Archive for the ‘Argumentative’ category

Another Reason to Abolish Capital Punishment

February 25, 2009

noose

I’ve gotten into a lot of arguments over the years with people who support the death penalty.  While I would usually cite the moral and philosophical issues I have with it, that argument was usually countered with “we are spending too much money on criminals as it is, so just get rid of them.”   Was happy to see that in light of the economic crisis, law makers are taking a closer look at their respective state budgets, and in an effort to save money by reducing spending where it isn’t needed, many have targeted capital punishment as an expense that should come off the books.  This NYTimes article explains how death penalty cases cost millions of extra dollars in court costs, and how the years of appeals and trials only exacerbate the problem of over-crowded prisons — an issue so severe in some areas that states are simply releasing [non-violent] offenders on the basis of capacity limitations.

Whatever the reason, let’s hope the tide against the death penalty continues to rise.

Israel’s Violation of Press Access “Unprecedented”

January 6, 2009

as a much more somber follow-up to the post below…

This article from today’s NYTimes explains Israel’s admitted censorship of free press in Gaza since its invasion of the occupied territory, which has almost completely shut out international press from the areas in and surrounding the war zone, while practically offering guided tours of every uninhabited piece of dirt in Southern Israel that has fallen victim to a Hamas rocket. 

The Foreign Press Association of Israel has summed up the shut-out by stating that “the unprecedented denial of access to Gaza for the world’s media amounts to a severe violation of press freedom and puts the state of Israel in the company of a handful of regimes around the world which regularly keep journalists from doing their jobs.”

And what is the job of journalists?  To report the news, to expose the truth, to inform a public that needs to make informed decisions.  These restrictive practices only serve to point the compass of public opinion towards the conclusion that exposing the truth and informing the public may not be in Israel’s best interests after all.

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This accompanying blog article on the NYTimes website offers a cursory glance into the extremely well-planned PR campaign Israel has been implementing — pretty interesting.

No Porn in China?

January 6, 2009

Apparently, internet porn is illegal in China. 

Remind me not to go to China.

http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/01/05/china.internet/index.html?iref=mpstoryview

What kind of supposed democratic country doesn’t allow internet porn?  This is an atrocity.  The internet is all about the free exchange of ideas, and my uneducated guess is that the idea that porn is obscene and should be banned is probably not one that most people in China would agree with (if asked in private and out of the range of Big Brother, if such a place exists in China) .  It’s restrictive, and it’s censorship.  And it will only serve as a boon for China’s already massive and constantly burgeoning black market.  I think all this fast-track image sculpting the Chinese government is implementing will come back to bite it in the ass in the not so distant future.

At a minimum, it will definitely make for a lot of lonely nights and cranky mornings.

George Carlin & Co: Open Up [your fuckin] Eyes

July 18, 2008

I was watching videos of George Carlin on youtube and man, that dude was a genius. RIP man. The great satirists just have a skill for cutting through the bullshit and explaining things to people in a way that not only makes sense, but is also funny as hell. And it’s not just about politics — it’s about all of the many forces and waves tugging at and crashing around us that try to move us, shape us, scare us so that they can then be the ones to comfort us, and turn us into sheep so that they can herd us into cages locked the second we let others think on our behalf.

But the greats like Carlin and Bill Maher and Jon Stewart clear the fog a bit. Not to say you should believe whatever it is that they say, but if you listen, youll notice that theyre not telling you what to believe, like your politicians, parents, teachers, and priests (rabbis/imams) do; theyre telling you to open up your eyes and start thinking for yourself.

Here are a few great clips i came across:

this one explains why I am a francophile:

More videos to come, but I have to leave the office before they make me do work.

ciao

Making Sense of the NBA Off-Season

July 14, 2008

First off, sorry for the hiatus…life has been hectic.  But no matter how busy things get, Ive always got a finger on the pulse of the sports world, especially the part of it that interest me most: the NBA.

Its hard for me to write about sports in a coherent way, because I get excited and have too many thoughts about the same topic.  So, here goes:

The Clippers have to be bummed about losing Elton Brand, big time.  Sterling was trying to shake his image as the tight-wad owner by signing Baron Davis to a big deal (though impressively shrewd), and after he did that no one thought Brand would seriously give up the chance to play with a top PG.  Brand didnt even really get more money than what was offered.  I understand business is business and Brand has to look out for himself, but Im disappointed by how he handled this because since he got the same money than LA was willing to give him, he must have had other reasons for leaving for Philly, probably cuz it was a competitive playoff squad last year without him and figures to be a conference contender with him…but i think he went out his way to make the Clips think he was gonna resign and encouraged them to sign another player who he could contend with in LA, and after they did what he asked for, he still bolted.  I’m not hating him for playin the game, but when he does youve got to call him a playa. Maybe Im biased cuz now Philly is gonna dominate the division that my beloved Knicks will serve as a doormat to.

Yes, Philly will dominate the Atlantic because Toronto is overrated and NJ is in it for the green, not the gold.  The Toronto trade of a TJ Ford, one half of the most productive PG platoon in the league for a broken and beat up Jermaine ONeal who is making something like $42 million the next 2 years alone is not a good deal.  TJ Ford is agreat player and they couldve gotten more for him.  If ONeal returns to full strength and plays the defense he was playing a few years ago, then the trade will have been a good one, but I think that it way too improbable for the Raptors to bank on.  

NJ traded Richard Jefferson for Yi Jianlin for the SOLE pourpose of cashing in on his popularity in his native country of China and opening up the market in order to lure LeBron in 2 years.  Pitiful.  So now they have Yi, no Jason Kidd, no RJ, and a player in Vince Carter who will be in the first year of a rich multi-year contract…oh yea, he’ll play with tONS of trademark tenacity.  They have some decent rookies but they are still gonna stink it up for a while.

I like Washington giving Arenas his money because you never have to worry about his motivation to play hard — he’s too cocky to let his rep suffer.  To think…Rashard Lewis got a contract worth $15 million more than Arenas.  That is nuts.

Bur Lewis’ Orlando squad was good last year and will be better with newly signed and underrated Mickael Pietrus, who can guard the perimeter and shoot the 3-ball.

Dallas gave Dasagna Diop something like $30 million to resign with them. ¿¿¿WTF???  The dude does nothing but block a shot or 2 a game and he gets $30 million? I dont get that. Nor do I understand the Bucks giving Andrew Bogut $72.5 million (!) to stay in Milwaukee, and then trade Yi and his Chinese fan base for Jefferson only to then draft Joe Alexander, who plays the same position.  They shouldve saved 72 million by letting Bogut go, drafted Brooke Lopez who was the top center prospect in the draft but gets paid rookie money, an then put themselves in position to be a major player in free agency with all that money and a promising young core of Michael Redd, Jefferson, Lopez, Mo Williams, Charlie Villanueva and Charlie Bell.  Tell me they couldnt have gotten a top free agent to join that squad!  They couldve signed Emeka Okafor who is a top defensive center (perfect for coach Scott Skiles and the new defense oriented style he will surely implement) for way less than 72 million.  This is maddening to me.

Golden State losing out on Davis and Brand has to hurt, and no, signing Corey Maggette does not ease the pain.  I like him as a scorer because he gets to the line (hes insane at drawing fouls. In a  healthy season most fans would be surprised to learn that Maggette gets to the line more than almost any other player in the league — 3rd most in 06-07) which puts a lot of pressure on the opposing defense and makes things easier on his teammates, who can be more aggressive against defenders in foul trouble or a team in the penalty.  But he’s not a facilitator, he needs the ball in his hands and doesnt make much of a difference on defense.  He could be a great complimentary player, to say, Elton Brand..or..Baron Davis. Yes Warriors fans, it’s time to worry.  At least they seem committed to keeping Monta Ellis, who is restricted and crazy talented, but theyre gonna end up overpaying Andris Biedrins big time so they can have at least one decent big man in the lineup.  Im not so crazy about Chris Mullin’s personnel moves, I gotta say. 

As for the Clips, who knows what to expect.  I dont think theyll make the playoffs next season with the lineup they have.  GS didnt make it last year and they had a better and more cohesive lineup than LA has this year..so far at least.  Al Thornton will continue to impress, Kaman is a good 5 and Davis is nasty when healthy, but that he played 82 games in his contract year does not mean that he will go the distance again now that he has a brand new contract and is closer to his Hollywood homies trying to convince him to focus on his film production company (Davis is a member of the screen actors guild).  I think the Clips are back to being the Clips that we know and love to not care about.

Not basing this on the one preseason game he played, I think Beasely is gonna make a loT of people feel stupid for saying he did not deserve to be picked first in this year’s draft.  That kid has something to prove but wont even be the 3rd best player on his team, so the spotlight is not on him and he can just play the game.  Rookie of the Year, write that shit down.

As for my beloved Knicks, it’s too early to write a seaon preview but I like the Gallinari draft, I guess, kinda sorta, because the obviously better players were off the board, the other impressive talents did not fit team needs at all (Jerryd Bayless), and Gallinari isnt the typical young European “project”.  This kid has been a star in very competitive and heavily scouted European leagues, already knows how to play the game, has guts and size and shooting skills, and most importantly, if there is anyone who is qualified enough to determine whether or not a Euro league player can make the transition to the NBA, its Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni. 

If Gallinari develops, D’Antoni can work his offensive magic to get Curry and Randolph to be productive, and the Knicks do something smart with the many, many millions coming off the books this year, NYK can compete for a low playoff seed while working it’s way out of the tangled mess known as Isiah Thomas’ legacy.  After 7 years of ineptitude, I am a humble and patient man.

Catch a glimpse of Gallinari in action here:

Worthless Words? My Text Message Poem

June 15, 2008

I texted this message to my friend on my way back from dinner, where I discovered that someone I care about is huge liar and hypocrite. It was a depressing discovery because I had a lot of respect for him before… my friend wanted to know how the dinner went, and here is the message I sent, in it’s original texted format:

Not too bad. But bad. I need to start doing drugs. Numbness is good. Short term at least. Words have limits. Theyre pretty worthless. But powerful. Weird. Limited, worthless…but so powerful. Mayb the impact is a result of the realization that theyre worthless…when you didnt believe them to be b4. Thats powerful.

Relax, Im oK i swear.

I dunno how I feel about this now, as I read what I wrote…I guess words arent totally worthless, cuz if they are, why am i even writing this? But maybe words are just the conduit through which we share our thoughts and feelings…ourselves…making words shallow in and of themselves, yet precious in effect.  Hypocrisy, more than anything I think, illustrates that words are nothing in and of themselves, and that they derive meaning from their source.  I’m gonna start paying as lot more attention to the source going forward.

Whatever. Words are overrated sometimes. I’m gonna bike to the park and lay on the grass for a while.

Abductee Fighting to Have CIA Torture Acknowledged

June 9, 2008

I was so glad to read this story.

I wrote about the plight of Khalid al-Masri in this post back in October, describing the disgraceful US Supreme Court decision to exercise a loophole and avoid hearing the case of man who was abducted, sent to Afghanistan where he was tortured and interrogated, and then later abandoned by the CIA. But al-Masri hasn’t given up yet. Along with a growing bastion of supporters, he is again putting pressure on the German government (he is a German citizen) to acknowledge what was done to him hold accountable the agents involved.

The ACLU has taken up his case in the US. We’ll see how far that goes.

Good for al-Masri for sticking to his guns and having the courage to relive this horrible ordeal in order to expose governmental corruption and receive the public apology he desrves. I hopes he gets a few billion out of it as well..though a billion dollars probably only exchanges to something like 3.5 euros. Good luck dude.

To read more about this case, click here.