Tuesday, December 21, 2004

From Here the Days Get Longer and Brighter

Took the day off work today. Took it as a religious holiday. So what kind of religious holiday can an atheist take? The Winter Solstice, for while no one can necessarily agree on what the truth is. We cannot argue where the Earth is around the Sun. The nice thing about making your own holiday is you can choose how to celebrate it.

I used it to let go. I have spent a long time grieving over breaking up with a girlfriend, one name she goes by is Lady Isis. I spent a long time in the grief stage of bargaining. If only she would return to me. If only she would do X we could continue on. Over time the concept of what X is kept changing, pretty much picture something in spirit some thing similar to the climax of the movie Secretary. Then finally the realization has come that nothing is enough. I have a woman who I still love but no longer respect. It is time to let go.

When we first got together she gave me a polished stone. It was nothing of value, but was something good to keep in a pocket and hold on to when I needed to be reminded of her. I think she imbued with some mystical properties in her own mind. In my mind it is just a rock, but it is a nice symbolic piece. I have over the course of this year been wanted to get rid of it, mail it back to her perhaps. But just could not do it, knowing the day I did meant I would have giving up on ever trying to rekindle a relationship.

Today was that day. Today is the shortest day of the year. After today the days get longer again. It is a time of endings and beginnings. It also in some ways seems appropriate. I had forgotten Lady Isis' birthday is the 26th of December, and that the goddess Isis' birthday was celebrated on December 25th long ago. So today is time to remember and then move on.

I took the stone she gave me and took at walk in a park by the Big Darby Creek. Then I said goodbye and took the stone and threw it into the creek. It has been cold so I watched it skip across the ice and settle in the middle of creek. And I think I can now move on. Traveling back in the car I was listening to Alan Parsons' The Time Machine and the song No Future in the Past just seemed very fitting.

So much as many of us done want to carry stuff into the New Year the Winter Solstice seems a good time to let go from items in the past, and it is a fact that the days get longer and brighter from here.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

No Long Lines for Me

I am back in the US. I was at work today and all I could hear was everyone who went to vote this morning telling me. "Man, I went to the polls early to avoid the long lines, and still had a 2 hour wait." I couldn't help but gloat and say, "I voted absentee." So far I have not been hit, but the day is not over yet.

There is something good to be said about the long lines though. For the longest time people have been complaining about voter apathy in the US, and it seems that there has been a good reason for it. Basically, most things in the U.S. work well. They are not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but they are good enough, so why get your fat ass off the couch and do something as difficult as voting.

That has changed. We elected George Bush, and he has inspired (read pissed off) enough people to get out and get active enough in politics to get some changes made. Forget Iraq, regime change starts at home. So here is to having a government that works well enough again to get let people to get on with the important parts of their life, like eating food with way too much fat and watching reality TV.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

The Election is Over

Well, for me anyway. I will be flying back from Hungary on election day. So I have just finished punching my absentee ballot. Yes, I said punching and yes there were instructions not to leave any hanging chads. I didn't.

I will say this was a good experience. I had a chance to sit down with the absentee booklet, and just sit in front of Google, and look up all the more obscure candidates. Highlight all my choices and then make my punches. Voting calmly in my own home with a cup of coffee, and time to think. No rushing to the polls before work, not being unsure about the board of education candidates. (I voted against the incumbent pushing for creationism in the curriculum. That Rocks!)

I think I am going to make plans to be out of the county the first Tuesday in November from now on.

And take a wild guess, I voted for John Kerry. I really don't want to deal with the harsh reality of Bush administration for another 4 years. I also think I will get less grief from Europeans when I can honestly say I didn't vote for Bush. But more on that later.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

.COM .ORG What's the Difference?

Or: Open Mouth Insert Opponent's Message Here
Or: Computer Literacy for World Leaders

If you followed the Vice Presidential Debate last night you might have heard Dick Cheney defend his record at Haliburton by referring people to factcheck.com, pity the actual site is www.factcheck.org . What is factcheck.com? Well for a little bit it was one of those annoying advertising sites that cybersquatters or people trying to get traffic from typos put up. I happened to go to the site during the debate and that is exactly the type of site that was there. However, the traffic at the site was so much the owners decided to re-direct it to www.georgesoros.com. This is the web site of billionaire financier George Soros who has committed 15.5 million dollars of his own money to oust President Bush. The owners of factcheck.com decided he could afford the additional traffic.

Way to go Dick! Might I suggest some additional URL's you could put in future debates:


Or just plain and simple: www.johnkerry.com

Never let it be said that here at Harsh Reality we are unwilling to help...

shoot yourself in the foot.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Happy Patriot Day, Whatever

Well, it seems the politics were fairly quiet yesterday. Everyone took 9/11 to be a respectful time. Although for the people who didn't know, yesterday was Patriot Day. Today, however is not Patriot Day so now we can be free to make some comments about it.

In what seemed a a good idea at the time by a joint resolution of Congress and the President's signature on 9/4/2003. We have another non-holiday on the calendar for 9/11 called Patriot Day. Is this a bad thing? I suppose it depends on your definitions of patriot.

If you take Princeton's : "one who loves and defends his or her country" it is certainly fine.

If you take Ambrose Bierce's "n. One to whom the interests of a part seem superior to those of the whole. The dupe of statesmen and the tool of conquerors." Then I think we have a problem.

The problem is that we have too many people who seem to fall into the second definition. People who think any dissent of the government is unpatriotic, and people who fall for the line line that Bush and Cheney keeps subtly suggesting that we went to war with Iraq because in some way they were behind the 9/11 attacks. To them I say, "oh really":

Responding to a presidential tasking, Clarke's office sent a memo to Rice on September 18, titled "Survey of Intelligence Information on Any Iraq Involvement in the September 11 Attacks." Rice's chief staffer on Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, concurred in its conclusion that only some anecdotal evidence linked Iraq to al Qaeda. The memo found no "compelling case" that Iraq had either planned or perpetrated the attacks.
The 9/11 Commission Report Section 10.3

Part of being a patriot should mean you have your own opinions. You might criticize the government, not because you hate it, but because you want to see it improve. I think there might even be a rule somewhere that says that's OK. Otherwise we are going to be stuck in a national case of groupthink that is going to lead us down some very bad roads. In some ways, it has already.

So next year on Patriot Day go ahead and take a moment of silence at 8:46 AM. And if you want to feel good about the USA go ahead. We really have been able to do some amazing things. And if there are some things that bother you speak out and work, peacefully(hey some people need practical advice), to change them. That is the reason the United States has been able to do those amazing things.

Perhaps also consider this. Just as in the pictures posted yesterday I would point out that 9/11 wasn't a national tragedy, it was a global tragedy. Just as terrorism isn't a national problem; it is a global problem. As the Russians recently found out. I keep think that perhaps a Patriot should also occasionally look at a different flag.

From http://www.earthflag.net/

Saturday, September 11, 2004

In Memoriam

There have been harsher realities we as a world we have had to deal with then September 11, but today it is hard to think of them as we remember. What I want to remember is what you might call the beauty of 9/11. Of course you are all saying, what beauty? The beauty is in what happened in the rest of the world on that day. The set of spontaneous memorials that happened all around the world. On that day we had tragedy, but we also had a unity I have very seldom seen. Here are some of those images.

European Union

French President, Jacques Chirac. Forget all the recent politics and look in his eyes on that day.

Palestinian School

U.S., Embassy, Tel Aviv

Back in the days of the cold war did you ever think the Russians would be flying their flag at half mast over the Kremlin for us.

Berlin in front of U.S. Embassy

Sydney Australia


The Good News: The world is not as divided as people make it out to be.
The Harsh Reality: The power to destroy outstrips the power to create. How many fools does it take to destroy a world? Less every day.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

I Pray & I Vote

How much do you want to bet she's voting for Bush. Posted by Hello
Wait just a minute now, doesn't that imply that prayer doesn't work. I mean you have an all powerful god that answers prayers, but you are still going to vote. I mean isn't that just a bit presumptuous. You also have all the religious people that will tell you sometimes god's answer is no. Hey, maybe the answer is no or maybe it just doesn't work at all. The evidence in any case seems sketchy.

So if you pray for your candidate to win and then go vote for him aren't you presuming to know what god wants. You, this mortal human who barley counts as a speck of dust in the vast universe, knows what God (omnipotent being, first cause of all things, the unmoved mover, etc.) wants. Maybe you should just skip the whole voting thing this year. Let god figure it out.

But for those of you who want to do your civic duty might I make a suggestion.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Las Vegas Is Not Built On Sin

I recently attended The Amazing Meeting in Las Vegas. While attending Penn and Teller's Vegas show. Penn Gillette pointed out a very good point Vegas is actually built on bad math. Where else would you consider a 98% payout a good thing.

The harsh reality is that Vegas might be a little more interesting if it was based on a little more sin. I spent the off time from the conventions roaming around the myriad casinos on the strip. Certainly you can see some people having fun and socializing around some of the gambling tables, but there are too many people just focused at the slot machines. Alone and lost in there own little world. I don't see them having fun. Just a bunch of people hoping for the big score that doesn't come.

A few people have pointed out to me that Vegas is better than Atlantic City. Most people in Vegas are at least playing with money they can lose, Atlantic City too many are playing with the rent money.

One of the locals I met is pointing out that the current mayor is trying to legalize prostitution in the city. To me this seems like the the better idea. If the place is going to be called Sin City wouldn't it be somewhat better to legalize some of the sin (plus then you can tax it and enforce health codes on it.) A bit more debauchery would be better in a city that right now has too many people in it just mindlessly losing money, and not having that much fun. Just my observation.