Category Archives: Political

What Is Worse – a Sexual Predator or a Bully?

I read an article yesterday that disturbed me. Do you remember the news last year about the task force appointed to look into the problem of online sexual predators? Apparently the threat isn’t as big as once thought. Or is it? That task force released a report yesterday stating the problem of bullying – both online and offline – presents a larger threat than sexual predators. If you recall, MySpace and Facebook were thrown into the light with the fear that social networks such as these harbored sexual predators. Many popular perceptions of online danger were heavily fueled by the media. Certainly the trouble hasn’t just disappeared, so where lies the truth? The report states that the only online predator cases that exist explain the children and teenagers were already at risk – being troubled by depression, drug abuse, or problems at home.

How much difference exists between these issues? If you think about it, both problems are predatory in nature. Situations of either sort have ended tragically. One could easily turn into the other. It is sad to consider we live in a world where the issue of online sexual predators and pedophiles waiting to pounce on innocent children takes a back burner to the increasing problem of bullying.

I remember bullying when I was younger. Kids are not nice, and they have become more brutal every day. Thanks to the advances in technology these bullies can do their thing all on their own, without assistance from their friends to taunt and tease. All they need is a cell phone or a computer and they are fully armed. You’ve seen the headlines; children (and in some cases, their parents) taunt and tease unrelentingly, causing these kids to commit suicide to ease their pain.

If you think bullying exists only in schools… you’re wrong. These bullies grow up – and if not corrected, continue their abusive behavior in the workplace. They take their hate and contempt through every part of their life, online and offline. They park on social networking sites, blogs, forums, chat rooms, and easily become comfortable in the practice known as trolling. This doesn’t mean all trolls are predators, but the behavior strikes an alarming similarity.

Are you being bullied? Don’t just sit there and take it – report it! Nobody will think you are a wimp or a baby. Go to your parents, a teacher, your boss, or an adult you trust that would do the right thing. If you know of someone who is being bullied, don’t assume that it’s all in good fun or the person can take care of themselves. You just might be wrong.

Have you been bullied? Share your success stories with us so others may learn from your difficulties and find strength to fight back.

MPAA 13, Piracy 0: Three More Allegedly Illicit Sites Sued

The Motion Picture Association of America has been working hard since 2007 to bring movie piracy to a halt. Wednesday, the MPAA filed suits against three more allegedly illicit movie web sites. This brings their total number of lawsuits to 13; though somewhat of a piecemeal approach, they have been successful in combating underground trade and winning by settlement or default judgment. Even though they have been successful, illegal downloading is even more prevalent than before.

There are other ways of getting a movie, people. Here’s a few:

  • Hulu.com – One of the best services to watch movies and television right on your computer. It’s legal, and it’s free. You can subscribe to shows and get email alerts when a new episode is posted.
  • Fancast.com – Their byline – “Watch full TV shows and Movies FREE online!” I couldn’t have said it better myself.
  • Joost.com – Wow, another FREE AND LEGAL place to watch movies and TV shows. This has a social feel to it, where you can get recommendations from others on what to watch.
  • Major TV Network sitesNBC, ABC, CBS, USA, FOX… you get the idea. They have their exclusive shows you can watch right online just like the other websites.

Let me make one thing very clear – movie piracy is a CRIME, and it is punishable by law.

On Monday, President Bush signed legislation creating a new cabinet position, the Copyright Czar. This office will be charged to create, implement and enforce plans to combat piracy and reports directly to the president. In addition, the MPAA is already lobbying President-Elect Obama to embrace Internet filtering that will automatically detect and remove copyright infringing content. Internet filtering is being embraced worldwide and it will not be long before these filters are in place throughout the Internet. What does this mean? A much higher chance of getting caught red-handed. Not fair, you say? A copyright infringement lawsuit is no walk in the park – more like your worst nightmare. Because of current US laws protecting copyright owners, you could face incarceration and hefty fines if found guilty.

What about fair use? Well, this is the criteria for “fair use” – you determine how you are using the works of others:

  • Is the new use of a commercial nature?
  • Did the new work harm the market of the original work?
  • Is the new work a parody?
  • How much content of the original was used?

Basically, if you are uploading a copy of a movie or other copyrighted work to the Internet as a torrent or onto a P2P or file-sharing network, you are infringing on copyrighted content. Piracy is a big reason that legitimate consumers pay higher prices for the same product. Do you still think that is fair?

What are your thoughts about fair use of copyrighted content? If you are copying movies, why?

How To Spread Christmas Cheer During Wartime

Geek!This is John Kennedy’s submission for the HP Magic Giveaway. Feel free to leave comments for this article as you see fit – your feedback is certainly welcomed! If you’d like to submit your own how-to, what-is, or top-five list, you can send it to me. Views and opinions of this writer are not necessarily my own:

Recently we marked the 67th anniversary of December 7, 1941; the day the nation of Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and brought the United States into War with Japan and the wider conflict of World War II. As the nation reminisces on those events we Must not forget the soldiers, sailors and airmen who are sacrificing for this great country of ours. Soon it will be Christmas, not a holiday, but a holy day.

We also must not forget the events of September 11, 2001, another day of infamy for the United States that most of us should remember. We are a nation at war. Some children will not celebrate Christmas with their father; some children will not celebrate Christmas with their mother. Many fathers and mothers, sons and daughters will be on the front line protecting another country struggling from the effects of an evil tyrant. More and more we are hearing encouraging words of progress. As for a free and democratic Iraq, time will tell if the sacrifices that were endured made a difference. At present, and all around us what we are seeing in Iraq and Afghanistan is humanity at its best — feeding and helping the needy children and distributing toys to young children. It is not easy to explain why God permits evil but in it all we see a lot of good being done to the neediest of the needy in the Middle East. The United Service Organization (USO) and Gary Sinise’s Operation Iraqi Children are two examples of humanity and hope at its best.

So, how can we help a soldier this Christmas? How can we employ our talents and say: “Thank You” for a job well done?

Don’t forget the soldiers. The best way to help a soldier, sailor, or airmen is support your local United Service Organization (USO).

Help the children cope with parents being overseas. For children, the producers of Sesame Street have produced free videos to help children cope with a parent who has been called to go overseas. Sesame Workshop has videos, pamphlets and learning materials on the topic of deployment. Their video on “deployment” is a good one to watch. You can either play or download the video. These videos and pamphlets can also be ordered and delivered through the mail.

Care packages are always welcomed by soldiers. Sometimes I have received a letter or e-mail from a soldier in Iraq for special items. If I could not meet the need immediately, my local American Legion Council in my neighborhood has a board for just that purpose.

As we move into the New Year, let us pray that all our young men and women come home safely. Sharing the Christmas joy is what this article is about. A simple note of thanks can mean so much to a soldier. So let’s not forget them, their sacrifice, their commitment, and patriotism this Christmas season. If we do our part we can be assured that our soldiers will do theirs. May God Bless them and May God Bless America!

The Government is Wiretapping Your Phone and Email and Most of You Don’t Care

Geek!This is Richard Dicter’s submission for the HP Magic Giveaway. Feel free to leave comments for this article as you see fit – your feedback is certainly welcomed! If you’d like to submit your own how-to, what-is, or top-five list, you can send it to me. Views and opinions of this writer are not necessarily my own:

Last Tuesday, with relatively little notice from the public, two arguments were taking place in the San Francisco US District courtroom of Judge Vaughn Walker The arguments generated little scarcely any buzz last week, but OS X 10.5.6, a possible new Apple netbook, Snow Leopard, the vision of a sugarplum of a $99 iPhone, Vista SP2, and leaked Windows 7 Build 6956 did. At stake was whether the Telcom and Comcom companies, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, Comcast and others, whose past employees have verified have been warrantlessly wiretapping your phones and email for the U.S. government, could be sued – and two major lawsuits against them could go forward, or whether a bill passed recently by Congress could confer immunity on them.

The Bush administration – and a number of your Senators, as well as the respective companies – reasoned that they have broken no laws. If this were the case, there wouldn’t have been such a monumental fight in Congress to grant them immunity. When these companies wiretapped you and collected your email, they were hardly naïve. Their corporate counsel were very seasoned litigators who came from the ranks of a little known division of the DOJ called the National Security Division, or NSD. They wrote the laws on wiretapping that have been passed in the past 20 plus years.

Immunity is not really about protecting these large companies from suits. It was specifically designed to cover the backside of the administration who trampled over the laws to protect you from being spied upon by your government for the last eight years. The Bush administration has insisted for the past several years that no innocent Americans were being wiretapped. Nothing could be further from the actual truth. A recent book written by an attorney who was a former ABC News producer, naval intelligence officer, and former CIA employee James Bamford called The Shadow Factory details how every word you speak or write electronically is being listened to and catalogued in stunning detail.

This book analyzes the enormous tentacles of the National Security Agency and CIA, including billion dollar satellites that can hear your whispers on a cell phone, dishes that pull in millions of phone calls, emails, and FAXes an hour, and the largest collection of super-computers on Earth. Few people realize that the NSA also has its own secret military force called the Central Security Service – with a massive fleet of ships, submarines, and aircraft that cover the globe (soaking up your messages, and those in other countries, like a sponge).

This intelligence-gathering eavesdropping force is composed of tens of thousands of people, and occupies fifty large buildings. It occupies an actual city (Fort Meade, Maryland) with 37,000 cars in its parking lot and 70,000 pieces of mail per day. Its police force has 700 uniformed officers.

Lawrence Wright is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author who won the prize for a book he wrote on Al Qaeda. He was wiretapped after he interviewed Intelligence Chief Michael McConnell and confronted him over wiretapping and waterboarding, then wrote about it in a 15,000 word article in the the January 21, 2008 issue of The New Yorker. Every other major media outlet refused to print the story – including the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. Wright confronted McConnell in his interview with the fact that he had been wiretapped, and McConnell insisted that if this were true, Wright must have received a call from "some known outfit associated with terrorism." In fact, though, Wright had originated the call, FBI counter-terrorism agents visited him, and accused his daughter of calling terrorists when she was off at college and not even home at the time.

You’re being wiretapped – every phone call and email – and you’re doing nothing about it.

Reasons That Religion is Unbelievable

Geek!This is Jay Jay’s submission for the HP Magic Giveaway. Feel free to leave comments for this article as you see fit – your feedback is certainly welcomed! If you’d like to submit your own how-to, what-is, or top-five list, you can send it to me. Views and opinions of this writer are not necessarily my own:

Before you read this, keep in mind that it is just an opinion.

Religion has always been a controversial topic. Let me begin by stating a few of my views on the concept of a religion, and why I think religions were created. I believe that people cannot understand how it is possible that Earth and the universe came to be, and they want to live forever in the afterlife. What do people do when they do not understand something or cannot find an answer? The answer is simple: they fabricate their own solution. Enter religion. Below is a list of five faults that I find regarding religion.

Prayer

Praying is a common practice in almost all religions. It is a way people think they can have a one-way conversation with the god in whom they believe. Whether it is a prayer for happiness or a prayer for a new car, people are desperate to get what they want with as little effort as possible – which is why I think people turn to prayer. The fact is that it doesn’t matter to whom someone prays, the chances of their request coming true is the same in any event. If you can prove me wrong, feel free to respond with a prayer of your own.

An Invisible Man

When I was young, I had my own imaginary friend. He was great to play with, and was the perfect person to go to when I was feeling bored. But as I grew up, I realized that Billy was just a fictional character. God is an imaginary friend of the whole religious world (in my opinion). The only difference is that he purportedly has control of the whole entire universe.

Earth and Human Creation

Do you honestly believe that some god randomly decided to create Earth and humans? If God created the universe, what in the world is the point of other planets? Let’s dive in a little deeper. Christians basically believe that God created humans on Earth with a snap of his fingers. If you compare this to something more believable, such as evolution, you might think to yourself: “Hmm… either humans came out of thin air or they evolved over a long period of time.” (with real evidence backing it up). I don’t know about you, but personally, evolution sounds a whole lot more persuasive.

Heaven and Hell

Ah, the concept of a perfect and peaceful place versus a horrible, fiery, flaming death pit is just wonderful don’t you think? If God loves every person on the Earth, why would he want someone to burn in Hell? On the other hand, if you follow his ten magical rules (the Ten Commandments) and live a good life, you will end up in Heaven for eternity. This introduces a new idea that I have not yet mentioned – fear. Many people accept religion due to the fear that they might go to Hell, or live a horrible life if they do not accept that there is a god. Fear feeds religion like oxygen feeds a fire.

Religion vs. Religion

There are many different religions that are popular in the world today, so why is anyone’s religion the only one that is “correct”? Many might respond: “Well, because it is in the Holy Bible,” or: “Because the other religions are just wrong.” In other words, there is no way to prove that one religion is better than another and that is especially true when one believes that all religions all false. Perhaps I am wrong, but I have yet to find a logical answer proving that religions hold any truth; since there is no confirming evidence currently, it looks like I’ll be staying non-religious for quite a while.

What Should the Price of Fuel Be at the Pump?

Geek!This is Tim Whitney’s submission for the HP Magic Giveaway. Feel free to leave comments for this article as you see fit – your feedback is certainly welcomed! If you’d like to submit your own how-to, what-is, or top-five list, you can send it to me. Views and opinions of this writer are not necessarily my own:

Appears everyone is screaming about Big Oil and their record multi-billion dollar profits. In America, everyone has a god-given (or natural) right to work hard, deliver a quality product, and make money – commonly understood as Capitalism.

Based on my web research, information from the EIA, and my own calculations, we Americans consume approximately 190,858,000,000 (billion) gallons of gasoline & diesel fuel per year. My research also indicates that Big Oil makes about $0.10/gallon or about $19,000,000,000 (billion) dollars in profit on fuel sales.

Big Oil could certainly make more profits – if they choose to – as we are still a free county. As one loyal American Capitalist, I could not fault them if they did make more money on “their” products. This would certainly open the door for more competition (bio-fuels?) – if we truly have an open/free market.

Does this mean I like paying $3.00 per gallon for fuel – NO WAY! I’m mad as hell and I think we should all stand up and tell the “real profiteers” we are not going to take it anymore. Just who are the real profiteers?

Sure the Middle East is a big profit player and I would even pay more per gallon — if we could stop using imported oil. Yet again, they are businessmen and it’s their oil, coming out of their ground and they have every right to charge what they want to. If you don’t like what someone charges – buy it from someone else, this is also your right.

By now you must be wondering who I think is raking us over the coals – if it’s not Big Oil and not the Middle East. The answer may surprise you, but the real profiteers are the local, state, and federal bureaucrats. Say what? You heard me loud and clear. Did a bureaucrat dig a well, build a pipeline, a refinery, or even drive a delivery truck? When was the last time you saw a bureaucrat-owned and operated gas station? Yet, our bureaucrats make more than four times the money per gallon of fuel than Big Oil does. The average “tax” is $.046/gallon, filling the government coffers to the tune of approximately $87,795,000,000 (billion) per year. Where is the yelling & screaming about this unbelievable tax (profit) the government Bureaucrats take – for not delivering a product?

What should the price of fuel be at the pump?

  • $25.55/gallon – I hope you are wondering why I suggest this. Simple math is the answer. Total projected government Depredations in 2007 is expected to be approximately $4,400,000,000,000 (trillion). Big Oil gets $2.50/gallon and local, state, and federal Bureaucrats get $23.05 per gallon. I’m sure you think I’m crazy – as people are already going broke at $3.00 per gallon.
  • $14.29/gallon – this would pay Big Oil about $2.50/gallon and the Federal bureaucrats would get the rest – $11.79/gallon. Why? The Federal budget for 2007 is $2,251,000,000,000 (trillion), and simple math tells the rest of the story.
  • $2.58/gallon – with crude oil costs at ~$76/barrel, no calculator is needed here. With a Presidential Executive Order, “all” fuel taxes could be suspended, until the price of crude oil drops below $50/barrel. See Executive Order 11051. This would also demand a restraint in total government /bureaucratic spending by $87,795,000,000 (billion) or a two percent reduction in spending for 2007. Of course, this restrain may also spur Congressional bureaucrats into real action with regards to an energy policy – one that keeps their fuel tax gravy-train rolling (by making sure oil stays under $50/barrel).

Please give all the above suggestions a little more thought before dismissing them as nonsense or frivolous. Think of all the various taxes and non-productive time we could eliminate – especially the income tax – by simply putting “one sales tax” on our energy-based economy. At either of the “depredation prices” suggested in 1 or 2 above – there will be ample incentive / demand for competition, conservation, new more efficient fuel technologies, and an end to our imported oil addiction.

“European governmentshave long used gasoline taxes not only as an important source of revenue, but also as a policy tool to drive down oil consumption and reduce pollution. Williams said taxes account for about 66 percent of the pump price in Britain – so, of this month’s average price per gallon of $6.40, about $4.22 goes to the government.” – The Boston Globe, 04/30/06

Competition (and only true competition) will create extremely economical transportation, less vehicles on the roads, a surge in telecommuting, and alternative energy breakthroughs. Competition, not bureaucrats, will generate real energy results on an annual basis – instead of decades or centuries, if left in the hands of Bureaucrats. However, paying $511 or $286 for a 20 gallon fill-up at the gas station will bring a lot of things into perspective for each and every driving American – real fast. Maybe it’s this “perspective” the bureaucrats should be investigating – their own windfall profits on every gallon of highway fuel sold in the USA.

Is Offshore Oil Drilling a Good or Bad Idea?

Geek!This is James Robbins’s submission for the HP Magic Giveaway. Feel free to leave comments for this article as you see fit – your feedback is certainly welcomed! If you’d like to submit your own how-to, what-is, or top-five list, you can send it to me. Views and opinions of this writer are not necessarily my own:

Fuel prices are at an all time high around the world today, and yet again, the United States is in trouble on Wall Street. Americans are not traveling as much because of the increasing fuel prices. There have been many ideas about how to solve this issue, but only one will solve the problems of cost and independence from foreign oil. This solution is offshore drilling. Offshore drilling will provide this country with the opportunity to lower fuel and natural gas prices. It will also free the U.S. from the need to buy oil from countries in the Middle East without a significant risk to the environment.

In a world where gasoline and natural gas are pretty much essential, would it not be nice to be able to afford them. The country dividing controversy of offshore drilling has become a debating piece once again with the 2008 presidential election season under way. Some say that drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) is too dangerous for the environment, and others say that we should drill our way to independence from high priced foreign oil. Foreign oil causes many problems for the United States. There are wars over oil and the price of it, as well as crude oil transport tankers running aground and devastating our coastlines. To stop these terrible things from happening, we must drill off our own coastlines. Environmentalists are convinced that drilling in the OCS would not reduce fuel prices for ten years, and they are probably correct to think that. On the other hand, if the OCS was opened to drilling, Middle Eastern leaders would see this, and immediately reduce the price of a barrel of oil drastically. This would be the psychological impact that is needed in today’s everyday life in the United States.

Furthermore, there are concerns that offshore drilling will cause major oil spills into the ocean. However, there has been only one offshore drilling incident off the coast of the United States. In January of 1969, off the coast of Santa Barbara, California, there was a blowout under a drilling platform. The blowout caused the loss of three million gallons of oil into the ocean. In contrast, marine transportation, in 1975 alone, lost about six hundred and thirty million gallons of crude oil into the ocean. The tanker incidents in 1975 lost more oil than the drilling platform off Santa Barbara’s coast in 1969. In 1976, another major oil spill soiled the panhandle beaches of Florida. This incident occurred by transportation of oil, not drilling it. This fact alone should be enough for everyone to realize that offshore drilling is safer than marine transportation, but environmentalists are holding firm to their conclusions.

The greenies (environmentalists) are saying that fish and oceanic life is at an extreme risk by the pollution that the drilling platforms are putting into the water. In the Gulf of Mexico, there are about 3,700 oil drilling platforms, and roughly 3,200 of them lie off the Louisiana coast. According to environmentalists, this would severely affect the commercial fishing industry, but is has not to date. Louisiana produces one-third of America’s commercial fisheries with no major oil spill ever. Nevertheless, environmentalists still say that drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), will severely harm ocean life, when in fact, it has been proven that urban runoff and sewage treatment plants dump twelve times more petroleum into the ocean than the thousands of drilling platforms that reside in the Gulf. Mark Ferrulo is an environmental activist in Florida that has been quoted saying that Louisiana’s coast is “the nation’s toilet”, but most of the Red Snapper that is served in Florida’s restaurants are caught off Louisiana’s coast. The Gulf of Mexico has never been healthier. For example, off the Louisiana-Texas boarder lays The Flower Garden Coral reefs. They are unlike any of the Florida Keys reefs in the fact that they are surrounded by dozens of platforms that have been in operation for fifty years and are thriving. According to G.P. Schmahl, a Federal biologist who has worked in both places, “The Flower Gardens are much healthier, and more pristine than anything in the Florida Keys. It was a surprise to me, and I think it’s a surprise to most people”.

With natural oil seeps polluting our oceans at an enormous rate, something needs to be done to control it or stop it all together. There is actually more oil seeping naturally into the Gulf of Mexico than is spilled by rigs and pipelines. There has been a moratorium on oil drilling in the Santa Barbara bay for thirty-eight years. In that time, an estimated nine hundred barrels of crude oil has leaked from the drilling platforms. In comparison, the natural seeps have leaked an estimated two million barrels. Not only does this represent a $280 million dollar economic loss at today’s prices, it represents a serious environmental and public health problem.

Bruce Allen, a former JPL physicist who is a resident of Santa Barbara and a member of the air quality board discovered a serious air pollution problem. Allen discovered that airborne hydrocarbon contaminate levels can be as high as ten times that of Los Angeles. He said that most of Santa Barbra’s residents were surprised to find out that their oil and high priced gas problem is not a man-made one, it is natural. Allen says that the natural seeps are a result of being on an active geological fault line that is releasing the trapped oil, which is estimated at thirteen billion recoverable barrels in the Pacific Coast region. Allen believes that the environment will benefit from drilling the deposits by reducing the amount of oil and gas seepage. The National Academy of Sciences has found that less than one percent of the oil found in the ocean comes from offshore drilling platforms, where as the majority of the oil (62%) released into the marine environment is the result of natural seeps. Crude oil that seeps into the ocean in North America is estimated to exceed 47 million gallons and 180 million gallons worldwide.

The people who are against drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf do not think that there is enough oil around the United States to make a difference in the price of gas. Two federal bans have blocked the U.S. from gathering and exploring for oil in the OCS. The bans are an executive ban and a legislative ban. President George W. Bush lifted the executive ban on July 14, 2008 leaving only the legislative ban in place. If congress abolishes their ban on offshore drilling, oil companies will be able to find out exactly how much energy the OCS is holding. Because of the ban, it is an estimate that the OCS contains eighty-six billion barrels of oil and four-hundred twenty trillion cubic feet of natural gas. These estimates are likely to be very conservative because it is currently illegal to explore the OCS.

Technology used to find oil and gas deposits has come a long way in the past 40 years. Oil companies now use 3-D seismic and 4-D time imaging technologies to more accurately find the deposits instead of drilling exploratory wells to find it. Safety features of the platforms have also come a long way in the past forty years as well. All offshore wells now are equipped with storm chokes that detect damage to valves at the surface to shut down the well in the event of an emergency. Blow out preventers are now installed below the sea floor to prevent catastrophes such as the one in Santa Barbara in 1969, and sensors are now used to monitor the subsurface and subsea-bed conditions to prevent spills due to an unexpected change in well pressure. This new technology has drastically reduced the amount of spilled oil on the platforms. In recent years the offshore drilling platforms new safety features have been put to the test when two major hurricanes named Katrina and Rita barreled over top of them. This real life extreme test has proven that the platforms are much safer than they were in 1969 without any major oil loss. All of the safety features that have been implemented on the rigs worked just as they were supposed to.

In the year 2006, environmental organizations warned “Exploration and development of gas resources produces routine discharges of spent drilling mud, contaminated produced waters, and highly-toxic metals and hydrocarbon compounds into the marine environment, in addition to creating a demand for onshore gas processing facilities in sensitive portions of the coastal zone”. The fact is that the drill cuttings are now being used as raw material for rebuilding Louisiana’s wetlands, bricks, and even roads. Despite what the environmentalists have been saying, the evidence is clear about the drilling processes by products.

Next, people want to know what is going to happen to the rigs when they have pumped all of the oil out of the ocean that they can. Federal environmental experts in the 1940’s mandated that the rigs are to be removed once they have stopped producing. In 1993, some of the rigs in the Gulf of Mexico stopped producing and the oil companies tried to comply with the federal mandate, but the local anglers put up a fight to keep them since the fishing was so good. It turned out that the rigs are a huge benefit to the marine environment than anyone thought they would be. The rigs to reefs policy was implemented in light of this find. The RTR policy is beneficial to everyone involved. It saves the oil companies money because they do not have to dismantle the platforms and dispose of them on land. Moreover, it is beneficial to the marine environment because the rigs are the largest artificial reef complexes in the world. There are three methods to the RTR policy. The rigs can be completely toppled and submerged in the ocean, the rigs can be towed and placed, or there is a partial removal platform reefing method to create an artificial reef. The Minerals Management Service (MMS) encourages the reuse of obsolete offshore drilling platforms as artificial reefs in U.S. waters as long as the structures do not pose an unreasonable impediment to future mineral development.

Accordingly, offshore drilling is the best thing that could possibly happen to this country in the aspect of energy. The country would be better off financially because the oil companies would not have to buy oil from Middle Eastern countries, and the oil that they did purchase would be cheaper because of the psychological impact that drilling in the outer continental shelf has produced. The environmental impact would not be as significant as environmentalists have predicted. The insignificant amount of crude oil that will leak will actually help the coral reefs grow and be healthier around the country where drilling will take place.

What is Capitalism?

Geek!This is Bryan Haskell’s submission for the HP Magic Giveaway. Feel free to leave comments for this article as you see fit – your feedback is certainly welcomed! If you’d like to submit your own how-to, what-is, or top-five list, you can send it to me. Views and opinions of this writer are not necessarily my own:

Capitalism is the world we live in. It’s the polluted air we breathe, the water we drink, the frozen dinners we eat, the computers we spend hours on, the rules we follow, the conflicts we face… all influenced by popular opinion and wrapped up into a big box covered in green paper made of lies, misconception, deception, and the idea that enough is never enough. Capitalism has a very pliable structure, one that can withstand abuse, change shape, and perhaps even be recycled when need be. In my opinion, there really is no straight definition of the term. Capitalism simply consumes us, and we consume it, too.

What I am trying to say is that capitalism is a subconscious state of being. Capitalism isn’t real. Capitalism is a utopia that we’ve created; a utopia filled with inhuman characteristics that are masked by the hopes and dreams to be a successful figure amongst your peers. Capitalism is an excuse to be unethical, to get away with doing improper things in order to gain self satisfaction. Capitalism forces you to abide by the holiness of items called money. I would not disagree with the suggestion that capitalism could be considered a mental disorder. After all, the single most important aspect to this thing called capitalism is the root of all evil, the reason for how people act, the reason why people commit crimes.

Throughout the history of man-kind, competition and the will to survive have always been the most important parts of life. So what exactly makes capitalism so important? Well, capitalism simply is just a name for our will to survive and compete, except that these preconceived notions are influenced by technological advancement. It is a known fact that human-beings throughout the history of their presence on earth will perform actions only if they have some motive or receive some sort of reward for doing it. Any other activity is really just a distraction. The wonderful thing about capitalism is that it motivates people to do many things they otherwise would not do. Capitalism preserves personal hopes and dreams and creates ambition. In turn, this allows substantial progress to be made technologically. All this is able to occur because of the level of importance capitalism has made money become.

Capitalism controls us. Everything we do, say, write about, and act on is because of capitalism. Capitalism can easily be referred to as “Big Brother”, a subconscious man overlooking our every motion. What is right necessarily isn’t always right and what is wrong necessarily isn’t always wrong. I think the movie “The Matrix” and the rest of the trilogy have depicted capitalism quite well. The world we live in is created by capitalism. Capitalism is a fantasy world created for the overall success of those in charge. The fact that people on the bottom of the ladder seek some sort of satisfaction through whatever means is great for those on top of the ladder. In capitalism, the only means of success is the acquisition of money. It is as simple as that.

Can we live without capitalism? Just go ahead and try to do something without a reward (even without personal satisfaction as a reward). I absolutely feel that capitalism is the end all to human ideology. Capitalism gives humans everything they want in an accepted fashion while allowing the freedom of life to mask a much larger picture that is progress and success. Even though there are those more successful than others, capitalism allows everyone to feel some sort of success; success of which benefits those above.

Is the American Auto Industry Dead?

As noted in an email to me this morning, GM has asked Congress for a short-term emergency aid package to help them survive the credit crunch and come out stronger on the other side. This has caused an intense public debate with media on both sides weighing in on the merits of federal aid for Detroit.

There’s a poll, released today, that explores what the American public thinks about this issue. According to the poll, the idea of federal aid has broad-based support: a majority of adults agree that the government should provide loans to the auto industry. They believe that the automakers will face bankruptcy without federal aid, that aid to automakers is viewed as just as important or more important than aid to the financial sector, and that the majority of people view a Big Three failure as a trigger for economic depression.

Of course, I do ask that you consider the source of the poll (Peter D. Hart Research Associates).

“Do you believe that the government should or should not provide loans to America’s automakers so they have the money to manufacture vehicles?” 55% agreed.

“President-elect Barack Obama has stated that one of his first economic priorities as president is to make sure that the American automobile industry continues to be able to operate, and he favors an economic assistance program to help them. Do agree or disagree with him?” 64% agreed.

“Do you believe that America’s automakers will face bankruptcy without government loans?” 60% agreed.

“The federal government has recently provided financial aid to the insurance and banking industries to make sure that these industries do not fail. Do you feel that providing financial aid to ensure that the U.S. auto industry does not fail is more important, just as important, or less important?” 55% believe it’s just as important.

“If General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler were to go out of business in the next few months, how likely do you think this would be to trigger an economic depression in the U.S.–extremely likely, very likely, somewhat likely, not likely, or not at all likely?” 33% say extremely, 27% say very, and 29% say somewhat.

“If you learned three to five years from now that America’s automakers had successfully weathered the current economic challenges and emerged as leaders in the worldwide automobile industry, how important would that be to America–extremely important, very important, somewhat important, not important, or not at all important?” 44% said extremely, 38% said very.

In my life, I’ve owned one American car – a 1991 Ford Escort. It served me well enough throughout my college years, but definitely had its fair share of problems and ultimately died. I moved on to a Nissan, a Toyota, and have been driving Acura automobiles for the past few years. It’s not like I don’t consider American cars when it comes to getting a new one, I just… find better options, prices, ratings in International vehicles.