Thursday, September 30, 2010

Have we found a 'Goldilocks' planet?

Scientists at the University of California in Santa Cruz are saying they have found a planet which seems to have all of the requirements of sustaining or producing life. The planet, Gliese 581g, is the first planet discovered beyond Earth that has the possibility of life.

What does this mean for humanity? I'm not really sure, but I do know that if life is proven to exist, life here will alter to at least some degree. Will the life be intelligent? Or will the life we discover simply be bacteria or microbes? More study and analyzing of the data the researchers have will be put through the turns until we come out with a definite answer.

So the age old question of "Are we alone?" has come to the forefront once again and we are closer to figuring it out than we have been in any point of history. I, for one, am excited.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Kim Jong-il's Son's Promotion a Sign of New Direction for North Korea?

The largest meeting in decades of North Korean delegates and representatives occurred today. During the meeting, Kim Jong-ill's son, Kim Jong-un was promoted to General. Does this mean that 'Dear Leader' (Kim Jong-ill) is intent on keeping the family dynasty going?

The announcement doesn't come as too much of a shock for those who have paid careful attention to the soap opera which is known as North Korea and how their President, Kim Jong-ill frequently throws temper tantrums in likeness of a toddler in order to gain international attention. It has been reported that he is suffering from several medical conditions and had a stroke sometime in 2008, of which was he was also reported to have traveled to China several time for treatment. Both China and North Korea have not commented on these reports.

With his Swiss-educated son seemingly poised to take the reigns of power in the future, does this mean we will be seeing a new direction for North Korea? Will it be for the better or will his son merely be a copy of his father? Only time will tell.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

U.S. Labor Unions Hurting American Businesses?

I agree with the original intention of Unions in the sense that they looked out for worker's rights in a time when unfettered capitalism was quite harmful, economically and sometimes physically, to most people that weren't the wealthy investor in the situation. I'm OK with humanizing working conditions and providing proportional compensation for work.

However, as I understand it today, Unions have become more along the lines of rackets, that they basically are what people are beginning to see them as; generally overpaid groups of workers who demand an amount of benefits that are disproportionally large for the amount of work they do. My uncle is a project manager for construction projects and according to him, based on his own first-hand experience, when using Union labor "its like you're not allowed to make a profit".

I'm OK with providing a fair amount of compensation and benefits to laborers, but there's a limit to how much someone should be paid to drive a bus, push a button, or swing a hammer, and an annual $80k (plus benefits) is too much. There are so many Labor Laws on the books now that that Union, in it's current form, is simply something that isn't needed and American businesses can no longer afford.

If you want proof of the damage that most modern day Labor Unions have caused, look no further. Turn your eyes and attention to the cities of Cleveland, Baltimore, and most importantly, the Motor City -- Detroit and the Big 3 (Ford, Chrysler, and GM). All of them are great examples of what happens to heavily Unionized cities in the dying Rust Belt. This is the reason so many companies are outsourcing to places like China. Some companies opt for the less drastic option and at least keep their factories in America, by relocating to one of the Southern States in America, where there are significantly less Unions, but adequate Labor Laws. Alabama and Kentucky are examples of states reaping the benefits of the mass exodus of businesses from the Rust Belt to the South.

Before you place the entire blame on China or other countries with a population willing to work in slave conditions, take a look around and see the reasons WHY corporations and manufacturers are taking such actions and you will see the answer is simple: there isn't a feasible profit to be made by keeping it "Made in USA".

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Possible U.S. trade sanctions against China?

The potential for the U.S. to place trade sanctions on China has moved one step closer with the latest decision by a U.S. Congress committee. The bill they have approved would place retaliatory trade sanctions on China and the products they export to the U.S..

As most middle-class Americans are acutely aware of, most of the jobs which were once "All American", have been outsourced to China in the past few decades. Why wouldn't it look appealing to corporations? A massive work force willing to literally slave away in grotesque working conditions for a few dollars a day -- and in some cases, a few cents a day. The American worker doesn't stand a chance against that. Now couple that with the fact that the Central Bank of China practices the art of currency manipulation, which is the act of purposely keeping the value of the yuan (China's money) low. Their money, by all accounts and standards, is undervalued. China's economy is booming and has been sparsely bothered by the recession.

It it time for China to step up to the plate and act like the responsible, global economic power they evidently are and claim to be. And if they don't, I wouldn't be surprised if more countries jump into the process of drafting trade sanctions against them.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Don't Ask, Don't Tell

Can you spot the gay soldier?

As most of you know, President Obama campaigned on and mentioned in his State of the Union address that one of his main objectives in the coming year was to work toward repealing a policy implemented by President Clinton, which in itself was a compromise with the Republicans at the time. Don't Ask, Don't Tell is a military policy that prohibits homosexuals from serving openly in the military. Thousands of service members are discharged from the military every year due to their homosexuality being discovered, either by accident or self-admission. While this policy doesn't prevent them from serving, it does impede upon their human rights -- the ability to be who they are.

The battle to repeal this policy came to a boiling point recently, with the U.S. Senate halting it's repeal due to several amendments, both by Democrats and Republicans, being attached to the bill. This is just another case of political positioning and party politics, especially with the mid-term elections so near. The parties needed to excite their base. But has it worked? Is it really in good conscience to play politics with an issue which involves the rights of thousands of gays and lesbians currently serving honorably within the U.S. military?

Take a good hard look at the picture posted above and you be the judge.

Can you spot the gay soldier?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Tokens for the carnival!

As a child, I always enjoyed going to the carnival. That is when they came to town. And you knew when they came to town, you could smell them from miles away. The popcorn, hot dogs, funnel cakes, cotton candy, pulled pork and steak, gyros, and anything else you can think of. Not to mention the noise from all of the screaming children and the rides.

 One thing that never appeared at our carnivals were clowns. You had to go to the circus, once again, when it was in town, to see a clown. That's probably why I have a vague interest in clowns, the darker ones though, kind of Steven King's version. To be honest, if you want to see some of the greatest clowns, just turn on your television and watch the news, especially if they are covering politics. There is an abundance of clowns to be found there. What are your opinions on clowns? Thoughts? Comments? Snide remark? Take offense because you, yourself, are a clown? Fire away.

Too late for a review? I think not!

 Have you ever heard the expression "if it were a snake, it would have bitten me"? I know have, dozens of times. However, I really never considered it to apply to games, at least not in the literal senses. I cannot tell you how many times I bumbled through the video store, looking for new games to quench my thirst that appeal to my less than normal sense of taste; so as a rule of thumb, I typically stay away from games which have been hailed by the media or thousands (or millions) of gamers across the world. Besides all of that, I'm just too busy working or watching the news. Moving on, this game Dead Space is certainly something right up my alley. I had passed this game up dozens of times as I dumbly strolled down the aisle at the video store, never giving it a second thought. When a game is new, the staff places a title near the top shelf, which is typically eye-level for most people, and as it ages, it slowly moves toward the bottom, and finally they put it in a bin at the front where they sell them for $5-$20. I found Dead Space as it was on the bottom shelf. 

I wasn't expecting a life altering perception of games, especially of the horror genre, but Dead Space opened my eyes to what a great horror game should be. In the game, you take on the role of Issac Clark, a simple engineer who has been dispatched to the USG Ishimura, which had earlier sent out a distress beacon. Upon arriving, however, you're met with the equivalent of Resident Evil in space. At least in Resident Evil they had somewhere to hide -- they could travel far away, hundreds of miles to escape. On the USG Ishimura, there isn't any escape, unless you can make one.
 I know the game has been out for two years now, but I'm sure there are still a lot of people out there who haven't played it, so I won't go any further into the story and spoil it. But if you want to be on the edge of your seat, wooed by very polished graphics, scared but still wanting more.. Dead Space is for you. I'm not a professional reviewer or anything, but I grade things on a scale of 1 to 10. I give Dead Space a 9.3 out of 10.

 Dead Space 2 is currently in production, and that's one game I will definitely be buying when it's on the top shelf.

My first time! Tee hee..hee.. uhh

This is the first of (hopefully many and interesting) posts. I'm not sure this piece of the internet will even have a specific topic it covers. I'm sure it will dive into just about any interest, if it's on my mind that day.. or yours!

 So put on your seat belts as we begin this fantastic voyage into the depths of the mind of a modern day psycho! Albeit he is rather charming, don't you agree? Yeah? Okay.