Archive for January, 2008

Yesterday was a damp snowy day for the Republican Primary here in South Carolina. Or at least it was snowing here in the upstate. We never got any accumulation of snow but John McCain accumulated enough votes to get 33% of the vote – enough to win the GOP Primary here in SC. Turnout was relativly high for a primary especially considering the inclement weather where people were concerned about getting out on slippery roads to vote. South Carolina’s Democratic Primary is next week. It is kind of confusing to a lot of voters who do not know this and went out expecting to be able to simply select the party then their candidate. I was one of those that did not know the primary was broken up into two seperate days until we had made it to the polling place.
We made it there after going out shopping for some essentials and I was totally worn out. It seems the cold and my arthritis and fibromalgia do not get along very well at all. By the time we finally made it home I was pretty much down for the count so to speak. I was lucky in the fact that a few of the stores had nice benches to sit on while my wife and daughter were gathering up our supplies. I don’t like to leave them alone but when you are whipped physically it is hard to keep up with them. The ride through the snow flurries was rather nice though. Not enough to lay on the roads and make it slick but enough to start showing white in the grasses and woods alongside the roadway. At least it doesn’t hurt much more to drive than it does to ride.
I really enjoyed the time spent with my wife and daughter. Even after 28 years of marriage I still enjoy spending time with her. And our daughter is such a pleasure to spend time with too. I really feel blessed to have the family I do. I know of other people and families that can not say they get along so well and enjoy going places and spending time together so I am very lucky in that respect. Even with our son who we love dearly was not as easy to get along with when he was a teenager. The rebel without a cause syndrome I guess you could have called it. I think boys go through more of a wild stage than girls do or that is how it is with our two children.
Day eleven and counting without a smoke. Each day is a little easier or most of the time it is. I can now see the triggers that got me to light up and remember how many of those times I was simply lighting up, then letting most of it burn up without even a draw on it. There by wasting it which may have been a good thing in the long run.

Would you knowingly eat meat that came from cloned animals? In a recent decision by the US Food and Drug Administration not only have they declared it to be safe but they also declared that no warning labels need be used either. The agency decided that no labeling is necessary for meat or milk from cloned cows, pigs, or goats or their offspring. (Ironically the FDA didn’t include cloned sheep in the announcement, claiming a lack of data, though the very first cloned animal was a sheep named Dolly.)
Now, will people buy it? Consumer anxiety about cloning is serious enough that several major food companies, including the big dairy producer Dean Foods Co. and Smithfield Foods Inc., say they aren’t planning to sell products from cloned animals. It is not too likely that we will have actual cloned meat for sale in your local supermarket. At 10 – 20 grand per cloned cow it is highly unlikely that they will be slaughtering these animals. But they will be breeding them and perhaps milking them very soon.
My question to you is – How do you feel about the subject of cloned animals and their products being sold unlabeled? The FDA noted that their focus groups and other public input indicated that about 1/3 of US citizens do not want food from cloned animals under any circumstances; another 1/3 have no objections; and the other 1/3 fall somewhere in between.

Yesterday was a little known anniversary. It was the anniversary of the the ratification of the 18th Amendment, commonly called the Prohibition Amendment. Nine months later, Congress passed the Volstead Act, or National Prohibition Act, over President Woodrow Wilson’s veto. The Volstead Act provided for the enforcement of prohibition, including the creation of a special unit of the Treasury Department. Despite a vigorous effort by law-enforcement agencies, the Volstead Act failed to prevent the large-scale distribution of alcoholic beverages, and organized crime flourished in America.
Today we once more have a failed
prohibition trying to be enforced to no avail. Only this time they call it a war. A war on drugs. It has created gangs who run all aspects of the drug business, while making fortunes off the misery of others. Now don’t get me wrong there are drugs that no one should ever be allowed to use, as they are too dangerous to society as a whole. But on the same token there are drugs that are mostly benign and present no harm to anyone except perhaps the user. We need to step back and take an honest look at the way we try to run this war. This war has gone on for 35 years officially and unofficially for much longer, and has not produced results that satisfy most citizens and analysts. Drugs remain a significant problem at all levels of society, across ethnic, racial, economic, and educational lines.
If I could set the policy the first thing I would do would be to make medical marijuana available to all who need it. Then we would start an open discussion on its classification under drug law. Right now it is on the same level as heroin. Which means officially, by law, it has no medical value whatsoever. Now I know it is quite easy to overdose on heroin and many have done it causing loss of life. But there has never been a recorded incident of anyone overdosing on marijuana. It just doesn’t happen.
We have a failed system of teaching about drugs that I feel leads or can partially lead to other drug use. When a young person tries marijuana and none of the terrible things that they were taught happen to them they then feel like the village where the boy cries wolf. Does one lie, begat another? Marijuana should be legal, taxed and regulated like alcohol is today. No one under 21 should have access to it. And if it were regulated and sold from a real store instead of off the street corner or the back room of someones house where other harder drugs are commonly being used, then perhaps we would not have as many users migrating on to harder drugs. Plus the money from the taxes could then be put to a good use. Treatment of people who are on harder drugs. Our law enforcement officers could focus on the drugs that are actually killing people instead of a harmless plant. No one should be in prison for a crime that has no victim. Smoking marijuana is a victimless crime. Were it up to me all people currently locked away for victimless crimes would be set free, but if you had committed a crime that hurt others your backside better get used to it back there as you are going to be hanging out there a long time.

Hunger is a terrible thing and it is – lucky for us – something very few if any have ever had to deal with. But to most of the world hunger is something that must be dealt with on a daily basis. The World Health Organization estimates that one-third of the world is well-fed, one-third is under-fed one-third is starving. It is estimated that one billion people in the world suffer from hunger and malnutrition. In the Asian, African and Latin American countries, well over 500 million people are living in what the World Bank has called “absolute poverty”. Every year almost 15 million children die of hunger or hunger related problems. It is not just third world countries that have hunger issues. Even here in the United States one out of every eight children under the age of twelve goes to bed hungry every night.
This is a terrible thing and even though you want to help you are not able to financially. Many of us live from paycheck to paycheck, just barely getting by. My readers may remember me posting about the FreeRice site that gives away rice with every correct question on vocabulary. I have found yet another site where you can help feed the poor for free. It is estimated that over 3 billion people in the world are struggling to get by on $2.00 US per day. The site is The Hunger Site. Since its launch in 1999 the site has helped feed the world’s hungry. To date there has been more than 300 million visitors that clicked the yellow “Click Here to Give – it’s FREE” button. Turning the clicks into more than 500 million cups of food. They also sell ad space and have a store that features hand made items from various countries. They have numerous pages of items in their store. Anything from hand carved gourds to Peruvian silver jewelry. And all the profits go to a good cause, feeding the hungry.
Most items will tell you how much food is being donated per purchase. But you do not have to purchase anything whatsoever to give away free food everyday. Simply visit the site everyday and click the Yellow “Click Here to Give – it’s FREE” button. It will only take a few moments of your time and can mean the world to someone else.

My apologies to my readers for not posting yesterday. I took a spill and was banged up and feeling too sore to walk down here and sit at the desk pounding these keys. Plus it is easier on me not smoking if I am in the house as no smoking is allowed in the house but it is here in my office. I would always come down here to do my smoking. I wasn’t intending to quit smoking but after one day of seeing how long I could go without smoking ending up to be the whole day. I then said to myself how long can I go? Am I really an addict or not. It has been challenging at times but not so much that I gave in to the urges and am on my 6th day without a smoke. I still have two packs of opened cigarettes in my pockets, just in case. I feel if I can only go without smoking because I have no access to them then it is not really quiting. You can’t quit anything that you are craving. Myself I find that I don’t really crave them but look for them when I have a moment to wait on something or if I have to drive far. I’ve only been smoking cigarettes this time about 5 years. I had gone 20 years between cigarettes as it is not my first time to smoke or relapse either one. Hopefully I won’t follow some of my prior moves while not smoking cigarettes as I would smoke a pipe or cigars sometimes.
I was taught to smoke the same way I was taught to drink as a child. I had my first drinks while still in diapers and was watering down my parents liquor and stealing drinks before my teenager years. By time I was a teen I was smoking cigarettes and cigars as well as drinking every chance I could get. I wish that I could start all over on those years but I can’t. I did insure my son and daughter were not brought up the same as I was. If they were influenced to drink and smoke it wasn’t from me.
Here I have gotten way off subject. I was intending to write on another topic all together. I have found another site that helps feed the hungry and should have it written for tomorrows post. I don’t know if any of you realize this but there are over 1 billion hungry people in the world. It is a travesty that so many people go hungry. What is spent on the military worldwide in less than a week would feed all the hungry people in the world for a year.

The world will have its eye on China this year as it plays host to the Olympics. Some of us hope that it also highlights complaints about their unfair economic policies, its secretive military buildup and its human rights abuses. At least some of our lawmakers and candidates are paying attention, and scrutinizing their actions in hearings and legislation.
“The Chinese want this ‘Show’ – with a capital ‘S’ – to showcase their government to the world,” Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., said in an interview. Congress, he said, should use that as leverage to “bring maximum scrutiny and light to their egregious human rights abuses.”
Myself I still have the picture of the one lone man standing up for democracy in front of a tank. We claim to support and promote democracy yet totally ignored the massacre at Tiananmen Square. Some of the survivors have recently been released from prison. We should not have a “most favored” trading partner that treats citizens so brutally.
Smith backs legislation that would stop U.S. technology companies from aiding countries that restrict Internet access. American Internet companies have been denounced for turning a blind eye to abuse in China so they can crack that lucrative market. Google and Yahoo both have made concessions to the Chinese government to censor the web and web searches for Chinese. Yahoo even went so far as to give Chinese intelligence that resulted in the conviction of a journalist for “divulging state secrets abroad”,
U.S. manufacturers complain that Beijing‘s low valuation of the yuan, its currency, makes Chinese goods cheaper in the United States and American products more expensive in China. Lawmakers are considering bills that would punish China for what they contend are predatory trade practices. Lawmakers also worry about China’s rapid military spending and the country’s apparent secretiveness about its military aims.
All in all I think we need to watch China carefully. They are not as friendly to us as they appear to be. Not as long as we have issues between us over human rights violations and trade deficits. They want our money and our technology but I think we should be wary of giving them too much. Our politicians have already have given away most of our textile jobs to them, as seen by so many empty mills here in the south. What else are they going to give away next?

Today was a stressful day for me. No real work but working on web pages for a friend. An hour or so later we had the pages looking like she wanted. Then she talked me into signing up for Sqidoo. I am still not sure what all I did with it and if I have it right or wrong. I do have the page up and working. It is supposed to help send potential customers to my file hosting business. I host images for auctions or web pages there. I have hosted voice files for a girl that was doing voice descriptions which worked out very nicely for her. She had a very pleasing voice and sold a number of very nice items, even selling some on commission. Next- on to finally password protecting some of my files that are for customers use only. I have free auction templates and a neat little image gallery that will accept up to ten images that works like the ones you see that ebay sells to sellers but this one you can insert for free.
Hopefully tomorrow I will be in full swing and up on my soap box speaking my mind about current events and the jerks we have either in office or attempting to be elected into office. And South Carolina has more than her share here stumping for our votes. I guess we will find out who is ahead next week after the votes are counted. I am not sure who I will vote for, I feel like it is no longer who is most qualified for office but who is the one who is least likely to screw over the American people. Who genuinely wants to help the people instead of lining their pockets with money from special interest groups and lobbyists. So take the promises with a grain of salt. They can promise anything they want but they can not write laws only sign them. So when you look at the current president and think how poorly he has done and all the rights and laws signed were not done alone. He had accomplice’s in the House and Senate. Remember that when you vote on whomever you decide is the best candidate. All the House seats are up for grabs this November and part of the Senates seats. So remember whomever is elected president can not do anything without the help of Congress.

???? A group of four retired Army generals are traveling through the primary states in an effort to tell the candidates of both parties that “torturing war detainees is incompatible with a strong defense, and instead puts national security and the safety of U.S. troops at risk.” They are here in South Carolina this week as that is where the candidates are in expectation of the upcoming primary here next week. They are part of a larger group of military officials who have petitioned Congress and at least 8 candidates so far. Seven democrats and one republican have been contacted about the seriousness of this issue. “Torture doesn’t accomplish the mission that you’re torturing for,” said retired Lt. Gen. Charles P. Otstott. With 32 years in the Army, including two combat tours in Vietnam, Ostott is no novice and knows from experience that torture does not give credible results. Otstott and his colleagues, claim they have “direct experience” with the issue, said they believe the U.S. has tortured and abused prisoners since Sept. 11, but that its use has declined since the Abu Ghraib scandal.

Their focus is to get the next Commander In Chief to make sure that torture is not confused with getting and being tough on terrorists. They make the point that when a candidate pledges to do anything to track down terrorists, it can be misinterpreted as a license to abuse detainees.

In the end all torture does is get the detainee to say anything true or false to get the torture stopped. Information gained like this is seldom good and mostly gives us a black eye on the world stage.
We are supposed to be leading the world with our morals,and instead we are acting like thugs or a petty dictator like we unseated in Iraq.

Jimmy Wales, the founder of online encyclopedia Wikipedia, has announced the launch of a new open-source search engine, Wikia Search. The new search engine is Wikia Search. It went live two days ago on the seventh. The search engine will allow the community to help rank search results, in a model close to Wikipedia. However the company is a for-profit organization. This new search is supposed to challenge Google and Yahoo by offering a search service that is more transparent to end users, meaning they can see how search results are arrived at. It launched the day before yesterday and is available to use now. The search tool will take time to evolve, and the initial service won’t match the capabilities of the leading search engines. Contributors will have to develop the search platform over time the same way that Wikipedia was built up. If this goes as planned then the search results will be better targeted towards the information we seek rather than wading through tons of junk pages. Google is very good at many types of search, but in many instances it produces nothing but spam and useless crap. Basically, if you consider one of the tasks of a search engine, it is to make a decision: ?this page is good, this page sucks.? Computers are very good at making such judgments, so algorithmic search has to go about it in a roundabout way – But we have a really great method for doing that ourselves. We just look at the page. It usually only takes a second to figure out if the page is good, so the key here is building a community of trust that can do that.

When the Environmental Protection Agency was created in 1970 during Richard Nixon‘s administration, its aim was well-defined: protect human health and the environment.

In its action last week deflecting state attempts to impose tough greenhouse gas emission standards on motor vehicles, the EPA is acting more like the Polluter Protection Agency, defending the interests of the oil and auto industries rather than those of the public.California, and 15 other states, filed suit on the second of January 2008 against the Environmental Protection Agency for rejecting its plan to limit greenhouse gases on cars, trucks, and SUVs. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said the Bush administration is “ignoring the will of millions” by ruling that Congress’ recent boost in fuel-efficiency standards makes California‘s own emissions law unnecessary. The 1970 Clean Air Act allows states to set their own emission rules if they receive a waiver from the feds; the EPA refused on Dec. 19 to grant California’s request. California Attorney General Jerry Brown called the denial “shocking in its incoherence and utter failure to provide legal justification for the administrator’s unprecedented action”. The EPA has done nothing to curb greenhouse gases despite a Supreme Court ruling that requires them to treat greenhouse gases as a pollutant and therefor a threat to our air.

Twelve other states – Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington – have adopted California’s emissions standards, and others have said they plan to do so. The 12 states, along with Arizona, Delaware and Illinois, said Wednesday that they plan to intervene in support of California.

It was the first time the EPA had fully denied California a waiver under the Clean Air Act . The EPA’s decision was a victory for automakers, who had argued they would be forced to reduce their selection of vehicles and raise prices in states that adopted California’s standards. California’s air board is reviewing other measures it could impose on automobile manufacturers if the lawsuit fails or delays the state’s regulations from taking effect.