True test of friendship

I wasn’t going to blog about this…I don’t even want to think about it, but it is all that has been on my mind since I got roofied at the Brand New show at Northern Lights last week.

It’s scary not remembering what happened to you when you knew you were sober.  What’s even worse is feeling like you can depend on someone and then finding out they let you down in a monumental fashion.

It was 4:30 p.m. Wed. April 28 when my friend asked me if I wanted to go to the Brand New show with him that night.  I was hesitant as it was my last class of the semester that night, but after he pleaded with me to go I agreed and got excited for the show.  I love concerts because I love listening to live music not because I like getting fucked up, so when he asked me if I wanted to drink before the show I was hesitant again, but I agreed to drink a few, catch a buzz, stop drinking, and drive his drunk ass home.

At 5:45 I made my own mixed drink of OJ and vodka, not too strong and not too sweet, and sipped casually on the 24 oz. as we made our way to Clifton Park.  I felt completely sober still as we got out of his car at 6:30 and walked into the show.  I went to the bathroom and my friend got me  Heineken at my request…I watched the bartender pour the foamy goodness out of the tap.

We quickly left the bar to go and see the opening act.  I didn’t know who they were then, and I don’t know now.  I remember thinking it was odd that everyone was just standing and watching, like zombies caged off from live bait, in a trance waiting to attack.  I laughed at the people around me and began dancing, something I do in every state of being sober to shitfaced.

That is the last thing I can remember.  I was sober, dancing to a mediocre band, and then there is nothingness, a black hole where my memory of a great show should be. 

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Tax our sins

Over the last few weeks I have been looking at different ways to help solve the deficit we are seeing in New York and around the country.  Today I happened across an article from the New York Times discussing the use of SIN TAXES to generate revenue for states.

From increasing taxes for drinkers and smokers, to porn and soda buyers, these sin taxes (which vary from state to state) are focusing on attacking our many vices to help alleviate the budget issues we are seeing everywhere.

Now this may seem like an admirable tax…think about it, if you have to pay more to get hammered or light up a stog maybe you would think twice about it, maybe we would see a decrease in alcoholism and cigarette smoking. With a tax on soda maybe we can begin to tackle the obesity epidemic that is plaguing our country.   With changes in gambling and strip club patron policies maybe we will help get addicts out of debt and back on their feet.

But as the NYTimes article points out…”Old habits, especially bad ones, die hard.”

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They don’t need more money

A short article appeared today in the Times Union that discussed Governor Paterson’s announcement that state employees should not count on pay raises this year.

What I couldn’t understand is why any governement employee would expect to get a raise.  Let’s see you already make an obscene amount of money (I know not everyone who works for the state does, but you should be happy to have a job considering the times), programs like education and health care are being cut, we are in an economic recession… why the hell would anyone expect to get more money?

If anything the salaries of officials who make a cool six figures should be cut before we start talking about cutting out health and education.  State officials should be bending over backwards to secure the much needed aid for these things.  They are supposed to be representing our wants and needs, and I don’t think you would find anyone who thinks cutting education is a good idea.  Health care on the other hand is a different case, Tea Party Members would be on me like white on rice if I said everyone is against health care cuts, there are definitely people who could live with it.  But it’s the future of our country and the health of the nation we are talking about.  Is there something wrong with me, or does anyone else see this as being too obvious to miss?

You may not agree, but in my opinion theses are the two most crucial components to securing the growth of our country.  Where would we be if as tuition continues to rise less and less of our youth persue higher education?  Where are we going to be if health care costs continue to rise, with more people being uninsured and put into debt, unable to seek help when they are sick?

We are going to hit a cliff where the only place to go is down.  So yes, I think it is ridiculous that people would even consider getting a raise.

What do you think?

Stop funding the war

For the last few weeks I have immersed myself in organizing a student protest against the budget cuts that are yet again raising our tuition at SUNY Albany.  The other day I proposed one way to help combat the stripping of valuable resources from the god-send of a public education institution New York State has built.  I suggested that by freezing state raises, in turn we may be able to put that money to better uses in areas such as education funding.

After thinking more about the subject, although I still feel that no one should be expecting a raise at this time of economic downturn, there is another way, a more important way to gather funds without creating a cost for NYS residents.

Stop funding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The website Cost of War is an on-going counter of the cost of theses wars since 2001.

Here is a break down of the figures as of 5:00 Mon. April 12:
-Total US cost=$982,122,700,000
-Iraq=$717,048,325,000
-Afghanistan=$265,064,375,000
-Total NY State cost=$88,103,338,000
-Iraq=$64,324,935,000
-Afghanistan=$23,778,403,000
-Cost per house hold=$8,740
-Cost per person=$3,339
-Cost per taxpayer=$7,365

Is it just me or does anyone else feel this is obscene? And this is only the monetary cost, which in my opinion cannot compare to the amount of human loss.  Yes, this war has not seen the amount of US casualties of past battles, but when do we reach the point when we feel enough life has been lost?  When did we become so desensitized that some thousands of soldiers and civilians who have died don’t seem like a number to be terribly concerned with?

I support our soldiers 100%, while they are there, you bet your ass I want them to get every kind of aid to their safety as possible no matter what the cost, but I do not support the war.  I do not think they should be over there in the first place, running around bombed out villages chasing enemies they cannot foresee.

We are paying for this war, out of our pockets and out of our lives.  I don’t know many people who don’t know someone who has personal connection to someone involved with the war.  We are spending billions on dollars, putting  thousands of our soldiers into deadly situations and to what avail?

What are we trying to accomplish?  Bringing democracy to the middle east?  Seems more like we are forcing our point of view on how things should be run on countries who do not want us there to begin with.  Are we fighting the War on Terror or people defending their homeland from foreign occupants?  Are we trying to bring peace to others or oil home for profit?

I’m sure there will be many of you who feel I am misguided or misinformed, but I hope that more of you will understand what I am trying to say.  Understand why I feel so angry about the government continuing to rob each and every one of us to fund their war machine.  Understand why this war is based on misguided notions of what our countries place in this world should be.  And if you happen to share the same feelings as I do, then start talking about it, start putting your voice out for others to hear.  Write a letter to your congressman, call your local politician, and let them know that no longer will be back these unnecessary wars.

Bring our troops home!

March on Washington Photos

A few weeks ago I was down in D.C. to document the March on Washington, an anti-war protest commemorating the 7th Anniversary of U.S. entering Iraq.  As I am working on a larger documentation of the event I though it would be nice to post up some photos as I continue along my editing process.

Let me know what you think!

Sean Ewart looking down the hill from the Washington Monument at memorial gravestones for lives lost in Iraq

Marching to the White House.

Cameron Starcher, an Iraq Veteran against the war, lost his leg to and IED.

SUNY Albany students standing in front of mock coffins in Lafayette Park.

As the media slants

Ever since Bill Clinton passed the Fair Communications Act, which allowed the communication corporations to own an unlimited amount of air-space, we have seen the various media outlets begin to slant either left or right in their political standpoints.

Huge monopolies like FOX News have been growing and consuming smaller broadcast corporations to basically conform large portions of the media to FOX’s right sided perspective on events.

What does this mean for consumers of the media?  Why should we care that there seems to be a significant divide in media outlets between liberal and conservative viewpoints?  Does it mean that the news we read is no longer a strictly objective, two sided viewpoint of what is happening around us?

What it may mean for consumers is that in order to get a fair view of the days event you may need to read a number of different publications in order to take in all the different angles that each outlet pumps out.  Or it may mean that if you are a hard core liberal or conservative you will be happy reading one paper, knowing that it holds the same slants as you do.

Consumers should care about this shift to partisan media, because it means what we are reading is not 100% objective, not 100% fair.  It means that in order to get the full truth we must seek out more perspectives from the different sides, we must become more involved with the news.

Now don’t get me wrong, this new slanting of media outlets does not mean that objectivity and fairness are dead concepts.  We are not seeing salacious spins that distort what is reported to the point where it has become a one sided march, but we must be aware that each outlet has a specific underlying partisan viewpoint.

As monopolies continue to eat up the media into dominating factions we must be aware that we need to be more vigilant of what each groups standpoint is and how it affects what is written.

What’s private anymore?

I talk a lot about how the rise in technology is rapidly changing how we interact with each other and the world around us.  How with each breakthrough something is lost and changed to encompass the latest trends, how we are being sucked into this pool of information which overwhelms and embodies our senses to the point where we don’t know which way is up at times.

Knowing this and knowing that the internet is literally a place where if you look hard enough and know where to dig you can find anything, you wouldn’t think that people would be so shocked at the loss in privacy.  But as an article published by the New York Times discusses people can’t seem to understand how they are losing little bits of their personal lives to users on the web.

To me the lack of privacy is a no-brainer, duh!? I said to myself while reading the article, of course we are losing certain aspects of privacy as we give more of ourselves to the web.  If you have a Facebook, a twitter, myspace, blog, whatever it is, you are explicitly giving the web–and ultimately its users–very personal information about yourself, you should be prepared that someone, somewhere may have the prerogative to search you out.  And as far as people losing the social security number and becoming victims of identity theft, I cannot fully sympathize with them, we have to be smarter as the technology gets smarter.  You need to check the sites you’re giving information to, you need to find their security and make sure its legit.  You need to be able to think ahead and not be naive to the fact that people have the means to steal from you through a computer screen miles away.

This is not rocket science people, it is common sense.  Yes, we are losing our privacy but it is a small price to pay to have the world at your fingertips.