21 December 2006

Last Post on Blogger!

I'll leave this site up (at least for a while), but I'm moving to WordPress because it's more versatile. The address is thesoggyliberal.wordpress.com.

16 December 2006

I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians.

Cool... er, Hot

One of the featured blogs on Blogger's "Blogs of Note" was a site dedicated entirely to global warming news!

A Few Things Ill Considered

I would especially recommend their FAQ on How To Talk To a Skeptic.

12 December 2006

I Love My State!

My Senator, Gordon Smith (R-OR), said on Friday (on the floor of the Senate):

"Our soldiers patrolling the same streets in the same way, being blown up by the same bombs day after day, it's absurd. It may even be criminal."

Even though he's Republican, you gotta admire his honesty/cojones.

11 December 2006


I just finished my Latin essay. That was pulling teeth. I got it in just under deadline, and just over minimum length. Probably not my best paper, but not my worst, either.

Anyway, I want to give a plug to one of the professors at Willamette: John Doan. I was at his Christmas concert last night, and I was blown away. I knew he could play the harp guitar, but not the tremeloa (a really bizarre Hawaiian instrument)! Anyway, I would really suggest his Christmas album, which is on iTunes.

This post has nothing to do with the fact that I'm taking guitar from him next semester.

Net Neutrality

It looks like Senator Ted "Series of Tubes" Stevens' telecommunications bill is dead. Well, at least the new congress looks a bit less likely to pass the idiotic thing.

For those of you who haven't been paying attention, Stevens wanted to give AT&T and their ilk the right to charge big sites (like Google or Amazon) to give them priority over little sites that haven't paid (like yours truly) and better download times. Sort of like taxing mom & pop stores to give WalMart a tax break. Or cutting back on social services to give Halliburton a massive no-bid contract. You know, stuff our government would never do.

Anyway, I still have to write a letter to Gordon Smith to try and get him to change his mind. Hopefully I can get my republican grandpa to do the same.

I Hate...

Insomnia. Combine insomnia with an essay in Latin, and it becomes loathing. I've had a major case of writers block with my term paper in Latin, and finally came up with a topic: the dichotomy portrayed in Catiline. If it sounds boring, that's because it is. It might even get me to sleep.

08 December 2006

Ancient Rome, Final Exams, and the Death Penalty

I just finished my first final exam—Latin Prose—and now I only have to write two term papers and study for a chemistry exam. Anyway, for my exam we had to translate a good chunk of Sallust's Bellum Catilinae (The Catilinarian Conspiracy) and write a "linguistic and historical analysis" of another chunk. Not entirely painless, but not pulling teeth, either.

What brings me to write about this is a speech by Julius Caesar that Sallust quotes. After Catiline, a traitor against Rome, has been discovered, there is a debate in the Senate over whether to execute him (which was illegal, since he was a Roman citizen). After a rather obscure senator named Decimus Silanus (I'm still waiting for Biggus Dickus) makes a speech urging for the death penalty, Julius Caesar
—the future emperor of Rome and one of the best prosecutors of the day—makes a speech against the death penalty.

So Caesar was more civilized
—2000 years ago—than we are today.

I think anti-death penalty advocates could learn a thing or two from Caesar. He doesn't dispute that Catiline and his co-conspirators are a threat, or that they deserve death. Instead he says, essentially, "yes, we have the power to revoke the Porcian Law (which protected Roman citizens from execution) but we shouldn't because it is not worthy of us and will set a dangerous precedent." I think that we need to refocus the debate on these two arguments. We are honestly getting nowhere with the arguments that capital punishment is unconstitutional (and will get nowhere for some time), or that it doesn't prevent murder, or that we're executing innocent people. We need to say that we are a compassionate people, and a nation of just laws. We are not a people that indulges in mob violence, and we are not a nation of retribution. We must say that the death penalty is perfectly legal, but that we ought to rise above petty retribution.

I Just Like Chains!

06 December 2006

Don't You Want Your Country to Win?

Bill O'Reilly has been asking liberals whether they want the US to win in Iraq recently. Ignoring the question of whether or not it's possible for us to win, my answer is a definite no. I don't want to win in Iraq, because winning would be bad for both Iraqis and the United States.

First of all, in order for us to "win," there has to be a government in place that is friendly to us. In other words, a dictatorship. Think about it. Every one of our Arab allies in the Middle East is a brutal dictatorship: Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE, and Uzbekistan, among others. The only three Arab governments that approach democracy are Palestine, currently controlled by Hamas; Lebanon, where Hezbollah has a majority in parliament; and Iran, which Bush apparently wants to nuke.

Winning would be bad for us, as well. The fact is that we are no longer the empire we once were. When the USSR fell, and no one needed us to "protect" them anymore, we lost a lot of international power. Now, we can't to pump out manufactured goods as quickly as China, and soon we won't be able to compete with India in technological industries. We are losing what was left of our international power quickly.

This is very similar to what happened to France and Great Britain after the Second World War. Their empires started to crumble. England decided to slowly let go of power, and the Brits essentially resigned themselves to not being a world power anymore. France, on the other hand, clung desperately to their colonies, and got walloped in Vietnam, Algeria, and their other colonies. Yet France still has an attitude that would be more appropriate for Napoleon's era.

Now that we are losing our empire, we have two choices: accept our fall gracefully, like Britain, or fight it every inch of the way, like France. If we bow out gracefully, we can keep some of our stature and influence. If we don't, we will be like France—annoying and ignored. If we lose in Iraq, maybe people will wake up to the fact that we're not an empire anymore and will stop acting like we are.