Monday, October 31, 2005

Welcome to the 21st Century

The new language being evolved is talking to/with another -- rather than the soliloquy style of the Associated Press and academic style -- which doesn’t recognize and involve the reader in the communication. In a sense, there is no communication going on but rather a one-sided lecture, or dump. The whole objective of that exercise is to display one’s superiority and dominance over the other -- rather than engage the other as a peer, and co-creator of that interaction. In other words, the writer doesn’t just write -- and reader be damned if they don’t understand it. What is centrally important is the shared understanding that should emerge from that interaction/communication.

It has profound implications for other venues such as the schools and universities. Many teachers think their job is to teach -- and the job of the student is to learn, but that it is not an interaction by which a shared understanding is emerging. The old model is just for the superior to insist that the inferior learn his point of view -- as though the student has nothing to contribute to the learning process. The student is simply acted upon by the instructor -- and both roles are reaffirmed. The student acknowledges his inferiority to the superior “master.”

In the new model of 21st century life, every individual plays all the roles, as it is appropriate for him to do so; at times he is the instructor and at others, he is the student. There is no struggle for superiority and dominance that is the justification for that interaction/communication. The tone of that communication tells as much or more than the actual words and arguments -- whether that relationship and regard is exploitative or not. An exploitative relationship seeks to establish that dominance. In a relationship between peers and equals, there is no energy wasted in that struggle -- as is common in much of the animal kingdom. Virtually all their communication and interactions is to establish and maintain that pecking order -- of who is more powerful than the other, on down.

Intelligent people realize such actions and activities are non- and counterproductive. So the object of language is not primarily to establish the superiority and dominance but to empower both. This is the language of the 21st century -- unlike that of the 20th century, dominated by the broadcast media, which gave rise to powerful propaganda campaigns because of this one-sided control of information and communications. That was the horror and abuse of media George Orwell, himself a journalist, warned the world about in his classics, Animal Farm and 1984.

When 1984 actually came around, the media proclaimed, “There is no danger here, everything is fine, we are in control.”

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Who's this Guy?

Welcome to my Blog
posted by Denny Hastert @ 10:09am (10/27/05)

This is Denny Hastert and welcome to my blog. This is new to me. I can’t say I’m much of a techie. I guess you could say my office is teaching the old guy new tricks. But I’m excited. This is the future. And it is a new way for us to get our message out.

Most of you know me as a coach by nature so I hope this gives you some inside access to the Republican playbook.

The internet is changing the way we share information. My office has been talking a lot about some of the conversations going on in blogosphere. So I thought, hey, I should start one and give you unfiltered updates on Capitol Hill.

Let me start by first saying that we need to keep our thoughts and prayers with the victims of Hurricane Wilma. There has been a lot of damage. It’s in the billions of dollars I’m told. But we were better prepared this time so the loss of life and property damage was not as bad as it could have been.

You know, we’ve had a rough hurricane season. All of our hurricanes have dealt a serious economic blow to the U.S. And that means we’re going to have to do some belt-tightening – throughout the federal government.

There have been reports that paying for Hurricane Katrina may cost upwards of $250 billion. I can assure you that we're not going to spend $250 billion - it's not going to cost that much. Congress has already passed legislation that provided $62.5 billion worth of immediate relief to help the Gulf Coast get back on its feet. Part of that money to made sure that kids have a school to go to, they're fed, they have power and clean water to drink -- basic necessities that we all take for granted. What we don't need to do is to spend more money now and worry about how to pay for it later. In the House, we're working on a plan that will include off-sets to pay for any additional spending, eliminate wasteful and inefficient government programs and cuts mandatory spending. But it will keep tax relief in place so that we can create jobs and continue to grow the economy.

Speaking of the Hurricane season, renewed attention has been brought to the way we refine gasoline in this country. Today, energy companies started reporting their 3rd quarter earnings, and while Americans paying were record prices at the pump, energy companies were making record profits.

This is America. And Republicans don’t believe in punishing success. But what are these oil companies doing to bring down the cost of oil and natural gas? They haven't built a refinery here in America since the 1970's. They've built refineries overseas, but nothing here at home.

We want some answers and you folks out there in the blogosphere do too. When are new refineries going to be built here in America? When is the Alaska pipeline deal going to be signed so we can get natural gas to consumers quicker? Conoco Phillips has reached an agreement with the state of Alaska on the pipeline. Exxon Mobil and BP need to do the same. These companies need to invest in America’s energy infrastructure and resources. Until they do, we're going to be asking some tough questions.

Well, there you have it folks. I’ve outlined some of our priorities: fiscal responsibility and energy. I’m going to keep updating this from time to time. It’s not that bad.

Looks like this old guy can still learn a thing or two. Until next time . .

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Freedom of Expression is not Free

As much as the new technologies have made it possible for voices that have never been heard to be heard, for those who have had easy access to the public, the danger is being overexposed -- and most have not adapted to these new realities.

It is much like the human body has evolved over million of years to covet every calorie it can, and in a short period of time, there is an excess of food, shelter and clothing -- and people's first impulse is to overconsume, get as much as they can, while the going's good, thinking the abundance and prosperity will soon disappear. So they haven't developed a shutdown switch to prevent them from gorging themselves into useless vulnerability.

So people given a microphone think they now have the power to shout expletives -- as their freedom of expression, of who they really are. Others who have the cameras turned on them, immediately take to obscene gestures and stripping naked -- with their 15 minutes of fame. And so with the writers, given easy access to publication, and knowing of the easy access of others, feel they must "weigh in" daily or momentarily, with their august and eagerly anticipated pronouncements.

The function of publications previously was to make them a fairly scarce resource -- and so writing and words got out judiciously. With today's abundance, many are misled into thinking more quantity is what is still necessary -- when in fact, the abundance creates the critical mass for the quantum leap into better, and not simply more writing, more opinions, more reading for reading's sake.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

District 21/23/25 Newsletter

The trick or treat for this month is that we're not going to have the usual monthly meeting on the fourth Wednesday at 6pm at the Hawaii Republican Headquarters, 725 Kapiolani Blvd. Many of our regular attendees will be off the island, and others are "too busy," so rather than swim upstream, trying to generate interest when people are anticipating the holidays, we'll wait for Bob Kessler's return in November, as the driving force behind these meetings, before we convene again.

Generally, people get very busy during this last quarter of the year, and don't get politically involved again until the campaigns become more apparent and organized -- and the districts meetings merge into the individual campaigns -- after the district, county and state organization conventions early in the beginning of the year. As usual, many of the districts without an elected incumbent, are wide-open to the possibilities -- so feel free to come up with some.

The Democrats, on the other hand, have only the big problem of deciding who among them to sacrifice for early retirement by running for governor against Linda Lingle. The major deterrent is that nobody cherishes the prospect of getting on the same stage and having to debate her -- because as good as she was in the last election, she's become much better, and there's nobody on the horizon, in the same category as a public speaker and debater, with her mastery of government issues and concerns.

In the past, many just got up and faked it, and since their opponents faked it too, nobody knew the difference. But now we know what authenticity sounds like, the standards have been raised. Rather than get too hung up on specific issues and outcomes, what is important is that we have a higher level of integrity, expectations and performance from our elected officials -- and if we think we could do a better job, that's what this country is all about -- the freedom to participate and even be the elected official.

What I think is most important is maintaining a constant intellectual and moral presence -- that is not controlled, as it has been in he past, by one political party and its accomplices, presumptuously speaking for the people, but not allowing the people to speak for themselves. That was the control by the old media hierarchies. Appeals to rectify these biases fell on deaf ears and so people everywhere realized that with the Internet, it is now possible to create alternative publications, often referred to as "blogs." That's probably where the major battles of the 2006 elections will be fought and won. In the past, they've popped up around the elections to provide misinformation, disinformation and confusion -- that gets picked up as fact by the mass media.

So I suggested that we create and sustain a blog that transcends this lifetime of political expediency -- that establishes and maintains a Republican voice throughout the year -- at . It's open to anyone's input and comments. Many say they check on it regularly but so far just lurk -- as readers often do for a while before contributing. There's a link to it on the Hawaii Republican homepage -- , as Blog! Publish your input as a comment and I'll repost it as a new entry -- if it merits more attention. But I allow all the comments without censorship -- which has long been the problem with most moderated forums in Hawaii. Freedom of expression seems to be a very difficult concept for the Island culture to embrace. Somebody is always claiming the right to speak for everybody else.

The real beauty and strength of this country is the inviolable right of each individual to speak for themselves. That's what this blog is about. I'm not claiming to speak for anybody else. That is the new blog style and why it is so effectively powerful. The power is not claiming to speak for everybody else; the power is speaking one's own truth for ourselves.

That's the shift with profound implications. We don't simply all stand around powerlessly telling the president or governor what to do; we provide our own insight that the mass media doesn't have room for, or isn't on their agenda. We can create our own media -- to ensure that our message gets out. We can't leave that to the kindness of others anymore -- especially now that we can provide that for ourselves. Even if we don't, the others assuredly will -- and have. Republicans are just naturally communicative and articulate, and should leverage that advantage. Change can come only when the underlying culture and society has a predisposition for change; otherwise, it will defend the status quo, increasing the resistance against change, and nothing can be done.

Friday, October 21, 2005

What's all the fuss about Harriet Miers?

Miers' only crime seems to have been thinking the President is one of the great leaders in American life, and not being reticent in expressing that sentiment -- an experience most mainstream media journalists have never experienced being said to/about them, and thus cynically concluding, she only said it trying to advance her own career ambitions -- as they would. Maybe she's not like them but is instead sincere and genuine -- something these columnists could never dare to imagine.

What is disturbing is this knee-jerk rush to prejudge, fomented by the demagogues of every stripe. Prejudice is prejudice, no matter what noble calling one claims it serves.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Government as the SuperBlog

Every time I attend one of those neighborhood board meetings, or other government forums, it’s obvious that it’s a dying breed rather than the future of government. Most there are of advanced age -- rather than the next generation of our leaders.

But the most distressing thing is that the entirety of the forum seems to be consumed in arguments over who is in charge and who is out of order. It’s really quite sad -- to see what many people’s idea of what government is all about -- the arguing, the bickering, the struggle for dominance -- while the audience in attendance wonders if they must be crazy to continue to attend such futility. That’s not what government should be all about -- but unfortunately, is what it has become. It is a dysfunctional relationship.

Could such forums become better -- or are there other possibilities that would better serve in this time and age? We could run these forums more productively by establishing a government superblog -- by which we could discuss anything, as well as provide for many government/societal functions that are presently costly as well as problematical.

The real lack in most people’s lives these days is not a lack of actual resources (food, shelter, clothing, etc.), but is the lack of information that enables them to feel that they are well off. In the new world of information, the person who is prosperous is one who thinks he is so -- because he has access to the information of the resources, as he actually requires it. Wealth is no longer just having a hoard of information and treasures that one has no use of. The new wealth is actual usefulness -- and not merely possessions in themselves, which of course, is the old concept of wealth, power and status.

But if one has what he needs, as he needs it, that’s all one needs. The amazing revelation is that one can only use so much -- what he is actually using. The rest used to give one a sense of psychological comfort in knowing he had his own personal stockpile of a certain resource he could tap for the appropriate moment -- which usually never came.

This bunker mentality is disadvantageous and counterproductive. One doesn’t need a standing position of status as long as one can act as a leader, as he desires to -- and can command that attention as he desires it. But he doesn’t need to remind others constantly of that status and dominance -- which is what the old government/political forums largely do. In many cases, that is the only thing they do -- reinforce the pecking order.

Even the newspapers serve this function -- of maintaining their control of the discussion, with selective reporting and editing. In an earlier time, people were less aware of that control but when there is actually a free press (Internet), the contrast becomes more evident. Schools and universalities have also been granted such monopolies of information control -- but now we know that far more is happening than we see through those institutions also. Instead of revealing the information, they limit the amount of information available -- by controlling it.

We now have the possibility and capacity of allowing all the information from all the citizens and sources -- as much as they would like to contribute to it. That is the government as the Superblog. It is the total contribution of the constituency -- hopefully and increasingly, to govern themselves.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

What a Difference a Law Makes!

Although Hawaii's gas prices are the highest in the country:

Before the gas caps, the newspapers were reporting that we never had it so bad.

Now that there are gas caps, the newspapers are reporting that we never had it so good.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

A Hypothetical Conversation Between the Traditional and the New

LB: I'm really confused -- who is the Republican base in Hawaii? The environmentalists (conveyance tax)? The minute percentage of Hawaiian's with a drop of "Hawaiian blood" (Akaka Bill)? Contractors for the rail boondoggle (increased GET)? Gas cap advocates Frank Young, Ron Menor and Marcus Oshiro (maintaining gas cap)? Mark Bennett, Joan Husted and Pat Hamamoto (AG attack on special needs children and MOU on substitute teachers) ? Teachers (teacher's contract that lowers entry-level pay, maintains enrollment ratio formula vs. a weighted student formula)?

Republicans (lower taxes, less government)?

I believe those in the first paragraph above have been appeased by the current administration and those in the second paragraph above have not only not been appeased, they have been ignored and even called "fringe elements" of the party. At the start of the Lingle administration there was hope of developing a Republican party (brand) here in Hawaii, I believe that tentative base has now been destroyed.

The public is confused. Democrat-Republican is now like Visa-Mastercard. There is no distinction here in Hawaii. Both parties are putting politics over policy and special interests over the welfare of all individuals of the state. Until the Hawaii Republican Party leaders figure out what "brands" them, they might as well throw in the towel -- which appears to have already happened. Schwarzenegger's words below should be the party's mantra.

"If you believe that government should be accountable to the people, not the people to the government ... then you are a Republican. If you believe a person should be treated as an individual, not as a member of an interest group ... then you are a Republican. If you believe your family knows how to spend your money better than the government does ... then you are a Republican. If you believe our educational system should be held accountable for the progress of our children ... then you are a Republican. If you believe this country, not the United Nations, is the best hope of democracy in the world ... then you are a Republican. And, ladies and gentlemen ... if you believe we must be fierce and relentless and terminate terrorism ... then you are a Republican. There is another way you can tell you're a Republican. You have faith in free enterprise, faith in the resourcefulness of the American people ... and faith in the U.S. economy…." --Arnold Schwarzenegger at the 2004 convention

MH: The Republican Base Is...
Those in Hawaii who think that a better society is not a divided Hawaii along ideological special interest advocacy. I think the Republican base of support are the vast majority of people who are constitutionally nonpartisan. The citizens of Hawaii don't like partisanship, and recognize that it is wrong -- and that is why most do not participate in the political process. They recognize that the only choices offered and allowed to them is to be a Democrat or a Republican -- and they don't feel comfortable with either bias. They actually want to be as fair and unbiased as possible -- but up to now, that was not possible, and the solution offered was bipartisanship -- which is not a solution either but merely reinforces the inevitability and legitimacy of being partisan.

There is a choice beyond -- that appeals to the universal strivings of all, which is this society beyond the partisanship, conflicts, arguments, lobbying, etc. But the media, doesn't offer them these choices -- funneling everybody into the old categories, labels, biases. People overwhelmingly don't want that. But if you engage them as human beings with the simple desire for happiness and fairness, they will talk to you about the many things of life. But trying to shove them in the old boxes, will not work, and that is the emerging thinking among the perceptive.

All that contentiousness between the left and right -- is not that important -- to the greater desire to get along. The political appeal has been to affirm these rifts -- and thinking people aren't interested. To them, living is important and not their ideas about life.

That kind of writing has already lost its appeal. Nobody's engaged in these longwinded rants and political screeds. They'll give you 500 words or 5 paragraphs to say what you have to say and then they will move on; the 500 words is not guaranteed, if you fail to talk to them in the first 100. The talking "to," is what compels them to listen -- in fact, they are not even aware of listening, or even the separation between the speaker and the listener. The old style political dialogue is a monologue, soliloquy, and the speakers don't realize that the audience have snuck out or refused to show up -- because he was so preoccupied in what he had to say, and not that anybody was listening.

I don't know how people can drone on -- totally unaware that their listener is not listening, and has already begun to walk out the door, which I see more and more at these political forums.

I personally don't engage in these fractious arguments -- don't give them any more energy and fuel. And that's what it takes to keep those ways of thinking alive. One needs to give energies to new life, new ideas -- that subsume all the others. And that is what I think is the all-consuming base of the Republican Party or any sociopolitical group at this time; it is the entity that does not just dominate the other and every other -- but subsumes the many into the greatest. The will to live in harmony and enlightenment is much greater than the drive to compete and win over everybody else -- and as people mature, they realize that it is not even a game that favors them.

At that point, many withdraw permanently from the community life in becoming increasingly isolated and alienated -- as they age -- which is ultimately fatal. That is the problem of aging anywhere, but particularly in Hawaii, when people have no allegiance to a greater entity than their family or tribe, whatever it is called. It's small and shrinks the world until their is just their own coffin away from the fullness of life.

And that is what people want -- while the old political divisions, assuredly cut them off, and they instinctively recognize that. They won't engage these battles in the terms you define for them -- in the traditional arguments between the Democrats and the Republicans, the left and the right; those have no appeal, and the arguments are not compelling. But the better society for all, can be imagined by everyone -- and that's where we should begin the discussion. In that discussion, that entrenched status quo, has no inherent advantage, and from the beginning, are running for their lives just to catch up.

LB: In other words, policy vs. politics. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness...ahh, that is something to strive for and protect!

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Better, and Not Just More Information, Effort

Hawaii Republican Chair Sam Aiona said he’d like to see me write a few words on this blog about this past Saturday’s workshop on grassroots organization and mobilization presented by the National Republican Party -- and how it differs from the old paradigm of grassroots organization. Chief among that is properly identifying one’s base -- and targeting the message and effort to that constituency -- unlike the old, of broadcasting to everyone randomly and equally, and consuming most of one’s time and efforts in those people and actions that are the least productive, which is usually, arguing with those whose sole purpose is to consume as much of one’s time and energy as possible. Upon identifying such people now, we quickly move on to the untapped multitudes, eagerly waiting to hear our message.

The Democrats still haven’t figured that out yet and still are relying on the increasingly ineffective and even counterproductive, random, broadcast approach, under the able guidance of Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean, and their attempts to steer the nation back into the ‘60s, by which they have perfect hindsight in knowing what to do. Meanwhile, Republican Chair Ken Mehlman, is charting a course through the 21st century, recognizing that the demographics of the present time favor a move to the “R” column, as people mature, with greater awareness of many choices and possibilities.

What’s most strikingly impressive of Republican gatherings is the manner in which they address one another -- as peers and associates, rather than as the rank and file, line managers, and the old assembly-line organization roles and charts. The Republicans are ahead of the game because of their early adaptation of the new technologies of information processing -- while the old mass model, doesn’t have that refinement and enrichment of information. In fact, in their world view, everybody is the same in one faceless, anonymous, generalized mass identity -- rather than having unique profiles that the new information technologies now make possible in identifying. That’s why it is not as important any more to mobilize masses on the Capitol Mall -- as to know how to reach, mobilize and empower the individual.

The Iraq War is a very fitting metaphor for this difference. One army hasn’t a clue as to where the others of their own army are, much less the enemy, relying on imprecise information and rumor, while the other army has virtual knowledge of where every soldier and ordnance is. Guess who will win?

The Democrats were the success story of the 20th century, but the 21st century is another story of which we are in the transition stage -- because of Republican values of individual initiative and improvement. It’s not a mass world anymore. It is a personalized world, according to one’s own tastes, abilities, predispositions -- and that is a better world, for everyone. It is not just the same world for everyone; it is the best world for each, individually, as much as they can make it, and have the freedom to make it happen. Far from being impossible, it is the only thing that makes sense anymore. One size doesn’t fit all -- never did and never will.

That is the essential understanding that distinguishes the organizational efforts of today’s Republicans -- and everybody else.

Friday, October 07, 2005

What We Need is an INFORMATION Superhighway

The biggest complaint of people living or visiting in Hawaii, is the lack of timely, good, unbiased information -- for which they think the traditional forms of the commercial media, should have as their duty, as the presumptive self-anointed fourth branch of government. However, that status is not a legal obligation but just the media’s selling point -- to their readers as well as advertisers. Unfortunately, in this model, information that is not profitable to propagate is usually not -- and the advertising medium may even insist, “If you want your word to get out, you’ll have to buy advertising, or we’ll provide only misinformation free.”

The editors become very powerful under this arrangement -- while assuredly, the public grows less powerful, less able, less informed, of all the options, and not what just one self-designated person (of limited understanding) may want everyone to know. In that information paradigm, hoarding information has value and profit to a few, controlling self-interested parties -- while the general public (consumer) is at their mercy.

We see this disadvantage often in even that last bastion of imagined free speech -- "the letters to the editors" -- in which what is selected and published, is whatever the editor wants to be revealed and not the total submissions, as their own exercise of power and importance. Few can resist abusing this trust -- especially in a culture in which everyone wants to get to the top, but few know what to do once they get there, except to keep everybody else down.

But the possibility now exists that there can be a total exchange of information -- if it becomes government’s quintessential task. The reason people make bad decisions is usually that they’ve been misinformed, rather than being inherently stupid. News and education have now become supplanted by the more generic information process -- because the technology that came into existence widely only ten years ago, made such a thing possible. It has produced such a rapid evolution in awareness that “computer-literate,” has become the new standard for being a literate, informed person.

It is not education per se that is valued; it is the information transmitted in that process that has value -- and now it is available to anyone who desires it. Of course, that has profound implications for those who have traditionally considered those activities “their turf,” which are the newspapers, schools and universities. It challenges and breaks down their exclusive authority by virtue of being in the proper pecking order -- and having “paid one’s dues.”

Two major controversies in political discussions today really boil down to this: that Bev Harbin in Hawaii and Harriet Miers in Washington D.C., have not properly “paid their dues” and moved up through the ranks in the "approved" fashion -- compliantly putting in one’s time, and in that process, becoming so inured to a way of doing things, that one no longer has the valuable insight of a newcomer (outsider), to recognize that things aren’t right just because it’s always been done that way. That is the new blood and ideas that every organization needs to stay vital, vibrant and relevant -- ready to take on new challenges rather than just retreating to the comfort of the unvarying past, merely repeating itself, as though there is no benefit from learning anything, and that improvement or any other way is not possible.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The Cure for Biased Partisanship

The cure for biased partisanship, is not, as the newspapers like to promote, more biased partisanship, or bipartisanship, but nonpartisanship -- to which they will scoff, that is not possible. “Everyone is partisan,” they will claim, “and only looking after their own interests.” I don’t know who they are talking to -- other than their own colleagues, but most people I talk to in Hawaii, have a decided preference to be nonpartisan and fair-minded. In fact, they regard unabashed partisanship, as embarrassing, and not something that should dominate the commentaries in public forums.

Yet many people think, that the object of public forums is to persuade, coerce, manipulate and deceive, rather than simply hear out. In the schools, communication skills are usually taught for the purpose of argument -- rather than more valuably, as information sharing, which in fact, is discouraged and punished. And so most grow up to think that debating, arguing, persuading is a mark of an intelligent person -- when in fact, it is among humans, one of the most unintelligent and counterproductive behaviors.

Up to the recent gubernatorial election, leadership in Hawaii has been mostly about this dominance over others and striving for power -- and one once got there, such leaders had no idea what to do but grab all the spoils. To them, that was the purpose of reaching the top -- to consolidate their own power. The shift in the paradigm is leadership that empowers rather than undermines the power of every individual to run their own lives. That’s a very hard habit to break since it is at the core of the media, schools and universities -- that what is best for their special interest group is necessarily what is best for all.

And that is what nonpartisanship is -- regardless of what people call themselves. It is the larger group every member of society belongs to. That is what the community dialogue should be -- and can be productively, but has been hijacked by powerful special interest groups, including and especially the institutions we assume are promoting unbiased information. We do not suspect, that they would primarily be serving their own interests -- over the interests of all, as much as their primary function seems to convince us that they alone, deserve all the spoils of society above everybody else -- or at least two, three, four times what everybody else is making as their own entitlement.

If they are in positions of power, privilege, or advantage, they will assuredly be defenders of the status quo, and want those injustices to continue forever. One of the most effective ploys in maintaining a privileged position, is to encourage everybody else to attack each other and divert their energies in those struggles. Those without this taste for unrelenting conflict will drop out of this “political” process.

In this manner, the energies of society are wastefully consumed in nullifying each other, so nothing positive can ever get done. Thus the status quo can be maintained and perpetuated. Understanding and seeing through this, is intelligent life in the universe.

So rather than ask, “Which is the Democrat and which is the Republican candidate?”, the better question is, “Which is the more unbiased, least partisan person?”, as those who would be the best representatives for all the people -- rather than who serves privileged special interests best. More biased partisanship, or bi-partisanship, is not the answer, but will produce more letters to the editors than hearing from unbiased, nonpartisan persons who threaten the old world view that society must be an unrelenting struggle of every narrow self-interest group attempting to dominate every other narrow self-interest group -- as the best of all possible worlds, if not the only possibility we are ever allowed to see and learn about.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Better Than Gas Caps, Rail, Recycling, Tax Increases

Bicycle sales boom in US amid rising gas prices

Oct 1, 9:14 AM ET

More bicycles than cars have been sold in the United States over the past 12 months, with rising gas prices prompting commuters to opt for two wheels instead of four.

Not since the oil crisis of 1973 have bicycles sold in such big numbers, according to Tim Blumenthal, executive director of Bikes Belong, an industry association.

"Bicycle sales are near an all-time high with 19 million sold last year -- close to the 20 million sold during the oil embargo in the early 1970s," said Blumenthal, whose association is based in Boulder in the western state of Colorado.

The US Chamber of Commerce says more bicycles have been sold than cars over the past 12 months.

In a country where most of the population still relies heavily on cars, some 87 million people have climbed on a bike in the past 12 months, Blumenthal said.

While less than car sales, bike sales generate about five to six billion dollars of business a year, he said.

Bicycles are back mainly because the sharp increase in gas prices has made them a practical alternative, said Paul Gaiser, owner of Scooter Commuter in Bethesda, Maryland.

"Above all it's the higher price of gas, but also it's concern for the environment and the cost of another car," Gaiser told AFP.

The average price of gas in the United States has increased 47.3 percent in a year, according to figures published last week by the American Automobile Association.

Gaiser believes the bicycle trend is no passing fad.

"Our sales have quadrupled in the last two months," he said. "I think it's a major paradigm shift. It's here to stay."

Cyclists on the streets of the US capital agreed.

"I bought my first bike six months ago to go to college. I could not do without it. It's faster in traffic and less expensive," said Erik Lubell, a student at George Washington University wearing a multi-colored helmet.

Near the affluent district of Georgetown, Stella Hardwood said she had a different motivation.

"I don't want to put on weight and my bike forces me to exercise," Hardwood said.

The superstar status of cycling champion Lance Armstrong, who has won the Tour de France seven times, has also helped spark interest in the sport.

The US government has also done its part to promote a more bicycle-friendly environment. Some 3.5 million dollars in federal money has been set aside to create cycling trails over the next four years.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

The Truth About the News

The truth is that 95% of what is presented by the mass media is unnecessary for most people to know; they would be far better off not knowing this information, as many are. It has become a form of entertainment, or preoccupation, with people who have nothing better to do, and the news will consume as much of one's time as one allows it to.

When people really have to know something, the procedure of choice is to search for the targeted information and find it quickly. The mass media mode is to passively allow them to feed information that one does not necessarily want or serve one's best interests, but is the ideal situation for absorbing propaganda. And so mass media has become a mass manipulation, or propaganda machine rather than a source of real information. Unscrupulous people, and they populate the newsrooms all across America, recognize it as their opportunity, because under the cloak of confidentiality and anonymity, it is possible for the mediocre to rise to the top and exclude talent and merit.

And so they attack the competent and enthrone the cult and culture of blame and mediocrity as their rule. There's just not too many takers among the intelligent and competent -- but for these editors, they get to be the big fish no matter how much they have to shrink the pond to remain so.