Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Stardate 58649.0 - Politics as Usual

From: CBS 2: Top Stories

"Vice President Dick Cheney, whose daughter Mary is a lesbian, drew criticism from both proponents and foes of gay marriage Tuesday after he distanced himself from President Bush's call for a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage."

Am I the only person who thinks this is politically motivated to either a) Paint Cheney as not Satan, or b) Soften up the ticket's (and/or the GOP's) anti-gay tradition? Why wasn't he saying this back when the amendment was being proposed? Or at any time over the past 4 years? Is it not suspicious that he brings this topic up so close to the election?

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Stardate 58590.94 - Why the NRA is Stupid

First, I need to point out that I was raised in rural Virginia, on a small, 11-acre farm with about 10 sheep and 2-3 goats. My Mom owned (and still owns) a .22 rifle, used mainly to shoot groundhogs that constantly invaded the garden. I have personally fired everything from a Walther PPK to both 9mm and 10mm pistols (the 10 is my personal favorite) up through an AR-15. I am not against gun ownership, and after my apartment was broken into during college I even kept a .22 pistol around (unloaded and with a trigger lock on it) for about a year, loaned to me by a good friend who happens to be an NRA member. Hunter safety training was even mandatory in my High School for all 8th graders. I have a great yearbook photo of a row of 30 or so students, prone in the gym, on mats, all holding rifles. So don't call me a pinko-commie; I don't have a problem with people owning guns.

Now for my rant.

In the July 26, 2004 issue of Time magazine, there was a brief article on John Kerry and the NRA. John Kerry is no stranger to guns. At the Gunslick Trap Club he recently used a Beretta 12-gauge shotgun and "coolly dispatched 17 of 25 clay pigeons" (Time). The NRA is anti-Kerry, however, because he "...Hasn't fought for gun owners' rights once in 25 years." (Wayne LaPierre, NRA executive VP).

What extreme views does Kerry have with respect to guns? "He has supported banning assault weapons and armor-piercing bullets, requiring background checks at gun shows and regulating gun sales over the Internet." (Time)

How on earth can the NRA be against background checks? How can any sane person? How can the NRA be against regulating gun sales over the Internet? Again, how can any sane person? I also think civilians with armor-piercing bullets is a bad idea. How can any police officer think that is a good idea? I am personally on the fence when it comes to assault weapons in private hands (lots of definitions of what constitutes an "assault weapon", for example), but at a minimum they should be licensed, registered, and difficult to acquire or re-sell.

Someone once told me that the NRA has to be so extremist because there are people just as hard over on the other side, and with two extreme views we end up with policy somewhere in the middle. But in my mind, the NRA risks becoming an ineffective parody of itself when it is publicly against reasonable controls such as background checks and regulation of Internet sales.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Stardate 58588.5 - Back from Thailand

I've decided to change this blog somewhat. I started this effort as an experiment in seeing what the hell blogging was all about, and because my job as a technology consultant demands that I know a little bit about pretty much everything. But the blogs are terribly uninteresting so far, and I don't think even my friends are reading them.

But I tend to have a lot of opinions on pretty much everything, so I will start to write things that I feel strongly about.

My wife and I just returned from 2 weeks in Thailand (actually 3 for her, as she was attending the AIDS Conference there for a week prior to our vacation). A couple of observations:

  1. Thailand is very inexpensive. My lunch on the last day was traditional Pad Thai, a bottle of beer (Beer Chang rocks!, and a 0.5L bottle of water. With a small tip, it was 100 Thai Bhat, which is $2.50 US.
  2. As I am clearly not Asian, people did attempt to overcharge us a couple of times, specifically taxi drivers. It was better to get a Taxi driver who spoke no English, because he would use the meter, than it was to get one who spoke English, because he wanted to negotiate a much higher fee than the meter would indicate.
  3. No one walks anywhere in Thailand. We live in NYC and walk everywhere. Whenever we were walking in Bangkok or Chang Mai, we were constantly approached by Tuk-Tuk drivers, sometimes Taxis, and the taxi-trucks who wanted to drive us around. We had a hard time explaining that we just wanted to walk.
  4. Cathy Pacific is a nice airline to fly, and as I was in business class I really enjoyed it. The JFK to Hong Kong flight is quite long, but my wife was on Singapore Air on the longest commercial flight in the world - Newark to Singapore clocks in at about 18.5 hours. And since she was traveling on the UN's dime, she was in coach. The coach section was quite nice on Singapore Air, but it was still coach. I was traveling on Air Miles (I am Platinum on American and consequently the One World Alliance) and decided to spend the extra miles and do business.
  5. I had a celebrity sighting on my LAX to JFK leg as I was returning to NYC. I saw Graham Norton (sp?) of the Graham Norton Effect and a friend( They were in First Class.

Those are all the observations I have time for today. Now that I am back in NYC and am frequently annoyed by people, I'm sure I'll have some rants and raves to write later.