't blow it off. We should look at it.

My logic goes like this. What if the earth is warming up to the degree that it hurts us or the planet? What if it isn't human causes? What if it is just earth cycles and we are about to be phased out like what the iceage supposidely did to the dinosaurs? Could we still attempt to do something about it? Is "settling the science" and focusing on "carbon taxes" really the scientific thing to do? In a global warming scale of mean temperature where "smart" is 44 degrees and "stupid" is 48, Al Gore just scored an idiot's 100. I think it would be better if he just outed himself as the spokesmodel for Anthropomorphic Global Warming, rather than pretending to be a scientist.

Apple Environmentally Friendly?

I am a mac... no wait, I am a PC... hold on,... I am a mac, on a PC, with Vista inside the mac! Yes. I am an OS-X-Vista mac-tel.

More importantly, while I am friendly to mac, is Apple friendly with the environment? Well, according to the EPA, on 23 mandatory and other optional criteria, Apple Computers is in the top 5 companies for EPA environmental friendliness. Cool huh? I think this can be explained by the fact that they have been working with Al Gore to tighten up that score. Way to go Steve and Al! You did it!

Hold on. I believe in equal time. A while back I wrote a blog entry about "green washing" which basically means performing a few tricks to qualify as green, but once under the microscope maybe it ends up only being a green hue as opposed to green through-and-through. Is Apple one of these companies? Well, Al Gore didn't just work with Apple to advize them, he became a board member. And what does that mean? Well, I have no idea, but I am guessing that their might be a small connection between Apple - Al Gore - EPA. At the minimum, Al likely showed them how to qualify as "EPA Green." Is that a bad thing? I don't think so. I encourage it. What do other "green" groups think of it? Well... a well known group called "Green Peace" also makes a list of who is naughty and who is nice, when it comes to being Green. And to be fair they measure everything from recycling to work conditions for employees in factories around the world associated with the computer creation process. On their list, compairing a large list of companies, Apple is DEAD LAST! What? That's right. The EPA says "silver star" Apple... you are green! While at the same time Green Peace says, "Rotten Apple!"

Personally, I find that completely confusing. How does EPA say they are near the top of green with Green Peace claim that they are the absolute worst (not poor or sadly in the middle... the worst!)? I don't know, but I will venture a small guess in the style of the boardgame clue... Al Gore, with an Apple, greenwashing in the bathroom!? On a more serious note, it would be nice to hear more from Apple about their Green Peace score and how or if they intended to deal with some of their recycling and 3rd world production issues.

As a side note: It wasn't too long ago, in the world of the web, that one of the largest opponents of Adobe Flash (then, Macromedia Flash) technology was explaining to the world about how non-user-friendly and clumsy Flash technology was. As a result, and a short while later, Adobe hired that same critique to sit with the designers of Flash and architect a more acceptable future. A version or so later, the world fell in love with Flash and the still-independant opponent of Flash became not a proponent, but rather a friend to the company. In a similar thread, inviting Al Gore onto the bench at Apple is like hiring the hottest baseball player to come play ball for you. Does it ensure that you are a better team? Not necessarily. But one thing is true, they did suddenly score very high on the EPA ranking system. A Silver medal is nothing to bawlk at. The fact is that under Al Gore, Apple created a friendly competition for competativeness to get high scores, but surprisingly Dell and HP received the "Gold" not silver like Al Gore's Apple. Well, that doesn't mean Apple is the worst, but it does reduce all of the buzz to, well, buzz at best. I say that because Dell and HP together had over 200 pieces of hardware under EPA EPEAT review and are both in the top 20 PC manufacturers, as compaired to Apple's 21 pieces of equipment under review. Needless to say, it seems that if you respect Green Peace and the EPA, the real winners are Fuzitsu and HP... if going green is your priority.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Thanks Giving

This is my favorite American holiday. In the words of a dear friend, it is a mostly un-commercialized day where people come together to be thankful.

President Elect Barack Obama reminded the American people about the history of Thanksgiving on the site change.gov where you can view him talking about the 150 year old history of our holiday. In that video he quotes from President Abe Lincoln, using Abe’s admonition that this time should be set aside to have “gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people.”

That is neat stuff! What is even more amazing is that Obama seems to have cherry-picked the heart right out of what was being communicated by President Lincoln (why!? not sure... but he did.) Specifically, rather than generally, Abe Lincoln was dealing with the Civil War and knowing that his country was struggling through a tumultuous time both as a government and as a people, he wanted everyone to take a look at the bigger picture, and see God in the middle of all of it.

In the world of examining historical text, Barak did what literary folks like to call “proof-texting” which means that he takes a smaller phrase out of a bigger statement, to validate a particular perspective, but equally so invalidate another (or at the least diminish another.) For those still paying attention, here is more of what Abe Lincoln said (emphasis mine):

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand
worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God,
who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.
You see, Abe was just one guy, doing his best to be a helpful president, but clearly not compartmentalizing his sensibilities with his faith and intelligence. As a president only 150 years ago, he didn’t read into the constitution the idea that the government should not establish a state religion and turn that into a claim that the government cannot make sound decisions for our country that are directly related to faith and that refer to our “Father who dwelleth in the heavens” (let alone refer to God or faith.) It is one thing to argue that the founding fathers were wrong, and it is another thing completely to rewrite history. If you follow the link above to the full statement, Lincoln said that America was pushing forward and working hard while it was in the middle of it's most devistating war. He saw the efforts as a blessing, but was clearly counting the cost as well. That is pretty bold stuff. Abe seemed to want America to look into the rough times and deal with our sins and be thankful for Gods mercies (remember this is a President and not a preacher, right!?) I digress!

I am thankful for so much this year and I want to see the fruit of thankfulness pour out of the abundance of each of us toward those without abundance. That is where my hope starts. I also hope that we will, both in the good and the bad, be found talking with God and searching the Bible for His mercy toward us. I pray that you find Him standing there in the middle of your situation with a practical dose of mercy to see you through. Nothing is more valuable.

Personally, I think we get their by remembering, not selectively and with an eye toward agnostic self-reliance, but with thankfulness to our Father and to one another, remembering the details – the good, the bad and the ugly, along with the happy, blessed and lovable ones (and yet finding the thankfulness toward Him in the middle of all of our situations, for the important stuff… obviously not for the crappy stuff but for, as Lincoln said, the “mercy” to make it through tough times.)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Have An Abortion For The Environments Sake!

Many of you who know me know that I watched “An Inconvenient Truth,” read the summary to the U.N. report on human factors on Climate Change and it pretty well freaked me out more than any movie I had seen come out of Hollywood for the last, well, for my entire life. I am sure this is because “An Inconvenient Truth” was meant to freak us out into action. Because of that reason alone, assuming a good cause at the back end, I was willing to endure a little alarmism created to call us to action. As long as the majority of facts are right, then I will give the claims the benefit of the doubt. Right? Who wants to damage the planet for lazy selfish reasons, right? How in the world does anyone benefit from saving the planet, except for the obvious benefit of, well, saving our planet, right!?

Since that time I watched a few documentaries on climate change from the antagonists perspective, challenging not the concept of global climate change, but the science about human factors versus other factors. There were a few videos out of the U.K. on the origins of human “CO2” contributions arguments. I watched a few national geographic videos and read NASA studies.

Why would I do this!? (You might ask) If all of our best scientists are declaring the threat (are they all? Who's on that list? Are they the best? Who isn't on that list?), why waste time reading up on it especially from an antagonist’s perspective rather than just doing stuff to help? In a word, marketing! A short while back I wrote about the concept of “greenwashing,” which in quick summary is the act of a company (or politician or government) “marketing” various ideas about how environmentally responsible their goals / products / taxes are and will positively affect this need to save our planet. The problem, it seems to me, is that “going green” is expensive, but more importantly all efforts to “go green” aren’t close to equal. Some efforts are completely effective and helpful and responsible while some are nothing short of snake oil being sold to an attentive public!

What I find is that non-alarmist global warming science reading has helped me to see and understand global warming better (not completely, only better), but at the same time helps me differentiate between the science of global climate change and the mythical fog that has descended on the topic of human causes of global warming. This is important if we as individuals are going to do the responsible thing and be good stewards of our planet.

Back to marketing. I mention marketing because of the first paragraph above. If I am going to be fair then I want to know if and where the benefits of fighting human causes of global warming rest. If a car company claims that they are environmentally more responsible than their competition because they make their seat cushions out of soy-based foams, I have to examine the enviro-benefit of driving a car that was manufactured in an eco-responsible manner versus are car with a smaller carbon footprint over the life of the car. It is less about “costing me more right now” and rather “costing all of us and the planet more in the long run.” But this isn’t easy to determine by reading a short three page article in Better Homes and Gardens Magazine (are they still around?) It takes a real investment. “Going green” isn’t about ideologically joining the “green club” but rather doing our part where it matters: less what we say (greenwash) and more about what we do (go green). Some might argue that being a proponent is at least an investment in the right direction. I completely disagree. It is literally no investment, to do nothing but just talk about it.

Recently I noticed a book at a local Border’s Bookstore and so I picked it up. The title was “Red Hot Lies: How Global Warming Alarmist Use Threats, Fraud and Deception to Keep You Misinformed.” Again, this is an antagonistic book that helps to divide that line between real climate science and the foggy myth that creates unscientific momentum around human causes of global warming (for whatever reason.) I bought the book and am patiently reading through it. Responsibly enough, it contains analysis and appropriate references scattered throughout that validate its various points. It is a short history of the handling of the topic and anyone who wants to be educated on this topic would find this book to be a great reference for drawing a line between what is worth paying attention to and what is just alarmist.

This is the part where many bloggers would write stuff about propaganda of leftist media, but I don’t think the author (or I) believes that the media is so well organized or ideologically in tuned to a single well managed conspiracy. No. Rather I think that journalists and politicians are generally not well educated on environmental science and skim one report on a topic, highlighted by someone else for them, and then they perpetuate some new under-analyzed misunderstood perspective that gets even more distorted down the foodchain. This, coupled with watchdog groups (outlined in the book) that keep the climate change momentum spinning at full velocity by regularly contesting reports and statements that don’t seem alarmist enough (great examples in the book) keeps the public generally misinformed about not only the facts, but misinformed as to what we can truly do to help.

I think we generally want to help. My guess would be that if we were to ask a perfect stranger on the street, “If you could be given 5 proven things to do that would make a good contribution to doing your part to be a responsible steward of the planet, would you do it?” my guess is that most individuals would say “Sure.” Here lies the problem. The government seems to be the new clearinghouse on this information and what they are promoting is incredibly close to a greenwash. Let’s take an example that is very close to my heart. The global greenwashing of abortion.

First read this transcript from a TV news talkshow:

This is the author of the book I am reading. He shares that the world via the United Nations is already deciding how to hand out carbon credits. (The basic idea here has to do with “cap and trade”, meaning that countries will agree to put a cap on country-based carbon emissions and then if they exceed that cap as a country, then they can buy the right to “pollute” by purchasing carbon credits from a country that is doing so well that they have a surplus of positive carbon credits.) In this discussion the book author explains that China is likely being offered additional carbon credits because they are willing to “cap” their population (via abortion) and as a result would then have a smaller carbon footprint as a country because they are killing all of these future-people who would likely increase the carbon footprint. China argued for this, and European members of the Kyoto agreement along with the U.N. all agreed that China should get carbon credits because they are killing future polluters. So, in summary, population control is now a significant activity in reducing human factors for climate change enough that the U.N. is ready to cut virtual checks if countries endorse this sort of population control. What? So abortion is eco-responsible? Please! This is getting ridiculous and absurd. Did I mention that the U.N. is already implementing carbon taxes on a global scale and that America is already in debt to the U.N. in the billions of dollars at this point (remember that we get no say in how that money is spent… will it benefit the environment really?)

It seems clear to me that the government is little to no help in solving eco-responsibility issues outside of very local governments (i.e. your personal community government protecting the planet through local legislation that specifically targets unquestionably harmful behavior.) It seems that we will have to educate ourselves and “bailout” the government from their crazy solutions by getting involved locally and federally AND if we are going to save the planet, then we have to do it. Creating a new global-abortion-market-for-eco-credits is just a crazy notion and we have to save ourselves both from our politicians as well as save the planet as a result of this offensive line of thinking.

For those of you who advocate for pro-choice ideals or at least are not completely in agreement with me about the genocide that is abortion, consider the idea that when the U.N. creates this kind of eco-incentive that it isn’t happening in a vacuum. The U.N. Millenium agenda also outlines on-demand abortion as a part of their defense of woman (something Mexico is being harassed about by U.N. because their predominantly Catholic population doesn’t favor promoting on-demand abortion.) Put the two of these ideas together and (here comes a prediction) abortion could become less about “choice” in America and more about eco-responsible population control via abortion (once the U.S. demands the U.N. gives us our carbon credits for the 50,000,000 babies we have killed via abortion since 1973.) Abortion could become the next eco-fundraiser. If we can’t stop polluting, then maybe we can offset our carbon deficit by up-ing our abortion head count? The thought makes me sick!

Back on point. The book is not about abortion. That was just my personal rant. In any case, go buy the book and educate yourself. If you have ideas about how to “go green” in legitimate ways, I recommend writing those ideas here by making some comments or sending me emails. I will take a moment to blog out some of our ideas!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Keeping Promises: Reversing Executive Orders

Obama advisors gave us a look into the administrative of the president-elect today when nearly all of them got on TV to announce a number of executive orders that they intend to reverse, all of which were major campaign points for Obama advocates:
  • Iraq
  • Healthcare
  • Taxes
  • Social Justice
Oh wait! I read that wrong. None of those issue were in this new prioritized administrative agenda. What are the priorities then, you might ask? Let me go down a list (liberals and conservatives, drum rolls please...)

  • Reverse the ban on family planning counceling such that we will provide financial foreign aid to international groups that will explain / provide abortions. This means we as Americans will be subsidizing the abortions in the third world.

  • Reverse the ban on federal aid to stemcell research. This is directly tied to abortion legislation in America. The idea here is that doctor, hospitals and clinics that abort babies will now be able to part out those babies, post-abortion, selling "stem cell" lines for research. Will this become the next hot commodity on the U.S. Futures market?

  • Ban some oil drilling in the U.S. This is based on some environmental groups who claim that some exploratory drilling, like in Utah, might have adverse environmental affects. I don't know anything about this, but I think it goes in line with Obamas stated policy to keep oil demand high, so he can tax oil company windfall profits, and give out "tax credit" checks so subsidize our addiction to oil.
I know that last one will get some environmentalists cranked, and I said it because I think it is partly true (maybe not entirely.) I have examined Obamas plan to deal with our American addiction to oil and I think it is a federal fundraiser and not a plan to deal with fuel alternatives. Go read more for yourself if you disagree. Most of the detail of his plan deals with raising money at the Federal level through windfall profits, as opposed to specific plans to bolster alternatives research. I am happy to point your insightful comments if you have any or want to disagree.

As for the first two, if you thought Obamas contradictions about supporting planned parenthood and wanting to lower the abortion count were not contradictory, well, these first moves will prove you wrong. Between financial abortion here in American and abroad, coupled with financing new stem cell lines (to further monitize the new elements of abortion industry) we are likely increasing our American cultural propensity toward devaluing life. How? By, in two swift moves, financing abortions at home and abroad and monetizing those aborted babies via federally financed stem cell research.

I am waiting for would-be mothers to now demand a kickback for the stemcell parting-out of their aborted children. Can you imagine it? Congress debating over legislation that gives a tax deduction to would-be mothers if their dead baby is used to create new stemcell lines? (I just made that up, but wait for it... it will happen) The only thing worse would be women lining up to sell off their fertilized eggs to stemcell line research for cash as if at a bloodbank.

And this is what we voted for? How did these points become the priority. Welcome to the new world.

(To hear more, check out the following link and start listening around 7 minutes into the long video: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/27659485#27652637 )

Monday, November 10, 2008


Right now I am battling a horrible cold and so far it is winning. There is nothing worse than feeling like you might be over the hump, only to find out that maybe you are not.

I am somewhat equally concerned about something I've bumped into on the web today. Just when I thought we were past the election shennanigans, I am kinda thinking they are just starting. The example would be the "change.gov" site.

So far in the history of the web websites that end in ".gov" typically instill confidence in us. If we hand over our personal information, we expect that info to be respected and protected with the same standards as any other well protected government website. Now, I can't definitively confirm this, but with a few whois tricks, some static IP addressing pinging, I get the feeling that change.gov is not really a traditional government website. You might not care, until you realize that they are harvesting American individuals contact information via this site (i.e. in at least five different situations on this small site they ask you to hand over some personal information, like you name, address and phone number.) It seems that the sites are hosted on a combination of hardware that sits in Georgia and Colorado.

Here is another part that I find a bit questionable. In a recent political talk show hosted by Charlie Rose, they discussed the very savvy use of technology by the Obama campaign. The example they gave had to do with the use of text messaging. There was this moment when the Obama campaign said that they would announce his running mate via text message. All you had to do was submit your cell phone number to them to receive the announcement before the rest of press got the message. The goal here was to simply harvest cell phone numbers for the purpose of campaign marketing. It is reasonable for the campaign to gather those cell phone numbers and use them for the purpose of the campaign, including text messaging the running mate announcement, but I wonder if people truly understood how the campaign was (or still is) intending on using those cell phone numbers. Maybe some people don't care, but I would!? More importantly, change.gov is asking people to submit their information because the Obama / Biden administration transition team is hiring! i have no doubt that they are, but when you look at the information they are collecting, that is one sham of a form! I can only imagine the number of people who would want to submit their information, imagining that they will be selected to personally work with this new administration. Understand that the fineprint says that both the transition team and the administration will use your submitted contact information... yeah, I am sure they will. Who knows what for?

This is an incredibly blurry line between legitimate politics and campaign marketing that doesn't seem to know when to quit. I am in favor of the government wanting to team up with regular folks. I am not in favor of to 2012 Obama campaign reelection committee pretending to pimp jobs to America in an effort to primarily harvest contact information unwittingly.

(To read a few more articles on scrubbing on the change.gov site see http://newsbusters.org/blogs/tom-blumer/2008/11/09/obamas-change-gov-site-undergoes-severe-scrubbing-40-hr-college-service- and http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008/nov/11/exclusive-obama-deletes-agenda-from-transition-web/)

Tax Cuts Are Good News

Now that presidential election shennanigans are done and Obama doesn't have to keep calling John McCain "out of touch," he might want to refer to similar "McCain-ian" wisedom coming from Liberal Democrats "across the pond" in the U.K. that have decided it makes more economic sense to go ahead and cut taxes where possible to fuel economies and fend off more downturns.


A BBC report breaks it down.

On a similar note. While the fog clears from the American electoral political minefield, the only thing left in the fog is any tangible understanding of Barack Obama.


It ends up that these guys are discussing how well executed the Obama campaign was when it comes to presenting the concept of Barack Obama to a nation that still doesn't have a clue what his economic policies or likelihood of action might be on coming issue. Watch these gentlemen talk about how Obama admits he isn't what his "image" claims he is, how they call his presentations "controlling" and "scary" amongst other claims that outline the show for the whitehouse that we just witnessed.

In summary, it seems they are outing the press for having made McCain look like a presidential player while not "outing" Obama for the same thing. In the case of Obama, they celebrate how well he played his politics (an ironic turn from their previoius praise about how politically accessible and honest and unique they thought he was.) This is classic! The press is preparing to cover their butts on a new president that might go rogue (or not... they don't know, and that's the point.)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Obama Bubble (aka president-elect bubble)

So I have a new president. Well, technically, I have 70+ additional days of the current president, George W. Bush, and then arrives president-elect Barack H. Obama. I call him my president because that is what I said I would do if he got elected. I am proud to be an American and I believe in supporting one’s president to the best of one’s ability. As a matter of fact, while I was continually upset at the shenanigans (political, personal, financial, legal and otherwise) of Bill Clinton, I still prayed for the guy and tried my best to get behind him on stuff that mattered to the country. To be fair, I was outraged a number of times too, but I wasn't about to move to Canada. I think in this election there is plenty of “stuff” that matters to the country and I want to support our governance in seeing positive things happen in this country.

I am a little worried about the “Obama Bubble” as I will call it. Nearly every president-elect has somewhat of a bubble to deal with as the result of election promises and no matter who becomes president they will likely have to deal with that bubble. The issue is never IF the bubble will burst but WHEN it does, how the country will handle it. In the case of Obama, it is no different.

But more specifically, I think the Obama president-elect bubble is larger than normal. Here is just one video that explains what I am talking about.

In my short life I don’t really recall people getting caught up into such extreme expectations. From Iraq, to the economy, to gas prices, to healthcare, there was a lot on the table and on that table as well were promises of delivering on some of the bigger issues in a time sensitive manner coupled with chastising remarks to McCain about his plans taking too long (in the case of fuel prices, Obama regularly gave him a hard time in that drilling would take 10 years to develop. Iraq is another example.) Now that Obama is president-elect, his first speech worked to lower the expectation a little by insisting, "We may not get there in one year or even one term."

The worst thing Congress could do now (along with president-elect Obama) would be to artificially pump up that bubble by simply writing more "stimulus checks" but mark my words, it will happen. The problem is that such activity almost never makes a big difference, but instead increases the national debt, pumps up the buble, only making for a longer fall when the real economy attempts to reset itself.

Riding on top of Obama's “inspiring” speeches over the last two years, for some, has felt like a huge breath of fresh air in the middle of a world of turmoil. I have no doubt that this voice of “hope” was just the voice some were looking for. I fall into the camp of people who listen to those speeches and then look for a record of parallel behavior to match those plans and words, which typically lowers the effect of "inspiration" for me (because all politicians are typically a bit of a bubble in themselves.) I however worried that the when the Obama Bubble bursts for people like Peggy Joseph, along with many others, they will have a long fall to endure back down to the reality of politics and the speed by which economies, industries and government moves. To those of you with more realistic expectations, you realize that leaving Iraq was more or less an argument over semantics: McCain said we would leave when we could and he wasn't going to set an arbitrary date, while Obama said we would leave in around 16 months but he reserved the right to change that if on the ground leadership gave him better advice (rendering the 16 months number rhetoric.) Honestly, I wouldn't be in favor of leaving before it is in the best interest of our nation, first in a security sense and then in a financial sense.

For me, I continue to think that Obama’s economics and life-oriented ethics are completely questionable and my hope is that any worse-case speculations that seem to me to be reasonable will be proven wrong. As with any president, Democrat or Republican, I will continue to observe and be happy for our successes as a nation and upset at our failures. Some of those will be directly correlated to the president, some to the various environments that surround us, some to Congress and others to the American people.

Years ago I sat in a run down little hotel room in Moscow having endured one of the most exciting and scary weeks of my life. Having completed most of what I was there to do, I found myself exhaling, letting go of my breath, and uncurling my toes inside my shoes. The thought came over me, “Steve, you have traveled, brought help, faced down border guards, stood across from government officials yelling at you will solders holding their guns near bye. You can relax now. You are almost home.” Oh, but how not true that was. I had about a week left of ground travel to get from Moscow to Helsinki, Finland and we had to get a Russian girl to Sweden but she had no papers to get across the Finland border. I wasn’t almost home, I was barely half way home! The same is true for all of us. The inevitability of a new president is upon us and he as a representative like the rest of Congress, representing one third of the checks and balances of our Federal branches are still just public servants in a government by and for the people. We don’t work for their goals, they work for ours and should be taking their marching orders from us.

If you care about your country, stay engaged, do not hand the responsibility of this government over to these public servants to do what they think is best, but rather stay in their ears telling them to serve this country and it's government. Remember, it is representation, not subjugation.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Vote for Social Action: Both Campaigns Advocate

This will likely be my last blog post before the 2008 presidential election and I hope it is either thought provoking if you are not likely to agree with me, or affirming if you do. In any case I would like to lay down a few reasons to (re)consider voting for John McCain. Here is my premise: You don’t have to vote for a particular political party to target dealing with issues of Social Justice this election year.

Whether you are a Christian like me or not we likely share a few values. From the economy, to war crimes, to poverty, to health care, to climate change, to energy, there is a lot to think about when attempting to balance the value of all of these relevant concerns. We know the world has many chaotic issues that are swirling around us and we want to be actively involved in the solution, as well as empower leaders who are poised to make a big difference.

Currently the spin I am hearing is that one campaign or the other has cornered the market on dealing with these issues. Both sides are accusing each other of being stagnantly well-entrenched in the old politics of their parties and if you want action on Social Justice issues then you have to either vote for them OR just stagnate in old timey red or blue politics of old. Having reviewed the cases on both sides, there is undeniably a measure of truth coming from both campaigns when it comes to being well entrenched in traditional party politics, but what is not so obvious is that Social Justices issues do in fact exist on both sides of this election year. If you are being told otherwise, then you are speaking to someone who is in fact entrenched in their political party. I have definitely watched regular everyday people promote this propaganda… on both sides of this 2008 election.

If you look at both campaigns, even quickly, they both want to address the major social concerns of our day. It is not a matter of IF one party or the other is tackling the issues you care about but rather HOW they propose the issue be tackled. Rest assured that both campaigns are covering the majority of the population’s issues. The question is not IF, it is HOW.

I really don’t want to break down each Social Justice issue, but here are a set of links to their platforms on many issues of Social Justice and Social Responsibility (they aren’t one-to-one since the platforms aren't exactly the same nor do they use the same terms.) The point here is to either take your time reading through this stuff, or take a cursory look. They do both handle issues, and the question is not IF but HOW:

The Democrat candidate: (If you are a Republican, shut up, sit down and follow the links... you should be educated on the Democrat platform)

Energy, Climate Change: http://my.barackobama.com/page/content/newenergy

Healthcare: http://www.barackobama.com/issues/healthcare/

Early Education, Education Policies, Higher Education: http://origin.barackobama.com/issues/education/

Vision for the Court System, Human Dignity and Life: http://origin.barackobama.com/issues/civil_rights/

Immigration: http://www.barackobama.com/issues/immigration/

Government reform: http://www.barackobama.com/issues/ethics/

The Republican candidate: (If you are a Democrat, shut up, sit down and follow the links... you should be educated on the Republican platform)

Energy: http://www.johnmccain.com/Informing/Issues/17671aa4-2fe8-4008-859f-0ef1468e96f4.htm

Healthcare: http://www.johnmccain.com/Informing/Issues/19ba2f1c-c03f-4ac2-8cd5-5cf2edb527cf.htm

Early Education: http://www.johnmccain.com/Informing/Issues/read.aspx?guid=3883232c-bdeb-44e5-9387-22d1316e75ed

Education Policies: http://www.johnmccain.com/Informing/News/PressReleases/read.aspx?guid=2ca6f926-4564-4301-87cd-a5f35e68c0d4

Higher Education: http://www.johnmccain.com/informing/news/PressReleases/ed12978d-a54f-471e-aeed-65c65bcba6da.htm

Climate Change: http://www.johnmccain.com/Informing/Issues/da151a1c-733a-4dc1-9cd3-f9ca5caba1de.htm

Human Dignity and Life: http://www.johnmccain.com/Informing/Issues/95b18512-d5b6-456e-90a2-12028d71df58.htm

Community Safety: http://www.johnmccain.com/Informing/Issues/f26da5d0-8043-402d-ab84-769cf88a1a99.htm

Vision for the Court System; http://www.johnmccain.com/Informing/News/PressReleases/read.aspx?guid=0bb29444-cdd1-4a60-81de-3263e9fb067e

Government Reform; http://www.johnmccain.com/Informing/Issues/cb15a056-ac87-485d-a64d-82989bdc948c.htm

Immigration: http://www.johnmccain.com/Informing/Issues/68db8157-d301-4e22-baf7-a70dd8416efa.htm


The most intense example right now is a would-be mother’s relationship to abortion. Both sides care about this issue, but want to tackle it in completely different ways. The propaganda from both sides is “The issue is mostly political and the government can’t solve or fix it by changing the laws” and “We have to undo Roe vs Wade which will solve our abortion woes with a silverbullet.”

Platform Facts:

If you are for the rights of the mother as a priority, the Democrat Candidate will advocate for that by immediately passing the Freedom of Choice Act which will be more than adequate in fighting “choice limiting legislationremoving the ban on Partial Birth Abortion, undoing laws at the state level like in North Dakota this year where doctors offering abortions were required to explain the statistical chances of psychological side affects on would-be mothers as well as having to explain the abortion procedure as it affects the baby being aborted, which resulted in South Dakota seeing significant reductions in abortion, including a single day without one (since the Roe v Wade decision 35 years ago.) The net affect of laws like the Freedom of Choice Act will be uninhibited access toward making choices like Abortion at more stages in a pregnancy that we have seen in nearly a decade. As well additional funding will be provided to groups that advocate for the rights of choice to the would-be mother. These are big investments toward the Democrat Candidates HOW in this Social Justice issue.

If you are supporting the Republican Candidate then you are interested in undoing Roe vs Wade in the hope that a more reasonable rule of law be implemented that reduces the current trend of 40,000,000 U.S. abortions since 1973. You would be voting to federally support continued action at the state level by having a candidate that will not legislate against it. You would be joining that candidate to promote supporting the would-be mother through the birth experience so that the child could be made a blessing to adoptive parents that are currently enduring endless waits for adoption or have to go to foreign adoption agencies to pull that off. You would be joining the Republican candidate who refuses to arrest would-be mothers for taking part in an abortion if it still happens under these news laws, but at the same time prosecuting doctors who are willing to break the law.

No matter which side of the issue you find your values, both candidates agree that this election will determine the continued impact of Roe vs Wade upon the nation by promoting at least two Supreme Court candidates that will either uphold the rights of the mother or the rights of the child in priority for the foreseeable future in the U.S. Both candidates also believe in legislating their values on this intense topic and intend to do so.

I have heard a number of people say that nothing has changed on this issue since Roe vs Wade in 1973. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The Democrat President in the 1990s implemented legislation to legalize Partial Birth Abortion advocating for the rights of the would-be mother. The current Republican President appointed two Supreme Court justices that have consistently promoted the Civil Rights of the unborn, and as well we have seen federal legislation to remove the legalization of Partial Birth Abortion as well as state level freedom to take action on behalf of the rights of the child. Under that Democrat President of the 1990s, abortions continued at a rate of 4,000 per day in the U.S. Under the current Republican President, that number is around 3,000 per day.

Legislation and court action does work and is a part of the agenda of both campaigns. If someone tells you either that it is not effective or that it is the definitive silver bullet, again, they are simply entrenched for the purpose of motivating you one way or the other.

Take a moment and think about a young Republican preacher by the name of Martin Luther King, jr who framed his argument for Civil Rights on both the Bible (values-based decision) and his understand of the Bill of Rights (which contains Judeo-Christian references.) He was fighting hard for social change, legislation, court judgments and enforcement, just as these two presidential candidates are, for the right to legislate and motivate the courts to advocate for this particular issue of Social Justice.

I have heard people say that it would be a hard road and that changing the laws doesn’t change people. The implication is that we would either pursue a failed legal approach OR pursue a strictly social form of changing hearts on a person-by-person basis. This is a false “OR” where they should be an “AND” really. Martin Luther King, historically, did both unashamedly desiring people to legislate that morality as a matter of Civil Rights and nobody would likely go back and convince him that because the road is going to be hard and because changing the laws do not change people’s heart, we shouldn’t pursue this in any legal or legislative sense. These perspective is fully entrenched and revisionist and doesn’t agree with either political candidate in the current election or our American history.

There are so many topics in their platforms and this is not meant to be comprehensive in nature. I have limited this post to simply outline the more pressing issues of Social Justice.

For me the decision started by reading biographies and books (the first book I read was John McCain’s book back in September of 2007), then examining their platforms, and then checking out their voting record. I encourage you to do the same. Do not fall prey to the idea that only one of these candidates will address your concerns for Social Justice. The fact is that both want to do more to help issues of Social Justice than you could likely participate in over the next four years. So, if you care, then get involved. But pick the candidate based on HOW they will help and not based on the false premise of IF they will help. They likely want to help!

Personal note: I will be voting for John McCain. When it comes to issues like climate control or energy, he has more of a track record that Barack Obama. Barack has a lot to say and I don’t disagree with all of it. He just doesn’t have any experience to back it up. John McCain actually has a voting record and a plan. Obama often has a record that contradicts his announced position (on faith and life, as one example.) People are quick to refer to the fact that John McCain voted in favor of an Energy plan under Bush that lowered taxes on Oil Companies. Barack called that “giving” Oil Companies money (rather than the more appropriate explanation that He wasn’t giving them anything other than the Federal Government not taking it from them.) More importantly, Barack Obama voted exactly the same way on the same bill, “giving” Oil Companies the same tax breaks. So, press through the propaganda and read about their records and their platforms. McCain has non-tax-credit incentive programs to create Oil alternative competition and move the country toward independence predominantly through those alternatives. Both candidates support finding more oil at home as a short term solutions. But Barack Obama says he wants to break our dependence on Oil but at the same time BANKS on it. He says he will (1) tax Oil companies more, and (2) give money to average Americans to subsidize their fuel prices. The problem with this is that he is not advancing the cause. Rather he is BANKING on your continued addiction and the profitable Oil Companies. It is like Barack is saying “We need to break our dependence on drugs” but then taxing the profitability of drug dealers while specifically making funds available to you so you can go buy drugs cheaper. This is exploitative and not helpful. It is a Federal Fundraiser and not a fight against oil addiction. It brings into question the integrity of what he says he really wants to do. Many of his plans when dealing with environmental or energy related worst-practices are taxed as a solution by Obama and that is no solution to the problem at all.

I personally recommend and endorse John McCain for President.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Nike is Going Green!

I just finished reading an article in Communication Arts on the efforts that the Nike brand is making in “going Green.” Beyond the traditional “greenwashing” (the author explains what that means) of the brand to market itself as a green company, Nike is taking a look at and investing in new green materials and resource companions to take it's various lines of products into the realm of corporate responsibility through sustainable approaches toward resource usage and consumption. It sounds like a good thing and I am sure it will be.

This got me thinking about marketing (my bachelor's degree in college was in business-M.I.S. and I was only two classes short for a minor in marketing and my brain never lets me live that down... why didn't I just finish that degree minor?) Right now companies use “green” as a differentiator, but this effort by Nike seems different to me, rather than just an adoption of a new differentiator. The more extensive review of sustainable-conscious decisions marks the very early beginning of the end of green as a differentiator by making less of a greenwash and more of an effort to actually just, well, be-green.

As a consumer we might want to be aware of the difference between green as a differentiator (i.e. the greenwash) and going-green as a matter of adopting a sustainable ideology. Right now, for example, I am becoming a big fan of Mac computers (i have spent 20+ years with PCs and my recent Macbook Pro purchase marks the purchase of my most solid computer to date!) The Mac packaging talks about having green values, but Apple as a company has one of the lowest ratings for actual green-production of their equipment. In contrast to Nike going-green, Apple is an example, at the moment, of greenwashing. Hopefully that will change.

As we go forward, hopefully more companies will actually go green rather than just greenwash their products. As smart consumers, if we are to go-green then we should want to understand the difference. Until going-green is the new standard and we simply have to watch out for the exceptions, the responsibility rest with us to get this right.

Which brings me to my final point. Political campaigns, especially here in 2008, are making “green” a talking point. But you have to watch out for greenwashing there as well. Let me show a few examples.

The U.N. since the late 1990 has setup an initiative to promote what they are calling the “Millennium Development Goals” or “the Millennium Project” for short. The idea here is that across a broad spectrum of issues the U.N. wants to standardize some values across the planet, all by 2015. One of those goals has to do with the environment.

Under the Millennium Project entire countries would be awarded limits with regard to Carbon emissions. If you are deemed in breach of your carbon emission limits then you have to purchase Carbon emissions offsets from a country that has not breached their limits. This “trading” would happen through the U.N. Equally as important, a country can reduce their Carbon emissions within their borders by buying offset credits by investing in “green” companies (typically, these are companies that are researching alternative power or are currently generating alternative power.)

So the natural question is, “How does this plan actually help us go-green?” A simple example helps us see how this works in the real world.

After the extreme popularity of the movie “An Inconvenient Truth”, it was discovered that the film creator Al Gore's personal home in Tennessee consumed as much power within three months as did the average American's home in one year. In other words, for being so concerned with the worlds need to go-green, his personal lifestyle wasn't by a household factor of 4 to 1 as compared to current average Americans. Now, as an American that has to make you feel pretty good, right? Al Gore blows the whistle on the need to go green and you find out that without even trying you are four times more green than Al Gore himself! To be fair Mr. Gore explained that he was investing in offsets by paying into green energy companies. So while he continued to consume four times the energy of everyday mainstreet folks, his offset investment brought him back down to average. Well, good for him. After all that whistle blowing we Americans are still the “green” standard.

Please, tell me you don't buy that? For one, everyday I can see opportunities to get even more green and while some of them I could do right now, a big one will be when we do away with our very consumer-driven disposable lifestyles. Breaking our dependence on bad non-green habits and lifestyles will truly mark the moment we all really go-green. You might be asking yourself, “How does this example explain the difference between going-green and a greenwash on the political scene?”

Buying carbon offsets just simply equals buying the right to not go-green. It is nearly by definition a greenwash. What is worse is that as a nation, to buy into the U.N. Millennium Project goals we have to pay off entire countries in the form of “offsets” to bare the weight of us not going-green. What would that really mean? What would become of that money? How will giving them money really equal an environmental offset of harm?

I am all for going green, but I am starting to think that this is a greenwash on a new U.N. world tax that simply “spreads the wealth around” on a global level. The U.N. as a political entity seems to be greenwashing their agenda.

In terms of U.S. politics we see the same thing going on with regard to oil dependancy. Since oil production and consumption is also green issues we are hearing a lot about “breaking the American addiction to oil.” Universally our Presidential candidates are talking about drilling for more oil, so no points for breaking dependance there. John McCain talks about Nuclear power, and reluctantly Obama talks about at best a willingness to pursue nuclear, so points to John McCain and the jury is still out on Obama because of the reluctance. John McCain has alos outlined a plan for America to lead the world in nuclear waste storage and management, which might actually mean we would train the world on how to deal with nuclear waste, so points to John McCain on that initiative. Obama doesn't even mention this other than to say that he won't think about nuclear unless we can store the waste safely (meaning he hasn't really gained an understanding in this area) so no points there either. Both candidates are fine with clear coal technology, so points there, even though the message from Obama has gotten washed out by the confusion brought to light by Democrat Vice Presidential candidate Joe Biden, so those clear carbon points should relaly be pending as well. Obama gets some points for investing in green vehicles, as does John McCain. John McCain also is proposing a automobile power storage initiative award for companies that would race to build incredibly practical long distance zero emissions cars. Big points to John McCain on that one. Obama wants to give money to people to offset higher gas prices likely generated by raising corporate taxes AND implementing windfall profits taxes on Oil companies. This should be negative points, since he is going to raise the consumer fuel prices due to dual tax increases from multiple fronts, and then simply give the consumer more money specifically to offset the rising fuel costs. This is like battling drug addiction, by taxing drug dealers and then giving people more money to make those same drugs cheaper. Clearly, this plan makes no sense. John McCain claims that this would be similar to what Jimmy carter did during his administration, which had little to no benefit for the country. Obama wants to implement low carbon use standards nationally. This means what exactly? We don't know yet. It might just mean that he, like the U.N., will implement our own little internal Carbon tax. What is not clear is if we as citizens will also have to start paying carbon taxes. Again negative points for Carbon taxes, since they don't reduce the problem but rather make bank on the nature of the problem. Both Obama and McCain talk about increasing fuel efficiency of vehicles, so points to both on that since it means more green. Obama talks about prioritizing the Alaska naural Gas Pipeline. This one actually goes to Sarah Palin, even though Obama wants to claim it. Points to Sarah. John McCain also proposes tax reduction to Americans who buy zero emissions cars. Points to John McCain. John McCain talks about endorsing Flex Fuel Vehicles (something that has been successful in Brazil) that can run on E85 fuel with no loss in performance, so more points to John McCain. John McCain wants to see cellulosic alcohol fuels become an alternative to oil and eventually E85 (cellulosic fuel doesn't compete in corn crop generation as a food source) so points, again, to Mr. McCain. John McCain wants to re-examine tarrifs so that other fuel aternatives beyond just ethanol fuel alternatives can create oil competition, making room for more green alternatives. Points again for John McCain. Both candidates have green jobs initiative plans to bolster the “green economy”, so points to both.

In the end, the U.N. carbon tax plan is a greenwash fundamentally. Obama seems to implement these greenwash taxing ideas as the majority of his plan to deal with non-green behavior. Worse yet he is going to increase the demand by helping finance non-green consumption at the same time, proving that the plan is simply a Federal fundraiser as opposed to a real plan to go-green. There are a number of items that both Obama and McCain agree about, like having initiatives for more fuel efficient vehicles, but McCains plan goes further to address automotive fuel alternatives that are more green or even zero emission approaches. McCain also has practical detailed plans for pursuing nuclear and leading the world in nuclear waste management.

My conclusion is that there is some greenwashing in both campaigns, but it seems to me that there is more of a plan to go-green under John McCain than under Barack Obama. Said another way, McCain is investing in rewarding going-green while Obama is focused on punishing non-green behavior without much of a real plan for going green, which again, seems more like a Federal fundraiser than a plan to go-green.

Getting Your Life on (sound)Track

Three music styles I really enjoy but that I still consider very niche:

First, Celtic music: While this is getting more popular through movies, the closest semblance to Celtic music in mainstream would be The Pogues or maybe The Chieftains. The richer, crazier rythms of traditional celtic / irish music are far more challenging, but once you “get” that sound, it is hard to shake.

Second, World Music: Sometimes the ethereal tones mixed with traditional instrumentation can really sooth the mind. Some world music can get all caught up in goofy lyrics and themes, but then again show me some music that doesn't I suppose. In any case, I like the sound when we are talking about Baaba Maal and the Album Nomad Soul. When I am listening to it, I feel like I'm sitting down with the world community.

Finally, classic remix mashups: Take for example, The Verve Remix compilations where they took classic jazz music and remixed those albums to create incredible old-jazz sounds with modern rythms. All of the jazz flavor with twice the funk punch!

If you've been following along, clicking the links or searching your favorite internet music search tool, then you are likely understanding my passion for rich rhythms and jazz progressions. I think that is why I like funk so much. It is this perfect mix between classical musical art and adventurous rhythms that captivate me.

Well, all of this to say... I have a new love. In the style of a remix mashup, but using Celtic music and World-style rhythms I have recently bumped into the Afro Celt Sound System which mixes these two seemingly unlikely companions. Having spent a little bit of time in Ireland I can tell you that the Boron drum is very compatible with Afro-world rhythms and it is a very fun ride when tin whistles and bagpipes cry along with accordions and guest vocalists like Sinead O'Connor.

So, to keep this short, if you are looking to add a fun upbeat, happy soundtrack to your life, I highly recommend the Afro Celt Sounds System, and specifically recommend “Volume 2: Release.” You can hear a nice little sample of it on iTunes. iTunes also has a number of previous albums, as well.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

NewParty.org Calls Barack Obama a "member"

OK, so I've read a lot of stuff that reaching many different directions on the whole “Obama is a Socialist” stuff and much of it is just conjecture at best. The problem with a lot of conjecture is that you end up getting overloaded with crapy information and as a result make a similarly opinionated jump,

“Oh, there is so much crap out there, it therefor must not be true, so I won't entertain the thought of it!”

when the reasonable response seems to be,

“So far, everything I have read is crap and based on that information Obama doesn't seem to be a socialist.”

That feels like a reasonable response. Why would i say that? Because unless someone can produce something that seems like legitimate evidence of such a connection, then there is no reason to believe it. Just because he wants to “spread (your) wealth around (through a government mandate)” and that seems fairly socialist in nature, doesn't mean he is himself a socialist. Fair enough. Oddly enough, reading some posts on a few news articles I came across a link to the wayback machine (this was a quick little link buried deep into some posts.) In an effort to ensure the information doesn't mysteriously disappear, I have grabbed a screenshot of the page, which is viewable below. To understand what you are looking at requires a little explanation. Check out the image and read more below to understand what you are looking at.

So this is a very bland looking web page that has a New Party logo at the top. The address for this is...


Back when I worked for the Experimental Aircraft Association as we were doing various research around our websites we would use the wayback machine to review the progress and changes to various web sites of interest. The reason it looks very simple would have everything to do with the way the wayback machine archives web pages to reduce the overall size of the archive. To keep this simple, the page might have looked slightly more fancy when it was originally published, but in the archive here, we can at least read the content of the page, which is the important part.

Let's break it down. First from what we see here, the wayback machine archived this New Party website page March 6th, 2001, even though it refers to an October 1996 news items on their website. The page is from the website newparty.org which, according to domains.whois.com was purchased some time in 1995. Unfortunately the owner of the site employed a “proxy” registration service which keeps us from knowing who is actually behind the site / owns and manages the site itself. Based on the “page not found” messages as well as the domain registration itself, it appears that the site was and is hosted on the godaddy.com web hosting service. So, enough about the site itself. What does this page tell us really?

Admittedly, one has to make a few assumptions. I want to be upfront about that because we are dealing with a fairly serious topic here that raises serious questions about Democrat Presidential Candidate Barack Obama. It is one thing to ague about agreeing with his political agenda but another thing entirely to raise questions that propose a reasonable doubt about his denial of New Party affiliation.

In an effort to keep this review reasonable I will attempt to keep the assumptions separated from what appears to be the facts. Here are my assumptions:
  1. This article appears to be a press release on the 1996 fall campaign races and an itemized list of New Party (NP) candidates.

  2. This article seems to make a distinction between (1) NP backed candidates, (2) candidates that sought NP nomination and (3) actual NP members.
Let's get on to what appear to be facts that we can draw from this article.
  1. The New Party backs Democrat and Independent candidates. That is fairly vague, but simply validates what we are looking at. The New Party actively promotes something called “fusion” which, with a limited cursory understanding by me, seems to mean that New Party candidates are able to retain their New Party membership while running for office under another ticket. This might not sound too significant at first glance. Imagine if a Republican ran for office and was concurrently promoted as a Rotarian or an Elks Lodge member. The idea here is that they are appealing to Republicans AND specifically to a demographic of people who are affiliated with those clubs. Doesn't seem like a big deal, does it? But being a New Party member isn't the same as belonging to the Elks or the Rotarian. The Elks and Rotarian are not political parties. The New Party is a political party. So the idea with fusion is that you retain your affiliation to the New Party and at the same time can run under a different parties political ticket. The real question is, “Did Obama do this?”

  2. Under the Illinois section of this article, the New party website claims that Barack Obama was one of three New Party members who won Democratic ticket primaries. So, according to the official New Party website, the New Party are claiming that Obama was a member of the political New Party and actively involved in the “fusion” agenda.

  3. The last piece of evidence worth examining is our “control group” meaning the group that creates the contrast between how they classify Obama with regard to other types of New party candidates. Said another way (in the form of a question) , “Does this demonstrate that Obama is actually a member or is he just someone the New Party was backing?” According to fightthesmears.com the New Party did support Barack Obama, but it was unsolicited. But according to the research uncovered by Clintondems.com website Barack sought New Party endorsement, attended and participated in meetings of the Chicago New Party, and signed a contract with the NP promising “a visible and active relationship with the NP. (fightthesmear.com seems to possibly have some propoganda issues, if the assertions and links provided by the clintondems.com are true.)

    So, for fact number 3, take a look at the New York section of the article image included above. Here, rather than referring to the three New York candidates as NP “members”, they are simply referred to as “backed” in their races. At the same time review the Minnesota section, where the Progressive Minnesota candidates are referred to as having “sought (NP) nomination.” So, in summary, there seem to be candidates that “sought NP nomination”, candidates that are “backed” by the NP, and candidates like Barack Obama who were “members.”

fightthesmear.com is correct that Obama has run as a Democrat in his political career, but this is absolutely deceptive reporting because they are ignoring the “fusion” agenda which is still promoted by newparty.org today, and validated by the above image of the article archived at the Wayback Machine. You will also notice at the top of the fightthesmear.com site that the Obama campaign claims that they do not wield politics that smear, but in this politically deceptive article they immediately leave behind any real or reasonable facts and spend two thirds of the article smearing Stanley Kurtz. That is what we like to call “the pot calling the kettle, black.”

In conclusion, either Barack Obama and his 1995 state senator campaign manager Carol Harwell are telling lies or the New Party is misrepresenting it's relationship to Barack Obama in this above article. Between this article and the research done by the clintondems.com site, I believe there is more than a reasonable doubt that Barack Obama had a legitimate, sought after connection with the New Party as a member, enacting “fusion” agenda.

My personal commentary: If history repeats itself, the Obama camp will (1) soon admit to the New Party connection, and even though they have been denying it until now Obama will claim that he was always clear about his willingness to work with them on common goals. Then because of revealing information like this, they will (2) attempt to minimize Obamas involvement. Eventually, like in the case of his pastor, Dr. Wright, and a slew of other shady characters, Obama will have to (3) find a way to distance himself from the New Party by renouncing the connection.

As a reminder, please do not shoot the messenger. I am trying to be fair with my assessment of these revelations here. Don't be mad at me for revealing the affiliations of Obama. If you are upset, direct your queries to the campaign of Barack Obama.