Monday, August 31, 2009

The Reclamation of Independence

Via NiceDeb, we find this.

It contains no earth-shaking revelations or radical ideas. It's far too wordy for the average MTV-nurtured attention span, and as a result will probably attract less attention than warranted. Toward the end, it drifts a bit from the formalized language of the preamble into unfortunately florid and casual hyperbole.

But I believe the man's got a kernel of a good idea there, and I suspect this audience is one that can give it a fair reading without getting bored halfway through and surfing Google Image Search for new LOLcats.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Okay, fine.

So nobody wants to talk about sports, at least not hockey. Got it. Let's get back to the decay of Western Civilization, then. Specifically, let's look at another example of how leftist philosophy in action is chipping away at our influence in the world as we give up and let other nations call the shots. I'm still going to tie it in with Canada, though.

There's a nickel mine in Sudbury, Canada, that's been around for over 100 years. The unionized workers there have been on strike for a few weeks. In fact, they might be better at striking than actually mining nickel since it seems they strike more often. Take a look at this timeline of strikes at the mine. There are two, one in the late '70s and one in the '80s, that have been glorified to the point of legend and I think they even made a movie of one of them. Workers still talk about the "gains" those labor pioneers made with a sense of awe. That's why they're striking now, because the evil corporation that cuts their paychecks, Inco, wants to take all of those gains away.

The thing I can't figure out when I read their reasons for striking and then I look at that timeline is why they have been striking so damn much in the past 15 years. The glorious strikes of the '70s and '80s were historical and yielded incredible gains, right? So what's going on? Apparently their company is always trying to scale back all of those historic union wins. One might wonder if perhaps all of those union wins were a little too incredible and are making the company unprofitable because they have to pay out too many pensions and nickel bonuses. That's not how the union sees it, though. They are convinced that Inco simply wants to take all that stuff back so they can make more money, presumably so a CEO somewhere can roll around in a pile of thousand dollar bills, or looney bills, or whatever Canada's currency is.

Did I mention that Inco was bought out by a Brazilian company a couple of years ago and is now Vale-Inco? This has become a sort of nationalist rallying cry for the downtrodden workers as they've put a new spin on the whole "they took our jobs" line. Now the line is that the foreigners are paying us to work, but they're trying to take our money. Nevermind that the unions have driven Canadian ownership away so that a company from the opposite continent had to come save their jobs. They are still greedy foreigners who are trying to roll back important things and take advantage of the working man. Of course, the left reminds us that the unions are going about this the wrong way:
Instead, [Gary Kinsman, a Professor of Sociology at Laurentian University in Sudbury] urged strategies that emphasize international solidarity among workers. Nationalist rhetoric, he argued, “sets up a precarious position if you are trying to build long term relationships among working-class people around the world in the context of global capitalism.”
Hmmm.International worker solidarity? Haven't we heard that sort of talk before somewhere else? Did that prove to be a successful economic blueprint? How strange that this website calls itself "New" Socialist and talks about radical ideas for change, but there's nothing new about it. Very surprising.

This situation gets more interesting as the CEO of Vale-Inco has apparently told the unions to go screw themselves. They are going to hire new people, are already training them, and are planning on resuming operations in a few weeks. The unions don't like that too much:
Peter Digby, a 21-year veteran with Vale Inco, said starting any production at Vale Inco’s operations with inexperienced staff could be dangerous.

“I think it’s an extremely dangerous precedent (to set),” he said. “They don’t have people who are qualified or capable of doing a lot of jobs. I would be extremely concerned for those people and their safety because this company doesn’t care about anyone’s safety.”
So you see? The unions aren't the ones who are worried about the money. They just care about safety. Whoever these new workers are, they don't have 20 years of experience standing around drinking coffee and reading the newspaper while seven people do the work of two. I'm actually worried about the safety of those new workers, too, but more about their safety as they cross the picket lines and whether or not union thugs will try to threaten and intimidate them out of work.

Unions are largely detestable because they are businesses in themselves that force people to pay for something they already have in many Western nations under government laws: worker protection. They are also one of the worst types of pyramid schemes as the only way to move up is to be a member until the people over you die off or retire and make room. Union members are rewarded solely on seniority, not performance. It doesn't matter how hard you work, you'll be waiting in line just as long as the next guy, and that's if you're actually able to get work and it's not all being taken by more senior members. Unions are out for their own self-interest at the expense of whatever company their members work for. Unions produce nothing and they cannot exist on their own. They are parasitic organisms that feed off of the productive private sector but pretend to be doing workers a favor as they slip their grubby hands into the workers' wallets. They make businesses less profitable, more inefficient, and often bankrupt which means everybody loses their job. Unless, that is, the taxpayer at large can be made to subsidize them. Here's a great example of what I mean from an "anonymous picketer" in the New Socialist post above:
He continued, “[Vale-Inco] want to never have a loss. That’s not realistic in the mining industry.” He said that the history of Inco has been one of occasional losses alternating with periods of huge gains. In the current market, the company is going to briefly lose money “unless we come in here and do volunteer work.”
That's right, because there is no middle ground between extravagant pay and working for free. Who are these greedy, selfish CEOs who want to make a profit every year? I many years do the union bosses tighten their belts, take pay cuts and operate on losses? In the end this isn't different from any other progressive pipe dream. They assume that people will always need nickel and that Vale-Inco will give in to them because they want to make money from the mine. Somehow, they are incapable of understanding that if Vale's management doesn't make what they consider to be enough money, or if they end up losing money because of union tributes, it's not going to be worth all of the time and energy and they'll just pull out. I wasn't in on the Vale board meeting, but when they decided to buy Inco I'm pretty sure their reasoning wasn't, "You know, if we buy that mine in Sudbury I bet that we can eke out a meager profit after making grotesque payments to the local labor unions."

What would happen if Vale did pull out? Who knows? The Canadian private sector has already proven unwilling to run this mine. I'm guessing Sudbury would be considered too big to fail and the government would take it over, and the Sudbury mine would have the exact same problem with profitability they've been having since those courageous and bold strikes of yore. Even worse, if the Canadian government were hypothetically in a lot of debt of its own with massive entitlement spending, high unemployment and falling tax revenues, Canada and the residents of Sudbury may quickly decide that they're so desperate for income they'd be willing to take any sort of deal on Vale's terms. That's the sort of big picture thinking that these buffoons are incapable of, though, because it's not happening now, so who cares? Some people just don't know how good they already have it.

Hats off to you, Local 6500 of Sudbury! With one hand you would take the paycheck from the foreign corporation and with the other would try to punch them in the face. You expect the company that gives you a job to go without profit for an indefinite period of time so you yourself don't have to lose any of your union privileges. You can't put two and two together to figure out that your company running at a loss is actually a very, very bad thing for you. If Vale-Inco doesn't break you, though, I will be quite amused to see your rage when they decide to pack up and leave you high and dry. Then you'll be demanding that somebody do something to make them stay and keep paying you, and they're so greedy and this and that and the other thing. Everybody is greedy except for you because you have compassion and safety concerns as your only motivation. I smell an Oscar-winning film adaptation of this strike on the horizon!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Football's here, but it's not on my mind.

If I could be a pro athlete, I'd be a hockey goalie.

I need to take a short break from the heavy stuff. I don’t want to be negative all the time. There are a few good things still out there and they are worth being reminded of. We've talked about the current state of sports in this country and how many of us feel our enthusiasm slipping away more with each passing year. The Mike Vick situation is like a knife in the heart of some Eagles fans, and understandably so. Even for those of us who don’t like the Eagles, it still puts a damper on the whole season. He will be hyped up and we will be reminded of him constantly. Even before Vick came back, I realized at some point last year that if I didn't participate in a fantasy football league I probably wouldn't be half as interested in the NFL as I used to be. Basketball has never really done it for me, I like baseball but not that much (a story for another time), so what does that leave me with? Golf? Tennis? Soccer? No, no and hell no. Hockey is the last sport I get excited, dare I say even passionate, about. There may be some eye rolling and scoffing going on right now in the audience. That's okay, I've gotten used to it when bringing this topic up, but allow me to take a moment to explain why it’s a great sport.

Most people I've spoken to think of hockey as nothing more than a bunch of mindless brutes beating the crap out of each other with sticks. Plus it's from Canada, so how good can it possibly be? I used to think that, too, until I actually sat down and watched an entire hockey game. I never completely understood what was going on in hockey, but one night I was flipping through channels and noticed a game was just starting and decided I would finally figure it out and give it a chance. It was a playoff game between the Colorado Avalanche and the L.A. Kings that went scoreless until at least double overtime, maybe even triple. Final score was 1-0. I sat spellbound through the whole thing and have been hooked ever since.

Ray Bourque and Patrick Roy: their playoff journey got me hooked.

I have always loved football since I was little, but there's something about hockey that is compelling to me like no other sport is. Hockey is the only non-PC sport left. Hockey is a paradox. Hockey is war, but there are rules. It is brutal and violent, but not complete anarchy. You are allowed to get into fist fights during a game, but there is still a code of conduct for that. Even though you must be tough and ruthless to compete, you also need a graceful skill: ice skating. You might need a couple of bruisers on your team, but you also must have those with the ability to skate well, control the puck, and accurately shoot it at the net. If you've never seen a deflection goal before, do yourself a favor and watch the clip below. Make sure you pay attention during the replay or you’ll miss it:

That is practically art. The player making the slapshot has to have enough power to speed the puck toward the net but also has to keep it on goal so the goalie will bite as to where he thinks it's going. At the same time, there must be teamwork and timing to pull this off because the shooter's teammate must be in position to make the deflection, which he does by finding the puck in the middle of the shot and changing the trajectory. This has to be done just right or the deflecting player will stop the puck, make it miss the net, or slow it down too much so the goalie can reverse himself and make a save. When it works, the goalie ends up rushing to fill a space where no puck will come because it is entering the net in the area he just left undefended. It is a thing of beauty.

Hockey has a lot of other unique things going for it. The NHL postseason is not merely a tournament; it is a saga. It is long, grueling, and wonderful. The Stanley Cup is my favorite of all championship trophies, and the ceremony where it is awarded is the best in sports. Nothing beats the look on a 20-year veteran’s face when he wins his first championship, takes the Cup in his hands and skates around the ice. Nothing. The team picture with everyone surrounding the Cup before leaving the ice is also classic. There’s the tradition where each player gets to spend a day with the Cup in the offseason, or the fact that you have to defend the Cup because there is only one; you don’t get a replica that stays in your trophy case forever. And no matter how bloody a series may get or how much the teams may hate each other, there is the tradition of the mass handshake at the end of a series where every player lines up and shakes hands. That is especially awesome to watch when there are two great goalies who have been dueling the whole series.

Another thing about hockey is that it has a smaller following than the “big three” other sports, and I think that actually helps. The PC-ridden big networks are too busy fighting over everything else. The NHL has been televised on Versus (formerly the Outdoor Life Network) since their lockout season a few years ago. That may sound laughable, but I prefer the Versus game and studio crews to any other professional sports crew. They want to be there and they want to talk about hockey because they love the sport. You can tell that the game announcers and studio crew are enjoying everything just as much as you are. More importantly, they know what they're talking about. It's the only sport on TV where the announcers probably know more than you do and don't sound like idiots. It's so refreshing. The only exception is when NBC televises a game. They have to be the worst network for sports as they have an ability to turn almost anything sour, but at least they don't throw Keith Olbermann into the mix. Versus also airs the best playoff promos I’ve ever seen. No Gatorade or Nike promotions, no inane hip-hop or trendy chart-topping song blaring at you, no epilepsy-inducing graphics, just goosebumps. Turn your speakers up:

Which brings me to my favorite thing about hockey: the goals. A playoff hockey goal is the most exciting scoring play in sports except for, perhaps, a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the 9th with two outs, two strikes, and the home team down by three. In hockey, the fans are right there, surrounding the action. The playoff atmosphere can't be matched; it's electric. Every goal matters. The reason hockey goals are so great is because, just like the commercial above says, it only takes one second. If you blink, you’ll miss the whole thing. Once a shot is taken, there is that split second where you wonder, "did it go in?" and the next thing you know the red lamp is on, the buzzers and sirens are going off, and the crowd is going crazy. A game winning goal in overtime is all of that on steroids.

I'm a Washington Capitals fan, and I feel very fortunate right now because Alexander Ovechkin is on the team. He is something special. He is wild, he is fearless, he wants to carry the whole team on his shoulders, yet he celebrates just as much when one of his teammates scores a goal and he's on the bench. Fans on other teams hate him because they fear him. He is capable of turning a game or a series around all by himself. The NHL tried to make his nemesis, Sidney Crosby, the face of the league but fans outside of Pittsburgh respond much better to Ovechkin even though he's Russian and doesn't speak the best English. Take a look at the clip below and see if you can understand why (keep your speakers turned up for the full effect):

If you can, look at his face on the replay right after he gets up and realizes his wild shot went in. This kid simply loves to play hockey.

Goals work in reverse, too. Watch this game-winning overtime goal in Pittsburgh (start at 0:40) and listen to the energy in the crowd building up to the face-off while the announcers are talking and then hear it fall off a cliff:

This was game six and the Caps were on the ropes. This was a very intense series and every Pittsburgh fan knew they were going to win that night and wouldn’t have to go back to DC for game seven. Dave Steckel had other ideas. You can almost feel the life sucked out of the entire arena and hear every Pittsburgh fan thinking, "That went in??" You know the goalie was definitely thinking that as he bangs his stick against the boards and storms off the ice. It was a harmless, weak shot, but it went in and it won the game. Look at the Washington coach's elation on the bench before he composed himself. Look at Steckel jumping up and down while getting mobbed by the entire team. Look at the handful of Caps fans cheering while the mob of sickened Pens fans files out in silence. Those moments are why I watch sports in the first place and I don't see them around so often any more. Of course, the Pens obliterated the Caps in game seven, but other than that it was a fantastic series.

Why am I writing this out of season? When college and NFL season start back up, I know I will follow along because I am still fond of football, but my heart is not in it like it used to be. Even though college starts next week, I find myself wishing that the NHL playoffs were about to start instead. I still get pained watching some of the clips I’ve posted here because even though they are great, they remind me how the playoffs ended for the Caps. I don’t dwell on football games like that anymore. I know none of this matters in the grand scheme of things, but everybody needs a few distractions. I have a few TV shows I watch, movies are nice, but none of them can hold a candle to hockey. I hope the NHL can buck the trend that other professional sports have set and I can share the sport with my boys as they get older. I imagine that sooner or later the same destructive forces that are working their way through the other big sports will turn their attention to hockey. I just hope it doesn’t happen any time soon.

And if you watch no other clip, watch the one below. It's a hat trick goal (3rd goal in one game) during game two with the Pens not long after a very nerve-wracking seven game series with the Rangers. Watch how Ovechkin throws himself into the boards afterward, and not in a Chad Ochocinco TD antics way, but in joint celebration with the fans who are banging on the boards at the same time. If that doesn't get your blood pumping, nothing will (assuming you aren't a Pens fan). Again, make sure your speakers are up good and loud:

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

This Is Not Bosnia.

This is not Pripyat.

This is not a "black thing" or a "white thing." This is not a "rich thing" or "poor thing."

This is a pride thing. A damning illustration of what happens in its absence.

This is not the federal government's fault. This is not the state government's fault.

This, Detroit, is your fault.

Monday, August 24, 2009

I'm not in a good mood.

I've been trying to craft a few different posts to share here, but I find myself either getting into intellectual fisticuffs over Cat People or family obligations happen and I haven't quite been able to polish them up. Excuses aside, I did want to share this post.
Three of the top lay Catholic organizations have divorced themselves from Catholic teaching by supporting the Obama health-care plan, which would foster a culture of mandatory abortion coverage, contraceptive services, and permissive sex education, euthanasia and eugenics.
I think I've mentioned that I am a Catholic. I'm here to tell you that some days it feels like it's wearing thin. I was at mass for Ash Wednesday a few months ago, and as I looked around the church I couldn't help but think, "What are we all doing here?" Not that I think worship is a waste of time, but more specifically I wanted to know what was going through everyone's head in that building. What do we, as Catholics consider our mission? When I read things like the link above, I have no idea. It makes me sick to my stomach.

I could go on at length, as some of you probably know, but I've got to wrap this up before I get in trouble for neglecting Mrs. Eduardo. I am sick and tired of these social gospel-infected, liberal Catholics. Jesus is not a communist. Why are John Kerry and Nancy Pelosi still receiving Communion, especially when Pelosi is either ignorant or lies about what the Church says regarding when life begins? Why does one of my local priests, from Europe, find a way to twist the weekly Gospel reading into some sort of anti-American guilt vehicle? Why did the bishop of my diocese write a special, fawning letter congratulating Obama on getting elected?

The United States is, quite possibly, the pinnacle of human achievement. It's not perfect, but nothing in this world is. Man was meant to live with individual freedom, liberty and responsibility. Man was meant to fight to survive in this world; to defend himself and his family. Man was meant to be able to get into his pickup truck and drive across the country any time he damn well pleases and not have to pay $4.00/gallon to do it. Americans are not supposed to sit around, wracked with guilt until the day they die. I have the opportunities I have today because my ancestors were brave enough to come here and start a new life, not because George Washington or the CIA stole it from somebody else.

There is a quote from 1984 where Winston muses to himself that somehow one felt that they were being cheated out of life in his world. That's what they want for us. Everybody equal in misery: nobody above anybody else (except them, who are above us all). I've had to start fresh on my own three times in my three decades of life and each time has been at once both terrifying and exhilarating. Each time has reminded me of what true freedom is: shaping my own destiny for better or worse. I love where I am right now and it enrages me to think that it might end due to the actions of politicians in Washington who created this mess in the first place. There is nowhere else left to go in the world that can give us what we have here. This is the hill we die on. If we can't make things work here, then humanity will go back to being serf-like robots, either through Islam or socialism.

So help me God, the next mealy-mouthed, wishy-washy, progressive priest that tries to tell my wife and me that we need to feel guilty for working 40 hour weeks while trying to raise our kids because Pedro Pablo the illegal alien has a miserable life despite his free medical care and the state's reluctance to keep him in jail despite his 15 DUI arrests...that priest is going to get an earful from me right in the middle of his homily. I'm gonna get downright Old Testament on his ass, Nathan style. I only hope that moment doesn't come at my child's upcoming baptism ceremony. That will be awkward.

I'm angry right now; seething. That's all for the moment.

*Note to any horrified liberal readers: by "Old Testament" I don't mean carrying guns to mass or murdering anybody's family. I only mean standing up and speaking very, very loud and indignantly.*

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Something for you to chew on

Here's a blog that linked to an old post from Over There in reference to Protein Wisdom:

Apparently, PW got into a huge pissing contest with Patterico, who also got tangled up Over There a while back:

Teh Squeaky Wheel doesn't seem to provide a link to the PW/Patterico fight, but I was struck by the comments I read here at the post linked by TSW, many of them by you:

It reminded me of something I've been thinking about a lot as I've followed the health care debate, which is this: The hardest thing in the world is to prove the dead obvious.

Water is wet, women are different from men, and the government can't run anything efficiently. The only thing it's any good at is what can't be done by any other kind of organization -- e.g., build an overwhelming military. Very few things fall into this special category.

That's what's so infuriating about ALL the conservative pundit debates on healthcare. It's all about finding some way -- simple, sophisticated, clever, logical, legal, economic, etc -- to prove what should need no proof: if the government takes over health care completely, many many more people will die younger than they need to or should.

And once you've said that, what more CAN you really say? Can any of you prove that water is wet? If you have to prove it, haven't you defeated yourself in advance by even attempting it?

But what do you do instead, if anything?

Fair Warning. Good responses here just might get reproduced Over There. But don't let that inhibit you. If you don't want to be quoted, just say so here and you won't be.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

For the Dogs

The subject of dogs and a convicted dog-killer set off a firestorm over there, with lots of differing opinions and plenty of anger. LocoPunk, TruePunk, Instapunk, and Country Punk all wrote in -- no points for guessing where they came down. But with the 'best commenters on the internet' seeming to have some conflicting points of view, the topic is prime for battle on the Kort. So:

Where do you come down on the Vick situation? Did he pay his dues? Should he play? Should he still be in jail? Does he deserve to live?

Much was said about some Ethics 101 ridiculous hypothetical situations: how much more valuable is the life of a dog than the life of a human? A human child? A hundred dogs vs. a rapist? Is this type of debate even worth having? Why or why not?

Some cultures kill and eat dogs for food. Is our culture morally superior to theirs? If a culture had pigs purely as companions and did not kill or eat them, would they be morally superior to us? (Eduardo, Apotheosis, you're expected to weigh in on this one given your recent discussion about the genesis of morality).

What is it that makes dogs different from all the other species? Feel free to make it personal...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A "Mission" and "Rules" Question

The Big Guy from Over There has asked me to convey a question to you all. What if he's so impressed by certain posts and/or comments that he conceives a desire to cite excerpts, short or extended, with all due recognition?

Should this be permitted? If so, does it require permissions by comment or email request?

He is adamant that this is up to you. You're all much better at this writing business than you think you are, but the very last thing he wants -- he stresses this -- is for you to feel him looking over your shoulder or breathing down your necks.

So maybe you should talk about what you want. He'll abide by any rules you set. (Yeah, he will. He's a bastard about a lot of things, but he does have a code.)

Not meaning to interrupt your ongoing discussions... No hurry.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Why I'm a Rationalist.

Because currently, it makes sense to me.

Agnosticism has been described here and elsewhere as "fence-sitting," and as charges go, it's difficult to refute. Human beings are social creatures, and part of a society is identifying oneself with a group; refusal to identify with one quantifiable group is seen in turns as lazy or stubborn or as part of some contrived iconoclasm.

Doubtless this is true for some agnostics. In a world where "atheist" is getting to be commonplace, agnostic sets you apart. You're different. Neither Bible-thumper nor a mascara-wearing Hot Topic tragedy, you're your own creature entirely! And you don't even have to think about it to join the club, all you have to say is you don't know and shrug it off. No difficult questions, no entrance exam, no obligation beyond the statement of your own indifference.

Except there is.

Is a person Christian just because they claim to believe in Jesus, whether they walk the Carpenter's footsteps? How do they know? Are they atheists if they say they believe in nothing but the tangible, though they've never found themselves in fear for their lives and suddenly comforted by the power of a prayer? Does belief - even a belief in nothing - mean anything deeper than a social label, if it's never challenged?

And so we come to the Metalkort, arena of ideals.

There is a tangible universe around us. We have senses (designed/evolved) to accept input from this world, and a brain (designed/evolved) to interpret that input. That this universe exists and that we exist within it is taken for granted, drug-fueled speculation regarding consensus hallucinations notwithstanding.

Within this tangible universe, there exist a great many schools of thought regarding its origins. Some insist to a greater or lesser degree that with enough effort, everything can be broken down into human-scale understanding, quantified mathematically, and rendered explicable. Many (if not most) of the other schools attribute our existence to the will of a being largely or completely beyond our comprehension, whose motives are open to broad speculation and whose methods are, in essence, forever denied to us by the insurmountable difference in the nature of our being. There's god, and there's man.

Here's the rub: I would like to embrace the wholly-scientific view of the universe. Yes, it lacks comfort in the promise of a personal eternity, but on the other hand I like the idea that mankind might eventually understand everything. I look back at what we've achieved technically in my own flyspeck lifespan, and project that forward across geologic time, and on the whole I'm very rah-rah about our species. We can do anything...assuming that "anything" is within our grasp, which presupposes a rational, human-scalable, understandable universe.

I would like to, but I can't entirely, because I've caught myself more than once hoping there's a God. I caught myself praying when I was riding out a tornado under a cabin in the middle of the woods. I wished there was a hell awaiting the 9/11 hijackers. I've shed tears at the searing blast of the crescendo of Handel's Messiah. None of these thoughts or actions can be comfortably stuffed into a rational cubbyhole, because despite all logic there's a part of me that fervently wants to accept there's something else.

So here I remain, on the fence. Torn between a desire for a scientifically-explicable universe and a fantastic unknowable; two belief systems which seem irreconcilable, each with its own compelling draw.


Monday, August 3, 2009

First Thing's First...

Before I delve into deeper subject matter, I have a burning issue that I need the newly formed Metalkort community to address. As IP said: I want people to talk back.

Here's the deal: I was sent a list of impacts that the first half of the health care bill will cause via email by a friend of a coworker. This friend is a lawyer who is reading through the bill themselves and making notes as they go. I have spot checked several of the items and they appear to be accurate. The author is still reading through the second half.

So what? Well, health care and cap & trade are the two issues I am most passionate about right now because I believe they have the potential to do the most damage the most quickly to America. I've seen and read many lengthy essays both for and against socialized medicine and also those that argue this bill will not create government run health care. I think this list could be a valuable tool if it could be fact-checked and spread around for people to use when they call their congressmen or go to a town hall meeting or even when they talk with their friends.

I've noticed that in many of these video clips floating around that people are putting the heat on their reps and people in the crowd are cheering them on, but many of their questions and statements seem largely rhetorical. I think if people had specifics to talk about and could back them up with a referenced page number, even be able to read directly from the bill itself, that would put a lot more heat on the politicians than just being angry. Also, even people who support this bill because they would be willing to pay higher taxes if it means utopian care for all may change their mind if they finally get it through their head that there will still be a lot of people left out in the cold under Obamacare.

What do you all think? Do you agree or disagree? Could it be worthwhile? If so, I would need help both with the fact checking and spreading a final product. On the other hand, is it a waste of time? Is there something I'm missing? Has someone already done something like this? Again, I know there are a wealth of great resources out there that people can read on their own, but this is down & dirty, easy to read fast and easy to reference. If there's interest I will update this with the list as well as a link to the bill. If not, I promise I will never bring this up again and we'll talk of other things. Let me know one way or the other so we can either work together on it or I can finally drop this and put my energies into something more working on a post for the Sci-Fi Underground.

Start Big, Start with Everything

The Hubble Deep Field: Look it up. How many galaxies can you count? And here we are, alone, looking.

Welcome to the Metalkort... but you may not be welcome for long, not unless you're willing to fight for your spot.

I wanted to start big, to let us know who we're dealing with. Got the balls to weigh in? Hope so, because tumbleweeds won't roll through this Kort.

The Universe. We live in it. Something exists, and something is greater than nothing.

To the materialists, non-believers, hardcore atheists, and cold reasoners: Why? Doesn't it seem like there's more to it than just these atoms? How do you purport that your life has meaning? You make your own meaning? How so?

How do you explain the existence of life in a Universe that seems decidedly unfriendly to life? The Anthropic Principle, we know, we know. You'd better explain it more convincingly than that, and if you invoke the existence of parallel worlds in an undetectable Multiverse, you'd better explain why you believe in that and not a Creator.
To the theists, believers, Christians, and mystics: Why would God decide to hide himself so thoroughly? What single piece of evidence or massive life event led to your rock-solid belief in the face of all your senses tell you? And if God is so loving, why all the suffering? You'd better explain, especially since you or someone you know has had someone close die of cancer.

On top of that, how does it feel to continually have your 'God made it' explanations continually be supplanted by the discoveries of scientists? Ever feel like your God is the god of the gaps, the small God who lives inside the Planck length or hovers just before the Big Bang? Are you really so confident that we won't figure it all out? I mean, come on, we've only been at this science game for 400 years and look what we've figured out. Where will we be in 10,000 years?

To the agnostics, the ones who've decided that we don't know and we might never know: Pick a side or GTFO.

Seriously, you're really going to be laying on your death bed with the old 'wait and see' approach? How can that possibly make your life feel meaningful? Sure, we're asking big questions here, but you decided to stop at 'don't know, wait and see?' The Metalkort is about thought, and if you're taking the easy ticket to the happy land of non-thinking, then keep on trucking. Or tell me I've got it all wrong, and tell me why.

What about me, then? I'm not letting myself off the hook. I'm a theist, a Christian, a believer in a Creator and the meaning of life and a Story. I study science, and all I see in the natural world is evidence. The only thing my atheist peers and friends see is natural processes and a human race that got incredibly lucky.

But I don't need the natural world. Descartes laid down the facts: I think, therefore I am. Well, I think, and therefore I believe. Both sides need to grapple with the existence of consciousness, so let's get this Tork started.

Post your answers: personal, direct, and simple. We know all the tricks of argument and rhetoric, and St. Nuke won't let you try to fleece the crowd. Use the comments section for thrusts and parries, but if you have something substantial to say, you'd better contact Insect Brain with your desire and willingness to post.

En garde.

Oh, and to the lurkers, the trolls, the casual readers who read these words and move on, only to return and hang in the shadows? We see you, and you'd better join the fray. Or else.

It's easy. Come on in.

Our first poster is already signed up. He told us his new name but he didn't have to. All we wanted was verification that he was a regular Over There. He provided it. Done. Now we're just waiting for his first post. Personally, I can't wait. Never did like the demortals. Let'em have it, that's my motto.

Let the Torks Begin

The old gaffers over at Gobb's House of Ancient Punks are still mired in a few annoying computer problems that will be remedied shortly. I'm sure you've seen the site that's being set up for all the folks who can't get enough technology in their lit and movie preferences. This site is different, though.

It's for the rest of you (and for them as well, when they're not nerding and transformerating around). You can sound off here about anything and everything, personal, political, cultural, profound or comical. Every veteran commenter from Over There can be an authorized poster here. All you have to do is send a gmail address to Metalkort (at) gmail,com, (include your existing commenter monicker for ID purposes) and I will send you an official "Blogger Invite" to become a poster. Anyone who doesn't want to be a poster can still comment, obviously, along with the rest of the world.

The Rules of Engagement here are very simple: Remember that everyone you're talking to or responding to is a human being, not a set of dismissible labels. No one's getting thrown out for an occasional profane outburst, but context matters.

The ambitious essay stuff will remain where it is for the most part, and you're still encouraged to have at it over there as well. But the point about a so-called 'Intimidation Factor' has been fully understood and assimilated. There will be none of that here. No pontificating about grammar, spelling, cogency, and the mechanics of rhetoric and argumentation. That's a solemn promise from the withered elders. When they come here, they come as ordinary band members to the Debate in the Blade, and even if St. Nuke himself chooses to participate, he will be as humble as an ant. My suspicion, though, is that he will be listening and learning from what you have to say, what you care about, what you value, and what you simply enjoy.

None of this means that what happens in the Blade has to be lowbrow or lacking an edge. This is the Metalkort, after all. Bring it ALL here. St. Nuke may rule in the Bitterbox, but in the Blade the voice of every man and woman may be heard, and conquer, based on the heart behind it.

And since this all belongs really to you, feel free to wax didactic about any ideas or rules you think should govern what goes on here, In the Metalkort. It's all, absolutely, completely, and finally, up to you.

Who am I, you ask? The lowest of the low from the original South Street scene. I'm here to play with you because I get sick of the demortals too, and it's just possible I might be able to answer questions, even personal ones, you wouldn't want to pose Over There.