“I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all the kinds of things you can't see from the center.” Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Got rope? bumper sticker- ugh.

I was back in America for 10 days recently to visit friends and family (and go shopping). It was a great visit, overall, and I intend to post a bunch of fun photos I took while there. But first, I have to get this out there:

As I was driving through Fargo one afternoon, I saw this bumper sticker on the back of a truck:
It's a bit hard to read, but it says "got rope? Hang a sex offender".  Which is funny, considering that the term "sex offender" is used. This word is so much nicer than "rapist", "pedophile", or other less polite terms.  "Sex offender" sounds like it was an accident... "sorry lady, I didn't mean to sex offend you."  instead of a violent crime.  But violent crime is in fact what the sticker is advocating- hang someone with rope. Why not drag him behind the truck with the rope while you're at it? Here's some more irony for you: If you look carefully at the car dealer decal above the S10 logo, it says or said Friendly, and on the North Dakota license plate it says "discover the spirit".  Yes, the spirit of... hate? 
OK I'm from North Dakota and don't mean to criticise or offend anyone who lives there, just this person with this truck. What a jerk. Even if you or someone you love had a "sex offense" done to her/him, how does promoting violence change that? Does this person feel more powerful by hoping that someone may actually follow the advice on a truck's bumper sticker?  On the other hand, I guess I appreciate that this person is honest about his/her feelings- just so there's no confusion, in case you were wondering about their opinion of sex offenders.
It's easy enough to find pedophiles that are living in your neighborhood in the USA. In California, the Attorney General's office has a searchable database online, here. You can find out exactly where they lived.  The website says over 63,000 sex offenders are required to register in CA as sex offenders.  Many other states have searchable databases. Wikipedia cites a research review of recidivism rates, and sex offenders (9%) were less likely to re-offend than other felons were to commit any new felonies (and get caught, of course). Maybe the reason is that the sex offenders have been removed from society by hanging from a rope?
I have recently read the book The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and the author portrays rape and violence in the story. It definitely made me squirm, watching the film, but in the context of the book, it's easier to handle. I have seen so many people reading this book lately, and it was given to me as a gift (thanks Dad!). The author's perspective is probably quite comfortable with the above bumper sticker.
I'm reading a book now called Caveman Logic, which is pretty good.  The author really puts superstitious thinking into perspective. I think the author struggles quite a bit to provide evidence to support his conclusions. Which is ironic, since he obviously supports the scientific method.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

NZ government is pissing me off!

Emissions Trading Scheme- more like a scam! Tell me, who benefits from this? Not the environment- none of the money is being devoted to conservation or reducing emissions. The deal is, we in NZ pay more for our energy and products that use energy to produce (everything), having no impact on global pollution, and the rest of the world goes on with business as usual. The common people of NZ get screwed out of their hard-earned money by every goods and services company raising prices to cover the additional costs. I propose that we throw out Prime Minister John Key, just like Aussies threw out their PM, overnight. As an American, it's a bit of a wake up call to see that changes CAN be made to the gov't after it's voted in. According to the ACT party, 85% of the trading NZ does is with non-ETS countries (lookin' at you, Asia).  Half of NZ's emissions come from agriculture, according to the Ministry for the Environment report. But if you're going to "tax" animal farts, why not also include the human contribution to emissions? I want carbon credits for not having any children, and I know lots of people who feel the same way. This topic reminds me of the great, late Bill Hicks quote:
People pay lip service to saving the planet, but they don't – they fail to make the big leap that if you want to save the planet, kill your fucking self. The planet will be saved without you. And what a delightful place it'll be. Welcome. It's a new thing I'm working on, called "The Comedy of Hate". Join in.

I am available for children's parties, by the way.

Seriously, this ETS is just not going to matter. I'm in favor of saving the planet too, but how about reducing the rate of population growth? That's the elephant in the room, no one will talk about it (except Mother Jones).
According to the Global Footprint Network, a California think tank, we first overdrew our accounts in 1983, when our population of nearly 4.7 billion began to consume natural resources faster than they could be replenished—a phenomenon called "ecological overshoot." Last year, 6.8 billion of us consumed the renewable resources of 1.4 Earths. The United Nations projects that world population will stabilize at 9.1 billion in 2050. This prediction assumes a decline from the current average global fertility rate of 2.56 children per woman to 2.02 children per woman in the years between 2045 and 2050.

Fresh on the heels of the ETS injustice is this article in the NZ Herald about proposed pay rise and travel perks allowed MPs (Minister of Palaiment, I think). I am shocked to learn that the MP's partners and kids get 90% of their travel cost covered.  I call BULLSHIT. According to the article, "The travel perk costs taxpayers about $600,000 a year." This review committee recommended doing away with this perk and replacing it with a 10% pay rise, which is going to save money by some bizarre logic by costing taxpayers 1.7 million dollars. WTF!  I love this quote from the secretary of Unite Union: "It would make every New Zealander vomit in their Weet-Bix tomorrow morning. They put themselves out to be a cast of workers who are treated differently from others. Most New Zealanders are struggling. They don't enjoy any perks - they don't get any allowances or anything like that. It's not fair."
I don't suffer from the delusion that life is fair. But when I'm in Wellington at the end of the month, maybe I should pay a visit to the Beehive and visit my MP. Would they listen to me? Probably not. I am not yet a citizen anyway, but I do vote.