Category Archives: Politics
The United States Post Office, the USPS, has been in decline for some time as technology not only brought us email but tablets, smartphones and ultrabooks. Not only do most Americans have access to email easier, they have access to email faster — and with that, many Americans bank and pay bills online. Furthermore, Federal Express, UPS, DHL and other courier services not only provide the service better, they provide service much more efficiently and effectively. Consider the fact that just a few weeks ago, a delivery of an envelope sent via USPS got incorrectly delivered to Delaware of all places since as far I could see, after a couple days delay, it was clearly marked Philadelphia. The USPS system, once one of the crowning achievements of Americana, has fallen to the modern digital world. With Saturdays being cut out for mail delivery, the USPS is coming upon its last legs, quite possibly within a decade or less. Given the world has evolved, the United States Post Office system hasn’t — aside from putting up a clumsy and not very user-friendly website.
What does the USPS need to do? Fringe Fiction has some ideas.
- Privatize. With the government supplementing and endorsing the USPS, the USPS was never really forced to change with the times. Put in perspective, it is still a horse-and-buggy system.
- Develop an efficient network to track deliveries. With the USPS tracking system, “delivered” or “out for delivery” doesn’t usually mean the day of. For the most part, it takes at least one or two more days for the package to arrive. The second part of this is to have workers with a sense of urgency. I’ve had packages that were supposed to arrive in Philadelphia but were actually sent to Delaware of all places. It simply boggles the mind.
- Develop an application for shipping, mailing and tracking among other things. An Android and iOS application would be nice.
- Better locations for post offices. The locations need to be near places of business. Sometimes, they are located in isolated locations where no one bothers.
The Post Office will soon disappear if it doesn’t change, doesn’t evolve. It will go the way of dinosaurs if it is not careful.
- Report: USPS to End Saturday Mail Delivery This Summer (wreg.com)
- No more Saturday mail delivery, USPS says (cinewsnow.com)
- USPS: We Need Help! E-Commerce Is A Huge Opportunity, But We Don’t Have The Technology To Keep Up (businessinsider.com)
- USPS: We Don’t Pay Traffic Tickets (newser.com)
- Yes, Republicans are trying to shut down the United States Postal Service (deathandtaxesmag.com)
- USPS ends Saturday letter delivery. How much fuel will it save? (csmonitor.com)
- USPS Changes Causing Stress for Ecommerce Sellers (vendio.com)
- Time to save the postal service (blogs.reuters.com)
- USPS Cuts Saturday Delivery (newser.com)
Marcus from Borderlands
This time, Borderlands 2 has brought out consumerism as a pertinent issue than the original Borderlands. Whereas the first dealt with it superficially, the second touched upon it a bit more with Marcus and his weapons-dealing across Pandora, especially with the Echo recordings at the Bloodshot Stronghold. These suggest that he may have funded enemies past and present, simply more than the bandits. This article Of Assholes and Antiheroes explains much of the morality within Pandora, but it misses what’s immediately beneath its nose — the overthrow of The Man or the means thereof. It was the theme of the original and reverberated in the second one as well.
The original Borderlands dealt with it as the Vault Hunter, whichever one you chose, battled much of Atlas Corporation in order to reach the Vault. In the process, the Vault Hunter got better stuff along the way — including weapons, shields, and relics. Sometimes they were obtained from fallen enemies; as for others, they were bought through Marcus Munitions vending machines. In the meantime, weapons, shields and relics of various companies were being traded for cold, hard cash to purchase more weapons, shields or relics — and should the Vault Hunter meet an unfortunate demise, pay for rebuilding the Vault Hunter. The companies that made these weapons, relics or shields included Atlas, Hyperion, Maliwan, Tediore and others.
Through a twisted looking glass, Borderlands is a reflection of the consumerism culture of the world. With the some holidays already passed, there were many who camped at malls and superstores to buy the next big thing or things. With the introduction of the next iPhone or iPad, the lines of Apple consumers will gather around the stores and around the corner. Borderlands demonstrates no different. With all the vending machine and loot, the Vault Hunter, being you, searches and/or buys the next Big Thing — whichever weapon or gear. After rummaging through all that gear, the Vault Hunter or Hunters finally confront Handsome Jack, the Man of Hyperion Corporation, and the Warrior after traversing Hero’s Pass. And upon defeating Handsome Jack and the Warrior, the Vault Hunter gets only more loot to rummage through. There is no ceiling — much like consumerism today.
With the United States government ready to buckle with their creation, the fiscal cliff, the government demonstrates the excesses of today’s world — spend, spend and spend more. Meanwhile, other parts of the world are no different.
Can the world change? Not with the present generation. Most are too self-infatuated and spoiled.
Perhaps after a successful apocalypse. Millennium bug and Mayans excluded.
- Borderlands 2 Solo Arena Strategies (Fringe Edition) (fringefiction.net)
- Become The Number One Badass In The New Borderlands 2 DLC (kotaku.com)
- Sir Hammerlock’s Big Game Hunt DLC sets off for Borderlands 2 Jan. 15 (joystiq.com)
- GAMING: The best first-person shooter of 2012 (forums.pinstack.com)
It’s been a long eleven years since that tragedies of 9/11/2001. The United States has changed, and the world changed as well. The United States employed stringent security at airports nationwide and tightened its borders. Analysts and officers were employed by the FBI and other government agencies to crack down on terrorists within and outside the U.S. borders. Federal agencies were employed to scour the internet for terrorist cells. The United States armed forces finally eliminated their major threat, Osama Bin Laden, but possibly at the expense of other countries’ well-being. After four or five years of peace, again turmoil rears its ugly head. Worldwide economic downfall bit hard everywhere forcing federal and state law enforcement agencies to cut back. No more actively hunting terrorists unless they posed a major threat somewhat immediately. Now what’s brewing are homegrown terrorists once again, and with the distractions from the upsurge of street violence in many cities, law enforcement is spread quite thin.
The $700 million project of the National Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum at the World Trade Center in New York is projected to be completed in 2014, and it has attracted 4.5 million visitors within its first year. However, the economy is stifling. Although the completion of the project can and will stimulate the economy, the project’s feasibility may be difficult as government agencies tighten their belts. The project may have to rely on more private donations in due time. Unfortunately, as most of us would be more than willing to contribute, the ability to contribute may be a different matter, and most of us are not billionaires with lots of disposable income.
The Zadroga Act, named after NYPD Detective James Zadroga who died after working ground zero at the age of 34, was signed into law nearly two years to compensate the hundreds of rescue workers and people at ground zero on September 11, 2011. With the recent addition of cancer to the illnesses from working at ground zero, the $2.77 billion government fund will be reduced per sickened first responder. However, as of today, none of the sickened workers have yet to see this money. And with nearly 400 residents and rescue workers having already died from cancer since September 11, the news is a bit hard to bear for these people that gave their soul to rescue lives that fateful day. Now these heroes are paying with their own lives…
Overall, the United States has become somewhat safer, but the government agencies are still disorganized. We can have someone enter JFK airport via water without anyone stopping them. Yet the TSA is more than willing to strip-search grandmothers and young children. This is a bit contradictory and dangerous for the well-being of Americans. The economy is in malaise worldwide at this point and so are a lot of Americans. Xenophobia doesn’t benefit anybody. Paranoia doesn’t benefit anybody. And politics just falls incredibly short.
- US adds cancer to list of illnesses linked to 9/11 terror attacks (usnews.nbcnews.com)
- Zadroga Act Compensation Payments on Hold While Rule Adding Cancer to the List of Illnesses Covered by the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund is Finalized (prweb.com)
- Health program for 9/11 first responders to cover dozens of cancers (wtvr.com)
- Feds may acknowledge ground zero cancer link (whas11.com)
- Tough task for those compensating ill 9/11 workers (kfwbam.com)
With the previous scares of tainted meat in the past, now Americans have to be concerned with perhaps a greater threat — feed additives. Although most are approved the the United States Food and Drug Administration, in other parts of the world, they are a bit more hesitant. Since the United States is exporting more meat to other countries, the use of feed additives to keep the pigs and other livestock healthy and lean are now a much more considerable health threat worldwide. China and some of the European Union are halting import of American pork because of feed additives, specifically ractopamine hydrochloride (otherwise known as paylean). Ractopamine hydrochloride, or paylean, has been banned from the European Union and some of southeast Asia citing its effects on human health. While Americans may think they may have escaped The Jungle with assurance from the U.S. government, we could be possibly farther from the truth. Again, the meat industry is impacting American health, but this time with more subtlety.
Feed additives are generally concentrated product that provides a particular effect. For humans, a vitamin would be deemed a feed additive. According to the European Union, there are five kinds of feed additives for livestock: technological additives, sensory additives, nutritional additives, zootechnical additives and lastly, coccidiostats and histomonostats. Technological additives impact the additive directly by impacting its shelf life and handling characteristics. Sensory additives affect the appetite by providing flavors or fragrances. Nutritional additives provide nutritional benefits in the feed. Zootechnical additives impact the utilization of the nutrients gained from feed. Lastly, coccidiostats and histomonostats affect the intestinal health of poultry and be deemed as antibiotics.
In swine, ractopamine hydrochloride, or paylean, affects swine by increasing fat-lean growth and lean mass in general. Ractopamine hydrochloride has shown to have mutagenic and musculo-skeletal effects and change behavior. Residues of ractopamine were detected in pork sold from the United States in 2007 and has been banned from some of the European Union and southeast Asia, including China and Taiwan. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, there has been no global consensus on the impact of ractopamine on human health.
So think about this, the next time, you drop pork chops onto the grill…now there’s a whole lot of food for thought.
- Dispute over drug in feed limiting US meat exports (bottomline.msnbc.msn.com)
- New Bills Would Basically Make The Jungle Illegal (slog.thestranger.com)
Survival. Thriller. Comedy.
Three words about a film that typically don’t go together, but in this film, it does. This movie had unbound potential to top even [REC] in depth, frights and intensity, but it remained unusually subdued.
Daniel Hendler stars as Coco, the main protagonist and husband to Pipi. Pipi, the pregnant wife, is played by Jazmin Stuart. Yayo Guirdi stars as Horacio, the paranoid man living inside the apartment complex. Federico Luppi plays Zanutto, the old soldier and main antagonist of the film.
Inside a quarantined apartment complex in Argentina, Coco and Pipi seek to survive as their neighbors become increasingly volatile. The neighbors compete for food, medicine and weapons as the world around them succumbs to a mysterious flu pandemic. Coco is forced to rely on Horacio for assistance, but soon, he realizes death changes people around him. And death is a more potent instigator than the depletion of resources.
This movie is potentially a tale of two halves. The first half of the film is very slow as the film introduces the residents of the apartment complex, their intentions and their personalities. The first half had some obvious comedic moments, but that soon dissipated. As the second half begun, however, the intensity and action increased as Zanutto posed a threat to everyone in the apartment. As the killings increased, Coco and Horacio had to rely on each other to survive. However, their survival instincts can only last so far.
Like other Spanish movies that commented on the dangers of war, this movie continuously had former President George Bush reiterate that all countries should work together in times of crisis in a speech on the television sets. However, within the apartment complex, it was a different story as each resident fought for survival. Working together lasted only so far as resources dwindle and people begin dying. As these deaths continue, both Coco and Horacio were unusually indifferent to the situation. Their indifference did not elicit any sympathy from me and removed any sympathy for them as protagonists of the film.
Verdict (Out of 10)
This movie had great potential, but it never took off the ground. It is a 6 out of 10.
The Potential Evolution of the Zombie Virus, Part 3: The Possibilities of Biological Weaponization Today
Prologue, Philosophy and Politics
Although this topic really falls in the realm of fiction, not simply because of the economics and morality of the issue, military and military-funded private research and development should not progress easily in biological warfare, with United Nations and opposing countries always looking over each other’s shoulders. With nuclear weapons at least kept in check somewhat even between the most conniving of nations, they cannot escape satellite imagery catching them in the act, and escaping with biological warfare is just as difficult. Unlike nuclear weaponry, biological warfare development is manageable as an industry, even in the most depressing economic times. History has shown us that in World War I, the Korean War and other wars in the past. In 1972, however, biological weapons were outlawed throughout the world by the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) and have been further ratified by 163 countries, as of 2009. Many countries fortunately can still pursue research into defense and protection from biological warfare, which is not prohibited by the BWC. Recently, as of 2001, Iraq admitted to the United Nations the production of biological weapons, specifically 19,000 liters of concentrated botulinum toxin. On September 18, 2001, a few members of the United States Congress were victims of an anthrax attack. However, the perpetrators of this attack has yet to be identified to this day.
Unfortunately, some private biotech company like Umbrella Corporation in the Resident Evil series would be hard to remain unnoticed in the era of satellites, YouTube and worldwide streaming news. With even a hint of alleged animal testing or creation of biological weapons, animal rights activists and other protesters would be on their front doorstep, protesting and streaming their illegally-obtained digital photographs and videos all over the internet. There would be sufficient uproar for the biowarfare development to cease while government intervention, domestic and international, would put a stop to this immediately.
As for the artificial manufacturing of the said zombie virus, it would still rely on the rabies, avian flu and mad cow disease, as described in the previous part of this discussion. They would be easiest viral samples to mutate or otherwise manipulate their DNA and/or RNA structures. The resources for a large private biotech firm could easily create such a biological weapon, but they would have to be beyond secretive in this age of social media which would be nearly impossible. For most of North America, Australia and Europe, threats in the Middle East such as Iraq and Libya would have the resources available (from the oil production), but whether the have the knowledge to so remains in question.
Purpose and Product
Once something like a zombie virus is manufactured, the consumerism of such a product would be limited to the black market, even if developed legally under sanctioned regulators. That would defeat the purpose of creating it originally under proper regulations in the first place. The product, the zombie virus itself, could also quickly deteriorate unless given to a host immediately (such as a chimpanzee or other mammal). In that case, it could potentially destroy the very nation that was creating it, should the host escape its confines, which would be illogical and financially unsound for that country. However, a private biotech firm could hold countries under its thumb potentially, but domestic and international intervention would make news worldwide.
The Impossible Engine
For now, the manufacturing of said zombie virus remains a virtual impossibility with international and domestic sanctions. However, it’s not to say that terrorist attacks of other, more conventional biological weapons, such as smallpox, anthrax, and botulism, aren’t possible, even in this day and age. Zombie virus as a manufactured biological weapon remains in the realm of science fiction presently. The Walking Dead television series and Resident Evil movie and video game series may instill fear of such corporations, but it’s a mere fantasy in our present reality — an impossible engine.