Monthly Archives: September 2010

Segway Co. Owner Dies On Segway

You cannot make stuff like this up:

(Sept. 27) — The British tycoon who owned the Segway company died after accidentally riding a rugged version of the two-wheeled machine off a cliff and into a river, according to published reports.

Jimi Heselden, 62, plunged into the River Wharfe Sunday while checking on the grounds of his estate in northern England, the Telegraph reported. He was riding on a “rugged country version” of the scooter, the paper said.

“Police were called at 11:40 a.m. yesterday to reports of a man in the River Wharfe, apparently having fallen from the cliffs above,” a spokesman for West Yorkshire Police said today, according to British media reports.

“A Segway-style vehicle was recovered. He was pronounced dead at the scene,” the spokesman said. “At this time we do not believe the death to be suspicious.”

AOL News

Part of me hopes that I die in such an utterly odd and ironic way, doing something that I like to do.

I guess I am saying I would like to die after passing out too drunk at a punk concert after party discussing Eastern philosophy, and vomiting up Indian food which I choke on… While my MP3 player is playing a good raw, lo-fi Black Metal song.

Raters Ignored Unsafe Loans

… This could be a good reason for an economic crisis:

As the mortgage market grew frothy in 2006 — leading to a housing bubble that nearly brought down the banking system two years later — ratings agencies charged with assessing risk in mortgage pools dismissed conclusive evidence that many of the loans were dubious, according to testimony given last week to the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission.

The commission, a bipartisan Congressional panel, has been holding hearings on the origins of the financial crisis. D. Keith Johnson, a former president of Clayton Holdings, a company that analyzed mortgage pools for the Wall Street firms that sold them, told the commission on Thursday that almost half the mortgages Clayton sampled from the beginning of 2006 through June 2007 failed to meet crucial quality benchmarks that banks had promised to investors.

“We went to the ratings agencies and said, ‘Wouldn’t this information be great for you to have as you assign tranche levels of risk?’ ” Mr. Johnson testified last week. But none of the agencies took him up on his offer, he said, indicating that it was against their business interests to be too critical of Wall Street.

“If any one of them would have adopted it,” he testified, “they would have lost market share.”

In the aftermath of the financial crisis, which has required billions of dollars in taxpayer money to bail out Wall Street, ratings agencies have been sharply criticized for failing to properly assess the securities they were reviewing, and federal regulators are investigating the agencies for the role they played in the credit crisis.

NY Times

So we dropped the ball.  It looks like some of the unsafe policies go back to 1995 reforms by Pres. Clinton that had the best of intentions to enable poorer communities to get back on their feet.

It ended up expanding to almost half of the mortgages during that time to be subpar… How do people whose job it is to make mortgages allow this to happen?

Well, perhaps they figured if things got bad enough they would be bailed out.

God, I wish I would get a bailout if I decided to be a very poor, lazy worker.

This really is just a huge punishment to all of the people who work hard and invest frugally, and to all of the people who were conned into bad mortgages by slick tongued bankers. Now… The whole taxpayer has to pay for the Fed’s mistake.

Like most things in life: the majority suffer from the errors of a minority — a minority that happens to be our richest and most powerful figures who seem to always make all the worse decisions, whether it is paving the way to hell with good intentions or screwing the taxpayer for personal profit.

Sarkozy Raises Retirement Age

… Of course there are protests:

The French government and labor unions held their ground over President Nicolas Sarkozy’s plan to raise the retirement age after the second national protest against the proposal this month.

Labor Minister Eric Woerth said there were fewer strikers yesterday than in a Sept. 7 demonstration, a sign of declining opposition. Unions, which claimed more protesters, are meeting today to plan their next move.

“There is a deceleration of the protests,” Woerth said on France 2 television. “There were fewer demonstrations, fewer strikers. These measures will be voted in parliament, and they will be enacted.”

The National Assembly this month passed Sarkozy’s pension bill, which raises the minimum retirement age to 62 from 60 and the age for a full pension to 67 from 65. The bill is headed to the Senate. Unions want the retirement age to remain at 60. Sarkozy’s government says it has already made concessions and won’t bow to demands to scrap the increase.

Bloomberg

It is understandable for a country with many a government job and who already hands out such a large amount of benefits to raise retirement age; they simply do not have the resources to always be handing out money across the board especially when the French are notorious for being a healthy people who live a very, very long time and who also have a declining birth rate.

Protesting this is equally understandable — you are messing with people’s benefits, but the way that I view it is that it is a necessary evil in a time of economic decline and a rapidly aging population.

I generally applaud politicians who do fairly unpopular things even if they are objectively probably one of the right things to do.

NJ Judge Uses Shariah Law In Rape Case

I just saw this this morning — quite terrible:

Recently, an ABC News story scoffed at the Oklahoma referendum going to the voters that prohibits the courts from using Sharia law in their decisions. The implication was that there is no need for this.

Really?

Jihad Watch reported on Saturday (see story below, highlights added) that a New Jersey judge ruled that a Muslim man, accused of forcing non-consensual sex on his wife, was not guilty because of his religious beliefs.

Here is the portion of his ruling that should leave no doubt that Islamic sharia law is penetrating America:

“This court does not feel that, under the circumstances, that this defendant had a criminal desire to or intent to sexually assault or to sexually contact the plaintiff when he did. The court believes that he was operating under his belief that it is, as the husband, his desire to have sex when and whether he wanted to, was something that was consistent with his practices and it was something that was not prohibited.”

Red County

Initially I have not found much other sources on it but rather other references; certainly I hope that this is not true.  This would be a cause of multiculturalism trumping our own laws — and not small, irrelevant laws but rather the big ones meant to keep people safe.

There was a case similar in setting a cultural precedent of respecting Islamic law in Germany where a woman was denied a divorce because allegedly spousal abuse would be expected in an Islamic marriage. I am sure that moderate Muslims would agree in the absurdity of this ruling — I highly doubt you see judgments like this coming out of places like Turkey.

What we have now is a dangerous precedent where we see  people prioritizing multiculturalism over justice itself.

Pleasure Sows The Seeds Of Pain

“Every pleasure contains within itself the seeds of pain.” – R. Puligandla, Indian philosopher & scholar.

Proposed soundtrack.

Last night as I sat in my bed reading some Indian philosophy, thinking with pursed lips like I was George W. Bush in the Presidential debates, I came across these lines and thought how profoundly true it is. I had been mulling over this very idea in my head for the past several weeks as we had been discussing it in class.

It seems more and more apparent that the cause of suffering is indulgence; indulgence brings with it joy, and when we achieve joy through indulgence we seek always to indulge and we become addicts.

We make the mistake of viewing addiction as something only present for inherently negative things like drugs or alcohol, but truly this can extend to everything that stimulates the senses. We become addicted to sense pleasure and through over stimulation of our senses we can no longer gain pleasure through things which we ought to.

It is ironic that in the West people think that they will somehow liberate themselves by discovering their sexuality, when in reality this will easily tie someone into a whole new world of addiction. We encourage people to ‘cut loose’ but this provides only temporary pleasure… And in the pleasure there are the seeds of pain.

There are the very obvious causes of pain that come with confusing sexual relations and heartbreak, substance abuse and the conflicts it can make,  eating too much, etc. but there are also the subtle ones that only come when we begin finding a lack of happiness in our lives because we had become so dependent on sensual stimulation we no longer find pleasure in the simpler things.

People act as if all of these things are normal and acceptable and that is why we have built up a Prozac nation; we are so addicted to sensual pleasure that when we can’t be having it we must immediately turn to some other drug to stimulate us towards happiness.

Of the Four Noble truths of Buddhism,  the first is that life is suffering, but a deeper look into it attests to life is suffering due to impermanence. This is why the idea of meditation is so strong — it provides a degree of permanence in an impermanent world by giving us a form of intellectual liberation from both pain and pleasure that is fulfilling and is stimulating and is always achievable. I am certain that Christian prayer can do the same thing, as can chanting mantras, Yoga and other such activities.

I think we should be conscious of this truth and curb our indulgences, for though we attain pleasure there is always the moments where the sensual stimulation is absent and we are left to suffer.

It is important to not be moved, not be attached, not be addicted, but to be cold and indifferent towards the sensual pleasures of the world, for then we are not a slave to them but rather we are liberated.

Christianity speaks of being alive in Christ and being dead to the flesh, that is to say, dead to sensual pleasure, and this brings true happiness and allows entrance into the Kingdom of God. This is the same concept as the first noble truth, and in this regard, there is great similarity between Buddhism and Christianity (and for that matter much of Indian philosophy).

In an odd way we are able to become the most loving, complete and happy human beings when we become the most cold, dead, hardened and unmoved by the World itself.

Lonesummer – “What We Were”

Lonesummer is very experimental black metal mixed with a lot of ambient influence; it is really hard to describe what it is but it can be abrasive while at the same time being melodic.

When I first listened to the album I was immediately hooked — very powerful, moving music that empowers the soul.

This is a perfect introductory album to Black Metal for anyone who has flirted with electronic and ambient music.

Do enjoy.

Download here.

State’s “Secret Privilege” Invoked in USA

A lot of promises were made but it seems like a lot of these were thrown out of the window when it came down to practical concerns for the government:

During his presidential campaign, Barack Obama criticized the Bush administration for its excessive secrecy, noting that it had “invoked a legal tool known as the ‘state secrets’ privilege more than any other previous administration to get cases thrown out of civil court.” Obama also promised to end “extraordinary rendition,” a practice through which “we outsource our torture to other countries.”

But last week the Obama administration used the state secrets privilege to block a lawsuit by five former captives who say they were tortured as a result of extraordinary rendition. Although candidate Obama surely would have been outraged, President Obama is for some reason less concerned about abuses of executive power.

Reason

One thing we can learn here is that we had two different Presidents of very different views; one of which has no hang ups about going to war (Pres. Bush) and the other who comes off as a dove (Pres. Obama), yet both have been accused of extraordinary rendition which resulted in the torture of prisoners.

We can come to one of two conclusions:

(1) Pres. Obama lied to the people when he revealed his intentions and was in reality only interested in election and doing so by appealing to the far left.

(2) Pres. Obama changed his perspective after seeing loads of Top Secret information and felt that extraordinary rendition was appropriate in those particular cases.

I am giving Pres. Obama the benefit of the doubt; although our politics differ here and thre I am thinking that the reason for all of this is as it is –high level terrorist suspects needed to start talking and these actions were deemed necessary.

Haggis – “The Impeccable Glory Of Eternal War”

Haggis is a Norwegian band with a lot of Oi-roots that does something that is hard to explain but for lack of a better genre could easily slip into ‘hardcore,’ though being inspired by something entirely different than Youth Crew. It is all the tough guy antics and war themed lyrics that make you smile at lines like “Can you imagine a more beautiful scene than tanks rolling into your city?”

Intense, strong and often comical.

Download here.

Frost Giant – “The First Veil Of Snow”

This is a very good Viking/Pagan metal project being done by a friend of mine, Matt Frost, and sounds quite impressive for a mere demo. There are many excellent tracks on this — my personal favorites being Of Blood & Sunset and Heathen’s Lament.

Matt is also heavily involved in just general punk/hardcore music so some of that influence can be heard as well.

It has already been told to me that I have the ‘go ahead’ to spread this music around so:

download it.