A blog about world events, history, politics, technology, music, movies, and sports as well as anything else I may enjoy writing about.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Iraq War Outline

  1. The Essentials (click to expand/contract)
  2. Leadup to War (click to expand/contract)
  3. Controversies/Scandals (click to expand/contract)
  4. U.S.-Iraq History (click to expand/contract)

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

Documentaries Galore

I'll update this list whenever I find items worth putting here.

The Money Masters - How International Bankers Gained Control of America


Iraq for Sale - The War Profiteers



Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the Iraq War



JFK II - George H.W. Bush's involvement



Interview with John Taylor Gatto



America - Freedom to Fascism



The War on Democracy



Fiat Empire - Why the Federal Reserve Violates the Constitution



Assassination of JFK, Jr.



Zeitgeist



Ron Paul vs. Charles Partee of Federal Reserve Board (1983 Gold Standard Debate)



Why We Fight 1/4



Why We Fight 2/4



Why We Fight 3/4



Why We Fight 4/4



Corrupt Banking System (Federal Reserve for Dummies) 1/5



Corrupt Banking System 2/5



Corrupt Banking System 3/5



Corrupt Banking System 4/5



Corrupt Banking System 5/5



JFK's Speech to the American Press

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Friday, September 07, 2007

Our Country is Stuck in 9th Grade

Here's what I observed during the Republican debate the other night in New Hampshire: a high school debate, with the exception of Ron Paul. It was painfully obvious how rehearsed the other candidates' answers were. Why is this a bad thing? Shouldn't candidates rehearse and prepare for debates? Sure...if they're in the 9th grade and arguing some position their teacher handed to their team. These people are competing for the office of the President of the United States. The candidates should be prepared for all the different types of questions they're going to be asked. This preparation should come from the natural preparation any candidate should be doing if he/she wants to be an effective president. However, you should be able to get up on stage and answer a question as if you're hearing it for the first time. We should be seeing that your beliefs are shaping an on the spot honest answer to the question, not that you've been practicing the answer, and your other talking points, in front of mirrors and your campaign staff for weeks. Why do campaigners continue to give these rehearsed answers? Because it is effective. The public is mentally stuck around the age of 14, so the candidates play to this and give answers that appeal to the public's level of thinking. Ron Paul's success in the online community indicates that the level of critical thinking of politically active internet users is higher than that of the rest of the country. I hope I'm wrong. Hopefully there is a huge movement throughout the country that is being ignored by the media and their (bullshit?) opinion polls. Part of the problem is certainly the format of these debates: many candidates, many topics, and limited time for answers. Their answers often have to be short and to the point, thus not giving them the opportunity to expand into further detail. However, something insightful can be said in 90 seconds as Ron Paul continually proves. The front running candidates most likely see this debate format as a blessing. In a longer format, Guiliani would be exposed as a one-dimensional candidate with a mantra. Hell, during last night's debate the people watching the debate said all Guiliani seems to do is talk about what he did as mayor of New York and they were very disappoined with him. Imagine what their reaction would be if he spoke for twice or thrice as long. Romney, whom I see as a very intelligent and shrewd man, would be hurt by a longer amount of speaking time because it increases the probability that he will contradict himself within the same answer. The guy is a sheister much in the same way the people who really run this country are. Expect to see the GOP and the mainstream media eventually give him the push as the Republican candidate. If McCain were to give longer answers and were to have his answers challenged by follow-ups, he'd slip into a level of incoherence similar to what happened to him on the Daily Show a couple of months back that would make any sane person say this guy is not fit to be president. Many people I'm sure will disagree with most of this. They will say rehearsal shows that a candidate is putting in the necessary preparation that voters should expect of him/her for a debate. But if this well-rehearsed individual is elected president, the individual will often not have the opportunity to rehearse the answers to certain unexpected questions from foreign leaders and dignitaries. I'm looking for someone whose beliefs guide his actions and is sharp enough to give an answer on his feet when the situation so requires. Ron Paul is the only candidate in the Republican party, and dare I say both parties, with dynamism in his answers. I never get the feeling that the answer he's giving to a question has been rehearsed in front of a mirror or touched up by campaign advisers to maximize effect on voters. He has a core set of beliefs and a great understanding of the issues that are vital to our country, and he uses that information to form a unique answer to every question. Next time you watch one of these debates, from either political party, look at and listen to each candidate's answers and ask yourself if this person must've rehearsed this answer dozens of times.

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Why Congestion Pricing in NYC is Bullshit

On August 14th the federal government gave New York City $350 million to reduce traffic congestion with the stipulation that the city must try to alleviate congestion via some kind of pricing mechanism. Of course this was music to Mayor Mike Bloomberg's ears. He failed in July to get the necessary support of the state legislature to move forward with his congestion pricing system that is part of the wider plan to make New York City an environmental model for American cities in the 21st century. But, a few days later, the legislature said they would create a committee to look into Bloomberg's proposal. The overall goal of improving the environment of NYC is a noble one that I fully support. It is the means being used that I disagree with. Before I go into why I think this congestion plan is 1) unfair and 2) untenable for NYC, I'm going to speculate as to why I think Bloomberg is pushing this particular plan and why the government is funding him to encourage its creation. PlaNYC is part of an overall umbrella effort by environmental organizations to clean up cities across the United States. Bloomberg is quite possibly going to run for president in '08, and he certainly is and has been plotting out a campaign for some time now. Environmental groups have a large deal of political clout, and they continue to amass it at a rapid rate as global warming picks up momentum as a political and social priority in the US and the world. So what does all this mean? Bloomberg genuinely believes in taking action to clean up our environmental and stave off the effects of global warming, and for that I applaud him. But why is he so dead set on congestion pricing? Of the many actions that can be taken to alleviate the problem, why is this one his prize pony? The environmental groups are pushing him, that's why. They want NYC, the country's most populous and prosperous city, to get the ball rolling...in a hurry. There is no interest taken in whether or not this plan is the best solution for or is in the best interest of New York City; they just want it to happen here first so they can spread it throughout the country. Global warming is a problem which is already upon us, and the longer we wait to take action, the harder we will be struck by its effects. Therefore, environmental groups want to put any plan they believe will have great effect into motion immediately. Rather than testing this plan out in a smaller city, where it would be easier to conduct research, make predictions, and then measure how well those predictions pan out upon implementation, they are pushing it on the largest city in the country in a very short time frame. Not only that, but Bloomberg tried to pass it through legislature in just a couple of months without even providing any substantial statistical predictions on what this would do to the amount of congestion or the economy of the city. While the impetus of global warming is extremely powerful and action is needed now, we still must do proper planning and not lose our heads. Rather than hastily putting a pilot project in effect in New York City, why not 1) do a thorough study of what all of its effects are likely to be on the city? and 2) put it in place in a smaller city first? Putting enormous pressure on Bloomberg, who at this point I'm officially saying is in the pocket of the new enormity "Big Enviro", may get your plan enacted and into the national spotlight quicker, but have you thought about the potential downfall of this strategy? What if, due to inadequate research and planning, this system falls flat on its face in New York? Then congestion pricing as a nationwide solution is fucked. Even if it could have worked elsewhere in the country, which I certainly believe is possible, you won't ever get another chance because once it fails in New York, and the whole country knows because you made sure everyone was watching, it will be political suicide for any American politician to utter the words "congestion pricing."

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Friday, August 17, 2007

Mission Statement

I want to work hard, gain knowledge, inform people, and have my voice heard. Since graduating with a BS in computer science in December '02 I have had seven jobs and have only stayed at one longer than six months: poker player (year and a half). I went through a six week .NET bootcamp curriculum at the end of '03 and got the highest level of certification for a .NET programmer (MCAD/MCSD) a few weeks later. As far as I'm concerned, all of this is an aggregate sunk cost. I certainly learned about the world and myself from these experiences, but I don't plan to build upon this jagged path; I am bidding it farewell and charting a new course. Maybe I could change the world within the corporate business environment if I'd just ease up on my convictions for five minutes, but that's never going to happen. I just busted my ass for the last year at two separate jobs getting myself out of debt and building enough savings so that I can earn a living my own way. If the content I put up on this blog is consistently worthwhile, I will gain an audience and be able to pay my bills via the page ads. I will attempt to accomplish this end until I succeed or all of my money is gone. And if the latter should happen, I will go out and get another job, save up, and get right back at making my own way again. I'll repeat this as many times as necessary until I succeed...or die. I hope that you have found or will find incitement and/or useful information on this blog. Thank you for reading.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Why

Why is the most important question, as it always should be. I obviously love many different types of music...but so do a lot of other people, so what drove me to do this? Making this list is something I've wanted to do for many years. I started ranking my favorite bands in my head when I was around 11, and I have never stopped. I loved the firecracker 500 (top songs of all time) countdown 102.7 WNEW used to do on July 4th weekend, and I wanted to make a list of my favorite songs just like that. So I ranked bands and wanted to rank songs...now how the fuck did I end up making a list of my top 100 albums given that information? It wasn't until about 5 years ago that I really started building an album collection. Before that I had maybe 100 CDs, a bunch of which were really my dad's that I've just taken. Once I got a computer with a decent harddrive (20GB and shortly thereafter 120GB) I started sharting music like crazy with my high speed internet connection at college, and then my home broadband connection. I very quickly amassed an album collection over 1K (yes I mean one kilobyte). My interest in ranking songs and bands when I was younger came from the fact that that is largely what my musical exposure was: I listened to the radio. I'd say when I was younger that between Spots Radio 66 WFAN and WNEW/K-Rock/Q-104.3 I listened to the radio more than watched tv. The radio and my dad got me into basically all the music that I listened to (except Metallica) until I got to college. I got CDs back in the day from my favorite bands from BMG Music Service where they had deals like 7 CDs for the price of one. But once I listened to so many albums in such a short time, I was able to judge a ton of bands based on their albums instead of just their hit singles. In time, listening to albums has become the only way for me to listen to music. I listen to individual songs on a band's myspace or purevolume just to see what they're about and if it's worth checking out an album. The true decision on a band is not made until I hear an album. If your album is not good, I won't listen to you. I organized my music into 2 sections: full albums and miscellaneous songs. As both folders grew, the full albums folder completely dominated my attention. The Misc folder turned into a storing ground for songs from local bands or rare tracks from bands I was a big fan of that were tracks found on singles, b-sides, and soundtracks instead of their full albums. Now that I only listened to full albums and never listened to the radio anymore because I had the internet, it was only natural that I would start ranking albums as I had done with bands and to an extent with songs for many years. I also must give a shitload of credit to Danny who shares my enthusiasm for music as well as my extent of musical knowledge. The momentum of our friendship has certainly been steered by the mutual love for music and our countless discussions about countless albums. And I cannot be fair without mentioning ITunes. I loved Winamp for many years, but once I started using ITunes last year I immediately saw potential for ranking albums. Yes Winamp does have an organizational component to it (which is very good I've used it on PCs at a couple of jobs), but ITunes puts it right in front of your face immediately. It gives you no choice but to be organized...and for someone like me, VERY organized. As a matter of fact, I started working on this list only a couple of weeks after I started using ITunes. So in a nutshell, if this has been excessively longwinded, I made this list because: I love music -> I have a ton of albums -> I enjoy discussing, analyzing, and (sadly) organizing these albums -> I like to make lists. So naturally these factors led to writing a list of my top 100 albums of all-time. Even more than being done with the list, I'm looking forward to updating it with new albums that I fall in love with so that I can inform more people about it and spread the music as well as keeping a chronicle for myself of the point in my life this particular great music entered.

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Am I Crazy

I must be crazy to not have [insert album and/or band here] on my list of top 100 albums. The reason [X] is not on the list is because I've either never heard it, or I have and it's not one of my 100 favorite albums. If I haven't heard it, then I would like to because I am constantly looking for my new favorite album. One of the major reasons for making this list was to get it out there to the world of music enthusiasts and have them send me their thoughts on my favorites as well as their own suggestions. So if you think there is an album that should be on this list, leave a comment about it on the 100 albums blog or on this post and I'll check it out and respond to it. I'm hoping to get a bunch of suggestions that end up making my list. Here are some I expect to catch grief on, or already have: The Beatles: I've listened to most of their albums at least once. None has ever caught me as a great album that I needed to listen to over and over. I appreciate their place in music history and what their arrival on the scene did for the progression of rock music into the mainstream, but I'm just not a huge fan. The Number of the Beast by Iron Maiden (from Matt): Before I started making the list I thought this album was going to be on it. Invaders and The Prisoner are why this album doesn't make the cut. I really don't like Invaders at all; it's extremely cheesy. The Prisoner is a good song for the most part, except I don't like the chorus which kills it for me. Those 2 songs combined are almost 10 minutes, and on a 40 minute album take up 25%. The other 75% of the album is just not great enough to make up for it. If you want to argue that if I put Atom Heart Mother on the list then Number of the Beast should be on it as well, I can't really argue much except to say that 23 minutes of Atom Heart Mother gives me at least 100X the enjoyment than Number of the Beast provides. Make no mistake, other than the 2 songs I mentioned I think this is a great album, particularly Children of the Damned, Run to the Hills, and Hallowed be Thy Name. Mudvayne (All Albums) (from Christina): "The End of All Things to Come" and "Lost and Found" both got serious consideration; I like both of those albums a lot. Here's why neither made the list... "The End of All Things to Come" is full of goodness, but doesn't have that much greatness. Not Falling is great, and (Per)version of a Truth and World So Cold own the world, but those are the only great songs on the album. There aren't any songs I don't like on the album, but everything other than the 3 I mentioned range from good to very good, and that's just not enough to get it in the top 100. The explanation for "Lost and Found" is basically the same as TEOATTC. Happy?, Fall Into Sleep, and Forget to Remember are all great songs and the rest of Lost and Found ranges from good to very good. L.D. 50 got consideration as well, but I don't know it as well as the other two albums so I'd have to listen to it right now to give full analysis. Take my word for it that I analyzed it during the production of this list and determined it wasn't a top 100 album.

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How

Here is how I made the list... First of all I want to go through how I ranked specific albums. There was no numerical or tangible system used. I ranked individual songs in iTunes, but I really only used that for reference for albums that I didn't listen to for a while to help me remember the album. Considered in ranking (in no order) were as follows: Album Time Enjoyable & Great Listening Time to Mediocre and Unenjoyable Listening Time Ratio Track Count Very Good and Great Track to Good, OK, and Bad Track Ratio Ownage Factor These factors all added up to generate an overall enjoyment rating. Again, this rating was neither numeric nor tangible. It was just me sitting there comparing two albums in my head and saying based on all these factors, do I enjoy album A overall more or less than album B. Now that you know how I rated albums, here is how the ranking process went... I looked through my list of about 1300 albums and picked any that I felt on first glance might be one of my top 100 albums. I came up with approximately 350 albums from that iteration and put them in a spreadsheet. I had a section specifically for the top 100 albums and I put albums I was sure would be in the list there...there were about 80 of these, quite a few of which did not end up making the cut. After the lists were created and some predictions made, it was time to start listening to some music. Albums that I felt were obviously not top 100 material were eliminated. This level was pretty easy because I was identifying albums that had more than a couple of songs that I don't really care for and albums that were good but not very good or great. Also at this level, if I felt an album was certainly top 100 worthy I threw it into the top 100 section, and if it was potentially top 100 I left it in the possibles list. At this phase I moved some albums I initially placed in the top 100 into the possibles list. I did my most random listening during this time period. I jumped around through the possibles and certain sections. I went in alphabetical order for a while. Through the various methods I was able to listen to just about every album in the spreadsheet during this time. I started the list in March 06, and by August or September 06 I had elimated albums I was certain didn't belong in the top 100. There were weeks at a time that I didn't get to work on the list otherwise I would've been through this phase much faster. It was at this point that things started getting difficult. I was able to eliminate some more albums after listening again, but there were still almost 200 left and I knew I needed to develop a system to better rank these. So here's what I did... I started listening to all of the possibles one after another and determining how this album ranked compared to the last one. This enabled me to order the possibles list very well. The only problem was over time after doing 40 or 50 albums, if I found one that was better than the 10 I had listened to over the last few days, I had to go back and listen to albums higher in the list again to compare them in present listening context with the album I was considering. This obviously made the list compilation process lengthier, but it was necessary to make fair assessments. The dates I'm giving are approximate based on the best of my recollection (unlike Alberto Gonzalez who is not willing to approximate what he ate for breakfast 3 days ago). Around early November I had finished going through the possibles list and it was pretty well ordered. I now had to go through the albums I had already put into the top 100 list and rank these against the possibles list (and each other of course). This worked out pretty well as for the most part whatever was in the top 100 stayed in the top 100. I got down to about 120 albums by the end of November. The extras in the possibles list were ones I liked a lot and wanted to hear again to make sure the top 100 was as true as I could possibly make it. After the first week or so of December, I was down to 110 albums...this was getting really fucking tough because those 10 extra albums all seemed to belong in the top 100. At this point I had it in my mind that I was going to complete the list and post it on New Year's 2007, so I decided to take the existing top 100 and do a thorough ranking, then return to the 10 extra possibles and compare those to the bottom of the list. The next 4 weeks were the hardest of the entire list making process. I listened to the albums from 100-1 and made decisions. There were changes, there was controversy, and my god were there re-listens. The hardest decision for me to make on the whole list was Appetite for Destruction vs Master of Puppets...I spent every night for close to a week going back and forth between the two. I wanted to just call it a tie and be done with it, but I wasn't going to pussy out so I finally made a decision which you can read about in the actual list. I spent a lot of time at work and pretty much all of my free time in December (I know I'm a loser already, no need for you to tell me) getting the top 100 finished, and on New Year's I unveiled the unofficial top 100 for a few of my close friends at Casa de Paras, but it was made clear that this list was unofficial and I would be making another pass. There was no way I was comfortable releasing the list yet after all the effort I had already put in: I wanted to make sure it was as good as I could possibly make it. In the first couple of weeks of January I made my final decisions about the borderline albums, and the top 100 albums were now set. They were not officially ordered, but the 100 that would be in the final list were there. The rest of January and the beginning of February was spent making another pass through the list and making sure everything was ordered as accurately as possible. I wish I marked the date when I finally set the list in stone because I'd like to look back on that as a milestone in my life, but it was some time in the middle of February. I know this because as soon as I was done I went on a new music binge since I had been locked into listening to the same albums for almost a full year, and I got into Stadium Arcadium in mid February (that album will undoubtedly be in the first edit after the official release of the list). The list wasnt posted at that time because I still had to do all the write-ups for the albums, style the blog, and write the ancillary pages. This is the final ancillary page and the list, in all aspects and components, is now officially done and I am fucking ecstatic! I have never been prouder of anything else I've done in my life. I hope you enjoy (or have enjoyed) reading the list and find something you never heard of before that merges with your soul.

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