...as in the imperative (i.e. you, youth, progress). This blog is updated by politically active young people. Issues that will be discussed are those which concern young voters and are of concern to young voters.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Welcome to Virginia, Felix...

...the state whose populace will evict you from your Senate office, and send you packin', bags and carpets and all, back to SoCal or your Nevada Dude Ranch.

Last month, the polls showed that you lead Webb by 11 points. But you couldn't keep your mouth shut. You called one of my fellow Webb volunteers a "Macaca," an ethnic slur for an Indian-American. Perhaps you thought you could get away with it; you didn't anticipate that the person who was filming you on behalf of our campaign would actually bring back the tape that shows you committing a flagrant act of racial hatred. No matter, what's done is done.

But now you have to deal with what is done. You released a half-assed apology through your campaign. Through your campaign manager, Dick Wad(hams), you claimed not to know what a "macaca" is. You claimed that you made it up, that you arbitrarily babbled an anti-Indian-American slur to a person who just happened to be Indian-American. But we know that you're lying, Felix. You're well-versed in the language and ideology of hatred.

In fact, here's a clip of you in your singing debut:

Yes, Hurrah for racism and slavery! Speaking of which, Here's Wolf Blitzer's coverage of you calling S.R. Sidarth a "macaca:"

And now, let's discuss the fallout: Remember how I told you that you were 11 points in front of Webb in July? According to Rasmussen, that lead has been cut by more than half. Your lead is now 5 points, and under 50% of Virginians endorse your reelection. And Webb is gaining fast. This isn't just a short term spike in Webb support, you were ahead at one point by as much as 26 points, according to some polls. What could be driving Webb's success? The fact that he doesn't support Bush 97% of the time could be the answer. As Steve Jarding said to us Webb volunteers this month, "when one person agrees with another person 97% of the time, one of them doesn't need a job." For more ideas, I would check the cartoon above, it's pretty damn accurate to say the least.

And here's to you. Rather, here's to your running mouth. It's as good of a friend as an opponent could have in a democratic country.

More Information:

Raising Kaine - The Voice of Progressive Virginia

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

WaPo: More Students Eyeing College Opt to Take ACT

More Students Eyeing College Opt to Take ACT - The Washington Post

Among the many challenging choices that a high school senior must make today: which entrance exam? The SAT, the ACT, none, both? Indeed, I took both the SAT and ACT as part of my college process. The first test I took was the (new) SAT. As currently configured, the SAT is a catastrophe, a nearly four-hour ordeal aimed of assigning a number to an incoming student's "scholastic aptitude." This year, an essay was added, and the top score was increased from 1600 to 2400.

This new SAT was the product of the California State Department of Education. In 2001, officials within that system, including within the University of California system, complained that too many scores from high school seniors within the state of California were "off the charts," and that the SAT must be made more difficult, and measure a broader range of scores to assist the University of California system to assess candidates for its competitive universities. With its complaints and threats, California was successful in getting the College Board, the organization which administers the SAT as well as SAT II's, the PSAT, and AP exams, to change the SAT. The result was the much harder, longer, and less reliable SAT that was administered to me and other students across the country in 2005.

Notwithstanding the approximated 5,000 test documents graded incorrectly by test computers due to "moisture in the test documents," the actual administration of the test was adequate. Where the College Board went wrong, and the secretive College Board often does, was in the lengthening of the test. The nearly four hour exam is a better indicator of a student's resistance to fatigue than scholastic aptitude. For this reason, I opted to take the ACT, like an increasing number of students throughout America, according to the Washington Post.

In order for the SAT to become a more fair test, it must be partitioned into sections which students can take on separate days.

My complaints of the College Board do not stop at the SAT. The College Board fools parents and students into forking over more money by offering AP and SAT II examinations in the same subjects. In my personal experience, and that of my SAT/ACT tutor, I could hardly notice a difference between some of the AP and SAT II exams on the same subjects. States and other institutions should demand that the Board should do away with either all AP or SAT II exams; there is no reason for the student to be tested twice in the same subject.

States and the federal government should demand greater transparency from the College Board. They trust this shadowy organization with the future of the fruits of their educational systems. Matters of such importance cannot be withheld from governmental scrutiny.

Friday, August 04, 2006

...but can you walk the walk?

The culture of individualism and the breakdown of the American community are having adverse consequences on society’s relationship with the environment. The environment is the source of all life; humanity cannot survive without a healthy supportive ecosystem. Already virtually scientists believe we have passed the sustainability threshold for the global ecosystem. The world is overpopulated and we risk catastrophe on an epic scale in the future, from lack of resources and global warming. Furthermore, we are currently destroying, permanently, the inherent and awesome power of the natural world. In order to truly cherish the environment and not just treat it as an object, we must embrace the (truth that the reality of ) awesome power of nature and humanity’s profound dependency on the rest of life. We are the highest of all species on the food chain, and right now we are destroying the base, and we risk, as a species, falling to extinction.

Our lifestyle in the developed world is based on the unending desire for personal comfort and psychological security. We strive to avoid discomfort at all times. We must have the best houses, the biggest cars, and make the most money possible. We are never satisfied; we are always competing against each other. As a result, we do not take the time to understand and live with the environment nor have any interest in caring for the environment. We are the leading producer of carbon dioxide in the world. Yet we are too stuck in our lifestyle to make the drastic changes necessary to stop global climate change. Most people in the world survive on a dollar a day, while the American economy strives on the greed and vanity of our culture. The richest of the rich in America are given tax breaks and their descendents are guaranteed to inherit their entire estate, ensuring they will live in gross opulence. Meanwhile, the government creates a mentality in which each person is encouraged, if not coerced, to look out for his own individual interests, so no pays attention to the suffering of other people or our planet. Every minute 40 children die of starvation. If you took 10 minutes to read this article 400 children will be dead. Unless we take strong action against global warming, these catastrophe’s are only going to get worse. But our society is stuck in gridlock literally and conceptually. The bottom line is we must make sacrifices. Being a vegetarian would reduce each person’s ecological footprint greatly. By 2050, with the expectant population growth, half the world will need to be vegetarian for resources to be sufficient. Furthermore we need to as individuals and as a society stop relying on cars and using so much energy. The technological and policy needed to reform that our government needs to make will not come under this administration. But if a grassroots environmental movement flourishes, that doesn’t just go to see An Inconvenient Truth, but takes responsibility for fighting global warming; we can make significant progress and ease the transitions into an environmentally friendly economy. We must not only drive hybrid cars but add solar panels to our houses invest in win power, become a vegetarian or a vegan. The bottom line is that we must all recognize the magnificent dependence we have with the environment and ask not what the earth can do for us, but what we can do for our planet.

-This post is not endorsed by both authors.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

8/3 Quick Notes

Tomorrow morning, I am off to Rehoboth Beach, DE (where the Abramoff Scandal began) for two weeks of fun and relaxation with friends and family. Daily coverage of young voting issues and day-to-day operation of the blog will be handed over to Rambling Man in my absence. I may be able to do some blogging at the internet cafe or with a free wireless connection, if available. Rambling Man may also be going on vacation, but at sea. If he does, he will definitely not be able to blog for at least a few days.

Here are some quick notes:

1. "Series of Tubes" Stevens' cloture vote effort to kill Net Neutrality has failed. Story on Daily Kos.

2. Princeton University College Republicans playin' dirty to sway CT-Sen Democratic primary in favor of Lieberman. (This blog does not endorse either candidate in the CT-Sen primary). Story on Daily Kos.

3. Speaking of CT-Sen, I had recently posted a link to the blog, Firedoglake, in our links to the right. The owner and operator of that site, Jane Hamsher, recently published a doctored photo on her blog and on Huffington Post of Sen. Lieberman in blackface standing next to Fmr. Pres. Clinton in opposition to a flyer the Lieberman campaign distributed at black churches attacking Lamont's civil rights record. Jim Crow-era homages are, in my opinion, terribly inappropriate. Yet, Arianna Huffington of Huffington Post defended Hamsher's photo in today's Washington Post. I am thus considering the permanent removal of Firedoglake from the links menu, as well as all hyperlinks to the blog. Rambling Man must be consulted before I make any such decision, so the link may be up until I return from vacation.

4. Update: Sen. Santorum, with defeat imminent, is using desperate measures to thwart Casey's considerable lead. The Pennsylvania Green Party has received $66,000 of campaign contributions this year. All but $11,000 came from Santorum's supporters. As I have pointed out in the past, young voters are the most likely to vote for third-parties. Story on TPM Muckraker.

5. Dems managed to kill their own Minimum Wage Increase after the Republicans, in one of the most cynical things I have seen since the last time the Republicans did something heinously cynical, attatched a huge repeal in the Estate Tax and extended tax benefits for wealthy Americans. Story on Daily Kos.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Our Electric Future

If Tesla Motors, the new Silicon Valley-based electric car company, has its way, your future self speeds in an electric car. This aint your daddy's EV-1 either, the Tesla Motors Roadster hits 60 in 4.5 seconds, and can travel at speeds exceeding 130 mph. And, unlike the EV-1, with its 1600-lbs battery pack that took all night to charge and could only go 100 miles after you did, the Roadster can travel 200 miles on a single charge with its 1000-lbs battery pack which charges in about one hour.

The idea is so sexy, it could cause a revolution. Imagine if we woke up tommorow to find our fossil-fueled, earth destroying vehicles replaced by mean, green machines. But exactly how green, and how feasible, is the electric car?

The Problem with Going Electric:

The summer of 2006 has shown -beyond anything else - the frailty of our electric grids. Much of St. Louis and New York City was in the dark for several days this summer. California's electric system is the most prone to problems in the country, and is often plagued by rolling blackouts. Since the first investors in the new electric cars will likely be those from more eco-friendly states, and especially California, where Tesla Motors is based, a mass switch to electric cars can result in power outages unprecedented in size and duration. In urban areas, where electric cars will likely make their first appearances, additional tremendous additional power usage will already be occurring due to the Urban Heat Island Effect, a phenomenon which occurs because of the asphalt which traps heat and air conditioning which takes heat from our buildings and pumps it into the outside air. Keep in mind, that the energy usage per American will likely be increasing, and the population of the US will most certainly be increasing as well.

...And Solving Those Problems:

What is needed for the electric revolution is a massive source of electricity. One way to help solve our current electrical problems is to push for greater energy efficiency in America. This may work in California or New England, but good luck pushing a conservation of electricity movement in conservative states. There are only 3 feasible options at the moment: Photovoltaic Solar, Nuclear Fission, and Coal power...

1. Photovoltaic Solar: Photovoltaic solar is the collection of solar rays using a chemical process. (The other type of solar energy collection uses the heat from the sun to turn a conventional water turbine). The main component of photovoltaic panels is silicone, which is expensive to separate from other minerals. Thus, the cost of photovoltaic energy panels pushes kilowatt/hour prices to 15-20 cents per hour, much more than coal or nuclear fission, per se. But new research in optics has paved the way for equally as effective photovoltaic panels to be built with less silicone, significantly lowering the cost of producing panels. The rewards and limits of solar power remain largely untested. Can solar provide for all our energy needs?

2. Nuclear Fission: With Nuclear Fusion power, if even attainable, being far, far away, perhaps Nuclear Fission is our most feasible and eco-friendly option. Left-wing groups such as Public Citizen protest nuclear power because radioactive waste is just that, but do we have another choice? For this reason, I spent much of the last few years being pro-Nuclear power, but the recent advances in photovoltaics have muddied the waters. If the scientific community determines that solar power can meet our growing energy needs, than I am against Nuclear power. But if alternative energy cannot provide enough energy, than we have no other choice. I would rather switch to electric cars powered by nuclear power than keep using fossil-fueled cars.

3. Coal: Coal is a slim possibility. America has, by far, the world's largest supply of coal. To make coal eco-friendly, its emissions must be pumped underground. However, some have argued that this approach is not economically feasible (though there are privatized coal power plants that do this today), nor even that environmentally friendly. After all, coal is generally extracted these days through strip mining, which has a devastating effect on local environments. Coal can also be liquefied, but even liquid coal releases far more CO2 into the atmosphere than petroleum.

Other Green Machines?

The two currently existing green vehicle technologies are Ethanol and BioDiesel. Though Ethanol may be a solution to our foreign energy crisis, the environmental benefits of reduced CO2 in ethanol-car emissions are lost through the pollution of production. BioDiesel, though the ingredients can be food waste from fast-food friers, is not feasible because there's simply not enough material to convert into BioDiesel to make enough BioDiesel to power America's cars, and it would require a mass switch to diesel cars.

Hydrogen, which is not that far away, presents its own difficulties. Hydrogen gas is more volatile (dangerous) than gasoline. In addition, as with all new fuel technologies (except electric), an entirely new infrastructure will have to be devised and constructed to distribute hydrogen gas to every gas station in the country. This means millions, if not billions of miles of pipes, millions of new pumps, etc. Though hydrogen may be a viable option, I don't see it being nearly as viable as electricity.

Priority #1:

It is through technology that our generation will solve the problems that previous generations have created for us with technology. We have no choice: even if a few of us are willing to go out of our ways for Mother Earth, mainstream society will continue its toxic ways, and will shun any environmental legislation that interferes with the niceties of American life.

Nonetheless, we must not forget that the greatest danger to the future of this planet is global, environmental change due to overpopulation and global warming. We must think of eco-friendly technologies that will not only sustain 300-million with relatively less environmental harm, but technologies that will sustain billions. I cannot say it enough, global warming is the most significant threat to America's long term interests.

More Information:

Nikola Tesla - University of Pittsburgh
Look Ma, No Gas - Dan Neil, Los Angeles Times

Update: This is now my second recommended diary on My Left Wing: http://www.myleftwing.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=10877