31 May 2007

Long Live the Dictatorship of the Proletariat!

For those of you who thought that communism was dead, take a quick trip to downtown Lexington, Kentucky, where (for a little while, at least) you can park for free thanks to the efforts of the Bluegrass Cell of the Red and Anarchist Action Network, who commemorated the fifth anniversary of their "diverse radical activity" by pouring industrial glue into the coin slots of 150 parking meters.

Read the full story here.

17 May 2007

Torture Regime

For all of my grievances against the Republican machine in the last several years (a mismanaged war sold on false pretenses, fiscal profligacy, negligent occupations in both Afghanistan and Iraq, blurring the lines between church and state, and forsaking the common good in order to maintain a small but devoted political cadre) nothing causes me more sadness and anger than the party's general equivocation or outright endorsement of torture in the course of our military campaigns. It is nothing short of heinous.

Earlier this week, the GOP candidates for the 2008 presidential election were posed an intriguing question. The following is from The Washington Post:

The scenario posited by questioner Brit Hume supposed that, after suicide attacks in several U.S. cities, a group of attackers believed to know about further strikes was captured off the coast of Florida and taken to Guantanamo. "How aggressively would you interrogate . . . ?"
John McCain was the only one of the ten to have explicitly stated that torture is unacceptable. The other candidates dithered, equivocated, or worse acclaimed the value of acts of torture. Rudy Giuliani (who Andrew Sullivan mused could become an American Vladimir Putin if elected) offered that he would tell interrogators to use "every method they could think of."

But to me the most scandalous response came from Mitt Romney. What he said was appalling. Again from the Post:

Mitt Romney, noting that "some people" have said we ought to close Guantanamo, boasted that "we ought to double Guantanamo," presumably doubling the international damage. He added that he liked to have suspects in Guantanamo because "they don't get the access to lawyers they get when they're on our soil."
The question of torture is existential. It cuts at the heart of who we are as Americans and what this republic stands for. To be so glib as to suggest that Guantanamo ought to be expanded when even the current administration is trying to find a way to shut it down is shocking. Whatever Mitt Romney is, he is definitely unready for the stark moral choices a President must face. Since the GOP is unwilling to take a firm stand, let me offer one: America is a beacon of democracy and good government.These are the principles upon which this nation was founded, and we must always strive to attain them. Therefore, we do not torture.This is a position I am willing to live by, and die by as need be. As a voter, I will not support a party that is silent on the matter of torture.

15 May 2007

Desktop Cartographer

I loved to draw maps as a kid. I would scrawl out maps of imaginary lands and fantastical cities. As some of you may know, I haven't entirely grown out of the habit.

I've found a romance and excitement in maps, and briefly I entertained the idea of going into cartography. My life took me in other directions, however, although in the last couple years I've been given the opportunity to produce maps using the amazing and powerful ESRI ArcGIS software. Although sitting at a computer hitting commands isn't what I had in mind when I envisioned cartography, I've found the end products to be just as rewarding. I spent the last two days preparing an informational map on West Valley City for our economic development staff. It's a rough draft still, but here it is. Enjoy. I hope all is well with you.

09 May 2007

Fly Away

Vox Civitatis is going to the European Union in the fall. my good friend Henry has plotted out a road trip that will take us through five countries in about as many days. Sounds insane, yes, but apparently it's payback for a road trip I took him on, through the great American desert. I'll also be spending a few days in Madrid, a city I've always wanted to see. While in a perfect world I'd have six weeks to roam Spain, it will be nice to genuflect before Guernica and Las Meninas before heading to Austria for eight days. That alone will be worth the airfare.

As for the road trip, our general plan (I think) is as follows:

Day 1: A scenic drive through Austria, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland. Arrive Zurich late afternoon.

Day 2: A liesurely short drive from Zurich to Geneva via Bern and Lausanne. After spending some time in Geneva, proceed to Lyon, France, for the evening.

Day 3: Lyon

Day 4: Head to Geneva early. Spend some time in Geneva and proceed to Verona. We may or may not spend the evening in Verona before returning to Graz, Austria.

I can't wait! Thank you for putting this together, Henry.

07 May 2007

Consumer Debt

Ah! well a-day! what evil looks
Had I from old and young!
Instead of the cross, the Albatross
About my neck was hung.

- Rime of the Ancient Mariner, by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

I thought I would commemorate the retirement of all my consumer debt this week, with the exception of my car payment. I've been paying for the mistakes I made during college, when I didn't have the sense to treat credit properly.

I'm celebrating by going to Europe in September. But I'll be paying cash for it.