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“This cylinder is provided under license and remains the property of Soda Club Atlantic, LLC.”  I swear to you that’s what it says on the label of the CO2 cylinder of the Soda Stream soda maker in my house.  All I could think was “WTF?!”  Here’s a physical object (with a bunch of compressed CO2 in it) and the “license” says that I don’t own the cylinder but rather I am granted a license to use it.  I was just stunned until my wife told me that the Calvert curriculum we’re using to home-school our two daughters is also under a similar license.  In fact the license there says the curriculum and books that we are using home-school our older daughter who is going into 5th grade cannot be used in two years to home-school our younger daughter who is going into 3rd grade?  Again…WTF?!?!

Let me get this straight – I paid for these physical objects and the agreement (whether it stands up in court or not apparently has not been determined yet) says that they don’t belong to me but in fact belong to the companies that made them and that I – as a private individual – am being given right to have them in my house.  What next?  Perhaps Dell will change their license to say that I have the right to use the computer I bought from them but that it really doesn’t belong to me and that I cannot put it up on eBay when I decide to get rid of it?  Perhaps Sony will want to charge me every time I turn on my TV to watch a DVD or Blu-Ray? At what point does ownership of a product ultimately transfer to the end user and becomes their property without some inane, asinine, and ridiculous attempt by the manufacturer to limit how their product is being used or control how the end consumer can dispose of it.  What next?  Perhaps publishing houses will tell you that the physical books you buy through Amazon or through a bookstore are not really your property but rather you’re being given a license to read the material and that they may revoke that license at any time – whereupon you must return the book (apparently Amazon already does something similar with their ebooks on the Kindle – remember the 1984 fiasco?).   It’s getting to the point that it feels like nothing really belongs to you – it’s all just provided under license – and it can all be taken away at any time…in some ways I guess you can think of life like that (assuming you believe in God or some other deity of your choice) – your life is not really your own – you’re only provided a “right to use” license and that may be revoked by the manufacturer at any time for any cause.  Sucks to be you.

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While I normally don’t always care for the New York Times‘ Nicholas Kristoff’s position on a variety of subjects, I have to say that today he definitely put together a very amusing satirical opinion piece.  “Bonuses for Billionaires” does a fantastic job of doing a tongue-in-cheek discussion of the position of the Republicans and the Tea Party stalwarts in Congress on the U.S. debt and how to get it under control.  But even more interesting than his satire in the piece is one of the comments left by a reader of the piece.  The reader, MNW, from Connecticut suggests the following (and yes, it has been making its way around the Internet in one form or another for a few months now so this is certainly not original – but I think the way this individual wrote it is the best):

What we need is a total reform of the Congress and here is a good place to start. Bring them up to speed with the population as a whole – what is good enough for us is good enough for them.

Congressional Reform Measures for the out-of-touch in the Congress.

1. No Tenure / No Pension. A Congressman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they are out of office.

2. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security. All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people. It may not be used for any other purpose.

3. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do.

4. Congress will no longer vote itself a pay raise. Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.

5. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.

6. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people.

7. All contracts with past and present Congressmen are void effective 1/1/12.

The American people did not make any contract with Congressmen. Congressmen made contracts for themselves. Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term(s), then go home and back to work.

The greatest welfare system in the country is that enjoyed by the Congress itself. The time has come to raise their taxes and to impose term limits upon their jobs – especially in view of the fact that they spend the greater part of their time working for nothing more than their own re-election.
Welcome to a new world order, congressional persons. Do join us all.

It would be lovely if this actually happened as I (and I’m sure many other Americans) feel that Congress is so out of touch with the American public – especially the middle class – and they have become a new breed of individuals – Homo Politicus – that some measure of reset is necessary.  I’m not some radical left-wing activist, nor am I a right-wing Tea Party supporter, I tend to be more middle-of-the-road…but I certainly feel that Congress no longer works for the American people…Congress works for the those who can enrich their lives…and that is not good for the rest of us.  Just my .02.

So Hamas and the Gaza flotilla folks would have you believe that Gaza is a squalid, ghetto like place where the people live in sheer and utter misery. That they are eeking out a living and barely scraping by to survive. That’s interesting…especially since it’s not true. Turns out Gaza has been improving considerably (even considering the two wars that Hamas fought with Israel in 2006 and in 2008 – 2009)…the problem is that the media doesn’t want to mention this – they only want to focus on the, yet again a new blood libel, that Israel is causing hardship and suffering on the people of Gaza (while casually ignoring the fact that Gaza shares a border with Egypt as well and the Egyptians, after Mubarak was ousted earlier this year, has “somewhat” opened their border with Gaza). The facts do not bear this out. A new website has appeared – The Flotilla Cruise Line – that shows evidence that Gaza is not the “one big squalid refugee camp” that the Hamas, the Palestinian Authority, and the Western liberal media would like you to believe. It shows pictures of Gaza’s 5-star hotel – The Grand Palace, Gaza’s first shopping mall (although it does not include a mention of the newest, 3-story, shopping mall in Gaza) and Gazan upscale restaurants.   Even the New York Times cannot deny that the situation is not so desperate the way the flotilla organizers would like to portray it:

 In assessing the condition of the 1.6 million people who live in Gaza, there are issues of where to draw the baseline and — often — what motivates the discussion. It has never been among the world’s poorest places. There is near universal literacy and relatively low infant mortality, and health conditions remain better than across much of the developing world.

“We have 100 percent vaccination; no polio, measles, diphtheria or AIDS,” said Mahmoud Daher, a World Health Organization official here. “We’ve never had a cholera outbreak.”

So what is the truth?  The truth is that the flotilla organizers as well as Palestinian sympathizers would have the world believe that Gaza is a squalid refugee camp where life hangs precariously by thin threads and that Israel is responsible.  The truth is that Hamas is the true source of the Gazans situation.  Hamas refuses to accept Israel’s right to exist; Hamas refuses to stop the rockets and the shelling coming from Gaza; and Hamas refuses to provide any information regarding the status of Gilad Shalit and refuses to allow the International Red Cross to meet with him to assess his condition – a clear violation of International law!

Israel has no obligation in throwing open it’s borders to an organization that is dead set on destroying it.  If the Arabs are so concerned about allowing free movement for the Palestinians in Gaza let them pressure Egypt to fully open the Rafah crossing.  It is beyond ludicrous that the bleeding liberal left of the world expect Israel to expose itself to more risk of attack.  Israel has a right to exist!  The Jews have a right to their ancestral homeland!  The Arabs in Israel enjoy a higher standard of living and rights that are denied to many of their brethren in their own countries – the right of free speech and the right to vote among them.

July 2011
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