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Japan

It’s been a little bit, huh.  Well, I’ll admit it, I was unable to handle my schoolwork, so I had to take a little break this blag and all seven of you amazing readers.  But now I’m back.  With that, I will talk about the news at hand.

I have been absent from civilization for the last couple of days, so I don’t have all the updated info for the crisis in Japan.  (I refuse to actually look up things while writing for fear of regurgitating opinions.)  I do know that the death toll was in the hundred thousands last time I checked.  It is obvious that the earthquake and tsunami in Japan are horrid and tragic.  Entire cities were swept away and a cruise ship was completely lost.  I urge everyone to help as much as you can, and I hope for the best news from Japan.

However, I am sort of glad it happened in Japan and not in another country.  I say this, not for any hatred towards Japan, but because Japan is only country that could handle such a disaster.  Japan is responding extremely well.  The volunteer forces are helping the survivors with search and rescue efforts, and the country is even mitigating the damage from the power plant meltdowns.  I think we should take note of the tragedy in Japan and prepare our countries in response.  With the globally changing climates, the weather is changing drastically, and becoming more extreme with every incident, we should all be ready for these tragedies.  Just this year, it snowed like a blizzard in my sunny corner of Southern California, which is usually blisteringly hot.  I think we need to take heed of the possibility of events like the one in Japan, and create competent programs that are prepared for emergencies.

Also, I will only be posting twice a week from now on.  Sorry, but it should improve the quality of my posts.

That’s all I have to say today.  I’ll see you later this week.

Everything in Moderation

Dear Readers

This is the comic I promised.  It’s from another friend of mine who is very opinionated and a great thinker.  Enjoy.

-VG

You've heard of extreme conservatives and extreme liberals...That is the end of guest week, come back on February 22nd.

Ranty McRantpants

Dear Readers,

Happy Valentine’s Day!  I’m still out skiing, but I promise I’m thinking of y’all!  This is probably my second favorite holiday, and I get to spend it with a bunch of hot guys in a Winter cabin.  This is a guest article from a very special friend of mine.  Her name is Sami and I’ve known her for a while.  She even gave me a partial dedication in her amazing book, Gabriel, which I suggest you all check out.  She also wrote Chasing Unicorns, but I have yet to read that title.  Enjoy the wonderful works of Sami.

-VG

Why do people need a reason to be nice to each other? Why do you need to be told to be nice? Do we really need to walk around the school with a noose around our necks?

There was a guest speaker at my high school a few weeks ago. I wasn’t looking forward to it. I hate being crammed into the bleachers with hundreds of strangers and forced to listen to someone trying to “fix” me. His name was Stu Cade.

He was actually pretty funny. Despite my aching back and extreme tenseness, I stopped reading to listen to him. He talked about his kids, how theory got made fun of, and so he put a sign around his son’s neck and wrote things about him on it. He also talked about the little elephants killing the white rhinos, and the big elephants who taught them it was wrong. His moral? “Be nice.”

Just be nice, that was all. He said the same thing I’ve been saying for years: be nice, you don’t know what they’ve been through. No matter who they are or what they did to you. Not to say that people should never be punished, but everything is justifiable.

And so today, our teachers gave us these sheets of paper that said “Please be nice to me today because…” and left a blank for a reason, and gave us yarn to tie the signs around our necks. A lot of people, me included, opted out, most because they’re too “cool” (I because I’m a cynical freak). Most of the minority that actually played along used it as a joke vehicle, like things about how “awesome” or “pimpin’” they are, or just writing random things that make no sense. There were a lot of people who wrote things like “because I’m nice” or “I’ll be nice to you”, neither of which seem right to me. Being nice isn’t a trade system.

I’ve read a few that were serious, though. Some people recently lost grandparents. One boy said he was lonely. One girl was stressed about school (aren’t we all).

One girl hasn’t seen her dad for 10 years.

She made her sign twice. Her first attempt was left on a desk in one of my classes. A boy sat down, looked at the sign, showed it to all his friends (pretty much the entire class except, you guessed it, me) and they laughed.

They laughed at the girl who just missed her dad.

She didn’t hear them laughing, but it doesn’t matter. Is this the society we live in, that you need to tell people NOT to make fun of someone who hasn’t seen a loved one for 10 years?

Now, I’m not really going to tell you to be nice (even if that may seem like that’s where I was headed. Sorry, I just get off-topic). If I had to tell you that, it would already be too late for you. And I’m not going to lecture about “the golden rule” or “put yourself in their shoes”, or any of those things. My message is a bit more relaxed. You don’t have to be nice. Just don’t be a dick.

Sunday Quickpost #3 – Guests

How do you like guest week?  Maybe when I have more readers than my current three, it will be a bigger deal.  Anyway, enjoy the guest articles.

Time Machine

Dear Readers,

Hey guys, this is VG.  I’m not here today, so my friend ~TAOTF is going to be filling in.  Enjoy his wonderful writing and visit his deviantART page to see more.

-VG

Have you ever wanted to build a time machine?  To travel to the distant past to gain some nuance of understanding of that time period?  I’ll assume that you have wanted so, and if not you now do.  Though it may sound difficult to believe, we have time machines all around us.  They are cleverly hidden standing before us with smiling, distant eyes, a mint candy in hand and the faint scent of medicine hovering around them.  Recently, one of these time machines came to talk to my classmates and me.  If I remember correctly, he was a part of the 42nd infantry division, known as the Rainbow division and served in Germany during World War II.  He spoke to us of the war; as you would expect, it was probably one of the most significant opportunities of my young life and, unfortunately, I slept through nearly the entire thing.

The faces of the world have changed rapidly over the generations and it’s becoming difficult to recall what they looked like.  History textbooks outline the major events of those times in extraneous detail; but can they tell you what flavor of swing music was playing in the background when they met your grandfather?  Can they recall the feverish rage surging through their body when the news of Pearl Harbor struck America?  Obviously, they cannot.  These time machines, to be put bluntly, won’t last forever and the precious cargo they contain will be lost.  If you have a chance to travel to the past, don’t sleep through it regardless of how comfy the chair you are sitting in is.  Take what you can from history’s mistakes so we can avoid making the same.

Wikileaks and the 4th Branch of Government

Dear Readers,

Today’s post is from a very good friend of mine who I know from lots of places outside of cyberspace.  His name is Zarathustra, and he is one of the best writers I know, and I expect his article will be great.  Welcome to guest week, enjoy.

- VG

I would crack a sarcastic joke about the intro my dear friend has so… expectedly provided me with, but I’m pressed for time at the moment, so instead I will take more time commenting about it in this sentence.

To start off, there are a great many different topics that have presented themselves to me after my dear friend vg offered me this opportunity. Even more so because of my adept ability of procrastination. Now, I would like to say that amongst all of those many thoughts and events, that one of them rose in a sort of holy light above the others, but this of course is not the case. To be honest I am at this moment stalling so as to make a final decision on exactly what I might write on… Certainly Wikileaks ranks high on my list of controversial topics that I quite enjoy discussing, then of course there is the recent failings of the PATRIOT Act (THANK…GOD!), then further along the line,  the most recent: the wonderful Mubarak and his fall from grace and power.

Although the other things just mentioned are certainly important, the struggle of Wikileaks goes on, and so  I think that I may jump in on that. It’s interesting, because although Wikileaks has fallen from the mainstream media attention, momentarily at least, there are still a great deal of things going on concerning it. I find the best way to structure this argument at this point is to address different points in the forms of questions concerning Wikileaks, and then I will build up to the more current issues.

Wikileaks directly took lives following their release of Afghan War docs, how can this in any way be justified?

The organization is in certainly idealistically based, with the support of humanity and more specifically democracy in their range of  goals, but this is a question that is irrelevant to the point. This, I say, in a completely non-heartless manner, what I simply mean is that Wikileaks is a news organization focused on revealing facts and truths to the public, and this is the only means by which they wish to accomplish their array of goals. In this sense, they are exactly what a news organization really ought to be! They create a transparent environment, where the sovereign people are in control. In this way the people of the U.S can look at the facts concerning the war they are currently in, and make the conscious decision to support or not support it themselves. They are not for or against anything, they simply provide for the information that allows the citizens of the respective countries of the world to better understand and make decisions themselves. So though there were deaths (supposedly, this is something that has been hazily brought up in arguments against me), the fact remains that ultimately the political system and ideology that allows for death in such an open environment is more to blame. Yes, I do think that we can maintain security and peace with no secrets, though that may be a different argument for a different day. Also, as an additional note, many of the leaks concerning the Afgane war were in no way giving people more reason to support it, so ultimately Wikileaks could be in a positioin to save more lives by indirectly causing an earlier end to the whole thing, though again, this would be a decision of the people based of non-biased facts.

It’s also quite interesting, here is another video that addresses what they were taking about at the end of the above one here.

OK, from that one question I actually feel pretty pumped up, so I will continue on normally from here. Wikileaks has been attacked from all sides for disrupting the political establishment. What people are not realizing is that this establishment is something that needs to be shook. In fact, ideally, it should be in constant motion! The perfect government, or rather I should say the perfect DEMOCRACY, is one in which the people are given the greatest ability to influence and control their nation. After all, it is the purpose of democracy to put power in the hands of the majority. The best, and ONLY way to achieve this is to have people fully aware of what is going on. Only with hard, cold, true information can real decisions be made.

Public opinion needs to be an untamed monster if you will. The minute the government omits, changes, or manipulates information to tame the monster, the country is once again in the hands of tyranny! Now, I do not mean to sound to revolutionary here, but these things are founded on logic. The only arguments against  this (which is a naive statement, sorry) would be arguments for a more limited democracy, in favor for supposed security. First off, both our government and the ideals that it is founded on should always come before security, it is better to die for ones ideals then lose them to survive. What would we be, we would no longer have the defining factors that make out nation what it is, so really all that would happen is our nation would die anyway, and give birth to new form of tyranny in addition.

So it has been that the job of government transparency has fallen to the press, the supposed “4th branch of government”. For a great while, well sporadically really, it has generally fulfilled this duty. Having an influential “house” that can act outside the actual government is really a brilliant thing in my honest opinion. Though having elected officials, and running our country the way we do is a great thing, having an almost “auto correcting” agency creates for an even more ideal system.  The idea would be that the press work toward fixing corruption and other problems by applying to the sovereign people, also preventing government secrecy, so as to keep the people in command. It’s almost the bridge between the general population, and their elected government, because ideally the two would be considered the same based on democratic ideals. However, the two do by nature drift apart, in this way, they are tethered: thus preserving democracy.

That brings me to the current shape of things. These days the press has degenerated and turned yellow, news organizations allowing themselves to be defined by money rather then their ideals and assumed jobs as the “4th branch of government”. The actual government of the United States, it seems, is only to happy with this, and has now itself has degenerated into massive secrecy. So it is that Wikileaks has shown as a sort of beacon of light in this dying age of the media, serving as a perfect example of how they should operate and function. A return to the idealistic 4th branch.

Though that is not to say that Wikileaks has remained perfect. It has been a constant irony that they themselves remain shrouded in mystery. Though I would like to point out, however, that although this is ironic, it is not hypocritical of them. For if their assumed position as information and transparency spreaders is in any way established, there is no direct worry concerning the organization itself, but rather what it achieves. It would be perfectly expected that they may need to remain secretive to avoid persecution from the cranky political establishment. Though honestly, thinking back on that, this is one of the little things that ticks me off about Wikileaks. I do personally believe that although something may make sense, secrecy is habit forming, and does put a spot on the ideals of the organization.

SO to come to an abrupt and ungraceful conclusion, Wikileaks is by all means not perfect, and possibly moving away from perfection, BUT it does provide America with a perfect example of how the media should function, and has in the past. It gives us a hope that we can slowly take a turn away from the path of slowly removing liberties and increasing a sort of “government club” mentality. Where the media makes celebrities out of our political leaders rather then questions them, or makes certain they actually, you know, have opinions that reflect what the American people want, or hopefully have the ability to formulate an opinion at all. It gives us a hope for a future where we can once again be a nation of ideals and unity, rather then secrecy and division. This, amongst other reasons, is why Wikileaks has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Political Cartoons

Gods I love political cartoons. They really are the best vessel of communicating important political ideas that everyone understands. In fact, I plan to have a guest cartoonist during guest week. It should be awesome. For today though, I’m going to give a little feature to some of my favorite cartoonist’s out there. First, check out this article. Then, you should go and see an awesome guy at This is Historic Times.

That’s all for today.  Sorry I had to slack off for today, but I was preparing for guest week.  I’ll see you tomorrow, with a guest article.

Culture

I’m sorry I’ve been writing about soft topics lately instead of news and politics, but I need to so I can avoid repeats.  there is a guest week coming up, so I want to make sure the same topic doesn’t come up twice.  Thus, I will begin today’s discussion, which is about culture.  Specifically, I will be talking about American culture, because I have the most experience with America.  Although, it’s not an easy topic to discuss being that America has had most of its culture sucked out of it by vampiric media monsters.  But I digress, America is a great place with lots of cool people.  I just can’t get over the sheer amount of stupidity surrounding me, which is surely caused by the culture vampires from within our very own entertainment media.

These monstrosities I speak of are, of course, the reality shows.  Things like Jersy Shore and At Home With the Kardashians are slowly destroying our minds in America.  Instead of being excited about the patriot act being killed (which I wish I was writing about right now), people only care about Snookie and her boyfriend.  I mean, there was a poll at my school recently asking who the voters wanted to be the California governor, and sixty percent of the votes went to “I don’t care.”  What do you think the answers would have been like if it had asked, “How many ladies do you think “The Situation” will deflower this week?”

Oh, “The Situation,” there are no words for how much I hate that man.  Did you know that he got paid more than Obama last year?  That’s right, an actor – wait, no, an idiot who pretends to act – got paid more than the president.  I bet he also got paid more than all the teachers and scientists in the US combined.  I swear if I meet that man in person, he will die.  We’re better than this America (and the rest of you), let’s take back our culture and string these idiots up by their intestines.

Role-Playing

Recently I’ve been thinking about Gentlemanly pursuits. Such pursuits as badminton, fencing, or role-playing. Yes, I believe role-playing is a sport of gentlemen. Crafted to give the participants a chance to exercise their minds and imaginations, it truly allows one to pursue intelligence and creativity. Before I get too ahead of myself though, I want to explain what exactly what role-playing is. This is, of course, for the benefit of those less cultured readers. Role-playing is an activity in which you pretend to be a character in an interactive and collaborative narrative. That is, a group of people get together and act out a story.

I think role-playing is cool.  That is all.

Thank you, I’ll see you tomorrow.

There was more to this, a lot more, but it got lost somehow (AGAIN!).  I guess this topic is destined to fail.

Sunday Quickpost #2 – Apology

Woops! I did post yesterday. It was about role-paying. I’ll rewrite it tomorrow. I probably messed up or something. Sorry!

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