Thursday, February 14, 2008

Illinois College Shooting

A gunman shot and killed 5 students, wounding 16 others in a shooting at a Northern Illinois College before shooting himself.

According to the report, the gunman said nothing, and no motive could be found. Tragedies such as this seem to be happening more and more often throughout the years. Before, an incident such as Columbine seemed like a single anomaly. Now, looking at wikipedia's list of notable school shootings, it seems as if we've had 6 in the past week, not to mention the "deadliest school shooting in U.S. history, the Virginia Tech Massacre. Maybe I just haven't really paid too much attention to news like this before, but that still seems rather high, especially compared to past years.

Gunman at Illinois College

Part of what worries me about this trend (obviously besides the increased danger in colleges and the deaths of the victims) is that they may turn the spotlight to gun control laws. Now, it seems rational that increasing gun control would decrease the violence, but from the statistics I found in past research, restrictive gun control laws don't have a positive if any effect on violence rates. Being a fan of firearms, I'm sure I'm a bit biased, but the evidence I find still supports my opinion. What do you guys think?

On a happier note... Happy Valentines Day!
(Is today a romantic holiday or "a holiday invented by greeting card companies to make people feel like crap") ^^

Lantos Memorial Service Marred

As you know, Tom Lantos died this week. His memorial service in Washington was interrupted by partisan bickering. You can judge who is more at fault by reading this and following the links therein. I'm disgusted. Lantos was a class act, unlike too many of our so-called leaders.

Also in the House today: high drama over the reauthorization of the FISA law and whether it should include telecom industry immunity. So much spin! I'm dizzy.

Valentine's Day

Today is a day of celebrating love and romance. We accept this as a holiday with no questions. But other countries around the world have a different point of view
Officials confiscating flowers
In atheist China, flowers may be confiscated - but observance of the day catches on regardles

This photo, among other photos on the BBC News website
, caught my attention. The caption says that flowers used to celebrate Valentine's day are confiscated. Police, confiscating flowers seems a little strange to me.

Likewise in another photo on the website, protesters in India distrupted Valentine's day festivities claiming that the holiday went against Hindu culture. Perhaps these people are extremely pious people, have justifiable reasons to fight against Valentine's Day, or just being ridiculous.

Do you think that people-or police- can "ban" Valentine's Day?
Do you think that those who oppose Valentine's Day have logical reason to do so, or are just anti-Valentine's Day?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

FISA Bill Immunities

After a long battle, the Senate passed an update of the nation's spying laws. However, the House has passed a slightly different Bill. The Senate's version allows immunities to the telecommunication companies for their previous eavesdropping on customers, the House's version doesn't. This immunity issue arises as a result of over 40 lawsuits that have been filed against the telecommunication companies. The Senate rejected a bill that would have let the lawsuits go forward with the government as the defendant instead of the telecommunication companies.

Personally, I think this is a good move on the side of the government (not the Senate part). After all, they asked the telecommunication companies to invade people's privacy, they should be the ones to take the responsibility, not the companies that helped them. Of course, there's the argument that they should have disobeyed the order, but realistically, what company is going to ignore an order from the government? I don't see the telecommunication companies as having done anything terribly wrong, and I hope they can either get the immunities clause passed, or the defendant changed to the government.

What are your opinions?

FISA Bill Article

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Obama passes Clinton

Although at the beginning of the race, many saw Hillary as the "inevitable nominee" for the Democrats, it seems as if this may not be the case. It seems that, not only did Obama win the votes of his previous supporters (specifically African Americans), but he also won a significant amount of women as well. Even among white voters, where Obama has struggled to keep up with Clinton, Obama nearly beat Clinton to a draw. Just recently, in Maryland, Virginia, and D.C., Obama was able to win by wide margins. This push brought him to the head of the Democratic race as Clinton must now struggle to catch up. If people use this string of victories for Obama, it may end up with a bandwagon effect, possibly leading to a clear winner of the Democratic primary. However, if Obama and Clinton stay as close as they currently are (1223 Obama to 1198 Clinton), they may end up with no decisive winner.

Obama sweeps Maryland, Virginia, and D.C.

Return of Television!

After the 100-day walkout, Hollywood writers finally voted to lift their strike and return to work. They are currently going on a tentative contract that gives the writers $1,200 for the deal's first two years, then 2% of the gross income afterwards. The strike cost Los Angeles county more than $3 billion of lost revenue, compared to the last strike in 1988, which cost $500 million in wages. Although the writers haven't technically voted to agree on the contract, they are starting work once again, meaning that new episodes will hopefully be airing soon. Some shows will be able to get a few new episodes out for the end of the spring season, but others (unfortunately, including Heroes), will opt to wait until the fall in order to have a full season.
Personally, I think this is a great outcome. Besides enjoying new episodes of my favorite TV series (Heroes, Lost, etc.), the writers will now be paid for all of their work.
The fact that an entire industry came to a standstill for three months truly shows the large effect of digital distribution. All sorts of media are beginning to become digitally distributed, and in general, it's becoming a larger and larger issue. The obvious pros are the ease of obtaining media and the lack of a need for giant, cabinet filling cases. On the other hand, digital distribution brings up the issue of piracy. With movies, music, and games all already in an easily accessed digital format, it becomes even easier for anyone to distribute it illegally from their own computer. In turn, the distributors must add various copy-protection software which can, and sometimes will, harm computers (see: StarForce). In any case, hopefully a solution will soon be found.

The article on the writer's strike.


Mississippi proposed legislation that prohibits restaurants from serving obese customers. Mississippi currently has the highest obesity rate in the USA.

State Rep. John Read (repub.), one of the bill's three authors, says he wasn't trying to offend anybody. "I was trying to shed a little light on the No. 1 problem in Mississippi," he says.

Steve Holland, the Democratic chairman of the House Public Health and Human Services Committee, saidhe will "pocket veto" the bill. "It's dead on arrival at my desk."
Although he appreciates the "efforts of my fellow House members to help curb the obesity problem in Mississippi, this is totally the wrong approach."

About one-third of Americans are obese (30 or more pounds over a healthy weight), and 66% are overweight or obese. Even so, obesity experts are outraged by the bill.

"And what about civil rights? It's totally unenforceable, and you'd be alienating people. Most people who are obese don't want to be that way."

J. Justin Wilson of the Center for Consumer Freedom, a group financed by the restaurant and food industry, said in a statement: "This is the latest example of food cops run amok. Are waiters supposed to carry scales around the restaurant and weigh every customer? Give me a break. What's next? Will waitresses soon be expected to make sure we eat all our veggies?"


Do you think this bill is ridiculous as well?
Do you believe that obesity can be considered a civil rights issue?

Monday, February 11, 2008

Network Neutrality

Network neutrality refers to a principle that is applied to residential broadband networks, and potentially to all networks. A broadband network free of restrictions on the kinds of equipment that may be attached, on the modes of communication allowed, that does not restrict content, sites, or platforms and where communication is not unreasonably degraded by other communication streams would be considered neutral by most observers.
When asked the question "Would you make it a priority in your first year of office to reinstate Net neutrality as the law of the land? And would you pledge to only appoint FCC commissioners that support open Internet principles like Net neutrality?" Barack Obama replied,
"The answer is yes. I am a strong supporter of Net neutrality."

Visit for more information on Obama's views

"Supporters worry that if the government does not enact net neutrality legislation, free speech, innovation, and fair business practices will all be left in jeopardy.
Opponents of net neutrality legislation, including Senator John McCain, say that regulating Internet providers threatens not free speech or fairness, but free market principles."

And for other candidates views on Network Neutrality visit


As an network dependent generation what are your views on network neutrality?

Sunday, February 10, 2008

On superdelegates

Or, as they are officially known, "unpledged delgates" or PLEOs-Party Leaders and Elected Officials. Both parties have them, but for whatever reason, the term "superdelegate" has stuck only to the Democrats. You've probably read something about them in some kind of news source, but for those who haven't, they are delegates to each party's national convention who can vote for any candidate they wish regardless of the voting in their state (or any other state). McCain's large lead on the Republican side has made them a non-issue, but because Clinton and Obama are so close, there has been a lot of speculation that they could end up deciding the Democratic nomination. Also, superdelegates compose about 20% of the Dems' total and less than 10% of the Republican convention voters.

According to Democratic party rules, the following people are superdelegates:

The individuals recognized as members of the DNC (as set forth in Article Three, Sections 2 and 3 of the Charter of the Democratic Party of the United States); and,
The Democratic President and the Democratic Vice President of the United States, if applicable; and,
All Democratic members of the United States House of Representatives and all Democratic members of the United States Senate; and,
The Democratic Governor, if applicable; and,
All former Democratic Presidents, all former Democratic Vice Presidents, all former Democratic Leaders of the U.S. Senate, all former Democratic Speakers of the U.S. House of Representatives and Democratic Minority Leaders, as applicable, and all former Chairs of the Democratic National Committee.

Superdelegates were created in the 80's in response to party leaders feeling a loss of control after the upswing in primaries; however, they never really worked out that way, as no recent candidate has won a nomination without winning most of the primaries. (Howard Dean was a superdelegate favorite...) Many say that if the superdelegates decide the nominee, it will be undemocratic and the party voters will be dissatisfied. Of course, the counterargument is that party leaders should have some say-it's their party, after all. As of now Clinton has a fairly good lead among superdelegates, but that could always change-there are no official pledges, and they can change their minds at any time. No matter what happens, the Democratic National Convention will probably end up as more than a four-day infomercial...