Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

President Obama has gotten more than he bargained for with the fire fight he is facing with religious groups over a mandate that even religious organizations include birth control as part of their insurance coverage. What was originally framed as a step in the right direction for woman’s rights and universal healthcare quickly turned into a constitutional debate over the president’s ability to force specific coverage onto everyone, including religious groups.

The president’s so called ‘accommodation’ was nothing but a shell game: the mandate still requires religious organizations to subsidize and authorize conduct that conflicts with their religious principles. The very first amendment to our Constitution was intended to protect against this sort of government intrusion into our religious convictions. (Texas Attorney General)

The Texas Attorney General’s argument is weak at best and I call into question his understanding of the First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

The mandate is not directed at religious groups, but rather the insurance companies themselves. Are religious groups affected? Sure they are but then again they are also part of the greater population so any decision that applies to the United States as a whole affects them. Greg Abbott, as are religious groups, are linking the idea that insurance companies offering contraception methods as part of insurance plans somehow “authorize(s) conduct that conflicts with their religious principles” but I beg to differ. Something like 42% of women use contraception methods for something other than preventing pregnancies (the real reason religious groups are up in arms) – let’s just ignore that for the time being since the religious groups are.

Let’s take a tangent real quick before we continue and look at my experiences with sex and religion. I was raised a Catholic. Went to Catholic school for 10 years of my life and have a pretty good understanding of the mindset utilized by similar groups. Since sex education was a required thing growing up, we were taught three basic ideas:

  1. Only way to not get pregnant is to not have sex. Actually was told numerous time:  “the use of any contraceptive is a sin”
  2. You need to wait until you’re married to have sex
  3. If you have sex with more than one person, you will get a STD for life

Pretty grim stuff if you ask me, but the reality was that it was only part of the truth. If you read into these ideas a little, you sense a fear factor rather than that of love and compassion. Why is that? Why was the church pushing a harsher reality onto students in their early years? Plain and simple – they have always done it. My interpretation of the church is that if the general public were left to their own devices, morality would not exist and the integrity of people would be that of Sodom and Gomorrah. Since the church has little physical influence over the personal lives of their employees (free will), another avenue of control is required – making birth control somewhat fiscally out of reach through not providing it in insurance plans. You won’t find any studies published on the cold, hard number of people who classify themselves as religious and their use of contraceptives but I’ll go out on a limb and say that more than 80% of married couples practice it in some form.

I’m going to pull the religious card here. I was always taught that people are tested while here on earth but every decision was yours, including the decision to sin or not follow the church. How is the abstinence from contraceptives offered by an insurance company any different? The answer is it’s not.

Enough tangent, back to the argument. Religious groups can harp all day on moral issues of offering birth control as part of their insurance plans but the reality that they do not want to face is that, regardless of it being available in the insurance plan, their congregation would still practice contraception methods in some form. The other side of the argument, that some how they are subsidizing the use of contraceptives is totally crazy. The mandate specifically says that rates will not go up as a result of this. Let’s look at the insurance company for a minute because this is the best thing that could have happened for them. The insurance costs of raising a child are enormous compared to providing birth control so it’s a win-win for them.

Obama is not shoving contraception down the throats of everyone but merely making it financially available to everyone. That’s it. It’s the person’s decision to take it or not. Because it is a free will decision, arguing that this mandate violates the First Amendment is absurd. Now if it was “crazy religious fanatics are required to take birth control every day” then you have something, but merely making something available to the greater public and arguing it violates your rights? Give me a break.

Iranian agression or puffs of smoke

Posted: February 6, 2012 by nullpointerexceptional in Important, International affairs, Politics, Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

Iran upped the ante in their most recent attempts to catch the ire of the world by conducting a new series of war games – this time in the air. You know, paper airplanes and surface to air missiles that always miss their mark. More than likely this is in response to some of the fluff floating around on the interwebs concerning Israel’s likely hood of launch air strikes to delay Iran’s ever vigilant quest for the power of the atom. Mr Poopy Pants, otherwise known as Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (for those of you living under rocks he’s the supreme ruler of Iran not to be confused with Mr Douchebag Mahmoud Ahmadinejad), recently talked about eliminating the state of Israel from the world forum – who would have thunk it?

Every one should really appreciate radical thinkers, you know the ones that think outside the box but Iran might be fingering the wrong country here to pick a fight with. Let’s look at war as a pure numbers game: Iran expends roughly $7 billion a year (2010 estimates) versus Israel’s $13 billion. Iran certainly talks the big talk but Israel walks the big walk – heck almost their entire air force is comprised of US born jets. Let’s not forget Israel’s largest backer – the US government (military expenditures on the order of almost $700billion for a point of reference).

Staying on that numbers game, Israel totes a lean 176,000 active troops at any one time versus Iran’s 550,000. Money doesn’t buy u everything but it certainly buys you the latest gagetry to blow your enemy away with. Maybe a good way to look at it is to compare the dollar per active troop in assessing an all out brawl between the two: Israel – $74k versus Iran’s $13k – more than 550% difference. I know if I had to pick the military to join, I’d go with the one spending more money.

Given the recent slue of empty threats coming out of Iran as of late, I wouldn’t be surprised by a sudden mass air strike spear headed by Israel (maybe even a little US involvement). Like the little kid in the school yard, eventually he can no longer take it and beats the piss out of the bully. It’s not like Israel has really cared in the past about this sort of stuff anyway (see any number of disproportionate responses to aggressions by enemies of Israel – like the ‘Gaza War’ where ~1100 Palestinian’s died versus 13 Israelis, 4 of which were friendly fire).

Pakistan is also in the process of shooting themselves in the foot by saying any act of aggression towards Iran will bring them into the mix. Oh no, we don’t support terrorists (see the leaked UN memo on Pakistan’s terror involvement or the countless CIA drone strikes for counter evidence) which makes our involvement in something like this more of a religious zeal than anything else. That’s going to be an interesting situation when the US suddenly drops all aid to the country (actually $700million is already frozen by lawmakers since Pakistan can’t get their act together). Will Pakistan stick to their guns and come to Iran’s aid? Only time will tell.

If a fight does break out in the Middle East, it’s not going to be pretty. Right now we’re talking about Iran, Pakistan, Israel and through association the United States. Remember kiddies, the US is just after Iranian oil afterall…

Facebook this, Facebook that. Update Your Status

Posted: January 25, 2012 by nullpointerexceptional in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

Facebook has transformed the internet. A novel idea, allowing first students then the rest of the world, keep in touch with classmates and friends that they have accumulated over the years. No more waiting until class reunions to find out that the b—- you hated in high school got pregnant and is already divorced. No more “playing the field” with 3 or 4 girlfriends since they’d all want the über status of ‘In a Relationship with…’ Or the best yet, those friends that decide to share their lives in 30 second increments including any gastrointestinal issues that may be facing that day. Let’s not down play either the creep factor 10 skill of stalking every attractive girl in your class. Well that was a weird progression wasn’t it?

Here we have a perfectly good social service that continually ‘innovates’ information presentation that I could care less about. That’s really it, right? Facebook’s concept has been the same since it was founded: a presentation layer that is cleaner than MySpace with a little exclusivity (originally just college students). Well, Facebook has lost that exclusivity by opening the flood gates to the rest of the world – hey it was in their best interest to do so. I really question the innovation that things like Timeline bring to the Facebook community as a whole – each phase of these so called innovation has been met by mass protests in the community – then again, no one likes change – and only lessened the privacy that people actually experience.

I’m a bit of a privacy nut and from that perspective Timeline removes a lot of that from me. I liked it when stalkers actually had to work at piecing together information rather than having it all presented in a single place. Oh I can adjust my own privacy settings you say? Go on your account and look at your friends – how many of them are really just people you met once at some party? I’m going to bet your real friends can be counted on your hands and toes – yes even if you have a thousand friends. If you’re really into sharing things like pictures of your drunk ass at a party with complete strangers you probably have some form of social disorder, nay a serious problem.

Tinfoil hat time. Let’s take a step back from Facebook for a moment and look at the malicious potential which can be achieved. Let’s say you meet CJ through a friend of a friend and immediately add each other on Facebook. Time passes and you forget who the guy was or really where you even met him (2 years down the road say) and in that time CJ has become a crack head and needs his next fix.Where does he turn? Facebook. In those two years you’ve been checking into places, sharing photos, commenting on peoples walls – all things that CJ can use to figure out when you’re not around and break into your house while you’re checked into the Sonic down the street, stealing everything valuable. “Oh no, that couldn’t happen to me”. Hate to burst your bubble but it happens already – people using Facebook to build a social profile on someone and then later using it for malicious intent. “OMG I’m going to Cancun for 3 weeks” is a pure gold mine for someone that knows where you live. “Be home in five minutes from the club” here come the serial killers and rapists.

The amount of information that you put on the web about yourself is scary. You know those security questions you have on your bank or email accounts? Think about how many of those questions could be answered by a friend or better yet someone with a lot of time on their hands. Great examples of those types of thefts are Paris Hilton and Sarah Palin – information which was freely available on social media sites (and some books on them) were used to gain access to their emails and phones.

Look, Facebook has had enough scary ‘innovations’ in the past (facial recognition), the last thing anyone needs is some crazy person just needing to go to one spot to get all your information (cough Timeline). If you’re really that addicted to Facebook, post after you get back from somewhere – or better yet don’t post at all: no one actually cares about you and if they do they are probably sitting next to you when you post it. Oh and if you’re one of those people that post pictures of shoes or rap lyrics all the time go to hell.

(As a side note, I deleted my Facebook when Timeline was announced and highly encourage you to do the same).

Salutations

Posted: January 23, 2012 by alephnaughty in Uncategorized

Testing, 1…2…3…