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Now let's get this straight for once. You hear endless amounts of yadda yadda about how we foreigners don't really dislike Americans as individuals, just the actions of your government (and a few idiot tourists, but not as many as there used to be, and anyway, that would be the sort of digression that diminishes the impact of a proper rant).

Now, the USA is by all accounts a DEMOCRACY, and seemingly proud of it. That means that the power resides with the people. Hanging chads, yeah, vote early vote often, yeah, electoral intimidation, yeah, one-party republicrat state, yeah. I DON'T CARE. NO government is possible ANYWHERE without the consent of the governed, one way or another. So I'm not prepared to pussyfoot around about this any more. It's quite simple:

If you elect (or by your action or inaction allow to be elected) that imbecile neo-fascist baboon again I am going to hold YOU personally responsible, and cave in your skulls with a cricket bat.

Have a nice day.


Don't say you weren't warned.

Dear [International Ethics Professor],

Below is my term paper topic proposal. If you would prefer this be submitted on paper rather than electronically, please advise. I will happily provide a paper copy at next class.

Sincerely,

[ameriwire]

*****

"Survival of the Rightest: The Necessary Ethical Dilemmas of a Collective"

Overall, my paper will contrast national ethical principles with personal ethical principles, and show that they are wildly different things, with different origins. I will also argue that they are incompatible with one another in many ways, meaning that a person may be forced at times to choose national-ethics over personal-ethics or vice versa.

The paper will start by examining the origins of the ethical principles governing nations. I will argue that these principles have been subject to a natural selection process (similar to the familiar natural selection process which has driven biological speciation). This position means that:

  1. Every nation's ethical decisionmaking must allow for its own survival and continuity (the national equivalent of survival and reproduction)

    and

  2. A nation is more likely to achieve long-term survival (i.e., to "flourish") when its ethical schema goes beyond merely allowing for its survival and continuity, and instead, actively encouraging its survival and continuity through expansion and other means.

With the above in mind, I will argue that national survival and continuity will always inevitably conflict with several maxims of individual (personal) ethics. Killing "innocent" civilians, for example, is (generally) very contrary to personal morality, and yet it is necessary and ethically permissible when viewed through the national ethics lens.

I have been encouraged to vote several times with emphasis on the fact that sometimes elections are very close. So I imagined that my vote had an impact on one of the issues or races. I imagined that it is an important issue or race.

I imagined that the issue or race on which I vote will go the way I vote because of my vote, and that without my vote, it would be a tie. This gave me a profound sense of power, but it scared me. It suddenly became my job to decide which way the issue or race should go, and I worry that I might miss something. After all, why are all my fellow voters split so evenly? The issue or race must be a very complicated or divisive one. It is imperative for me to know exactly what I'm doing.

Is it right for me to be wary of this responsibility?

I have listened to the arguments on both sides of several issues. The spectrum of intelligence that I sense from both sides ranges from common propaganda to highly lucid and reasonable explanations.

Has your vote ever been in error or does that happen only to other people, like me?

Does it scare you that if your vote decides a race or issue and it is in error, that you and at least half of your fellow citizens are responsible for the resulting damage?

How can I shed the feeling that our political system gives every voter more responsibility than anyone should ever have to bear?

I would like to be responsible for the people I love and no one else. Then I would be free. Is this too much to ask?
The more I talk to people about the electoral process, the more dysfunctional and abusive the entire process seems.

Take George Bush. (Please! *rimshot*)

*ahem*

We have a ridiculously abusive president who enacts ridiculously abusive policies. I doubt whether many people (who are likely to read this, anyway) would argue with me on that point.

So what did we do, in 2000, when the ridiculously abusive patriarch engaged in widespread election fraud and stole the election?

We blamed the extremely small percentage of voters who voted third-party-liberal, who might otherwise have voted for Gore. Basically, a lot of people ignored the abuse that was happening in front of them because (I assume) it was too terrifying to believe and investigate, and instead created a scapegoat to attack. (Which also overlooked the entire way that the electoral college system works. Not to mention the fact that when they were actually allowed to complete the Florida recount, a year or two after the election, they found that Gore did actually get more votes than Bush. And the fact that very few media outlets even carried this story and nothing happened about it.)

It's like a giant dysfunctional/abusive family. We turn around and blame the victim because acknowledging the giant fire-breathing pink elephant in the room is too scary. It would require real change, and we're not ready for that.

This election is even worse. People are so afraid of getting burned that they're turning on each other ahead of time. On one hand, I enjoy the festive mood that I find among Kerry voters. I like the idea that people are putting aside their differences in order to defeat Bush. And I appreciate the many people who are trying to get Amnesty International to monitor our election, and the people who are going to polling places to make sure everyone gets to vote, and the people who are working extra hard to register voters and encourage everyone to vote. We've made something good come out of Bush's tyrannical reign, and that's very important. And pretty impressive.

But on the other hand, I think that people can get too invested in "anybody but Bush." Somehow, "anybody but Bush" doesn't really mean "anybody but Bush." It means, "I will settle for anybody but Bush for president, so I'm going to vote for the least distasteful person who has a chance at beating him." Or "the person I like the most who has a chance at beating him." And that can be a risky proposition.

If you really like Kerry, or if you think he is in fact the best candidate running for the position, then it's great. But if you think that some of Kerry's policies and positions are fucked-up and abusive too, then it's only so-so. And if they happen to be positions and policies that are important to you, then basically it's a choice between the abusive person and the seemingly less abusive person. It's become Hobson's choice: you can either vote for the abusive government that will behave in ways you don't accept or approve, or... the Republicans.

Of course, there are differences between the Democrats and the Republicans, and there are differences between Kerry and Bush. But while I think that the Democrats are more likely to listen to my objections if I oppose something they do, I also know that they do a tremendous number of things that we don't see or oppose because we trust them. Clinton bombed Iraq weekly, and that information was much more difficult to get than the information about Bush's bombings, and I never knew of any activism around it. I only found out about it during Bush's war. There are trade-offs either way, and the trade-off I perceive with the Democrats is the awareness of and opposition to their more heinous actions. And that scares me, too.

The problem I see with "anybody but Bush" is that people get into this dysfunctional dynamic with it. First of all, it's code for "you have to vote for Kerry!" And I don't like code. But mainly, it turns into this weird scapegoating. People who voted for Nader last election are now attacking me for saying that I might vote third-party. It's like any abusive family: we get attacked, and then instead of refusing the attack, get sucked into the dysfunction and start attacking others for the same behavior. Like getting attacked for voting Nader, and then deciding that those people are right and attacking others for voting that way in the future.

The bottom line in that situation is that Bush's election in 2000, and his subsequent actions, were not the fault of the Nader voters. They were his own fault. His election was supported by the Bush voters but even they weren't to blame for his actions as "President." He was, and his handlers and his cabal and whatever else is going on up there. The voters and other citizens of the U.S. and now the rest of the world are the victims in that situation, not the abusers. And the more that powerless people scapegoat each other, the more he can get away with.

The same is true in this election. If I vote for Peltier, or whoever, I'm not voting for Bush. I'm tired of the illogical, blaming rhetoric that says that a vote for anyone but the Democratic candidate is a vote for the Republican candidate. And I remember all the Republicans for Nader in the 2000 election, and I remember Perot, and all that stuff. But more importantly, I'm tired of being handed a load of bullshit by a party that doesn't have my best interests in mind in order to manipulate me into (1) doing what they want and (2) taking the blame if they fail.

People can say whatever they want about the zero-sum game, but it doesn't make sense to me. First of all, the argument seems to be that if someone who would otherwise vote for a Democrat votes for a third-party candidate, then that's taking a vote away from the Dems. But if someone who otherwise wouldn't vote votes for a third-party candidate, then that's fine. So how do they even know how or whether I would have voted? How do they know why any of the third-party voters voted the way they did? (I would also say that we should be using the non-mainstream parties to get people excited about voting and get them involved for the first time, but that's another story.)

And second of all, we have the electoral college. I live in California. In all likelihood, our horrifying governor aside, our electoral votes are going to go to Kerry. It's not going to be a question of whether I vote for Kerry or Peltier or Bush or anything else. And I am, I think I can say with some assurance, not representative of any group of voters... even if we had a huge number of third-party voters, it is unlikely either that they would not be voting for Kerry this year, or that their numbers would sway the state in any direction overall.

One of the things that I hear people saying is that there is going to be election fraud, so we need to vote for Kerry. This makes very little sense to me, because the election fraud I've seen usually involves people's votes not being counted or people not getting to vote. Granted, the votes that seem to get counted might push us over the edge between Bush clearly winning and Kerry being able to fight the power, as it were.

But if I want to make sure that all the votes for Kerry get counted and he gets all the credit he deserves for that, there are much more direct, effective, and appropriate things for me to do than to vote for him against my conscience and hope that it gets counted. I can study as much as I can find about election fraud, try to find out how to tell when it's happening, and if Bush seems to be stealing the election, get involved in the counterattack. I can write things that inform others about how election fraud happens and that list the evidence that we already have that Bush is planning it. I can send those things to people at different newspapers, magazines, websites, and television news programs, and ask them to spread the word about what is happening and to investigate it in ways that I can't. I can donate money to the groups that are organizing to fight these things. And I am already doing many of these things before the election even occurs.

There is just so much about this election that copies a dysfunctional, abusive family system. Of course, that's what our country is. But it's so blatant this year. And there's so much bizarre future-tripping. If I vote this way, what if Kerry doesn't get enough of the popular vote to give him a clear mandate to contest the election results? How is that even the question? What if instead he gets enough of the popular vote that he wins by a landslide? What if Diebold rigs the entire election and none of our votes get counted anyway? What if the election has always been rigged in many places, and large portions of it have been an illusion for decades if not longer? How the fuck should I know?

The only things I can know are what I believe in and who I think would be the best candidate. I can also know who I think will win, and I can know a few things about the ways in which election fraud is conducted - and I can find out quite a bit more, I think. But I can't even know whether my own vote is counted. I do know, or at least it is my opinion, that my vote is not the deciding one in any Presidential election. No matter what happens I am a part of something bigger than myself. Which is good. Even if my chosen candidate wins by one vote, I am only a part of that. That one vote is each vote that is cast, which is why it's important to vote.

But I also think it's important to vote honestly. To me, the question on the table in any election is "Who do you think is the best candidate for this position?" Or "Who do you want to win?"

Hm.

Okay. What I was going to say was that the question on the table was "Who do you think is the best candidate for this position?" In which case, my answer would be Peltier. Although I intend to review the reasons to vote for Kerry and see if my answer changes. But I'm not interested in second-guessing the entire process and deciding that such and such might happen and in that case the question would actually be "Which of the major candidates do you want to win?" or "Do you want Bush to win?" or "How is your electoral college going to vote?" or "Who do all your friends like?" or "Do you really think we're counting these?" and therefore answering that question instead. That's lunacy. And a lot of people are convinced that one or another of those scenarios are the case and therefore the question is this or that, but they can't all be right... and I am not willing to play weird government mind games, ever. I know too much about weird government mind games already.

If the question is "Who do you want to win," then I could see a slim space in which I could ethically vote for Kerry. Elise, on the other hand, offered the wisdom that "In an election, the question is the best candidate. What we have tomorrow is a plebiscite. All we are really doing is voting YES or NO on Bush." That's how I tend to see my vote: if I'm not voting for Bush, I'm not voting for Bush, regardless of whether I vote for the default candidate or someone who can't get in.

And Elise backs me up on this: "if you're in a state where it's going to be close, then voting for someone that is not going to come anywhere near winning essentially means you're ok with the Busheviks staying in power. But if you're in a state where it won't make a difference, then you're basically just voting for federal funding in the next election."

So... yeah. I'm tired of all the liberal left mind-games. I'm tired of the misdirection. I want to fight for everyone to vote the way that they actually want, to vote honestly with their conscience, and to have functional and effective ways of fighting any government official's abusive actions. I want to end this era where we vote for someone who might not suck too bad out of fear of the person we think will suck horribly. I am tired of America's all-or-nothing, narrow addict thinking, where we focus on the immediate election as if it is going to be the causal factor in everything, as if we can't participate in the political process after that. As if we're not going to take to the streets if Bush OR Kerry does more messed-up things overseas, or here. I want to see us put every part of this into perspective, and recognize what we can and can't do about the election, about the war, about healthcare, and then do what we can. I'm tired of people fearmongering and scapegoating and sticking their heads in the sand instead. I'm going to vote for the candidate that I think would be the best, that I would most like to see win. And I'm going to work to find a way to make everyone that they have the same freedom in four years.

I welcome comments on this. But try to keep the name-calling, threats, and inflated rhetoric to a bare minimum.

Tonight is the scariest night of the year.

Tonight the ghosts of people long dead will walk on Earth again, watching the living very closely and sometimes carrying a big stick, just in case.

Tonight you'll see people in funny costumes who will try to frighten you with their stories.

And there will be a few treats and lots of tricks.

Today might be a nice day to sit down and read some scary poetry, Dante's Inferno for instance.

In particular the point where it says that those guilty of the sin of indifference aren't even allowed inside Hell, because the devils won't have any truck with those damned idiots who didn't vote.

We need more choices.

OK, I'll admit it. I am voting for John Kerry mainly because I do not want to see George W. Bush reelected. Voting for Kerry is the only plausible way I can think of that I can help prevent another four years of King Bush. I would have liked more choices! Yes, of course technically there are like Nader, Peltier, or Badnarik, but they don't have a shot in hell of winning. And they can't even get on the ballots. Why?? Because they are not Democrat or Republican?

Pennsylvania, for instance, required Nader to have 25, 697 (what an odd, arbitrary number) signatures on a petition to get on the ballot. Nader doubled that. Different states require a different number for independent candidates to procure to get on the ballot, but what that number is doesn't matter much to me. What matters is that this system is in place in the first place. Does George W. Bush have to have a certain number of signatures on a petition to get on the ballot? Does John Kerry? I did some research here (http://usinfo.state.gov/products/pubs/democracy/dmpaper3.htm). Apparently, from what I could gather, they do. But you never hear about them getting such petitions. It's nothing more than a formality, maybe. My interpretation of something said in that website: it is important to make it hard for third party candidates because of this logic: the more candidates, the less the number of votes is needed to win, e.g. the winner in a contest with three or four actual, serious, vote-getting candidates will have only been wanted by 1/3 or 1/4 of the people. But multiple-party systems work in other countries. I think more choices matter than that.

What can we do about it? Well, we need a strong third party, one that can seriously challenge the Mules and Elephants. It's been done before. Look at the Whigs. They got four presidents into office: William Henry Harrison (1841)(who died of pneumonia and only served 31 days as President), John Tyler (1841-1845, Harrison's successor, who was actually later thrown out of the Whig party), Zachary Taylor (1849-1850), and Millard Fillmore (1850-1853). True, these are some of the more obscure Presidents, but this shows it can be done. What can we do to promote and give a good third party legitimacy in the political spectrum? Books, movies, television shows perhaps featuring families or strong main characters with allegiance to this party, perhaps? This may sound shallow but it may work, make it cool or hip to belong to this party. It's a sad commentary on the priorities of this country, but get Hollywood behind it and this party will become engraved into the national consciousness. Of course, there's also the internet. We would need scores and scores of websites dedicated to this party, blogs, forums and the like. The next generation will grow up on the internet; it will be like television was for the previous two or so generations. You might even call the party the Internet Party or something similar. The platform could be freedom for all of the real world, the same freedom we still enjoy on the internet! Or something.

Of course, if the third party does get a majority of the popular vote in the election they will predictably get no electoral votes. Then, my friend, sparks will fly!! Let the fun begin!

Well, think about it. Time for me to get back to work.

I got info on the Whig party from here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Whig_Party

If you are an American and you haven't already, GO VOTE TODAY!

I've heard all the arguments:

Both parties are the same.
Then vote for a third party.

Third parties can never make a difference.
Naturally if no one votes for them.

My vote won't matter.
Of course it doesn't matter any more than anyone else's vote, but that's only fair.

Politics are too corrupt.
Good people exist in politics, if you are so good then you should be involved too.

Folks, we participate in our society whether we like to or not. We are lucky to live in a time where we have the right to vote and choose our leaders on a regular basis. I'm not going to give you a dogmatic spiel about how many Americans died for your right to vote and blah blah blah. The truth should not be reduced to ideology. Every one of us has power in the world, the fact that it is a relatively small amount of power should not stop us from exercising it.

In 2000 I was in the apathetic voter camp. Bush and Gore both were so full of shit that voting seemed a waste of time. But in the age of sound bytes and two-party politics, you can't expect candidates for public office to publically take well-reasoned positions on every issue. Candidates have to spend most of their time campaigning, so getting elected is like a fencing match; each side crafts a calculated message to gain a statistical advantage.

Candidates may (by necessity) think of us as statistics, and we may think of strangers that way, but within our realm of experience we can have a profound impact. The appearance of randomness is really just a lack of detailed information. Within the scope of our individual lives we can make a big difference, and these differences extend to the people around us. Society is built from millions of individual interactions.

I suppose it's no wonder that in the land of the individual, people would not be satisfied by such a collective sense of responsibility. Normal people pale in comparison to the mass influence exhibited by today's media superstars. We start to get the feeling that if something doesn't directly and immediately benefit us then it's not worth doing. This incitement to apathy is harmful to society, because the more people turn away the more power gets consolidated in the hands of a few corrupt individuals.

If you are happy with the way things are, and you feel okay about what our government is doing around the world then feel free to stay at home today. However, if you disagree with our global actions, then it's your job to speak out. You can't sit in a bubble and pretend like you have nothing to do with it, because your tax dollars sure as hell being spent. You don't need to change the world, but you definitely need to pull your own weight.

I live in what can most aptly be described as a pretty diverse neighborhood. Even though I’m about as heterosexual as they come I’ve made friends with many of the same sex couples that have chosen to take up residence in the area. I don’t go out of my way to do it, it just seems to happen. Maybe it’s because a long time ago I made a conscious decision to see everybody as just people and try to strip them of their labels. People struggling just like the so-called normal folks who are trying to make sense of a very confused world. People who worry about many of the same things I worry about and are just trying to cope with the daily grind that each of us must face.

I was standing in line, waiting to vote and a young lady was behind me. We got to chatting about the state of the world and she happened to mention to me that her wife was out of town and how much she missed her and that she wouldn’t be back for a couple of weeks.

The tears began welling up in her eyes and you could almost feel the distance that was keeping them apart.

There’s a proposed amendment to the Ohio constitution that wants to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman only.

She asked me this question…

”What else are they going to take away from us?”

I got to thinking about “these people”. They must face more than I can ever imagine. From social acceptance to discrimination in the work place to snickers about them while they stand in line at the grocery. Maybe it's just something they talk about among themselves and figure that the rest of us so-called normal folks don't want to hear about. My heart goes out to them.

Even though it was a no-brainer, I voted against the amendment. I don’t want to look at any more eyes that are filled with tears. We have enough reasons to cry already. We don't need to go about inventing more of our own.

I gots me a job. Oh yes. At the NBC Experience Store in Rockefeller Center, undoubtably one of the prettiest places to work over Christmas in the whole wide world. More money than I've made in a long time, good hours, a shot at a job in the Marketing department come January. Step one: throw out the Ramen and think about restocking the fridge.

/me grooves.

(oh and I, like, voted. And stuff. Not that it makes all that much of a difference in this state. Still; it's the thought that counts, eh?)

Before one can discuss standards, one must first establish a common frame of reference.

I write this having recently attended the first Digital Power Forum (held by the Darnell Group in San Jose, CA). The conference covered a range of topics, from nuts-and-bolts questions on hardware used in providing and controlling power, to issues of control and monitoring software, to a discussion about the need for standards in both.

The problem with discussing standards in a developing field like digital power starts with confusion about the topic itself. In this case, digital control of power has been around for some time (in motor control for example), but what most people are referring to when they use the term is board-level dc/dc power control and systems monitoring.

However, even if you narrow the discussion to that aspect of digital power alone, there is still plenty of room for debate, from deciding which hardware configurations are best to the choice of software protocols. I liken the problem to the old story about the blind men and the elephant.

The tale is about how each of the blind men's conclusions of the nature of the elephant is guided by the part of the elephant they encounter, from the trunk to the tail. The moral of the story is that although each one of the men are right in their own way, they are all wrong on the true overall nature of the animal.

The story could have ended differently if each of the blind men had told the others of their findings, and if they had combined their viewpoints and observations to arrive at a group consensus. By realizing that each member of the group had a unique viewpoint, and that each viewpoint covered an aspect of the whole, the group would have come away from the experience with a better knowledge of the true nature of the beast.

When discussing digital power—or anything—every player has their own viewpoint, and only by communicating can the true nature of the industry be determined and any standards established have any credibility. Even if no standards are set beyond those that already exist, the act of communicating will strengthen the industry and help create a frame of reference from which everyone can begin to ensure that they are at least talking about the same thing.

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