Saturday, December 24, 2011

2011 Holiday Spirit Blog Carnival

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and welcome to The 2011 Holiday Spirit Blog Carnival . I've enjoyed this time of year for most of my life and have lots of wonderful memories of the time that I have spend with family and friends I hope that everyone will be able to share the holidays with family, friends, and other loved ones.  The last couple of years have been really busy me and I haven't been able to post near as often as I'd have liked nor publish as many of these and my other carnivals but I really wanted to get out at least one edition this year, to let you know that I still have the holiday spirit and would love to share some with all of you.

When I started the Holiday Spirit Blog Carnival the idea was to share stories, traditions, decoration ideas, gift ideas, about Christmas, Hanukkah, and other holidays celebrated this time of year.  I remember as a kid that the local telephone company had a program where you could call and every day they would describe how Christmas was celebrated in different parts of the world.  It was so interesting to hear about the traditions and customs of people around the world and that something like Christmas could be celebrated in so many different ways.  Even in our own neighborhoods we all celebrate differently than our neighbors and in our own special ways.    

I'm glad that you've taken time out of your busy holiday schedule to spend a little of it with us!


Kerry presents How to Decorate Your Dining Table for Thanksgiving posted at Interior Design Info.

Kerry presents How to Decorate Your Dining Table for Christmas posted at Interior Design Info.

urbanchristmas presents Creating a Christmas Village posted at urbanchristmas decorating ideas.

Gift Ideas

Bill Smith presents 5 Awesome Homemade Christmas Gift Ideas posted at Christmas 2010 Shop.

SteveR presents What to Buy for Christmas 2011 | Christmas 2010 Shop posted at Christmas 2010 Shop.

Jennifer Saksa presents Give A Gift of Memories posted at Do More With Software.

There are lots of travelers this time of year, people trying desparately to be with people they care about,  to find their "White Christmas" or a warmer Christmas, or just to escape.  Who knows maybe you've wanted to visit New York City at Christmas....

Jacqueline presents Scarborough - the city by the sea. posted at Footprints in the sand.

Andy Hayes presents Christmas Travel Tips: Why Travel for Christmas? posted at Travel for Christmas.

Bill Smith presents 10 Reasons to Visit New York City at Christmas posted at Christmas 2010 Shop.

Eric Nicolas presents Aug 15, NIAGARA ON THE LAKE HOTELS posted at Niagara Falls Blog at NiagaraFallsGetawayGuide.

Eric Nicholas presents Jul 16, TOP NIAGARA WINERIES AND THE JOYS OF BICYCLING posted at Niagara Falls Blog of NiagaraFallsGetawayGuide.

Jeet presents Stop at Devimane on The Way to Murudeshwar posted at TravelingBeats.

That concludes the The Holiday Spirit Blog Carnival for this year. Submit your blog article to the next edition of The Holiday Spirit Blog Carnival next year using our carnival submission form. Past and future editions can be found on our blog carnival index page. I hope that you've enjoyed this edition and we look forward to your next visit. Feel free to submit an article, give us your comments, and spread the Holiday Spirit to others. Look for The Holiday Spirit Blog Carnival to return around Thanksgiving 2012. Be sure to check out our other blog carnivals as well as our other posts. Happy Holidays everyone and I hope that 2012 is a great year for you and your family.

Photo credit: Picture taken of our dog Hobbit shortly before his first Christmas in 2008.


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Blog Action Day 2011- World Food Day

Welcome to Blog Action Day 2011, where the theme this year is food.  There are a few things in this life that have such a universal impact and application as food.  Everyone needs food to survive regardless of your nationality or religion, regardless if you're rich or poor, regardless if you're single or have a family to raise, food is something that touches is all daily.  For this reason, the people at Blog Action Day, have selected a wonderful topic for this year's event. This year's event will happen along with World Food Day. I thought that I'd touch on several of the suggested topics that were suggested for the event.

I've been involved in Blog Action Day since 2007 and really like being part of a blogger community that can come together yearly on a single subject to bring awareness to that subject.  This year Blog Action Day is expected to involve more that 2,250 bloggers from over 100 countries and since 2007 more than 10,000 bloggers have participated.

What is your favorite food?  It doesn't matter who you are, you're bound to have a favorite food, dish, or recipe.  For many of us there are some wonderful (and sometimes not wonerful memories) associated with our favorite food.  Maybe your favorite food is your mom's meatloaf or that cherry cobbler that your grandma used to make, or it might just be the new recipe that you're planning for today or the next thing that you're going to cook.  What is your favorite food?

Depending upon when and where you've grown up (or are growing up), you've probably heard that there are straving people in Africa.  This might have been used by your parents as a tactic to get you finish eating everything on your plate (or at least eat more of what is on your plate).  There have been lots of droughts and famine thoughout the years and Africa has certainly plagued by a lot of them.  I'm sure that many of you have often wondered what you could do to help out the people in areas of the world that are afflicted by famines and droughts.  You may have even made donations to organizations helping in this area or given your time, certainly there is lots of work to be done in this area.

Are you organic in your food consumption? Everyday more and more people are eating more and more organic foods.  There is more and more of an effort to grow our own food or buy food from local farmers that grow food organically.  More and more people are wanting to get away from food that is produced with chemicals, pesticides, and a host of unnatural and unhealthy things that can do all kinds of things to our bodies that are not even fully studied or understood today.  The expression that you are what you eat comes to mind.

Do you find yourself eating a lot of "fast food" or do you eat more "slow food"? While it is easy to assume that everyone knows what fast food is, in many parts of the world there is no McDonalds or even a local supermarket with perpared food that you can eat immediately, heat in the microwave, or cook rather easily in the microwave.  People that love to cook will likely cook more of their own meals and savor the process of making their meals.  People that have decided to live healthier lifestyles and have made eating more healthy a priority will have more "slow food".  With the hustle and bustle of many of our lifestyles, there are plenty of people that don't have the time to sit down to a meal at their home and will grab something on the run.  How much slow food do you eat?

What is the environmental impact of the food that you eat?  You might have heard about your carbon footprint, or how much carbon dioxide is created as a result of things that you do and choices that you make but have you given any thought to the food choices that you make?  The Blog Action Day website estimates that it takes 24 liters of water to produce just a single hamburger and that it would take 19.9 billion liters of water to make just one hamburger for every person in Europe.  There are plenty of other environmental impacts based on our food choices but this an more obvious one that is easily understood.

Are you a vegan, vegetarian, or meat eater?  There are variety of differing lifestyles that people are living.  Some people have food alergies and shy away from certain foods or have to take some kind of pill or medicine to be able to eat the foods that they're alergic too. Some people don't eat dairy, others might not eat beef or red meat, some might only eat meat occassionally, while others eat meat every day.  Many of the world religions have guidelines and rules for what we can and cannot eat as well as all of our personal tastes and beliefs on this.

It is projected that there will be 9 billion people on our planet in 2050.  How will we be able to feed all of these people?  How will our rapid population growth effect world and local politics and the use of our planet's limited resources?  We don't seem to be doing so well in feeding the people we have now, what kind of planning our we doing to cope with so many people on this planet?

Everyday lots of food is wasted and thrown away.  There are lots of reasons for this and lots of justifcations that are made but there is a lot of food that is thrown away and not benefiting the people that could really use it.  There are health regulations in place that restuarants and stores have to follow about food that isn't eaten or sold.  At the household level there is plenty of food that goes bad because we haven't eaten it in time or that we just throw away.

You don't need to watch too nuch television or read too many articles before you stumble upon some story about malnutrition in our society today.  You hear more and more about the problems of obsesity in American and the various health related problems of diabeties, heart disease, cholesterol, and high blood pressure.  This is often attributed to lifestyle choices, but malnutriion in much of the world is not a lifestyle choice made by the people themselves but forced on them by a variety of circumstances.  The local soil may not support very many crops, they may not have access to clean and safe water, the people might not be able to afford to buy enough land to grown their own food, or any other number of legitimate reasons that they're not able to properly feed themselves (not to mention famine and war).

More and more people are growing their own food.  This gives them more control over how the food is grown, what chemicals and pesticides are used in their growth, and there is a satisfaction that comes from growing what you're putting on your plate.  There are plenty of challenges with growing your own food, such as having enough space to grow what you want to grow and having the right conditions to grow what you want to grow.  Many crops take weeks and months to grow to the point where they can be eaten which requires additional planning so that you have enough to eat or can supplement what you grow.  Learning how to grow what you need takes time and is a learning experience.  Lots of people have gardens just for the fun if it with no real plan for this to be their main source of food, they enjoy their connection with nature.

What is the best way to farm food? Over the years many of the family farms have been sold or foreclosed and less and less land is being used to produce food.  Many of he bigger farms become corporations that are only looking after their bottom line and not necessarily the health and well being of the general public.  If proper crop rotation is not done, the land is striped of valuable minerals needed to grow crops and the soil can be damaged and the types of crops that can be produced becomes more and more limited.  When farms use hazaordus chemicals and pesticides in the production of food, much of these chemicals and pesticides are carried off into the local water ecosystem and end up in our rivers, lakes, and oceans.  More and more farms are factory farms where animals are gaged up in small areas and never really get to move around.  In some cases is is possible to buy "free range" products, meaning that the animals are able to move around outside of small cages.  There have been a few cases of mad cow disease and other scares that make you question of ability of the regulatory agencies to do the job that they've been tasked with.  Cutting the budgets of these agenices doesn't make any of us really safer.

What does food mean to your culture? I've lived in America for much of my life as well as having lived in Germany for a few years, so I've been able to experience what food means in two different cultures.  I know how Germans and Americans like to grill in the Summer and when the weather permits.  With so much of what we do, food is often playing a central or key role.  There was a time when a lot happened at the dinner table what does food mean to your culture?

I hope that you'll think about some of the things that I've written, check out the Blog Action Day website and some of the other posts that are part of this year's event.  There are lots of ways that you can participate in this year's event and make an impact that goes beyond today. With some major elections going on next year in the U.S. we have the chance to let the candidates know that food does matter to everyone. 

You might also want to check out:

My Blog Action Day posts from 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010.
*Note last year I did a series of posts for Blog Action Day including an experiement with, so the post mentioned for 2010 is a recap and includes links to what I did last year.

Photo credit:
"Harvest" courtesy of djackson44

Saturday, September 24, 2011

2011 Frankfurt Autoshow

The 2011 IAA (Frankfurt Autoshow) is now open. I spent two days last week wondering around checking out what was new.  I decided to put together a presentaton of SlideShare (shown above), so that you can see more pictures and just to see if this can enhanse the experience of more traditional blog posts.

So Much to See...

While my presenation gives you quite a taste about the show, there is still so much more to see and experience, if you go there.  I took over 1000 pictures which I uploaded to three albums in Flickr, so you can see the vehicles from the presentation from various angles as well as seeing lots of other exciting vehicles that aren't pictured in the presenation. Most every automaker selling cars and trucks in Europe as well as several suppliers and aftermarket companies have presence at the autoshow.  There are high end luxary vehicles from Rolls Royce and Bentley.  There are the usual Italian suspects of Ferrari, Lamborghini, Masserati, Alfa Romeo, and Lancia.

Customization, Customization, Customization...

There is more and more vehicle customization.  Masonary, Techart, Hammon, and Alpine all offer a wide varitey of customizations for high end cars and trucks, while Brabus offers the ability to make your Smart standout without draining your bank account. Brabus had 3 new models on display including a Supercar, a hybrid, and all elecric vehicle. 

Hybrids and Electric Cars...

At the 2009 IAA, I was impressed by the number hybrids and electric vehicles on display.  This year there are way more of these types of vehilces avialable and more of them are actual production models that you can actully buy, so there is a lot of progress being made here.

Mobility and Social Media...

Many of the automakers are planning and doing some interesting things in the world of Mobility and Social Media.  In my experience Mobility was an effort by some automakers to make their vehicles more accessable for handicapted and people with disabilities, now the term is more about allowing customers the ability to have a mobile life style that includes doing all kinds of thing from inside and outside of your car.  There are more and more plans to use the cloud so that users can access their data at home, on the go, and now in your car.  More and more companies are seeing that they can gain more customers and keep them by offering more and more non-traditional services around cars and trucks.  Ford has the Evos on display, which is their social car and shows many of the things that Ford is currently working on in this space and many of the ideas and features are likely to make their way into production in the near future. When I talked to a woman at TomTom, she told me how TomTom developed an iPad app based on feedback and requests from TomTom users.  More and more TomTom devices are being sold as standard and otpional equipment with more and more models.  Some TomTom devices allow you to Tweet at various parts of your trip and to announce when you arrive. There will be more and more possibilities to interact with family and friends in ways that were only imgination a few years ago.

I had a blast at the Frankfurt Autoshow and could have spend several more days just looking around.  There are tons of interesting concept cars giving us a peak into the near future as well as lots of vintage cars and old timers which can be our window to the past.  Its too bad the autoshow is only every other year, so if you miss it this time you'll have to wait till 2013! I hope you get a chance to go and if not, why not check out my pictures on Flickr.

My Flickr albums can be found at...

2011 IAA Frankfurt
2011 IAA Frankfurt part 2
2011 IAA Frankfurt part 3

My post from the 2009 show can be found here.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

It All Ends Here

After years of waiting, the last Harry Potter film has been released. There has been a big promotional campaign that said "It All Ends Here". Aside from Warner Brothers and the people behind the film wanting to get people all excited about the movie and wanting to see the final Potter film, you have to ask does it really all end here?

Like lots of other people, I recently watched the last Harry Potter film. Although I would have loved to have seen the film with all the fans at LeakyCon (a convention behing held for Harry Potter fans in Orlando, Florida this year) or some other large fan viewing, my viewing at a local theather with 3D is the experience that I had. Like many Harry Pottter fans, I've been eagerly awaiting the last fim, but have also been saddenned to think that this is the last Harry Potter film and that there will be no more. No one likes to see the end of something that has touched them in so many ways. For many of us fans, the characters of Harry, Ron, Hermione, and countless others have transended the written page and become a part of our lives. It is sad to think that there will be no more "new" adventures with the trio.

I was in Paris last week on a business trip and I was amazed at all of the Harry Potter posters that you could find every where in and on the Metro. While saying that Harry Potter took over the Metro might be a bit exagerated, is did seem that every time I turned around that Harry and Voldemort were there, heightening the anticipation for the final film. It will be interesting to see how well the "It All Ends Here" campaign really did and how many people went to see the film because of it. I wonder how many people that are new to Harry Potter will see the movie and how many fans will have realized that the last film is out because of the campaign or how many would have gone to see the movie even without the campaign?

The Harry Potter series and franchise has done so many things. The book series is largely responsible with encouraging tons of kids to read. I'd be curious to know how many kinds really got into reading because of Harry Potter. The series has been an elixiar for the whole fantasy world. It has encougaged countless authors to write fantasy (and non-fantasy as well). While I can't definatively say that there is more fantasy out there because of Harry Potter, I can say that Harry Potter has engaged the fantasy and imagination of generations including millions of readers and viewers of the movies. I believe that it has been largely resonponsible for the reimmergence of much of the fantasy world that is doing well today. Would Twilight and the vampire world be what they are today if the Harry Potter influence wasn't there? The book and film series have shown movie makers and book publishers that there is a huge market for fantasy and openned up the door for many of the projects that we've seen in the fantasy world in the past few years.

While fandoms are not a new thing, Harry Potter has inspired fans to do all kinds of things. A few years ago I stumbled upon a podcast called Harry Potter Prognotications and really enjoyed hearing Greg and Penny speculate on how Harry Potter would end. Later on I discovered MuggleCast, a podcast that was started in 2005 and has over 200 episodes. MuggleCast is the podcast for the fansite MuggleNet. A few years ago the Harry Potter convention was born, and they've been hosted yearly in locations like Dallas, San Francisco, and in the last two years they've been hosted in Orlando. Last year's convention coinsided with the openning of the Wizzarding World of Harry Potter theme park. Midnight Harry Potter book releases became leggendary. I even bought one of the books at a release in 2005 myself.

For me, another interesting aspect has been the whole social media aspect of Harry Potter. The first Harry Potter book was published before many of the social media sites that many of us are familar with but the series and franchise has accepted and used social media like no other book and social media has embraced Harry Potter like few other books and series. All of the podcasts that I mentoned above are using Twitter, Facebook, Tumbler, and a host of other social media sites and tools to let their listeners and readers be a part of the whole experience. Harry Potter has also become an example of how other books can use social media to market and greatly enhance the experience for their readers and fans. It has been quite an experiment to see the kind of communities that have emerged. I wonder how many Harry Potter groups have been set up in Facebook or how many tweats have been Harry Potter related.

As you can see I have embraced Harry Potter and am glad to see that J.K. Rowling has recently announced PotterMore. This really excites me because of the world of possiblities that I can imagine. She'll be releasing all of the books as ebooks and there'll be a whole lot of content released there which will provide all kinds of back story and information that fans will love to know about. Fans will be able to read along with PotterMore from the beginning. The ebooks and PotterMore will allow a totally new experience for readers that are new to Harry Potter and will captivate new generations of fans while quentching the thirst of fans of Harry Potter that have already read the books. I like that J.K. Rowling announced this before the last movie was released, so this is a way for fans to not be as sad as they otherwise would have been, had the movie really been the end of Harry Potter.

So while this might be the last Harry Potter move, this by no means the end of Harry Potter to all the old fans and new fans. The fans look forward to seeing the last film but to also seeing what wonderful things J.K. Rowling has in store for us at PotterMore.

Photo credit: Above is a picture that I took of one of the many Harry Potter promototional posters on the Metro during my recent visit to Paris.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Thank You, Oprah!

After 25 years, the last episode of the Oprah Winfrey show aired in American on Wednesday. 25 years is a long time doing anything, but 25 years in television is quite something. I just wanted to take a few moments to tell Oprah thank you.

I knew the the end of her show was coming but somehow I had it in my mind that the show was going to end in September, so I was a little caught off guard when I noticed at article on Mashable asking what was next for Oprah Winfrey. Since I'm not living in the U.S., I managed to avoid the media blitz that lots of people were tired of I'm sure! If you're tired of hearing about the end of the Oprah show, then by all means feel free to skip this article.

When thinking of the end of the Oprah show, I had to think back to the last Tonight Show featuring Johnny Carson. I'm sure that lots of people will make the comparision because both ended their long running television shows without guests and while some people will probably say that Johnny was better, I have to say that Oprah and Johnny are and were two class acts. In a world where so much is fake they both are genuine and have reached heights that few people will ever reach and that most people can only dream about.

The Oprah Book Club got to be so big that being mentioned on the Oprah show was often enough to get a book into the New York Times best seller list. I included Oprah in 100+ People That I Want to Meet and still I would like to meet her. When she started tweeting, it was certainly a high point for Twitter and you have to wonder how many people checked it out just because Oprah was doing it. How many people have forgotten that Oprah and Whoopie Goldberg were an intergal part of "The Color Purple"?

How many people has Oprah inspired to improve their lives and to chase after that impossible dream? How many people has she helped over the years on her show? Although, Oprah said "I won’t say, 'goodbye.’ I’ll just say, 'until we meet again.’", this was goodbye to the Oprah show. I wish her the best with her future projects and hope that she'll keep making a difference in the world in the lives of millions of people that she'll never meet. Oprah, for all that you've done and continue to do, I'd like to thank you.

Below are some other articles that you might want to read about Oprah and the final show.

"Oprah's tearful final episode"

"Why did Oprah matter? Will she ever again, on her OWN?"

"LIVE BLOG: Oprah Winfrey's Last Show"

"Live Blogging Oprah's Final Show"

"Oprah Farewell Gets Spiritual"

"Oprah. Uma. Uma. Oprah."

"The best Oprah emails to Opera (the browser)"

Note: The video clip above came from "The faithful bid Oprah farewell"

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Osama Is Dead, Now What?

It has been a few weeks since President Obama announced that a mission had been conducted that killed Osama Bin Laden. This has raised lots of questions, some of which won't be asked, but probably should.

Disclaimer: I try to stay away from political dicussions (at least within my blogs) for a variety of reasons. One of the biggest reasons being that you're likely to offend someone and I'd rather work postively and not destructively, I want my audience to grow and readers to come back often. I'd really like to stay away from the hatred and intestity that can come from discussion of Osama Bin Laden and what he has done to America and the world, but I thought that I did have something that I wanted to say. If you don't wish to read this and would like to read more of the "normal" content usually published here then please feel free to skip over this, if you do feel like reading further, than you're welcome to do so!

I tend to believe that there are good people in most walks of life and that if we work together and have the right people working on it, that humanity can solve some difficult and challenging problems. For this reason I find Osama Bin Laden and what he has done to us just heart wrentching. Now that he is gone, I hope that we can look at this and I'll be discussing this throughout this article.

There has been a lot said about how American was celebrating his death and I've seen some good articles on how we should feel now that he is dead. Further down in this post I'll tell you where you can find some of these articles. There have been some truly "evil" people throughout the history of mankind and there is little doubt that the world is a better place without him planning attacks and murdering people that didn't do anything to him. It is good that the world is rid of his hatred and contempt for humanity.

September 11th Was a Defining Point in History

Septembert 11th was one of those defining periods in the history of mankind. The world that we lived in before it happend is totally different than the world that has come afterwards. No matter how hard we try, we can not return to the pre- September 11th world, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't try. I believe that we should look at what has happened since September 11th and look at where things were prior to this and where we want to go and decide how we want to get there. With Osam Bin Laden being gone, we now have a good chance to do this and we should take advantage of this opportunity.

Modern Day Crusades

One of the biggest outcomes of the September 11th has been the War on Terror. With the War on Terror there has also been a widdening of the gap between Christian-leaning people and Muslims. Osama Bin Ladden has been able to fan the flames of hatred and distrust. I hate to see one person or a handful of people cast such a awful light on any particular religion. I've had concerns that the whole War on Terror could very well lead to a modern Crusade pitting Christians against Muslims and pitting other groups against each other. There has been enough genocide in our histroy and we certainly don't need any one group trying to exterminate another. We need to find more ways to unite people than to divide them.

Costs of Wars in Afganistan and Iraq

In the aftermath of September 11th, wars in Afganistan and Iraq have been fought. The "costs" of these have been very high on America and the world. Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes have estimated the cost of the Iraq War alone being $3 Trillon in the book "The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict". As their book was published in 2008, I'm not sure how time since then has effected the cost, but I've read accounts that make that figure seem very conservative. In addition to putting a monetary figure on the costs, there are lives that have been lost (troops, combatants, and civilians), the families that have been torn apart, and the large number of disabilities and amputations faced by our service peoples. In Afganistan and Iraq the American military have used a lot of national guard personnel, which means that these people have not been able to contribute to society via their regular jobs during their tour(s) of duty. There is also the opportunity costs (I'm sure the we can all think of a lot of ways the money could have been better spent!). So many people have been taken in the prime of their lives, what might these people have contributed to society within their lifetimes? What about the children, grandchildren, and future generations that wont't exist because of the deaths of those that have lost their lives in the War on Terror? What kind of talent won't the world have because of these wars? What might all of these people accomplished? The list of other costs can become quiet extensive.

The Post Cold War World

The Cold War ended and the world should have taken the time to think about what dirrection we wanted to go. We should have done some serious evaluation of what we've done during the Cold War, and thought about what kind of adjustments we need to make. The Soviet Union no longer wanted to "bury" us, in fact they no longer exist! The whole Cold War mentality needed to be dropped and/or changed. Institutions that were created or fundamentally changed because of the Cold War needed to be evaluated. Think of all the billions and trillions of dollars being spent in ways that don't make sense any longer! The way the world functioned during the Cold War wasn't necessarily be the best way to continue, how would the world function in the post Cold War world? America spent a ton of money arming itself with nuclear weapons and we now have what President Eisenhower referred to as the "military industrial complex", where it is in the interest of the companies that make all kinds of war-type machinery and associated supplies that the government feels the need to keep buying all that stuff. President Eisenhower was a great American five star general, so he is not someone that would be considered soft on the military. You should listen to his farewell address, you can find it on YouTube. It is hard to get a true picture of how much money is truly spent on Defense by America because it is hidden in several parts of the budget (if you can even find it listed in the budget at all) After several decades of the Cold War, America did not need to jump right into another proloned and endless war.

What Freedoms Have We Lost Since September 11th?

Dan Carlin did a really good episode of his Common Sense podcast where he talked about some of the freedoms that we've given up since September 11th. Think about having to take your shoes off or being frisked just to fly on a plane. The Bill of Rights certainly isn't the same as it was pre September 11th! The desire to be more secure and to have security is well on its way to being the next military industrial complex, with new threats always being around the corner. When you spend all that money on securiity, terrorists will look for other easier targets, and you've spent all that money (something that the terrorits probably wanted you to do anyways). How many people are on the various terror watch lists and how many of them are there by accident. This seems like a modern day witch hunt. What kind of things are our governments doing in the name of security and national interests, more transparency is needed to make sure that the powers of governments are not being abused.

War on (fill-in the blank)

The War on Terror is the latest in a series on unsuccessful "War on (fill-in the blank)". There has been a War on Drugs, War on Crime, and countless other "War on (fill-in the blank)". Have we ever really won any of them? There have been huge costs associated with them and in some (the War on Drugs in particular) we've seen more of our freedoms evaporate. There has to be a better approach than declaring a war on something. I'd like to see more use of the entrepaneur and pioneer spirits in combating the true problems at hand. Often the "War on (fill-in the blank) is only trying to address a symptom and not even getting at the root cause of the problem. Instead of fighting another "War on(fill-in the blank)" on Terrorism, we should try to get to the roots of what causes Terrorism. The definition of a terrorist really depends on who is defining it, in many cases we don't wish to address the real problem, so we just label a group of people terrorsts, but this doesn't really solve the problem and the list of terrorists gets bigger and bigger.

War on Terror

When is the War on Terror really over? Because a war on Terror is not like any traditional wars fought in the past where there is a clearly defined enemy living in a particular country or political state, there is always more terrorists coming out and the ability to get them all is not very realistic (or affordable given the ever expanding, uncontrollable deficit spending of the Federal and other goverments). I would argue that since Osama Bin Laden is not arround to lead the "other side", that we should end the whole war and the way that we've been fighting it. We should at least look at the approach that we've taken so far. Already, I've seen reports that name a successor to OBL, which makes me think that there will be a huge effort made to keep doing what we've been doing, but we cannot affort to keep doing what we've been doing. Perpetual war won't solve our problems, it will only bankrupt us, finanacally and morally.

The Arab Spring

It is encouraging to see what is being called the Arab Spring, Many of the people, in several Arab countries, have demostrated and expressed that it is time for change and that their authoritarin dictators are no longer wanted. Maybe, like the former Eastern Block countries were able to get rid of their oppressive authoritarian leaders, the Arab world will be able to do the same. Many of the dictators that have been in power during the Cold War and post Cold War period were supported because stability was wanted and they were seen as a good ally in the Cold War era. 20 and 30 years with the same president and is not democracy and is probably not what most people in those countries want. Promoting dictators who really aren't looking after their people and are only looking after their own personal interests is something that America and the rest of the world should really rethink.

What Can We Do?

Since the 5th Anniversary of September 11th, Project 2996 has been on a mission to celebrate the lives of the victims of September 11th. Every year starting with the 5th Anniversary, they encouraged people to post online tributes honoring the victims and the lives they led. I discovered them while I was researching a post that I did for the 6th anniversary of September 11th. I've participated in the project with posts I've written for the 7th, 8th, and 9th anniversaries. On of their main goals has been to see that there are tributes for each and every single victim. I'd love to see them reach this goal and hope that through their efforts (and the efforts of many others) that the world will have a better idea of who we lost on that tragic day.

Prepare New York

Recently I found and joined the social network Prepare New York. A newletter that I recently received from them stated that "Prepare New York is a coalition of New York based interfaith organizations including-Auburn Seminary and its Center for Multifaith Education, Interfaith Center of New York, Intersections International, Odyssey Networks, Quest, and Tanenbaum and its Religion and Diversity Education Program, who are committed to preparing New York City (and the nation) for the 10-year anniversary of 9/11 by promoting civil dialogue, education about religious pluralism, support for the Muslim community, and coordinating events on the day of the anniversary. September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows and 9/11 Communities for Common Ground serve as advisers to the coalition." I've seen several posts refered to from their main page that discuss how we feel since Osama Bin Laden has died and how we should feel. It has certainly caused a wide range of thoughts and feelings on how we should feel and act. If you live in the New York/New Jersey area, any other area affected by September 11th, or just would like to see the world move in a postive direction "Post September 11th" and post Osama Bin Laden's death, I'd suggest checking out Prepare New York.

2012 Elections

In 2012 there will be all kinds of elections. Now would be a good time to let our "leaders" know that we don't want life to continue as it has since September 11th, that we want to see and end to the "War on Terrror". We should look for candidates that aren't going to only promote to continue to keep things the way that they have been. We should look for candidates that are thinking about the future. Who is running that really wants to build a world that our children and grandchildren can live happily in? Don't vote for candidates that are really only concerned with speaking out on behalf of their campaign contibutors. We need real leaders not just politicians that are "bought and paid for".

Since Osama Bin Ladden has died, I think that it is time to end the "War on Terror", declare "Mission Accomplished" and start healing the wounds that we've had since September 11th. I hope that we as a nation and the world will be able to get to the point again where we can have civilized discussions about topics that we might not agree on, without all the hatred and name calling that have come to be common place. I hope that we can once again care for other people, showing a respect for others instead of distrust and disregard. It is time build a proper post Cold War world that will be sustainable for generations to come. If we can do all of this, then we will really have something to celebrate. Osama Bin Ladden is gone, and so one of the most evil men in our history won't be around to plan and carry out further death and destruction.

Photo credit: Blue flowers courtesy of bertvthul.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Prince William Married Kate And I Passed the PMP!

You might have been wondering where I've been the past couple of months? One of the biggest things that I've done has been studying for the PMP exam. On Friday Prince William married Kate and I passed the PMP. While much of the world was watching the pagentry of the royal wedding and the associated festivities, I was busy answering questions on the PMP exam. You can read more about this here.