We’re Just Not Acting Right

EPA wants a “Way of Life Act” to control us even more

by: Julie Szydlowski

Despite the extensive regulations placed on Americans through the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts and other directives, zealots at the Environmental Protection Agency say existing rules are not enough to control individual behavior – and controlling individual behavior is what they long to do.

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) recently released a video montage of Obama EPA Regional Administrators revealing their hopes of imposing a green “Way Of Life Act” on Americans enforced through the regulatory dictatorship of the EPA.

President Obama-appointed EPA Regional Administrator Al Armendariz is heard saying on the video that the EPA should “crucify” and “make an example” of the oil and coal industries — which is eerily in keeping with Obama’s promise to bankrupt coal companies.

To be precise, Armendariz put his “philosophy of enforcement” of a green way of life regarding oil & coal companies this way: “It was kind of like how the Romans used to conquer little villages in the Mediterranean. They’d go into a little Turkish town somewhere, they’d find the first five guys they saw and they would crucify them. And then you know that town was really easy to manage for the next few years.”

Armendariz went on to say, “I don’t have a Way of Life Act that I can enforce – I’ve got a Clean Air Act, I’ve got a Clean Water Act, a Safe Drinking Water Act that can be used to enforce green ideals.” But having an official Act on how people actually live their lives would be so much more convenient.

Armendariz subsequently resigned under fire for his comments, but he wasn’t alone in his intent to control our way of life. Also appearing on the video is EPA Region 2 Administrator Judith Enck, who tries to justify a “Way of Life Act” because, “I don’t think individual change is going to be enough.”

But it’s not just these two people we need to fear, Sen. Inhofe’s office warns. “The purpose of this video is to get to know President Obama’s ‘green generals’ – the regional administrators – who are going into battle for the Obama-EPA, working hard to force a green ‘way of life act’ in regions across the United States.”

It’s frightening to imagine what type of controls they envision placing on us under such an Act. It’s bad enough that environmentalists are indoctrinating children into a green way of thinking; to the extent of having them monitor their own parents to point out where they’re failing to live “green.” Now agents of the government want to regulate our behavior officially and have another excuse to raise taxes on our use of energy.

The question is, what makes these environmentalists’ values more important than an individual’s right to live as he chooses? At what point will the government, under the guise and legal backing of a green Way of Life Act or other existing Acts, begin to dictate how much water we can use in a given day, or how long we can run our air conditioner? Especially bothersome is that unelected officials are being given extraordinary power to enforce behavior on American citizens, and they have the full support of our President.

Just like New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s attempt to regulate the size of soda cups we drink from, our government has no right telling us how to live our lives in our own private pursuit of life, liberty and happiness. Too bad those values are all but forgotten by this leftist government gone wild. Hopefully this Way of Life Act remains nothing more than a pipe-dream.

Anyone Interested in the VMT?

by: Tim Brown & the Common Constitutionalist

It never ceases to amaze me how government can come up with new ways to milk people of their money, but find it impossible to cut their spending.

 Such is a new method that states are trying to come up with by tracking the mileage on your car and taxing it appropriately.

The new technology is already being explored by Minnesota and Oregon. The GPS-like box would be mounted inside a person’s vehicle and they can purchase “miles” ahead of time.

 “As the (national vehicle) fleet becomes more fuel efficient … we’re going to lose a lot of revenue from the gas tax. If it’s not replaced, we’re going to see our transportation infrastructure deteriorate,” says Joshua Schank, president of the Eno Center for Transportation in Washington, D.C.

He expects to see a state vehicle miles-traveled (VMT) tax within the next 5 to 10 years.

“We’re seeing a lot of interest in VMT as one of the potential solutions to transportation funding gaps that states are dealing with,” says Jaime Rall, senior policy specialist at the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Many say the greatest obstacle to a miles-traveled tax has been privacy concerns. When Oregon ran a pilot program six years ago, motorists’ major objection was to in-vehicle boxes used to track miles driven, said James Whitty of the Oregon Department of Transportation. “They didn’t like the government boxes. They didn’t like the GPS mandate,” he says.

Of those 2 words, GPS and mandate, my guess is they objected more to ‘mandate’.

So let’s see if I have this right. In most states, we purchase a vehicle and pay a tax to either the city or town & the state. Then we must register it; another tax. Then we buy gas for it and pay tax on the gas. We then pay a toll to drive on the road; that’s a tax. Now they’re going to tax us on the miles we drive due to diminished revenue because they have forced us into more economical cars with escalated fuel costs and bogus CAFE standards?

 Next, some state or federal bureaucrat will propose a new tax (actually more of a penalty) for non-mass transit users. An additional fee when you register your vehicle. By purchasing a car, it is assumed you will not be using mass transit. The intent of said bureaucrat is to nudge people toward the use of trains and buses.

 If the program has any success, the government will soon discover the revenue shortfall was caused by it’s own action & must then invent another tax or fee to subsidize that shortfall.

 This is what governments do. They constantly cause more problems than they ever solve.

Xbox Surgery

THE surgeon enters the operating room, covered in sterile blue scrubs. Machines beep and hiss. Nurses wait, tools at the ready: scalpel, forceps, bandage, Xbox… Xbox?

A surgeon at Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospital in London began trials of a new device that uses an Xbox Kinect camera to sense body position. Just by waving his arms the surgeon can consult and sift through medical images, such as CT scans or real-time X-rays, while in the middle of an operation.

Maintaining a sterile environment in the operating room is paramount, but scrubbing in and out to scroll through scan images mid-operation can be time-consuming and break a surgeon’s concentration.

Depending on the type of surgery, a surgeon will stop and consult medical images anywhere from once an hour to every few minutes. To avoid leaving the table, many surgeons rely on assistants to manipulate the computer for them, a distracting and sometimes frustrating process.

“Up until now, I’d been calling out across the room to one of our technical assistants, asking them to manipulate the image, rotate one way, rotate the other, pan up, pan down, zoom in, zoom out,” says Tom Carrell, a consultant vascular surgeon at Guy’s and St Thomas’, who led the operation on May 8th to repair an aneurism in a patient’s aorta. With the Kinect, he says, “I had very intuitive control”.

Carrell used the system to look at a 3D model of a section of the abdominal aorta, captured on a CT scan. This was projected on to a 2D live image-feed of the operation site, taken with a fluoroscopic X-ray camera. So Carrell could see what was happening inside the patient, as well as using the 3D model to help navigate the twists, turns and branches of the aorta. He says he consulted the system four or five times during the 90-minute operation.

Being able to check the images easily also helps surgeons maintain their concentration throughout the procedure. “You’re just doing all of this stuff non-verbally and it just happens much more quickly. You’re maintaining the flow of what’s going on,” says Carrell.

But manipulating a “touchless” medical image-viewer in a room filled with surgeons, nurses, machines, trays, cables and lights poses challenges of its own.

“You usually think of Kinect in a game-like scenario where you can jump around and move your hands as wide as possible, but surgeons are not allowed to reach such a large area,” says Gerardo Gonzalez of Microsoft Research in Cambridge, UK, who helped develop the system in conjunction with surgeons from Guy’s and St Thomas’ and King’s College London.

So Gonzalez and colleagues developed a set of gestures that a surgeon can perform in a constrained space, while standing at the operating table. For the most common actions – rotating the 3D model or placing a marker on the image – the team designed one-handed gestures that combine with voice commands, leaving the other hand free for operating. To position a marker, for example, the surgeon simply points at the image to activate a cursor and says, “place marker”. Other functions, such as panning or zooming, require two hands.

Despite initial misgivings, Carrell is eager to continue working with the system. “I thought this was going to be a lot more awkward to start off with, but I was very pleased with the way it went today.”

Attribution: New Scientist

Birds of a Feather

by: the Common Constitutionalist

We all know the saying: “You can’t choose your family, but you do choose your friends.”

The other saying that comes to mind is, “Birds of a feather, flock together.”

One must agree that both are absolutely true statements.

After a recent discussion on the topic of whether our President is a Marxist, anti-colonialist, like his dear old mom and dad, I decided to put together a short list of friends, acquaintances, mentors and those who influenced Barack Hussein Obama over the years.

While you scan this list, ask yourself; Is there even a single person within my sphere of influence that is a crook, a felon, a radical, a Marxist, a communist, a Maoist, a terrorist, an anarchist, a radical Muslim or even a socialist?

I hope, for most of us, the answer is no, but if you were Barack Obama, you would have to say Yes.

The List:

Barack Obama, Sr. (Marxist, anti-colonialist, polygamist)

Ann Dunham [ (Obama’s mother) marxist, socialist]

Anita Dunn (socialist, Maoist)

Tony Rezko (crook, felon)

Bill Ayers (radical, terrorist, anarchist)

Bernadine Dorhn (radical, terrorist, anarchist)

Louis Farrakhan (radical Muslim, murderer (or at least accessory for the killing of Malcolm X)

Saul Alinsky (radical, anarchist, Marxist)

Khalid Al-Mansour (radical Muslim, black separatist)

Susan L. Rosenberg (radical, terrorist, anarchist)

Reverend Wright (radical black separatist)

Father Pfleger (radical, socialist)

Rashid Khalidi (radical Muslim)

Valerie Jarrett (socialist, Marxist)

Vernon Jarrett (communist)

Frank Marshall Davis (communist)

Van Jones (communist, radical)

  There are many, many more I could name, but this list should suffice in demonstrating just how “out of the mainstream” our dear President is.

I, myself, have a few friends that are liberal, but I believe that to be from ignorance. To remain friends, we don’t speak of politics. I know one person in my life that has spent time in prison. That’s about it. All the rest are basically of like mind, as are yours.

One cannot go through life surrounded by as many ne’er do wells as Obama has without becoming one himself. In my opinion, it’s impossible. Those who think it is possible are delusional.

So, look around at your friends, and then tell me I’m wrong.

Who Makes the Bed Anymore?

Hate making your bed in the morning? Now you don’t have to, thanks to an automated bed that does the job for you.

Spanish furniture maker OHEA says its new bed can make itself in just 50 seconds. The duvet is attached at the base of the bed, allowing robot arms to grab either side and straighten it out. Meanwhile, the pillows are stretched by internal cords and then lifted over the top of the duvet.

The bed works in both manual and automatic modes, with the latter switching on after the bed has been unoccupied for 3 seconds. There is also no need to worry about being permanently tucked in by while you sleep, as the bed is fitted with pressure sensors and will not begin to make itself if someone is on top.

He Was the Man

by: Nile Gardiner

June 12th marked the 25th anniversary of Ronald Reagan’s famous “tear down this wall” speech delivered before the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin in 1987. It is a reminder not only of President Reagan’s oratorical brilliance but also of his steadfast leadership on the world stage. For the Gipper was a president who, together with Margaret Thatcher, brought down the might of the Soviet Empire, liberated hundreds of millions from Communist tyranny and restored US leadership after the decline of the Carter years and the Vietnam era. Reagan was uncompromising in his opposition to the Soviet Union and his defense of freedom, driven by his belief in American exceptionalism and the unique role the United States must play in standing up to tyranny and advancing the cause of liberty.

For Ronald Reagan in 1987, West Berlin was the frontline in the war against Communism, a city the Russians had tried to strangle in 1948. He was determined to see the wall that divided Berlin’s three million inhabitants brought down, and the biggest symbol of Communist tyranny smashed to the ground. In his speech in Berlin, Reagan memorably declared:

“In the 1950’s, Khrushchev predicted: “We will bury you.” But in the West today, we see a free world that has achieved a level of prosperity and well being unprecedented in all human history. In the Communist world, we see failure, technological backwardness, declining standards of health, even want of the most basic kind-too little food. Even today, the Soviet Union still cannot feed itself. After these four decades, then, there stands before the entire world one great and inescapable conclusion: Freedom leads to prosperity. Freedom replaces the ancient hatreds among the nations with comity and peace. Freedom is the victor.”
…. “There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace. General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

Two decades later, for Barack Obama in 2008, Berlin was little more than a hubristic campaign stop where he could bask in the worship of adoring German youth en route to the White House, introducing himself as “a fellow citizen of the world.” A year into his presidency, he could not even be bothered to attend the city’s celebrations commemorating the 20th anniversary of the downfall of the Berlin Wall in 2009, which National Review Editor Rich Lowry appropriately described at the time as “the most telling nonevent of his presidency.”

In so many respects Reagan’s firm leadership in the 1980s towers over that of Barack Obama today. It would be hard to imagine President Obama delivering an address with the power and moral conviction of President Reagan’s Berlin Wall speech. While Obama has apologized for his nation, Reagan stood tall for American greatness. While Obama has sought accommodation with some of America’s key adversaries, Reagan vowed to defeat them. While Obama is cutting US defense spending, closing several US bases in Europe, and scaling back American global power, Reagan believed in peace through strength, and rebuilding America’s military might.

The people of Berlin and millions will always remember Ronald Reagan more across eastern and central Europe, as the steadfast leader who fought for their freedom and refused to back down in the face of a brutal enemy that had oppressed a continent for nearly half a century. It is thanks to his vision and determination that the Soviet Empire was brought to its knees. As his closest friend and ally Margaret Thatcher put it in her eulogy to Reagan at the Washington National Cathedral in 2004:

“Others prophesied the decline of the West. He inspired America and its allies with renewed faith in their mission of freedom… With the lever of American patriotism, he lifted up the world. And so today, the world – in Prague, in Budapest, in Warsaw and Sofia, in Bucharest, in Kiev, and in Moscow itself, the world mourns the passing of the great liberator and echoes his prayer: God bless America.”