Balancing the Budget is Easy

Will Congress balance the budget? Will there be a government shut-down? Are we going to rob from the rich to give to the poor, or are we going to rob from the poor to give to the rich? Are we going to become communists? Are we going to become corporate fascists? Are we all going to die? 

Every time I feel myself getting sucked into the media hysteria that is the budget deficit, I go back to an interactive deficit puzzle  created presumably by the New York Times economics columnist David Leonhardt in November of last year.

This interactive deficit puzzle has soothed me many times, and each time I begin the puzzle, I am reminded of how simple and effective it is. I can balance the budget without hurting the elderly or the poor, and upon balancing the budget, I am left feeling joyful. My euphoria only lasts for a few minutes though, because in completing Leonhardt’s puzzle, I am left wondering why the budget has taken months to balance when I can balance it in less than five minutes… has every member of Congress sat down and used a tool like this?

I know all those fogies in Congress probably don’t remember anything from their last economics class, so maybe a puzzle/tool/application like Leonhardt’s  would be most helpful in getting these elected officials to think about budget deficit concepts in terms of money and not social agenda.  Leonhardt’s project breaks down US spending and tax areas in concise and understandable language, and with its point and click format, even new computer-using Congressmen can understand how to solve the deficit.

Can’t the Speaker of the House and Joe Biden send out a mass e-mail to all Congressmen demanding everyone use Leonhardt’s interactive puzzle before the next session? That mass e-mail should close with a line something like… “Any elected official that refuses to use Leonhardt’s puzzle because it is on the New York Times site will be barred from the floor.”

Lucien Moore House in ruins

^^ If the rest of the United States looks like this, I just might move to Canada. Collecting firewood is only fun the first couple of times… ^^

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Positive thinking on Japan’s March 2011 crises

Tsunami wall at Tsu-shi, Japan

Tsunami wall at Tsu-shi, Japan (Image via Wikipedia)

I seem to have only posted negative things about the situation in Japan, so this post is an attempt to be positive. This post is really a list for myself.

The first, most obvious positive is: the Fukushima nuclear plant has not exploded.

Second:

The US Military support in Japan has been extensive, and unlike most foreign aid that is now arriving, the US military aid has been in Japan since the beginning.   This article offers a comprehensive list of all US military missions conducted, or to be conducted.   Rather than “running the show like they usually do in a disaster zone, U.S. troops are taking cues from the Japanese on how to assist in recovery efforts in the heart of the tsunami-ravaged coastline“.  This aid has not gone unnoticed by the Japanese people: In a e-mail I saw, forwarded to my mate from his father’s business account days after the Sendai earthquake:

“Lastly, I as a Japanese really appreciate the help from your government. American troops and some war ships now arrived close to my home town. They are working hard to help the people over there. They knew there is the risk of exposure to radiation, but they came. I can’t express how much I appreciate that.”

Admiral Robert Willard has stated he is willing to send troops “into the danger zone” to assist the Japanese Defense force, however he is “cautiously optimistic” that the Japanese can handle cooling the plant themselves. Reuters states the US Military will not “be called into the most affected areas around the plant.

This positive is a direct outcome of WWII, as the US wouldn’t be stationed in Japan if it wasn’t for the Treaty of Francisco.  Normally I advocate the shuttering  of military bases overseas, but in this one instance, I have to make an exception.  Though – we shouldn’t keep our bases open around the world just so we can help if there is a natural disaster – I am not advocating that.

Third:

The Japanese people have remained calm. The sense of community at the Japanese refugee centers is heartwarming:   children and women cook and clean,  and men go into town to wait in lines for food and water.

“As far as I can tell, people around Tokyo are very calm and haven’t heard any strange rumors. Avoiding panic is the benefit for all, and people seem to understand that.”

And it’s that message that is apparently getting lost in translation as the outside media cover the events in Japan, particularly the nuclear situation.

“CNN seems to be reporting ‘people leaving from Tokyo’ and Tokyo becoming a ‘ghost town,’ but it seems that it’s a bit overemphasized,” he wrote.

via Melony Plenda’s “Student reports from Japan: People remain calm

Here is a picture of a younger man helping an older man carry supplies. The New Yorker even mentioned the lack of looting and government exploitation. I would like to think that if something like this happened in the United States, Americans would refrain from looting and rioting, but past natural disasters show otherwise.

Internet comments have stated the calmness of the Japanese is a direct result of their community spirit and culture, sentiments echoed in The New Yorker article linked above.

Fourth:

Japan has the most technologically advanced earthquake detection and broadcast system in the world. This system undoubtedly saved lives.

The video above includes a frantic news producer yelling directions.

Fifth:

Japanese skyscrapers were built to withstand earthquakes and no engineered buildings have collapsed.

This list will be updated should I find out/read about other positives regarding the Japanese 2011 earthquake-tsunami-nuclear crisis.


Japanese Earthquake, Tsunami reveal American Stupidity, Insensitivity

Avenge Pearl Harbor. Our bullets will do it, c...

Image by The U.S. National Archives via Flickr

EDIT: The internet is telling me all these anti-Japanese sentiments began with  a Family Guy staff writer’s joke tweet. He deleted the tweet and apologized, though other Americans might actually mean it as evident by their Facebook vitriol?

The last 48 hours for Japan have been rough: two earthquakes, a tsunami, and fears of nuclear meltdown.

A logical, possible explanation? A solar flare.

Some  cesspoolian Americans, however, viewed these natural phenomena as the work of a spiritual deity. These Americans believe the universe was angry at Japan for Pearl Harbor, and decided to wait more than 50 years to dish out karmic justice.  Except these Americans  didn’t say it like that.  More like:   “Fuck Japan! Remember Pearl Harbor? Karma’s a bitch!” Yeah.

When I think of all the Americans that never learned of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings,  my forehead wrinkles with worry. No Child Left Behind is doing a worse job than we imagined!

If I had to pick a country, between the United States and Japan, that would get karmic retribution for actions in World War II, I’d pick the United States (body count, occupation).   If I were to follow the Facebooking-karmic-justice-Americans logic, where  nature takes it upon herself to punish man for the things he does to his fellow man, I’d have to assume that Katrina, the tornadoes tearing up the midwest,  the BP Oil Spill (why not?) and every other natural catastrophe to hit the states EVER,  is retribution for things America did in prior wars. Or am I being silly here, because America don’t have to worry about karmic retribution? I don’t know the rules to this karma-blame-game… maybe America is exempt.

But what about New Zealand? Following the logic stated above, one could argue the Christchurch earthquake happened because of the Anglo-Maori wars centuries ago.   And the flooding in Australia? Oh, the universe is always punishing that country – they’re a country of criminals, you see?

But really, why Pearl Harbor?

My hypothesis:  the film  “Pearl Harbor” played recently (ahem, on repeat for a week) on some cable channel, making the battle of Pearl Harbor  fresh in commonplace American  minds.  These Americans heard the world “Japan” on the news, and were like, “I just watched a movie with Ben Affleck, and that tsunami country bombed us in the movie!   Serves them right, durrr, derr.”

(I don’t know if “Pearl Harbor” aired recently, but this makes me think my idea has merit…)

CLOSING EDIT: That joke flew over my head and now I feel silly. Perhaps all those Facebook people were really imitating Alec Sulkin. Reddit does not know this yet, nor does Viceland.com, linked above. (3:30pm CST)


In bed with Canadians

Illustration for "The Black Cat" by ...

Image via Wikipedia

Check me out! The web-based literature, arts and culture magazine Zouch has taken a shine to me. They reblogged my “Civilization 5 offends my Hungarian sensibilities” post here.

Their website is pretty… and they also accept poetry and short stories!

And, so what if they are Canadian – if I plan on achieving global dominance, I must start somewhere, right?

Also, Hungarians love Canada for some reason. When my family was waiting around in Italy and being interviewed by the US Embassy to make sure we weren’t Soviet spies, we thought long and hard about going to Canada instead – almost every other refugee we were friends with moved there.


Does the apocalypse begin with a food shortage brought on by bees?

Thought Catalog has a brief post about bees dying all over the world, and how this effects the global food supply.  Specifically:

citrus fruits, apples, onions, broccoli, cabbage, sprouts, courgettes, peppers, aubergines, avocados, cucumbers, coconuts, tomatoes and broad beans, as well as coffee and cocoa

That is a pretty diverse list of yummy foods – and I don’t want to imagine a world without those foods.

Because I hate being all doom and gloom, I am hoping the esteemed scientists will figure out how to genetically modify those foods like they did the banana.

As for why bees are disappearing, my guess is either messed up electromagnetic fields, pollution, or the Black Eyed Peas.


Tennessee Tea Party advocates editing textbooks, a move from the Communist playbook

National emblem of the People's Republic of China

Image via Wikipedia

Tea Partiers in Tennessee want to selectively edit history textbooks by removing  all negative portrayals of our founding fathers. For a political party so focused on avoiding a Communist America, the Tea Party in Tennessee appears to know nothing of Communist history.

The act of editing educational textbooks, with the purpose of making certain leaders more favorable, was employed by the U.S.S.R in many (unwilling) Eastern Europe satellites. Oh, and Communist China still does it. Oops. Read the rest of this entry »


Veterans Bring the War Home to Chicago…

I realize it might be a good idea to update this wordpress with my writing  from other websites….

Reposted from Chicago Art Magazine:

The other day while walking to Lincoln Square, I couldn’t help but notice the newly placed political street art on boarded storefronts. A closer inspection of these paste-ups revealed the url IVAW.org, so naturally I went home to see what google could tell me. I was surprised, and a little heartbroken, to find absolutely no mainstream coverage of National Veterans Art Museum’s  November initiative “Chicago in War”, or their  participating organizations  Iraq Veterans Against the War and Just Seeds Artists Cooperative.

The Operation Exposure paste-ups showing up around town are a collaboration between Just Seeds and Iraq Veterans Against the War and are meant to accompany an exhibit at the Mess Hall.  The IVAW website states “Chicago in War” is a series of events, art exhibits, and performances designed to foster conversation between veterans and civilians.

Over a brief phone conversation, veteran and artist Aaron Hughes explained Operation Exposure as a way of “getting the word out on the street” and “what better way to change the landscape than by putting up stories of soldiers”.

A close-up of the paper plaque on the right, featuring 29 year old Rodney Watson, can be viewed here. Additional photos of Operation Exposure can be found on flickr at the Just Seeds flickr set here, and  here.

Besides Operation Exposure, Aaron Hughes has curated a show titled “Intrusive Thoughts” at the National Veterans Art Museum, on display until May 2011.  After Aaron Hughes’ first exhibit in 2006 at the then called National Vietnam Veterans Art Museum, Hughes eventually went on to chair the museum’s art committee. “Intrusive Thoughts” is the first exhibit at the newly named National Veterans Art Museum and took Hughes about six months to curate. Read the rest of this entry »