Friday, December 31, 2010

Minimum wage earners in 7 states getting raises

Happy New Year! Oh what's that? a gift for the minimum wage earners? Seven states which is about 650,000 people that are working minimum wage will be getting raises this year! Individuals working minimum wage will be getting a raise of 9 to 12 cents an hour if they on Saturdays, which good since everything nowadays cost a lot more than it used to be so these 9-12 cents an hour may come in handy if prices of food and other daily necessities continue to increase. Any little raise in income would help a family greatly.

Only 7 of the 50 states in America are getting this small raise next year. The states that are receiving this so called "raise" will be Arizona, Colorado, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont and Washington. Some states, especially Colorado, can really use this increase in salary because the minimum wage in Colorado dropped by 3 cents last year due to deflation so it's a big improvement in the salaries for the individuals that are living in Colorado.

Some minimum wage people are unable to afford things so this raise in minimum wage can help individuals in being able to afford the things needed daily.  More and more people are going into poverty so this increase in minimum wage will surely help a little to those living in poverty with a minimum wage income.

New Mexico governor decides not to pardon Billy the Kid


Infamous long-dead outlaw Billy the Kid was denied pardon of his crimes. Governor Bill Richardson made this decision after long debate that has directed a lot of attention not only nationally, but also internationally. If the pardon had been granted, it would have covered an amnesty offer given to the Kid by Governor Lew Wallace for the 1878 killing of Lincoln County Sheriff. However, Governor Richardson's deciding factor was Billy the Kid's actions to kill two law enforcement officers after the unfulfilled pardon offer. Gov Richardson says that "This is American history... We should not neglect the historical record and the history of the American West." But Billy the Kid is long gone. Several governors agree with Gov Richardson to take this case, while other governors have called it a waste of time. Do you think it matters whether or not his pardon is significant in the grand scheme of history?

Sri Lanka to scrap visa on arrival

Issuing land permits will be discontinued in Sri Lanka so people wouldn't need to go through the hassle of going to the Sri Lankan embassy to obtain a visa. After fighting in Sri Lanka stopped in May of 2009, there has been a 50% increase in tourism and Sri Lanka wants to have more than 700,000 tourist next year.

What's cool is that they are trying to start up a system in which people can apply for their visas online! That would be much easier than going through millions of paperwork in order to obtain a visa that works for 30 days. Imagine being able to apply for any kind of visas online! That would be so much more convenient and people who don't have the time to go out to get a visa can do it whenever they want online. But I guess being able to get all kinds of visas online would cause some people to lose their jobs since people wouldn't be going into offices to get their visas done even though doing it online is so much easier.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Anesthesia puts you to "sleep"? Not really

That's right. Your doctors, dentist and other medical professionals have been lying to you. Anesthesia doesn't put you to sleep. A new study shows that it actually puts you into a "reversible coma" or like being knocked unconscious. This was figured out by looking at the pattern of brain waves while under anesthesia and comparing them to sleeping brain wave patterns. However, the brain waves of an anesthetized patient was more like a deeply unconscious coma patient. But just because the affects of anesthesia are a little different than what you thought they were, it doesn't mean that it is better or worse than what it was before. Hopefully, people won't start fearing that they will slip into an actual coma from anesthesia when this study has the opposite affect. This study could help fix sleep disorders or recovery from comas.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Will you "print" your next instrument?

It was the goal of a researcher Amit Zoran of the MIT Media Lab to print a fully functioning musical instrument through the use of a "Computer Assisted Drawing" or CAD drawing. CAD drawings are drawings that are made through a computer. The most commonly used programs include AutoCAD, Google Sketchup and others.

It seems that this project was finally realized using an Objet Connex500 3D printer. The entire printing took 15 hours and was assembled through 4 main sections. There were some flaws within the design and still need to be ironed out, but the overall sound was supposed to be quite good. There is a Youtube video on the site, which is worth watching.

Just imagine, you may not buy your next instrument, but print it out. It will require a simple CAD program and a 3D printer.

What next will a 3D printer do? Thoughts? Is this the future? Will we eventually place orders online and be able to print it out the next second?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

"Hey, Congress: Keep Your Day Jobs"

With the change in the Congress occurring quite soon, more weird ideas start to pop up. "We use to pay farmers not to grow crops. Let's pay congressmen to stay out of Washington DC," says Louisiana Republican Governor Bobby Jindal. Jindal and some other conservatives out there want to go back to the "good old days" when being a congressman was not a full time job and back to the time when they worked part time. They want to make congressmen closer to the general public by making them play "by the same rules as the rest of us". While any radical change is unlikely to happen soon, we do have to remember that Congress has not been very popular in the recent years, so something needs to happen, right? I can see the benefit of having congressmen also working in other things being beneficial, like working for a nonprofit group or other small business type of things, but not having our part time Congress be filled with people running large companies. If that happens, there goes regulation, especially with the conservative base growing with the change in seat allocation. We also have to realize that if they do become part time, they might be less focused on good policy as they have to spread their attention out to other things. With a part time congress that means that the Executive branch becomes even stronger as he won't have to deal with pesky congress for longer. Part time congress also makes it more of a part time people's voice with a strong leader. Part time congress might also lead to a conflict of interest, let us all do something that benefits Google or Yahoo.

So what do you think of a part time Congress? Tell me your thoughts?

-a G.U. from the Spiral King

China cutting rare earth export quotas?

China has officially declared that they are going to cut their rare earth export quotas by more than 11% next year which will be terrible for the countries importing these goods from China. China produces the most rare earth materials, approximately 97% to be exact, and by cutting the number of exports, goods such as hybrid cars will be harder to make and it will shift the supply curve causing less supply to be produced.

The decision to cut these supplies may also damage U.S. relationship with China, which has already been hurt from situations such as arguments over human rights, Tibet, Taiwan, and other events. The current leader of China, Mr. Hu Jintao, will come to America to talk about situations with President Obama to sort things out. Hopefully their meeting will make things better rather than making the situation between U.S. and China worse because it wouldn't be smart to create tensions between China and America.

This year, China has already started to cut the amount of exports it has by 40%. Cutting it down by 40% has already hurt he trade relationship between the United States, Europe, and Japan. According to the people in China, they decided to cut the amount of exports for environmental reasons, have supplies for themselves for projects they are currently working on, and also so they can have more control over the prices of their exports.

US Companies Trend to Create More Jobs Overseas Keeps Jobless Rate High

Even though many companies are reporting an increase in their workforce, the majority of jobs have been created in developing countries such as China and India. There has been an increase in these areas not simply because there is an abundance of cheap labor, but rather as the middle class in these regions grow there is more incentives for companies to build their factories in areas where they can quickly sell their goods. Consumer demand in the United States has pretty much flattened out whereas demand in these Asian countries are increasing as more and more people possess a greater income. According to the article "By 2015, for the first time, the number of consumers in Asia's middle class will equal those in Europe and North America combined." Thus it seems natural that companies would want to shift supply lines closer to where to their costumers are in order to make the most profit.

However, this trend of opening more jobs overseas versus at home has kept the jobless rate high and has lead to more Americans struggling to get by. The United States also faces the fact that its ranking in higher education has been decreasing while others have been rising. The recent recession has worsened this as less money was put into the education of the youth and colleges and universities faced cuts as less money was available in state's budgets. While it would be unlikely that the United States would be able to experience the same growth in demand as Asia, we should have the obligation to increase the quality of our higher education system so that the United States would have more incentives for companies to create jobs here.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Don't shoot guns in air on New Year's Eve

What goes up must come down. So, don't shoot guns in air on New Year's Eve. Apparently, people get so excited for New Year's Eve that they want to start off the New Year with a bang (ha). However, they don't understand the consequences of their actions. Because eventually that bullet is going to come back toward that ground, and it might just hit someone. Even starting pistols for races have not been loaded guns for ages. If the public can't understand guns or physics, will this lead to harsher gun control laws or possibly stricter police oversight during the holidays? Prevention is key. However, implementing it is harder than it sounds. What do you think is the best way to get people to stop something? (Just in general, not necessarily for death on New Year's Eve)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

"This Congress did a lot, but what is next?"

As the 111th congress comes to an end, we must realize, for all the grief and irritation they have given us, it had managed to pass a whole lot of legislation. In fact, the 111th passed more legislation than any other congress since the 60s. It even managed to go out with a bang, with the repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell', the passage of the start treaty, and the Bush era tax cuts.

This can be quite similar to 1964 with the 89th congress when the Democrats gained a majority in both houses. In the two years it was in session, it and LBJ managed to pass a whole lot of legislation, like the Voting rights act and Medicare. However, in the 1966 midterm elections, public backlash to LBJ's Great Society helped the Republicans gain 47 seats in the House. This shows that productivity doesn't always mean success in the elections, sound familiar? I can't say that I know that 111th's legislation can be considered successful and important legislation, since time hasn't told anyone yet, but the story sounds kind of familiar, doesn't it?

I doubt we will see that the next congress will be just as productive, but we can never rule out the possibility (yes we can actually, but always look on the bright side of life, right?). Hopefully, we can manage some bipartisan stuff down the road. So what do you think?

-a G.U. from the Spiral King

Suing E-mail spammers as a LIVING?

Daniel Balsam quit his job eight years ago after receiving numerous spam e-mails and created his own website called danhatesspam.com. He then decided to go to law school and graduated from University of California Hastings College of law. Before he even graduated from law school, he filed numerous law suits regarding e-mail spammers.

Balsam says that "I feel like I'm doing a little bit of good cleaning up the Internet," which he is because he is suing companies that offer cheap drugs, free sex, unbelievable vacations, etc. By filing law suits against e-mail spammers, he is basically saving many individuals from having their e-mails flooded with unwanted spam.

The number of victories that Balsam won has allowed him to make enough for a living with an excess $1 million with filing law suits against companies that send illegal spam. San Mateo Superior Court Judge Marie Weiner has also ordered a company to pay Balsam $7000 because the company has over 100 e-mails and recipients are unable to stop them. Even though there are some companies that are fighting back, Balsam responds to them with "I feel comfortable doing what I'm doing... and I'm not going away."

Filing law suits to companies that send spam e-mails is a great "career" that Balsam has because he can help cleanse the internet. Many younger individuals that have e-mails don't really need to be receiving e-mails about cheap drugs and what not so suing companies that are sending mass e-mails to people about inappropriate things is a great step in society! 

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Will oil prices decrease?

The new oil minister in Iraq has announced that oil exports that are from the Kurdish region of Iraq will resume as part of the national oil export policy even though Baghdad has argued that the oil they have is part of the natural resources owned by the central government. Baghdad has considered the oil deals that the Kurd's made with Western countries illegal but the Kurd's still continue with their deals.
By next year, the Kurd's are planning on exporting about 150,000 barrels of oil a day, which is good because oil prices can be expected to decrease allowing individuals to spend more money on other goods rather than the bulk of it on gas.

Happy Holidays from the Spiral King

2010 years ago, a boy named Brian was born (along with another famous person). One year ago, a man decided to stuff explosives in his pants and went to the airport. Fortunately (or unfortunately), nothing major for us happened this Christmas, except the suicide bomber in Pakistan (quite unfortunate).

I just need today to geek out on everyone, and have fun too, so here is a gift from the Spiral King that no one (maybe one or two people actually, but no one is on the blog now, so it doesn't matter) will understand:

Happy Holidays from the Spiral King

The Christmas Spirit Forgotten as 43 killed in World Food Programme bombing

This morning in Islamabad, Pakistan a World Food Programme distribution was attacked by a suicide bomber. According to the latest figures 43 people have died and 90 people have been injured.

There was about 300 people going through the checkpoint (which are in most distribution center due to the presence of bombs), but luckily undeterred these volunteers are going to distribute and do their part to help the world. According to the UN, the actual distribution of food should not be affected to much. The full extent of the blast is yet to be determined, but preliminary reports are not sounding good.

I feel this is really sad and they could not have chosen a better day. Thoughts? What does this symbolize?

I really hope all of you have a peaceful and merry Christmas. It is sad that things like these happen.

Update: It seems that the bomber was a female suicide bomber who seemed to have been working for the Pakistani Taliban. The death toll has risen to 46. 600 meters of the building was removed. None of the volunteers were injured. The Taliban also claims that the bomber was a man, but reports are still unclear.

Friday, December 24, 2010

"US to make 'wild' public land eligible for protection"

Another example of the change in Presidents. Apparently, we are going to make millions of acres of public lands eligible for wilderness protection. This reverses the orders given by President Bush.

In 2003, Bush opened millions of acres of land in the Rocky mountains for potential commercial development. On Thursday, the US Bureau of Land Management announced that they now have the authority to mark off public land as 'wild' and rope it off to future development.

So what do you think about this? I'm not to big on the out doors, but I find it good that we can now have some more potential for some undeveloped lands. But will this be revoked by future presidents, especially considering the changes in representation?

-a G.U. from the Spiral King

Strong Anti-Terror Effort During Holidays

The White House says that the federal government will step up its national security during the holidays. I think this is very good because times of relaxing and fun is when our country is most vulnerable. Take Pearl Harbor for example, Japan attacked us during Christmas and did a lot of damage. Could this possibly happen again? The White House says that since Wednesday, they have been working with a lot of other officials from other countries to make sure nothing bad happens this Christmas. The Deputy National Security Advisor John Brennan stated that "there are no specific credible threats at the moment." Which I think is very releiving because we aren't expecting anyone to attack us. He also says that we are in much better position this year for our defense compared to last year when terrorists failed bombing a Detroit bound plane last Christmas.
I admire how our government officials are sacrificing their holidays to keep us safe. We should really thank them for all their sacrifice. While we are all feasting and enjoying time with out families, they are out there working to make sure we stay safe and no one hurts us. They are making sure another Pearl Harbor doesn't happen. What were to happen if these officials decided to take a day off? How much risk would our country be in? Could a big terrorist event be planned as we speak?
Let's not worry about this and let the people whose job it is to keep us safe worry about it. I hope you all enjoy your holidays and stay safe!

Stricter Regulations Needed to Protect Biodiversity



The illegal trade in wildlife has been going on for years and has proven itself to be a threat to many endangered and threatened species across the world. In 1963, 175 countries came together to monitor and control the trade of almost 34,000 species. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITIES) was an important step in protecting endangered species from the black market. However, many species still remain endangered as a majority of the world's biodiversity are in the tropical regions of South America where high rates of corruption and weak governments decrease the ability to control the black market of wildlife.
"Brazil, a key source of illegal animals, does not have a functioning central program to report wildlife confiscations, while the United States, a leading importer of wildlife, lacks a coordinated national authority for monitoring such imports."
Protecting biodiversity should be high on our list of priorities as these areas possibly possess animals or plants that could prove vital in our research of cures for deadly diseases and viruses such as cancer or HIV. However, the weak regulations that are currently in place to prevent the illegal trade of organisms are not efficient enough to protect these species from dying out before we get a chance to realize their beneficial qualities. Additionally, the extinction of each species decreases the world's overall biodiversity and makes the world more susceptible to a lethal outbreak of viruses that could threaten both mankind and the organisms we utilize in our everyday life.

This article speaks of the need for major wildlife importers as well as exporters to increase the amount of money spent to enforce the regulations on wildlife trade if the CITIES treaty is to remain effective. Currently, the initiative only received $5.2 million annually from 2009 to 2011. Researchers reccomend that the amount recieved each year could be increased by raising the trade levies and penalties for industries and individuals behind the illegal trading. While it may be difficult to raise the money for the treaty, something must be done if we are to preserve the biodiversity of wildlife across the world.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Is the 787 Ever Going to Take Off?

The Boeing 787 will soon be flight testing, once again after a fire on the most recent test flight on November 9th. The fire came into question the true safety of this new type of carbon fiber airplane.

Already about 5 billion US dollars have been paid for late fees. It is already 3 years behind schedule. There are also almost 30 planes sitting on the tarmac with no engine. Both Rolls Royce and GE are supplying the engine.

Meanwhile, Airbus has been making good time with its Airbus A380 and the A320 "re-engining". Their sales have been going up.

Is Boeing on its last strand or is this just overhyped? Thoughts? Both the 747-8 Intercontinental and the 787 are both years delayed and forced to pay huge payments.

The Gap Between Rich & Poor is Growing

The gap between the rich and middle class is now the biggest than it has ever been. It says that the gap has grown even though the wealthy's average net worth went down 27%. But at the same time, the average family's net went down 41%. The article blames this gap to the "bursting of the housing bubble." The reason for the big decrease in the average household's wealth is because most of their wealth was in the value of their home, but home values have been dropping.
I think that this is a very scary thought. That as the people's wealth in our country is going down, the bridge between rich and middle class is still growing and is even at its highest right now. This article also sort of gives me second thoughts on how other articles are saying that our economy is going up. Do you think our economy is getting better or not? After seeing this article, I had a lot of different opinions about how well our economy is doing. How will our economy look in the future? Will the gap between rich and middle class get smaller?

Is the Green Movement Hopeless?

I was reading the New Yorker for this week, when I came across this article called the "THE EFFICIENCY DILEMMA". According to the article, which described the Jevons Paradox, efficiency is not necessarily as hopeful as it sounds.

It seems that for years many have stated that greater efficiency is better as the article quotes "fuel economy of their new-car fleets thirty per cent by 2016..."Everyone Wins". The Secretary of Energy seemed to agree.

The article talks about Jevons Paradox, which basically stated that as things grow more efficient, it is actually worse. The example that was used was the air conditioner. At first, no one used it as the price was much too high. As the efficiency grew greater, the price came down and more people started to rely on air conditioner to cool their homes. As the author states, everyone had lived well before, but suddenly it was not cold enough. Soon the system grew even more efficient and it was placed in cars. This represented a whole new place for air conditioner. With time, air conditioners trickled down to even the cheapest cars. Since, air conditioner makes the car less efficient, at the end, it seems that the air conditioner actually used more electricity then its original inefficient state. The author also provides a very similar example with the refrigerator, as with time these grew bigger and better, but more food is wasted.

In the end, the author states "'It is rather hard to demonstrate the validity of his proposition, but certainly the historical evidence to date is wholly consistent with what he was arguing.' That might be something to think about as we climb into our plug-in hybrids and continue our journey, with ever-increasing efficiency, down the road paved with good intentions."

I think the article has some really valid points, it's quite persuasive in proving that this gentleman from the First Industrial Revolution could be correct. India and China are now seeing cars for more people, though they like the Tata Nano they are small cars, but they still emit more pollution than motorcycles, bicycles, trains, or walking.

Any thoughts? Is it better to not strive for efficiency? Too much to ask? Can we prove otherwise? Will history repeat itself?

Do note: the linked article on the New Yorker's website does require a subscription, which is why I tried to quote most of the big items. It is also on Page 78-85 on the DEC. 20 & 27, 2010 issue.

Signs of an Improving Economy


A decrease in jobless claims and an increase in consumer spending has some economists suggesting that the nation is undergoing an important recovery after the recent recession. This is potentially good news for the millions of unemployed as when the spending rate increases there is a greater need for workers. In California especially where the unemployment rate is one of the highest in the country, an increase in consumer spending would create a chain reaction in which more workers are hired by companies and the jobless benefits that the state has to pay to the unemployed will decrease. As a result, California's spending deficit could decrease drastically and the state could have the revenue needed to fund it's education programs as well as decrease it's debts. This would act to positively reinforce the growing economy. While spending tends to increase in the winter months as consumers purchase gifts for the holiday season, this has been the seventh consecutive month of gains for businesses after growing at a 2.4% rate from July-September. In addition, new home sales has risen about 5.5% after the market has stalled for so long after the housing bubble burst. The article also reports that there has been an improvement in the overall mood of consumers as these signs of a more promising economy have appeared. While the economy has quite a while before it will recover to pre-recession levels, I believe this new data enforces the idea that the economy is improving and that the worst of the recession is likely over. By the time we Seniors, graduate from school and eventually enter the job market there will hopefully be a more promising economy awaiting us.

The Korean War Episode 5: Korea strikes back

Prepare your old M*A*S*H collection, because we might be needing space for a season 12. The almost sixty year old war may decide to reopen anytime.

After the largest live fire exercises in Korean history, involving tanks, fighter planes, and helicopters, North Korea says it is "ready for a 'sacred war of justice' using a nuclear deterrent". The great leader Kim Yong-chun accuses South Korea of preparing for war, while the South Korean President Lee Myung-bak promises immediate retaliation for any Northern aggression.

The South Korean military admits that the exercises was aimed to display their power and both sides continue to throw threats at each other, but will they back it up? China, Russia, and the US wish to defuse tensions between the two countries, but the US, Japan, and South Korea do not wish to return to the six nation talks, which previously involved rewards for North Korea if it cut back on nuclear development.

Will both countries fail to back their bark, or will they act upon it? Will this be the first nuclear war? Only time will tell.

-a G.U. from the King of Helixes

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Will Sandy Bridge Change the Computer Market?

As the launch of the much awaited Sandy Bridge happens next month at CES, some experts are wondering whether nVidia and AMD(and the now defunct ATI) will still have its current market share. The new Sandy Bridge running on the LGA1155 platform combines an integrated graphics processing unit or GPU with the central processing unit or CPU. It is interesting to see Intel's market share change in the computer marketing as it grows with every chipset release, but also seeing it expand into tvs with the Google TV's Intel Atom processor and security market after the successful purchase of McAfee earlier this year (and the recent approval by the America government). The Sandy Bridge should effectively knock both AMD and nVidia out of the low to possibly mid end graphics market. Some analysts expect nVidia to grow larger as its new releases of the 400 and 500 series. Or will AMD come back swinging with their new Vision products and their new Radeon series. Others expect the Sandy Bridge to not sell well and be dominated by the cell phone/tablet market. Already pre-sales and leaked sales in the Asian markets have been lower than expected. There are some who say this is Intel's final straw as it has been dominated by the ARM Cortex family chips, with modifications made by Texas Instrument, Samsung, Qualcomm and others.

Thoughts? Expected products besides Sandy Bridge at CES this year?
What's the future of the "personal computer"? Are we sitting at the edge/beginning of a revolution?

The other side of earmarks

In general, the term "earmark" has received a negative connotation, bring forth the image of wasteful spending on bridges to no where and the like. While some people are trying to get rid of earmarks, others are willing to defend them, saying that overall they are not as bad as we think. In Miami, one of the busiest ports in the US, Bill Johnson, Miami port director, plans for a "dredging project to accommodate massive cargo ships that will soon use an expanded Panama Canal". He says it would be able to open before the expansions are complete, if the project receives 75 million from the Fed. He also points out that all of America's major ports have been funded through federal earmarks.

Even environmentalist groups argues that some earmarks are okay. Earmarks spent on the Everglades go beyond 400 million, not only helping to preserve the environment, but also providing over 400 thousand jobs in the long term and 26 thousand short term construction jobs. Although they do admit that some reform might be necessary, they worry that Congress might give up too much power to decide which projects deserve appropriate funds.

So here are two examples of earmarks being used for the general good, contrary to the standard image of earmarks. Unfortunately, people tend not remember the questions that they guessed correctly and only get angry for guessing incorrectly. While earmarks, are not necessarily good or bad, they do help things move through Congress a little faster and can provide funds in places that need it.

So what do you think about this? Should every speck of earmark be obliterated and destroyed, or should they be kept around?

-a G.U. from the Helix King

Effort to ease tensions between Mainland and Taiwan.


On Tuesday, December 21, Mainland China and Taiwan signed an agreement that allowed them to come together in developing new drugs. When President Ma, of Taiwan, became president, he promised to improve relations and ease the tension between Mainland and Taiwan. This new agreement that was just signed is the 15th agreement between Mainland and Taiwan since Ma’s presidency.
Signing this new agreement will allow Taiwan to enter into a bigger market instead of being restricted and limited in its small market on the island. When Taiwan split from Mainland China, there has always been a lot of tension but with these new agreements, 15 to be exact, Taiwan and China’s relationship has gotten better than ever.
Along with cooperating in the biotechnology field in creating new drugs, Taiwan and China has also agreed to let more people enter Taiwan per day. It used to be only 3,000 people can enter but now they are increasing it to 4000 people per day, which in my opinion isn’t that big of a different compared to China’s large population.
President Ma hopes to help Taiwan’s slow economy by engaging with China. Even though Taiwan’s economy may improve, many people might seek this as an opportunity to move to China and start a business there. It may cause the unemployment rate in Taiwan to increase which is bad. Being Taiwanese myself, I think it’s good to engage in activities with China to ease tension because there has always been some tension between Taiwanese and Chinese people but it is also a bad idea because with Taiwan getting closer and closer to China, Taiwan may lose some of its democratic values.
After this decision was made, some people started protesting that President Ma was selling Taiwan to China, which is partially true with all these agreements bringing Taiwan and China closer. 

Obama Repeal's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Policy

Today President Obama signed the the repeal on the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Policy meaning that the ban for openly gay men and women in the military will be over. Obama says that this will uphold our country's ideals because "no longer tens of thousands of people will have to live a lie." He means that the people dying for us across seas will no longer have to worry about being prosecuted for their sexual orientation. This also helps Obama because promising to end the ban for gays in the military was one of his goals, showing that he is trying to keep his promises which will help his publicity. Now that the repeal has been signed, the Pentagon must rewrite series of policies and regulations for the current law so that the repeal can take effect "swiftly and efficiently."
I think it is great that gays in the military no longer have to fear being prosecuted. Gays work just as hard as every other person in the military and shouldn't worry about being prosecuted. I also like seeing that laws and actions are being made even though recently there has been a lot of plans that are being denied because of a divided Congress. I also do agree that this will help Obama because it will show that he is keeping his promises which could benefit him for re-election. What do you think about this ban? Do you think that this will help promote equal rights? What will happen next?

Is Obama in danger?


 According to the 2010 Census, the states that are more Republican than Democratic will gain half a dozen more seats in the House of Representatives.  Most of the states that are gaining seats in the House were the states that Obama lost in the 2008 presidential election.

The states that are losing seats in the House, Ohio and New York for example, are states that Obama won. If the same states still favor Obama in the next election, Obama will be short six votes. Some states have shifted into a more Republican side since the 2008 election which may cause Obama to lose more than six electoral votes in the next election.

With the states that lean toward Republican gaining new seats in the House, the 2012 election map will turn more Republican than Democratic, which may cause Obama to not get re-elected in the next election.

In the last election, a lot of states had Republican’s in full control of many state governments. With Republican’s gaining more power in the House, do you think Obama is in danger of losing his spot as president in the next election? Or do you think Obama will step up his game and try to shift people’s views into a more democratic side?

If Obama wants to win the election in 2012, he will need to prove the Republican’s wrong and win over more states by making decisions that are more beneficial to the US rather than helping other countries, which is my opinion at least. Hopefully Obama will be able to pull through and win the election, unless everyone starts losing faith in him and more states start to lean toward the Republican side. 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Bill to Possibly Alienate Turkey

The country of Turkey is one of our allies, but Congress is thinking about voting on a measure based on the WWI Armenian Genocide that would hurt our relations with Turkey. The plan's details aren't set in stone, but the House believes they need to pass a plan because of the genocide Turkey committed. The article says that passing this plan would be a blow to Obama by his democrats but doesn't explain why. I believe that it is because it would further hurt his reputation because he is neglecting his allies, and that soon next month the House will be led by Republicans. Turkey warned the US that the plan's approval will jeapordize US-Turkey relations and cooperations. Another thing about Turkey is that they are going to be part of the United Nations Security Council that will vote to approve more sanctions on Iran.
I have mixed emotions about this issue. I believe that we should see what Turkey did, and make measures because of what they did. But I also think that we shouldn't hurt our relations with our foreign allies. I also believe that this happened in the past and that we should "Forgive and Forget" even though big things like genocides are hard to forget about. What do you think is best for our country? Should we approve a plan that will hurt our relations by one of our allies who did something horrible a long time ago? Would approving a plan like this be worth it?

China bans Engrish wolds in media

Just something I found was interesting on the BBC. China has basically ban newspapers, publishers, and websites from using foreign words- especially English- in order to protect the "purity of the Chinese language". Their fine government wishes the media to "avoid foreign abbreviations and acronyms, as well as 'Chinglish'". If words are to be written in a foreign language, says the fine government of China, an explanation in Chinese would need to be given also.

Kind of ironic that China now wishes to maintain some "purity" considering that they use simplified characters over the traditional characters, which are obviously more "pure". Chinese also don't have a very easy time with all the new words that are entered all the time, and now it seems that they have to go without saying "DVD" or "lol". But I guess considering how well China is doing, compared to other places, they want to flout their culture and show how much better it is doing than everywhere else.

So what do you think about this? Is it going to work out, or fail a horrible and miserable death?

-a G.U. from the Spiral King

The First Step Away From Steam Powered Catapults


Early this morning, the Navy was able to successfully launch a F-18 Super Hornet. This new kind of catapult can launch a variety of aircraft, including the small ones that could not be launched on earlier catapults, up to 180 knots. This was the first time an aircraft was used; this catapult will pave the way for UAVs being used on these ships. This technology uses the electricity from the ship's nuclear generators and should be placed on the new USS Gerald R. Ford class. These new aircraft carriers will be launching in 2015.

This complements the US Navy's recent tests on rail guns, which also used electromagnetic to deliver a shell a couple of miles at couple times the speed of sound. It has been proven to be cheaper and safer than the current Tomahawk cruise missiles that are currently carried on our destroyers.

I think it is good that the Navy is starting to modernize in the event of a conflict with the growing superpower of China, but it also will give the Navy more bargaining power over smaller rogue states that threaten our ships. It is time for the US Navy to have the power to defend its carriers and leads to less loss of life through the use of UAVs. What do you think about these recent advances in Navy technology? Comments? Thoughts?

Moonwatchers treated to total lunar eclipse


A good way to kick of a winter break? A lunar eclipse. This total lunar eclipse occured late Monday night and early Tuesday morning, depending on location. The miraculous ascpect of this lunar eclipse was that it occured on the day of the winter solstice. Because the winter solstice is when the Earth is tilted farthest away from the sun, this gives a great viewing of the lunar eclipse. This event of lunar eclipse and winter solstice occuring on the same day hasn't happened for 372 years. However, the next time this occurs is in 2094. Certainly watching an eclipse happen is a slow and seemingly anti-climatic event, but since this event probably won't occur again in our lifetime, I hope that many people were aware of this event and watched the lunar eclipse last night. Even though these types of events happens once in a blue moon (ha ha), do you think it's important that try and experience things like this personally, rather than by secondhand?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Russia warns the Senate to just pass the START treaty already

Is the Senate deliberate or dysfunctional? It seems to becoming more and more dysfunctional. Various Republicans are objecting to the new treaty with Russia to reduce the nuclear arms amount by 30% from the previous limit and establish new methods for arms inspection, which have not happened since last year, after the expiration of the previous treaty. President Obama wishes to get the accord passed before January, as the chances of passage would decrease with the new Congress. Obviously Russia is getting a little ticked and says that negotiations cannot be reopened.

I swear our government is trying to become black and white (more like blue and red, but whatever) with one side against the other just because it seems. Arms reduction is pretty darn important to try to keep some sense of world peace, but it seems that some want US dominations of some sort. Keeping the peace with a big stick isn't going to work when everyone has big sticks also. Maybe there is something I don't know, but arms reduction sounds pretty good to me. Plus, they are going to go out of date as soon as I come up with the N2 bomb (A Neon Genesis Evangelion reference in case you don't know, oh wait, that is everyone pretty much)- which is pretty much an ecofriendly nuke- and then I come up with an Eva unit (another geek reference). Jokes aside, can anyone tell me the down side of the treaty, I would like to know. And what do you think of the way our fair government is doing and handling the treaty?

- a G.U. from the King of Spirals

Smartphones and Cars


According to Telenor Connexion, the Nissan Leaf will soon be getting the ability to turn on the air conditioner from within the car. Sadly, this only applies to the European version, but it is progress. The Chevy Volt already has this feature, but it is the first time a car is getting this option for free. Recently automakers have started to increase the connection between the car and the smart phone creating new branches of inter-connectivity. Smartphones currently have the ability to unlock cars and some even go so far as to start the engine. Other car manufacturers are providing driver manuals in digital format hoping to reduce paper. Will smartphones eventually also be able to drive cars? Thoughts? Will this help contribute to lesser use of the air conditioner? What is the future of technology?

On a slightly different topic, any thoughts regarding these new sort of "plug-in cars" with the Nissan Leaf and the "plug-in hybrid" of the Chevy Volt and eventually Toyota Prius? Any thoughts? Feasibility of the new electric cars?

Regulating the Internet?

The article is about how the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), made up of five members, is trying to vote on a plan to regulate the Internet. They are warned however that by doing so, it will further hurt our economy by hurting industry investment. Law makers say that they prefer Congress to make laws on regulating the Internet instead of President Obama but even though they say this, the FCC (which is one of Obama's commissions) is still pushing in regulating the Internet. The scary thing about this is that the governement wil be able to have tighter control of the content the public gets to view. The article later goes on to talk about how this will lead to dispute between Congress and Obama's agencies, which I think is extremely pointless because all it would lead to is not being able to pass laws and acts we need. The plan however has something I like, which is have a net-neutrality plan that will it illegal for Internet providers to discriminate against certain websites to mess with the access to certain websites.
There article also goes on about how critics say that the plan would do the opposite of making it fair for Internet providers because they believe that this unfair kind of system Internet providers do does not exist. It also goes into greater on the risk it has towards our economy and how we can't risk hurting our economy even further. Anoter big detail critics say about this plan is that Congress has the power to control the Internet "not the Commission."
I believe that Commisions do not have the right to get into the duties of Congress, it's illegal! Even though it has the possibility of either hurting or helping our economy, I believe that we still shouldn't do it because it's Congress' job to make plans like these. Plus, the plans' critics have very strong arguments against this, saying how much our economy will be hurt from this plan. Do you believe that we should take the risk with this plan, even if the risk will hurt our ecnomy? Do you believe that this will lead to further dispute between the Presidency and Congress? Isn't it illegal?

"Don't ask, Don't tell" don't exist anymore

I'm surprised this hasn't been posted about but here you go: If you live in your own little world like me, you may have not noticed that the "Don't ask, Don't tell" ban has been lifted by the Senate. It was passed by 65-31, with some moderate Republicans joining the Democrats. President Obama is expected to sign it into law. Finally the debate is over, at least for now.

If you are gay, kudos to you, you now can serve in the military. If you are a coward, like me, that is one less way to worm your way out of military service.

I'm just amazed how long the US managed to prevent gays from serving openly. I mean, the ancient Greeks were pretty known for their homosexuality in the military. And what is worse, gay men serving, or women serving with straight men? We also don't have to worry too much about gays raping women and girls.

So what does everyone think about the lifting of the ban and what effects do you think it will have on the military?


-a G.U. from the Spiral King

Sunday, December 19, 2010

"South Korea Holds Yeonpyeong Artillery Drill"

This morning to late afternoon, residents at Yeonpyeong Island had a practice drill. In this drill, the residents were told to take the shelter, similar to the nuclear bomb drills in the United States during the Cold War. Meanwhile, the artillery guns were fired in "self defense" as preparations for a potential increase in international tensions along the Korean peninsula.

The United States and their allies were fairly receptive to the live-fire drill, but Russia and China warned the South against performing such actions. This effectively divides the P-5 once again, as it did for the later half of the Cold War. Knowing what we know about North Korea through Wikileaks, does this change anything?

I think the South Korea has every right to hold a practice drill as their citizens were killed in the first attack. After all, these drills were fairly effective in informing the citizens on the island what to do in an emergency. I do feel that North Korea has been a little aggressive since they sunk the South Korean destroyer "Cheonan", but now it seems South Korea is the only one who is being aggressive in the peninsula.

Does this accomplish a different purpose than the earlier naval drills with the USS George Washington? Are we still in the middle of Cold War tensions with the Korean peninsula? What about China and Russia? What position should the United States take? Other thoughts?

Recent Update: An interesting development: North Korea seems to have allowed inspectors to visit their nuclear facilities and is showing a fairly weak response compared to the USS George Washington incident earlier this year.

The Dream Act is a Bust

This article is about how the DREAM Act, which was a proposed immigration bill that would give hundreds of  thousands of uncodumented students citizenship. The bill was passed in the House but not in the senate, being 5 votes short for them to pass. The main reason it didn't pass was because of the Senate Republicans, who opposed what the Democrats wanted which also means that hispanic activists were also hurt. What the article later talks about is how the Democrats are constantly fighting with the Republicans in Senate, and how they are trying to take back control in the House while also gaining more seats in the Senate. It further goes into detail explaining that the fight for this bill is not over and that there are pleanty more fights for other bills in Congress. It also says how even though the bill was not passed, the steps in arresting illegal immigrants will not change. They say how they will not take extraordinarily big steps in the arrest of illegal immigrants.
I believe it is incredibly idiotic that laws aren't being passed because of different parties. I believe that if a law is beneficial to the country, we should have it passed without hesitation and not have to worry about it not getting passed because a different parry proposed it. I can see why Republicans would deny it so that the Democrats to not get too powerful, but I believe that if something will help the country we should pass it. Should laws be prevented because two groups dont like each other? Even if it is beneficial to the country? Give your opinion, I would like to know about what you think about this.