Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Cheat To Win: The Patriots

On September 9, 2007, the Patriots routed the New York Jets 38-14 in their season opener. During the course of the game, the Patriots were caught filming the Jets' defensive signals. On Tuesday, September 11, the NFL determined this to be a violation of league rules. The win still counts.

Here's what Patriots owner Robert Kraft had to say while awaiting the NFL's decision regarding the tapes:

"We worked very hard to try to put an organization together that we all could be proud of in New England, and we're very proud of the New England Patriots organization and the record that they've established over the last 13 seasons and one game."

The "one game" he's talking about is the one where his team was caught cheating. Apparently, he's proud of that, too.

The penalty? A wrist-slap.

Bill Belichick was fined $500,000, which is more than the NFL has ever fined a coach. However, even if they collect it all at once, his salary for this year will still be over $2 million. To put this into perspective, after getting fined, he will be making over $38,000 per week, even in the summer.

"No problem," I'd say privately to my friends, were I in his shoes.

The Patriots organization was fined half the amount and they will lose at least one draft pick next season. If they make the playoffs, they will lose their first round pick - if they don't, they lose their second and third picks. Translation: in the event that cheating didn't help them enough this season to get to the playoffs, they still get to make a selection in the first round of the draft. Quite a cordial penalty, indeed.

Let's use our imagination for a moment. Imagine it's first and ten, the Jets and Patriots are lined up. It's the Jets' ball. Now, imagine one of the Patriots' defensive lineman rushing across the line of scrimmage and sacking Chad Pennington before the snap. A ref blows the whistle and fines the lineman a few thousand dollars - play immediately continues at the point of the tackle. Second down, fifteen yards to go.

The NFL is now a place where cheaters can keep the win. The Patriots, under the leadership of Bill Belichick, cheated and were caught, yet remain "undefeated" at the time of this writing. In a 16-game season, how can their record stand if at least one of those games was invalidated by foul play? Pete Rose, the greatest hitter Major League Baseball has ever seen, was banned from baseball and denied his opportunity to enter the Hall of Fame because he broke the rules. Barry Bonds, the man who hit more home runs than anyone, will have an asterisk placed on the record-breaking ball - only because of the speculation that he may have cheated. Why are the Patriots getting off so easily?

Most people familiar with the NFL will say that reading the opponents' signals is common or will guess that the tapes couldn't have given much of an advantage. I say it only takes one point to win a game, and I say a win doesn't mean anything in a game without integrity. This is football, not Reality TV.

The NFL's actions regarding this incident are socially irresponsible in that they are doing more to defend their bank account and their star club than they are doing to defend their traditional values of sportsmanship and professional conduct. "Of course they don't care about morals," my inner voice tells me. "Morals and millions don't mix."

I say we change that.

We live in a time when large organizations can publicly display their corruption simply because they can get away with it, and we're letting them get away with it by resigning ourselves to be only spectators. They are turning a profit on our own complacency. Sound familiar? Somebody call John Madden, football's going the way of the Bush Administration.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Art is the beginning of emotion. Art is passion. Art is all that is unchanging in the world. Art is wisdom. Art is the idea that something can be great and that nothing may pass that is worse than wisdom. Wisdom is invincible. Wisdom is the power to believe that existence will always be, and that success is endowed to those who resonate with this idea, which supercedes both good and evil. Wisdom is Success. Success is art. Art is the beginning of emotion. Get art.


Monday, October 1, 2007

This Yellow Ribbon


Thursday, September 20, 2007

Let's Grow Up, Out of the Electoral College

The Electoral College is a an outdated and cumbersome system created by the Framers of the Constitution for circumstances which no longer exist in our nation.

Here's why they installed it:
Back in the early days of America, there were no cell-phones, internet, TV, or radios. Information was all hand-delivered or passed by word of mouth. Simultaneously, much of the population was living out of constant contact from the greater whole - they were busy hacking out homesteads in the forests of New England, etc. Minds like Ben Franklin's decided that, since not everyone had the time or resources to be politically informed in a timely manner, they would locally select "Electors" whose job it was to research the issues and pick the best President. Which was a brilliant, but short-sighted solution.

We are now in the Information Age. It's getting harder and harder not to know what's going on in the world these days. I can see speeches from every single candidate simply by bringing my laptop to McDonald's (that's right - free Wi-Fi!) or by watching the TV monitors while I fill up at the Shell station. If asked, on election day, who should be president and why, nearly everyone in America would have a somewhat informed answer. We will all have at least heard the candidates' names. We no longer need electors to do the research for us. In fact, the concept of the Electoral College now does more harm than good.

First, and most obviously, abolishing the Electoral College will shake up all the "electioneers'" strategies and force them to earn each vote, rather than having to simply shoot for a majority in a few moderately-populated swing states. This concept turns my stomach. The system doesn't end up electing a President based on how good they'll be for the country - it ends up electing the President who is best at getting elected. And, as we've seen with President Bush Jr., being good at getting elected can at times be mutually exclusive with the ability to improve the nation.

The second reason for halting the use of the Electoral College is that voter turnout will increase, hand in hand with national political interest. Perhaps you sense a logical leap here. Here's how I came to this theory: Imagine yourself a Republican in California, like my parents. You vote for the Republican candidate, who very rarely wins the state. When the candidate doesn't win, your vote ceases to exist. All the electoral votes go to the other candidate, which is the same as if only one person voted and they voted for the Democrat. In the popular vote system, every vote counts. I repeat, EVERY VOTE COUNTS. You can even see the statistics: if 117,384 people vote for Ron Paul, and you're one of them, you will see one of those numbers as being representative of your opinion. This is a very important point, and is critical in giving our population a sense of power within our government. If I know that my vote will add to my candidate's count no matter what, I feel the importance of my vote. If I'm pretty sure that my vote won't affect the results of the election at all (which I have always felt being a voter in California), then I won't want to vote. Anyone feel me?

Current events surrounding the issue:
- Bush Jr. lost the popular vote and won the election and no one did a thing about it except to whine a little bit.

- Republicans, suffering the embarassment of the publicly corrupt Bush Administration among other political party fouls, are pushing to break up the electoral votes in California. Democrats hate this idea because they are rightly calling it a cheap trick to try to win votes. I, personally, love the idea. Firstly, I have no fear of a Republican winning the upcoming election - with or without California. Secondly, if they push through this legislature (albeit with dishonest intent), it will be easier to call the rest of the nation to do the same.


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Environmentalists Unite Against BioFuels

Over 200 environmental and humanitarium organizations worldwide have joined together to call for an immediate halt to the use of large scale biofuels. This unanimity reflects the public's growing concern that biofuels are causing significantly more harm than good - through the destruction of ecosystems and through human rights breaches. Even now, agrofuel speculators are buying up huge plots of arable land and booting out the people who live there. If biofuels gain large scale support, food prices will be driven up (shortly followed by an increase in the prices of everything else), and the concept of biofuels dangerously ties together the food and oil markets.

Here's the whole article:
Greens call for an end to Biofuels


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Hillary Clinton + Health Care = Sketchy

So I just found out that Hillary Clinton, if elected, plans on passing a bill making health care mandatory (read the article). The principle of this sounds good, doesn't it? Except for the fact that health which is managed for profit is by definition inhumane, and making health care mandatory will give the already obese industry even more money/power/lawmaking ability.

Here's a little history on Hillary Clinton and the health care industry: During Bill Clinton's presidency, Hillary was pushing a health care bill to help everyone get medical care. She received a check from health care lobbyists for over $800,000 and immediately dropped it. This is evidence of the fact that she has a price for which she will sacrifice her policy for financial gain.

Now, let's play a little imagination game, shall we? I want all of you to imagine all the people in the world who have $800,000 or more and are morally willing to profit from changing laws. Raise your hand if you feel comfortable with those people having the power to control your life. No one? Didn't think so.

The bottom line is that we shouldn't be paying for healthcare just like we shouldn't pay police officers for stopping crimes and we shouldn't pay for our children's school books. These are things the government should pay for because it increases the safety, happiness, and therefore earning potential of all citizens. When everybody wins, everybody wins.

Even though this health care bill seems to be a way to further pad the pockets of the private Health Care Industry, it is at least a step in the right direction (although a somewhat stomach-turning step). This is evidence of what kind of country we live in. We are still controlled by the people. Despite all the politicking and electioneering and lobbying that distorts the true will of the general populace, politicians are still required to at least provide the image of a good idea. We the people give the idea for the bills and our politicians pass a reasonable facsimile that often ends up increasing profitability for their biggest campaign donors. At least we're in there somewhere.

Hillary Clinton is touting a health-care bill so that those who don't do the research will immediately think she is on our side. She gets more approval, and the Health Care Industry licks their chops waiting for all of us to be required patrons - which will increase their customer base by 47 million. Meanwhile, they'll kick down some money to buy some TV time for Hillary to guarantee "their" win. Which will continue putting our health in the hands of corporate executives and insurance adjusters.

To prevent having our personal lives controlled by private interests, it is our responsibility to concern ourselves with the workings of our nation. It is our responsibility to speak up. It is our responsibility to be the government. If you think politicians are generally two-faced profiteers, you may be right - but if you are, it is only this way because we the people allow it be. Complacency empowers corruption, and information is power.

Here are a few links to online sources for information:
*** NOTE: Every source is biased! Read multiple opinions...

NY Times
LA Times
CBS Marketwatch
CNET News.com
BBC News Feed
Time Feed


Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Combining Human+Animal DNA is Approved

So, apparently, the UK has approved the combining of human and animal DNA. Here's why:

In researching stem cells for the purpose of curing, up to now, uncurable diseases, scientists study human embryos and development and what effects slight changes at the molecular level have. They can use human eggs, but most human eggs are used for fertility programs. Additionally, the donation process has some risk associated with it, so scientists have begun to use cow and rabbit eggs instead to undertake the same research. The resulting 'cybrids', as they are called, are 99.9% human and 0.01% animal and are required to be destroyed in 14 days.

Anyone ever see "The Island of Dr. Moreau"?


Saturday, September 1, 2007

Hippie Fragrance Secrets Revealed!

The other day, I was at People's Foods next to my house in Ocean Beach. It's the local food co-op and center for social change: promoting organic, natural, local solutions to commercialism.

On this particular trip the grocery store, I had filled my basket with the usual stock of vegetables and grains and was suddenly inspired by the great idea of buying some 100% natural 100% organic deodorant. After all, if nicotine gets absorbed through the skin via a nicotine patch, aren't I absorbing all the chemicals in my deodorant into my blood stream?

So, confident that I was preventing at least 60 years of subcutaneous chemical absorption, I walked home with a bit of a hop in my step and cooked up some fresh, organic squash for dinner. The next morning, I woke up, took a shower, and came out fresh and clean, excited to try out the deodorant and let the healing begin. Still dripping and smelling of soap, I applied the stick and took the obligatory sniff to see what my new scent was like. I was appalled. Natural and organic though it may have been, and despite the promises of a bouquet of "Tea Tree and Cypress" aromas, once applied to my skin, the resultant smell was a spot-on simulation of B.O.! I should have guessed. Damn hippies.


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A Rooftop View Of Fireworks

As I write this, I am just a few miles from Sea World, where fireworks are presented nightly during the summer time. As I watch them, I imagine 'oohs' and 'aahs' rising up from the crowd of summer vacationers gathered beneath who are now, in late August, in their final days of touring before returning home to Ohio or Nebraska or Arizona to buy backpacks and binders and notebooks for their children's rapidly approaching return to the school year.

This morning, at a local coffee shop on the beach, I overheard a woman asking her pink-nosed son if he enjoyed their trip to San Diego. He said, "Yeah" hurriedly but seemed more preoccupied with his iced coffee drink and with the sandy leash of his boogie board. His mother seemed worn out, and I imagine she must be gladly anticipating the eight hours a day of state-funded day care that serves the dual purpose of both educating and socializing her offspring.

As I write this, the light from the fireworks has dimmed and gone out and the explosions, eerily reminiscent of the night time sounds I once heard during the early days of the Iraq War, still echo silently in my memory. As I write this, I am vividly aware that ones distance from an event does far more than to simply delay the sound effects.