Never too late to change bad traditions

7 04 2008

NewsI don’t go to grocery stores regularly, so it was somewhat surprising when I approached the checkout line and saw television screens at every lane for people to watch. The only thing that surprised me more was that the lady in front of me was carrying totes to put her groceries in instead of disposable bags. It’s like the most obvious way to save resources that the U.S. hasn’t promoted for decades.

plastic bag

Finally, things are about to change. Countries across the world are banning or taxing the use of plastic bags, including Italy, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, South Africa, and China beginning in June. Why customers have become so attached to their wasteful plastic bags, I’ll never know. Personally, I feel pretty bad any time I stuff a pile of them into a trash can. I think to myself, there has to be a way this could have been avoided. Finally, someone’s getting something right.

Downside of Obama strategy

8 03 2008

ArticlesThis article in The Washington Post analyzes the implications of losses in some of the most important states come the November elections.  The subtitle of the article states that these losses are “spurring general-election fears.”  I don’t believe this is the downside of Obama’s strategy though.  I think the downside is that the strategy attracts writers like the author of this article who casts doubt into the minds of millions by declaring to them, “You are afraid.”

People rant and rail against the press all the time for shaping the minds of voters.  They’re like modern brain washers, only no one seems to realize the gravity of the impact they’re making on the general public.  People get almost all their knowledge of the events outside their homes from the news.  Likewise, their own reality is shaped accordingly; they have no reason to believe most of that which is stated confidently to them might not be true.

To be fair, they’ve been casting unnecessary doubt on Hillary’s campaign for months now.  Both candidates have been in a near-tie since the beginning, and yet writers keep “unintentionally” insisting that people should or should not vote for someone based on possible outcomes of strategy.  These journalists are pulling conclusions from their behinds, publishing to the masses, and resultantly causing the conclusions to be just one step closer to coming true.

And why complain about strategy anyway?  We will see whether or not strategies is working or not based on which candidates are doing better than the others.  If assuming certain strategies will work better in the future is only going to affect the way the strategy is working now, I’d say the whole process is better just left alone.  Let the people just vote for once.

Canada caves to U.S. influence

20 01 2008

NewsThe Canadian minister of foreign affairs ordered that a PowerPoint presentation used for training diplomats be rewritten after its public release during a lawsuit. The PowerPoint presentation lists the U.S. as a country with “possible torture/abuse cases.” It continues by listing six interrogation techniques unapproved by the Canadian government allegedly used by the U.S.

However, it is obvious the U.S. did not react negatively to this news because it is not accurate. That would imply that the U.S. itself knows it is not a “possible” user of torture techniques. I thought the U.S. government had accepted the fact that torture had been used in several prisons. I thought they had finally recognized that the videos released across the internet were not simply jokes performed by bored suburban teenagers. If anything, the Canadian government should change the word “possible” to “known.” It shouldn’t matter that the U.S. doesn’t approve of the incidents of torture and abuse. If the qualified officers that represent the country are breaking the rules, then the government itself is breaking the rules and should take the responsibility.

So how did this happen? Why is Canada almost reflexively announcing it will change the documents? It is a simple matter of power and diplomacy. Canada and the U.S. have an unspoken agreement not to speak bad about each other to keep relations pleasant. It doesn’t matter what we know to be true about them or what they know to be true about us as long as these truths are never released to the public. It is an awkward state of affairs, because the citizens of the U.S. talk bad about the government incessantly. The U.S. government seems to focus more attention on garnering false approval from other countries than on assuring its own citizens of its worth. Thus we only find it necessary to stand behind our government for nationalistic reasons, reasons that rarely hold much truth.