President Trump – Getting better!

I was absolutely heartbroken by the images of the chemical attack in Syria yesterday; especially by Abdul Hamid Youssef holding his dead two babies.

I fully support Trump launching the missiles at Syria and in doing so has taken action that Obama should have.  Although I was an Obama supporter he did let some international problems fester for too long without taking decisive action.

And so, I just want to say for the record that although I’ve not liked many, many of the steps the new President has taken I am behind him all the way for his actions in Syria and he has also scored other points with me as well.

I believe healthcare should be a universal right and with his health care bill he at least tried to get something done.  We have to get out of the cycle of Democrats and Republicans squabbling over what healthcare looks like and come to a solution.  In President Trumps bill he at least gave it a shot and so even though it failed he also gets points with me for trying.

I’ve never been a Trump supporter but with recent actions such as the ones mentioned above as well as clipping Bannon’s wings, letting experts do their jobs and so on, I’m more willing than ever to give him a chance.  Syria and North Korea are two incredible problems that are coming to a head.  Obama watched and did nothing on them.  And so again, I support this more aggressive posture from the USA in these two conflicts.  It is about time.

Journal Politics

News – Oil Spill and Awful Politics

It would seem that everyday there is another issue on which opinion is evenly divided down partisan lines.  Healthcare has pretty much gone away and now it is all about the Arizona Immigration bill which ranks about 100% on the outrage meter.  However, this issue is going to linger for a while and perhaps it would be best to focus our attention on the massive amount of oil gushing forth in the gulf of Mexico.  The oil spill is like a four alarm fire at City Hall whereas Immigration has typically been a slow burning building on the outskirts of town that the local population only cares about once in a while.

And as usual this problem has become super political when it really shouldn’t be.  The Left is shouting “Drill Baby Kill” and the Right isn’t saying much since they have highly endorsed drilling for oil off the coasts and like to demonize environmental causes.  I’m not seeing anything on my Google news reader which supports this catastrophe and only Rush is really on the attack saying that Liberals might have blown up this rig (man he has really gone off the deep end).

However, this should not be a political issue and both the Left and Right should put politics aside and find a solution.  The fact is that there are tremendous amounts  of oil rigs that are very safe and have operated safely for many years.  The technology continues to improve and I would say that the oil companies have done a pretty good job at limiting these types of disasters.

The fact is that we need the oil companies to provide us with this dark liquid because until we find a way to replace oil entirely these companies provide a valuable service.

What I take issue with however is the politics surrounding the industry.  The Left seems to ignore the fact that for the moment the US needs oil.  The Right wants to ignore all the dangers and risks associated with drilling.  I really wish both sides would quit bickering and for a calm rational debate without all the spin and PR wizardry that is employed to try and change opinions to one side or the other.

One such PR campaign is Chevron’s “Will You Join Us?”  This places the burden of limiting pollution from oil directly on the consumer.  They say that the consumer should just use less and they are correct.  They also spell out what they are doing to increase efficiency which is also good.  However, I had to laugh when they spoke about studying the migration patters of Sea Turtles to keep their drilling operations as clean as possible.

Drilling for oil in the ocean is anything but clean.  While I was in Saigon I had the great opportunity to meet many oilmen and learn more about their industry.  The Oil business is like the wild west in some of the shenanigans they get up to but would almost seem expected.  I mean, these guys dig for black gooey stuff by digging big holes, they are not teetotalers who really give a hoot about Sea Turtles, that is just to improve public opinion.

Culture Journal

Facebook Snobs

In the past two weeks there have been two articles about how people should post on Facebook. Both are a bit negative in that they try to tell people what and what not to post.

1. Wall Street Journal – How Facebook can Ruin Your Friendships
2. CNN – 12 Most Annoying Types of Facebookers

This post is to combat this “Facebook Snobbery.”

The great thing about Facebook is it has the ability to bring every single close friend / acquaintance / person you met once together in one place. Secondly, the update status feature gives you a window into their lives and from each post the window opens another inch. From the simple question “What’s on your mind?” we learn more about the daily trials our friends face and helps us get to know them without the screen that usually impedes our face to face interactions.

With this technology, we are less hesitant to post what we really think as our minds are not trying to identify with any discriminating person but just a blank screen staring back at us. There are no reactions to what we say, it just takes the information, posts it and then returns to the original screen should you wish to add further information. In a way it is quite liberating!
However, the WSJ article says it can destroy friendships. This begs the question, just how solid are those friendships? It is human nature to want to “fit in” with whatever crowd we happen to be interacting with. Thus we try to conform our thoughts and words to that of the group and not stand out. In doing so, are we really being honest with the group and ourselves? The computer doesn’t care one way or another.

Let’s break down the article so we can get to the point.

1.) “we’re breaking a cardinal rule of companionship: Thou Shalt Not Bore Thy Friends.”
– The status update box says “What’s on your mind?” NOT “Please post something entertaining you think your friends might want to read.” A “companion” likes you for who you are. Friendship does not entail endlessly trying to entertain the other person!

2.) “He’s particularly annoyed by a friend who works at an auto dealership who tweets every time he sells a car, a married couple who bicker on Facebook’s public walls and another couple so “mooshy-gooshy” they sit in the same room of their house posting love messages to each other for all to see. “Why is your life so frickin’ important and entertaining that we need to know?” Mr. Brown says.”

– Mr. Brown sounds like a grump. I don’t think I would like to be friends with Mr. Brown.

3. “My question is this: If we didn’t call each other on the phone every time we ate before, why do we need the alerts now?”

– Because it’s easier, it’s “what’s on my mind” and is a valid status update! I’m interested in what types of foods my friends eat and each small detail let’s me know exactly what their life is like. Besides, who uses the phone anymore, a phone call is a huge commitment! How old are u lady, 62?

4. still puzzling over an old friend–“a particularly masculine-type dude”–who plays in a heavy-metal band and heads a motorcycle club yet posts videos on Facebook of “uber cute” kittens. “It’s not fodder for your real-life conversation,” Mr. Gilbert says. “We’re not going to get together and talk about how cute kittens are.”

– Perhaps you are just not a good friend Mr. Gilbert? Perhaps this masculine-type dude feels he has to put on a tough guy show for you every time you meet. Perhaps you are too insensitive to realize this guy WOULD like to talk about cute kittens and you’re too dense to realize it. Besides, who doesn’t like cute kittens??? If you’re not man enough to talk about kittens then maybe you need more self esteem? Wouldn’t learning more about your friend and having him be honest would you strengthen your friendship?

5. James Hills discovered that a colleague is gay via Facebook, but he says that didn’t bother him. It was after his friend joined groups that cater to hairy men, such as “Furball NYC,” that he was left feeling awkward. “This is something I just didn’t need to know,” says Mr. Hills

– So it’s better to hide and conceal who they really are so you feel more comfortable? Their life isn’t about making you feel more comfortable Mr. Hills. If you were a true friend you would accept them for who they are.

6. And then there’s jealousy. In all that information you’re posting about your life–your vacation, your kids, your promotions at work, even that margarita you just drank–someone is bound to find something to envy.

– So now we have to consider if someone will feel insecure or not? We should be happy that our friends are enjoying themselves!

It is my opinion that the above examples all come back to something that is wrong in our society. It is a “me, me, me” culture in that everyone should conform to please me! The great thing about Facebook is it is a collection of friends who are being themselves and not necessarily trying to please everyone else. We get to hear their honest opinions and break down barriers that would otherwise impede face to face interactions.

America has always had a bit of a formal culture as opposed to the more carefree cultures you find in warmer climates. In the 50s’ even a husband and wife barely new each other it was so formal! We have a culture that implores to please keep your opinions to yourself unless the other agrees with what you are saying. However, Facebook is changing all that. People are taking the suggestion and posting “What’s on your mind?” with less worry about pleasing everyone else.

Now on to the CNN Article. If this journalist was my friend I would immediately have to de-friend as the guy obviously cannot be pleased.

1. The Let-Me-Tell-You-Every-Detail-of-My-Day Bore. “I’m waking up.”
– Normal people lead normal lives. Who are you, Indiana Jones? If everything posted was super exciting then we would be breaking the “do not make people jealous” rule from the WSJ lady.

2. The Self-Promoter

– So? I’m interested in the achievements of my friends. Maybe the journalist is just jealous? Besides, I like to know what I am missing!

3. The Friend-Padder

– Some are more social than others and FB is a great way to keep in touch with everyone. It is up to the account holder to decide how many friends he/she wants to have. I suspect the journalist has only about 10 friends. Sad.

4. The Town Crier. “Michael Jackson is dead!!!”

– This is great! I learn about news more quickly from my friends and it is like having an army of news gatherers. They are often faster then major news sites!

5. The TMIer. “Brad is heading to Walgreens to buy something for these pesky hemorrhoids.”
– Ya, sometimes TMI is bad but my friends are human and should I ever have hemorrhoids I’ll know who to ask about it.

6. The Bad Grammarian. “So sad about Fara Fauset but Im so gladd its friday yippe”.
– Actually, this bothered me for a while but I’m over it. Besides, when you update by phone it’s easy to do, so quit beng so anal!

7. The Sympathy-Baiter. “Barbara is feeling sad today.”

– Not everyone can be super happy everyday and the great thing about friends is they give support. People are being honest!

8. The Lurker. The Peeping Toms of Facebook, these voyeurs are too cautious, or maybe too lazy, to update their status or write on your wall. But once in a while, you’ll be talking to them and they’ll mention something you posted, so you know they’re on your page, hiding in the shadows. It’s just a little creepy.

– Guilty! Lolz. This one is harmless. The status updates keep coming nonstop and it’s hard to respond and get back to everyone. This
doesn’t mean we are not paying attention!
9. The Crank. These curmudgeons, like the trolls who spew hate in blog comments, never met something they couldn’t complain about.

– Ok, I agree with this one. Some people just complain too much. But we can’t ship all the Republicans to Guam now can we! That would be mean.

10. The Paparazzo. Ever visit your Facebook page and discover that someone’s posted a photo of you from last weekend’s party

– Ya, this one can be dangerous. That’s why I now only get drunk in my apartment while under the covers.

11. The Obscurist. “If not now then when?”

– I enjoy these ones because it gets me thinking. What could they be talking about??!! I don’t know the what, so I’m not sure about the when but you’ve got me excited!! I like to post a random time and date to these. “Next Saturday at 12:30, meet me at the train tracks.”

12. The Chronic Inviter. “Support my cause. Sign my petition. Play Mafia Wars with me.

– Solution: Hide button. I hid the farm application… er,, wait, no I didn’t. Friends, I’m so sorry you found a black sheep on your farm!! What do you need me to do? Can I help??

So, to all my friends on FB, please keep posting everything and anything that is on your mind! If you just ate a burrito or are about to cross the Sahara while trying to evade the gypsies I appreciate the info!

Journal Politics

Issues of the week

1. BART Shooting (Bay Area Rapid Transit)

It has made national news. The shooting of an unarmed man by police the night of New Years Eve (Day technically) has been all over the internet recently. It is obvious that the officer made a HUGE error and now mobs of people are calling for his head.

There really is no excuse since those officers are equipped with Taser guns. However, I have to point out that those guys were resisting arrest and started the problem in the first place. It is not an excuse to be killed execution style but it would behoove San Francisco/Oakland to offer some modicum of support for it’s police force which it is not doing now.

The job of being a police officer on BART is one I would definitely not want to have. The BART is ok during daylight hours and with crowds but is full of very shady individuals at night. Further, in the video one can easily see that the crowd there was taunting the officers and it might be a wise idea to NOT resist arrest. Yet, in the protest culture that defines SF, Oakland and many other Bay Area cities, the media is afraid to point out the extreme conditions the officers were working in. It is still no excuse for what happened but it would be good to let people know that resisting arrest is not acceptable either.

So, now we have protests where people have been damaging property and setting things on fire. The core group stresses that they want to be peaceful but good luck with that. There was a huge protest last night at various BART stations to follow up with the violent one in Oakland. Now Oakland will have another protest on Wednesday which they claim want to be peaceful but I think it is safe to say unless the police do a good job it will turn violent.

Again, the officer made a HUGE error and should go through the justice system. But it is the amount of attention this is receiving relative to other events in the world that really bother me. Apparently, there will be protests in other cities around the nation, for this one individual who had been fighting, resisted arrest and then met a bad end. Yet, what about the citizens of Gaza of whom 1000 have been killed. To me, this should cause more of an outrage. Apparently it is more important to protest a rogue police officer who made a mistake then the killing of 1000 (many women and children) intentionally.

In the Contra Costa times one individual says “I hope city officials see the citizens of Oakland and citizens all over the world, aren’t going to rest until they see justice done.” To me, citizens all over the world should be paying attention to Gaza more than one who got in a fight and resisted arrest.

Again, there is no excuse for what the officer did, but then again I would not want to be a police officer in Oakland, nor on the BART. People should be allowed to vent their frustrations (not burn down property) and the city should also give a bit more support to their police force.

2. International perspective

In light of the violence (the fight and the shooting) I must point out again that in the hopes of correcting many Americans views about the rest of the world that I felt much safer in SE Asia/Japan. I had no fear of being out late at night in Saigon and Cambodia, but here can sense the danger is much greater. To make my point very clear, aside from the violence on BART, the owner of Sushi-Man restaurant which is four doors down from me was murdered last week. I really cannot recall anyone I even remotely knew being murdered in either Japan or Vietnam.
Here, there are a lot of people that seem to be very angry all the time (especially when driving). There are murders pretty much every day but again, I cannot recall this happening in SE Asia. As for drugs, they were nil in Japan and very scarce in Vietnam but here they can be bought almost anywhere.

This is not a huge criticism of SF as much as it may seem and I still really love this city but I just wanted to point out the above in the hopes of letting people know that the rest of the world is actually much safer then home even if the Bush administration has tried their best to convince people otherwise. In Asia, I received smiles from just about everyone, whereas here, never,,, unless of course they want to sell me something. I think I received around 4 total smiles in three years of living here from people I passed by, but I’m pretty sure they must have been from the Midwest. 🙂

Journal Politics

Meet the Press, Crossfire, Face the Nation

I do not normally watch any of these shows, but “Meet the Press” was on while I had breakfast this morning and I had an amazing revelation.

First a brief description about these shows. It seems the formula that works is to put opposite views (Republican, Democrat) on each side of the table and then they debate various topics such as Iraq. However, what occurred to me is that they are always different American views! The revelation was that I have never ever seen a citizen of the country being debated actually participate!!!!!

In this age of technology, wouldn’t it be great to have differing views from citizens of the country in question included!! As there is no representation now, even two college students would do. From my experience abroad, I am always awestruck when I learn about how the other side thinks and what they teach which is always completely different from information I received in America. Take Vietnam for example,, even though I spent a large part of my life in American education I never once learned about the positive aspects of Ho Chi Minh and why he believed what he did. It was always one sided. The debates these shows have are simply two sides of the coin from the same American viewpoint. I’m sure a debate between educated Iraqis’ about the American invasion would prove so much more enlightening than people in Washington DC defending the Republican and Democrat viewpoints and would garner a huge audience.

The only time I can think of that an extreme opposite view was given the chance to speak was that of the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was allowed to speak at Columbia University. The fact that he was even allowed to speak was EXTREMELY controversial and to play well with the home audience the President of Columbia University disparaged Ahmadinejad before letting him speak.

This quote really drives my point home.

“Think of the irony,” said Mitch McConnell. “Columbia University, home of the core curriculum that prizes an in-depth understanding of Western civilization and the free exchange of ideas, is bringing to its campus a state sponsor of terror.”

Think of the irony of using that statement and “the free exchange of ideas” then saying it is wrong to allow the President of another country to express his ideas. Mr. McConnell apparently does not understand what the word “Irony” means. It would be “ironic” for an institution that values “the free exchange of ideas” to NOT allow the ideas of an individual to be expressed!!!!!! But perhaps the telling phrase here is “an in-depth understanding of Western Civilization, which therefore only includes Western ideas and not that of any other. In which case his use of “Irony” would be correct in that “the free exchange of ideas” only encompasses those ideas which come from the West and therefore does not include any ideas from Iran.

To be sure, the President of Iran doesn’t seem like such a good guy and the people of Iran hate their own government but he was democratically elected and the mantra of the USA has been to promote freedom and democracy. It just doesn’t work out very well when the “free people” elect a baddy. I’m sure the politicians in Washington are at one moment very pleased with themselves and then after the election is over are quite consternated. At that point it would seem much better to revert back to the other quiet policy of supporting an American friendly dictator like Musharraf (Pakistan) who overthrew an elected government!!!

Message to the creators of these shows:

You would do well to include citizens of the countries you debate in your shows. To me, it currently seems like you include people who have achieved PhDs’ on the subject but neither speak the language nor have ever been to the physical location of the subject of their studies. To simplify, it would be like a non English speaking Japanese who has studied about San Francisco but has never walked one of it’s many hills. Why would I listen to him???