An Explanation for Our Recent Downtime

Our website is hosted on a dedicated server that is operated
by The Planet: For those of you that
do not know what The Planet is, they
are the world’s largest privately held dedicated server company. They merged
with Everyones Internet, which ran the
EV1servers brand, in mid 2006, which gave them their title of the largest
privately held dedicated server company in the world. They have over 22,000
customers and 55,000 servers, their servers host over 2.8 million websites; a
massive operation.

Anyway, The Planet
had a major fire in their Houston H1 data center and all of the servers there
were brought down, our box along with the rest. A transformer in their H1 data
center in Houston caught fire, requiring them to take down all of their
generators, as they were instructed to do by the fire department. All of the
servers in the Houston H1 data center were brought down, some 9,000 servers,
which affects over 7,500 of their customers, including us.

It happened Saturday evening at 4:55pm CDT, 5:55pm EDT, in
their H1 data center. An electrical gear shorted, creating an explosion and a
large fire that knocked down three of the walls surrounding their electrical
equipment room. Thankfully no one was injured by either the explosion or the
fire.

A good thing for them is that the explosion and the fire did
not have any impact on any of their other five data centers. Though that
doesn’t change the fact that it did impact 7,500 of us, and whatever number of
secondary customers they have; countless websites as well, I don’t even want to
think about the number of sites that had prolonged downtime due to this
explosion.

President Bush Has Kept Us Safe

There was a great article by Thane Rosenbaum in the Wall
Street Journal today. The article is entitled The President Has Kept Us Safe. In the article he goes on to
discuss how he believes that our President has kept us safe from terrorists in
the nearly 7 years since 9/11. Here is my commentary on the article:

I, as Mr. Rosenbaum, also did not vote for Bush in 2004 (I
wasn’t of age in 2000), but regardless of whom I voted for, President Bush was
reelected and I accepted that choice. I’ve never talked badly about him at all;
I realize that he has an extremely difficult job, much more difficult than I
can even imagine I am sure.

That doesn’t mean that I support absolutely everything that
the President and his administration have done, as the article mentions the
Patriot Act as an example: I certainly don’t agree with our government
infringing on the rights and the privacies of our nations citizens, in fact I
am very much against it; but I can at the very least understand why such
measures were taken. They were undoubtedly put into place to protect the American
people, not to hurt them. I also do not believe that they are wire-tapping my
telephone or reading my messages.

I was also in New York on 9/11, and it’s absolutely correct that the people had a completely
different mindset at that time. I can clearly remember the most liberal people
that I knew, people who now support Barack Obama, suggesting that our country
simply attack other nations without any evidence at all against them, nations
in the middle east, simply because they may have had something to do with the
9/11 terrorist attacks.

Those very same people quite suddenly changed their tune as
the years passed; now they’re against the war in Iraq and think that it was a
terrible idea from the very beginning. They’re vehemently supporting Barack
Obama and the Democrats, and they trash our President every chance that they
get.

Now you could make the argument that the people that I speak
with are simply ignorant, but if you actually read some of the comments made by
Barack Obama followers right here on the internet, you can see that the people
that I speak with are not much different from any other Barack Obama follower.

The article is absolutely correct in saying that the winds
of change take to the American people as a hurricane takes to a wind chime.
They forget that not even 7 short years ago they were the very thing that they
are now so against. They are the ultimate hypocrisy.

America’s Entitlement Programs Must End: Social Security

Yesterday Richard W. Fisher, the president and CEO of the
Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, gave a speech concerning America’s entitlement
programs at the Commonwealth Club of California. He gave a run through of the
numbers that the future tax payers of America were going to have to deal with,
absolutely mind blowing numbers.

They were extremely sobering and inspired me
to write a series of articles about it, this will be the first article, covering Social Security.

America’s Entitlement Programs Must End: Social Security

The first issue, of course, is Social Security. It’s a hot-button
issue that everyone knows about, one everyone talks about; well, everyone aside
from most politicians, they don’t want to lose votes by stating the unpopular
facts behind the issue.

The amount of money necessary to keep our Social Security
system running as it is now is absolutely staggering. To simply cover all of
the unfunded liabilities of our Social Security system from now on would cost
the American tax payers an astonishing 13.6 trillion Dollars. Yes, that is an
amount nearly equal to an entire year of our nation’s Gross Domestic Product;
for those of you that don’t know, that is the yearly amount of all of the goods and
services produced in our country. This is well known of course, but seeing the
number represented in Dollars really hits home.

The problem is that there simply aren’t enough new workers
to take care of the aging baby boomers of our country. You see, our Social
Security system was not very well conceived, little foresight was used and little
consideration was given to future generations.

The issue now is that people are living for a much longer
period of time, yet they still retire and begin to receive their entitlements
at the very same age that they did during Social Security’s inception. So while in 1940 only 53.9 percent of American Males and only
60.6 percent of American Females survived from their adulthood all the way to
their retirement; in 1990 those numbers jumped to 72.3 percent for Males and 83.6
percent for Females. While that is undoubtedly a good thing, it is one of many
things that have put tremendous strain on our entitlement programs.

Not only are people living even longer thanks to our medical
technology; but thanks as well to the post-war baby-boom, the number of American
citizens aged 65 or older has more than quintupled since the inception of our
Social Security program. That number is huge on its own, but it is only half
the story, many baby boomers are still working and will reach their retirement in the coming years.

The population of the United States aged 65 and older is
also expected to double in size within the next 20 years. By the year 2030 it is
estimated that nearly 1-out-of-5 Americans, as many as 72 million people, will
be 65 years of age or older. The 85 and older age group is currently one of the
fastest growing segments of the population.

The fact is that there simply aren’t
enough workers to pay for that many retirees. The birth rate has decreased dramatically as well, for various reasons. All of these factors combined have led us to our current predicament. Something has to be done about this, we cannot continue passing our debt on to future generations.

Social Security is not the only entitlement issue: In my next
article I’ll discuss Medicare, as well as my views on how to fix the problem.

The Best Bands That You Don’t Know: Aloha

Aloha is a hardworking, crazy-touring mainstay of Polyvinyl
Records here in the States. Started by long time members Tony Cavallario
and Matthew Gengler while they were attending college during the summer of
1997 in Ohio; they have been working extremely hard for the progress of their
band ever since. Matthew and Tony, joined by Cale Parks and later T.J. Lipple
in the spring of 2003 make up the band as they are now.

With the addition of T.J. their sound was able to expand quite
a bit from the band’s earlier works; with his sound contributions of a homemade
Mellotron, Marimba, Organ playing, editing tricks, as well as his Drum playing
abilities; which allowed Cale to further develop his sound within the band.

Their expanded sound can be seen on their first album
together: 2004’s Here Comes Everyone,
which was released that winter. The beginnings of the album were written in T.J.’s
grandfather’s house in Pennsylvania shortly after the coming together of the band’s
lineup.

Their follow up album was the critically acclaimed Some Echoes, which was released in the
spring of 2006. The album was recorded and produced at the Silver Sonya studio
in Virginia, which is operated by T.J. and Chad Clark (from the DC band Beauty
Pill).

Some Echoes showcased
a further progression in their sound and was praised by nearly everyone that
listened to the record; I honestly do not believe that I’ve read a single poor
review of the album. It is an absolute classic and quite possibly my favorite
work by the band to date. The album was also streamed on their website for
everyone to listen to, but sadly the old band website is no longer available;
they now use their Myspace page for their website needs.

Their latest release is Light
Works
, an EP, released in late 2007. While not as progressive sounding as
the previous two releases, Light Works
is a light and fine work indeed, especially as far as EP’s are concerned; it is
a quality release without a doubt, it’s almost album like. Though it may be a
little unexpected at first to hear the piano and the acoustic guitar, you soon
get used to it and enjoy the quality of the work that is being done.

Aloha really is one of the hardest working bands making
music today, and they are grossly unappreciated for the amazing work that they
have done and continue to do. I have been to several Aloha shows over the years
and I am not joking when I say that they are one of the hardest working bands
around. They are in what seems to be a constant state of touring, recording,
writing and working.

They have played shows all over the world, from every corner
of the United States, to Japan and Singapore. They have a very loyal following
in their fan base, which will undoubtedly continue to grow as time passes by
and people continue to discover them. The band certainly deserves any and all recognition
that they receive.

Aloha: One of the best bands that you didn’t know about
until reading this article.

The Facts Behind The Gas Tax Holiday

So this whole gas tax issue has been popular lately; since
John McCain and Hillary Clinton both stated that removing the tax on gasoline
and other fuels would be something that they would do, and something that they
believe would be good for Americans; while Barack Obama opposed the idea.

I’m not going to argue whether I believe John McCain, Barack
Obama, or Hillary Clinton is correct in their stance and their beliefs on the
issue. What I am going to address is what exactly all of these tax payer
dollars in fuel tax revenue are supposed to be going to:

You may have seen the word hypothecation used in reference
to the gas tax; what that means is that the revenues from the motor fuel tax
are supposed to go directly towards the infrastructure used by motor vehicles,
such as roads, bridges and highways; as well as to help with the infrastructure
for the fuels themselves.

Many people’s main argument against both John McCain’s and
Hillary Clinton’s idea to relieve the American people of this motor fuel tax
for the summer has been that this money is indeed going towards the repair and
upkeep of our roads, bridges and highways; and why would we not want better and
safer roads, bridges and highways.

Yet just last summer we had two different bridges collapse
right here in the United States; including the absolutely devastating Minneapolis
I-35W Bridge in Minneapolis, Minnesota; which sadly cost the lives of 13
innocent Americans and hurt at least 60 more. A horrible and unnecessary travesty,
that undoubtedly could have and should have been prevented.

Several independent research institutions have also pointed
out several other bridges in need of repair; as well as vast stretches of other
infrastructure that is in need of upkeep. So where is all of this tax money
going if not on this very necessary infrastructure maintenance?

In fiscal year 2005, nearly 36 Billion Dollars in revenue
from the Motor Fuel Tax was received by state and local governments across the
United States. An additional 18.4 cents per gallon in Federal Tax is also
currently charged; which is also the tax that the three Presidential candidates
and their supporters are debating over. That is a lot of money that is supposed
to be used to keep Americans safe.

The 18.4 cents per gallon Federal tax, if voided for the
summer as John McCain and Hillary Clinton wish to do, would “cost” the
government 10 Billion dollars. What “cost” actually means in this case is that
the American people would be able to keep 10 Billion of their hard earned
dollars over the summer, while the government would theoretically have 10
Billion less tax dollars to waste.

The argument of those against the tax holiday is, as I
stated above, that this summer tax holiday is going to “cost” the government 10
Billion dollars, which would otherwise be going towards the upkeep of our nation’s
infrastructure.

Yet from our recent history, as well as simply keeping our
eyes open as we drive on, ride on, and walk along our roads, we can see that
our infrastructure is in terrible shape. From this we must come to the
conclusion that the Billions of dollars in taxes that are supposed to be going
towards our nation’s infrastructure are actually being wasted. Which is not a surprise;
the government wastes the vast majority of our tax dollars.

The other argument against the gas tax holiday is that it is
not going to reduce prices at the pump at all. Those greedy oil companies are
simply going to add another 18.4 cents per gallon to their bottom and top lines!

That argument is simply ignorance. Why? Because the Motor
Fuel Tax is added onto the price of gas set by the oil companies, it has no
impact on the price that fuel companies charge for their fuel. It is an added
tax of 18.4 cents on every gallon of fuel sold in the United States.

That doesn’t mean that the price of your gasoline will not
continue to rise over the summer, as it does every summer. That is simply due
to the increased demand for the product during the summer months. The tax being
there or not being there is not at all relevant.

If the tax was there, then the price for gasoline over the
summer would be the oil company’s price plus an added 18.4 cents extra in tax.
If the tax was not there, then the price of the gasoline would be 18.4 cents
cheaper.

Hopefully that clears up the issue for everyone that was confused
about it, and for those unsure of whether your candidate’s stance is
intelligent or not: Simply look at the facts and come to your own conclusion.

The Greatest Songs of All Time: Neil Young’s “Don’t Let It Bring You Down”

Released
on the 19th of September, 1970, on Young’s brilliant and now classic After
the Gold Rush
album; the song was written by Young and the album was
written and recorded between the summer of 1969 and the spring/summer of 1970.
Most of the album was recorded in the homemade recording studio thrown together
in Young’s home in Topanga Canyon;  a very popular and famous place to
live at the time for musicians due to its populace, attitude, and location in
Los Angeles County, California.

 

It’s
an acoustic song in the vein of Young’s work with Crosby, Stills & Nash, as
is much of the album; quite possibly due to the immense popularity of their
album with Young Déjà Vu, which was released earlier that year and
quickly rose to the top of the charts.

 

No
matter what the reasoning was behind Young’s decision to record the album the
way he did, he still created a great album. Though it was originally panned by
critics; it is now generally accepted as a great album, one of Neil Young’s
best, which I tend to agree with; and furthermore, it has several great songs
on it, including “Don’t Let It Bring You Down”:

 

 

Lyrics:

Old
man lying
by the side of the road
with the lorries rolling by
Blue moon sinking
from the weight of the load
and the building scrape the sky
Cold wind ripping
down the allay at dawn
and the morning paper flies
Dead man lying
by the side of the road
with the daylight in his eyes

Don’t let it bring you down
It’s only castles burning
Find someone who’s turning
And you will come around

Blind man running
through the light
of the night
with an answer in his hand
Come on down
to the river of sight
and you can really understand
Red lights flashing
through the window
in the rain
can you hear the sirens moan?
White cane lying
in a gutter in the lane,
if you’re walking home alone.

Don’t let it bring you down
It’s only castles burning
Just find someone who’s turning
And you will come around

Don’t let it bring you down
It’s only castles burning
Just find someone who’s turning
And you will come around

 

It is a beautiful work with beautifully simple and
extremely vivid lyrics; which are powerfully brought to the forefront of the
song via Young’s voice and the simple playing of his acoustic guitar.

Increasing Food Prices Is A Serious Issue

Increasing
Food Prices is a Serious Issue

 

People are going to suffer due to the rapidly increasing
price of foods and other commodities. No, not American people, and not the
people in any of the more advanced countries. The people that are going
to suffer are those truly poor and downtrodden people in our world; there is
true poverty out there, people that simply do not have the opportunity to make
their lives better.

These people aren’t able to farm their own lands to feed themselves;
they have to deal with the current global commodity situation just as every one
of us does. But sadly these people, these many millions of people, they simply cannot keep
up with these rapidly increasing prices. These are people that live on the
equivalent of one dollar a day, one single dollar each day.

Living on a dollar a day is known as extreme poverty. Just imagine
having the spending power of one single dollar every day and you will easily be
able to see why these people can barely survive; that they do in fact go
hungry, often to the point of starvation. And it is only going to get worse as
the price of commodities continues to rise.

When we hear the politicians and our fellow Americans
complaining about the increase in prices through various forms of media, it’s
them complaining about petty things such as Milk increasing in price and how
outrageous it is. But the fact is that us Americans are not in any danger from
this increase in commodity prices; no, we are going to be just fine. It is the
truly poor in our world that will suffer.

All of us have heard the various reasons given for the
increase in prices: From the recent popularity of bio fuels to global warming
diminishing the harvests. Neither of these is the real reason for the increase
in prices, no matter what the politicians and pundits tell you and want you to
think.

Demand is the main reason behind the increase in commodity
prices. It’s as simple as that. Millions of people in both India and China, as
well as several other emerging countries, are eating a much higher quality diet
than they previously were. This is by no means a bad thing; we should all be very
happy for these people, people that have brought themselves out of poverty through hard
work and determination. It is a great thing.

We can’t blame anyone or single thing. From the
increased demand in countries such as China and India, to bio fuels and global
warming; we can certainly debate which of these things has a larger affect on prices, but that is only going to lead us to continuing the avoidance of
the real issue: That is the truly poor people in the world that are suffering
now, and will continue to suffer as these elements weigh on the prices of
commodities in the future.

Can we do anything about this? I’m sure that we can, yes.
For example, I simply consume less and waste less. There is an incredible
amount of waste in advanced countries; people don’t give it a second thought. I
witness people wasting without care every single day of my life. It’s a
terrible thing.

Knowing that our waste alone could feed millions of truly needy
people is a very sad thing. We’ve all seen the studies, some saying that half
of the food in the United States is actually wasted, never ingested by a human
being at all. The first time that I read that I was shocked, sure; but I knew
that it would be a staggering amount of waste based on what I have seen with my own eyes.

The fact is that less waste and more efficiency here in the
United States would dramatically drop the demand for commodities, and as such,
it would in turn drop the price of food throughout the world. This would allow
more and more people to eat, to eat a better diet, and be healthier in general.

So the next time that you’re in your local supermarket, don’t
complain about the increasing cost of your Eggs and Milk; instead think of the
poor people that are going to go without due to you continuing your wasteful
habits.

Rethinking the war in Iraq: Why we have to stay in Iraq

Why we have to stay in Iraq

 

The people of Iraq are depending on us. The population of
Iraq is estimated at well over twenty-seven million; twenty-seven million of our
fellow human beings that have had their country and their lives turned upside
down by this war; twenty-seven million; twenty-seven million people that are only
going to be affected negatively by our withdrawal from their country in its
current state.

You don’t have to believe that us going into Iraq was a good
idea in the first place, I certainly don’t believe that it was. But that does not
change the fact that we are now in Iraq and that those twenty-seven million
Iraqi children, women, and men, both young and old and every age in between,
are in a much worse situation than we are.

We are certainly going to be affected as well: There is a
huge cost to us staying in Iraq for the long haul, a cost of many American
lives and a large amount of Americans tax dollars. But it is the Iraqi people that are
going to end up paying the greatest price, a far greater price than we could
possibly imagine, if we choose to abandon them and their country, leaving them
with the mess that we have started.

It doesn’t matter why we are in Iraq now, or why we went
there in the beginning. Yes, we all know that Barack Obama voted against going
to war with Iraq; we all know that Hillary Clinton voted to go to war with Iraq; and we
all know that it was the idea of the Republicans, George Bush, and Dick Chaney
in the first place, but none of the matters any longer. The reality of the
situation is that there are millions and millions of innocent Iraqi civilians,
people just like you and I, that are going to end up paying the real cost of
this war. Think of those people the next time you are discussing, listening to,
or reading something about the war in Iraq. Think of those people the next time you hear
a person or a politician say that we need to abandon Iraq.

Why Are Atheists So Pompous?: The Problem With Atheism

The Problem with Atheists

 

The problem with modern atheism is that its followers do not
seem to have a firm grasp on the fact that religion is a part of our modern
culture. We have people making outrageous claims and making attempts at
refuting religious beliefs, and denying the fact that many religious values and
concepts are ingrained in our culture as a people.

Many atheists are so against having a belief in God that
they would infringe on the rights of others who do choose to believe in God.
Many atheists will persecute any and all people who freely choose to follow a
religion and have a belief in God. They will bring up petty, minor, nearly irrelevant
issues such as whether or not the word God is used in our Pledge of Allegiance;
or that In God We Trust is printed on our money and used as a motto; simply to
continue their efforts to persecute and look down upon those that choose to
believe in God and follow a religion.

Certainly some people are going to disagree with our
feelings on religion and beliefs in God, and they should of course be free to
do that without being persecuted for it. Just as you or I, or Richard Dawkins
should be free to at the very least state our feelings, our thoughts, and our opinions
on the subject. I just feel that a great many atheists are very invasive with
their beliefs, and that stems from the more popular atheists in the world.
People see Richard Dawkins being extremely arrogant with his opinion everywhere
that he goes, increasing his popularity with these extreme atheists, and indeed
they are building his ego up as they continue to follow in his footsteps, which
is just going to make the issue worse. It’s a vicious circle.

Of course there is an issue if and when religious beliefs somehow
change our policies and laws, in our free country, in these modern times. I do
not agree with that at all, and believe it to be a much greater issue than the
word God being in the Pledge of Allegiance, using the example above; or the
fact that many of our and much of the worlds holidays take place on dates that
are particularly important to various religions throughout history, or are for
various figures of Christianity and other religions. Religion is an undeniable
part of our history and culture as Americans and of humans as a whole, and it
should be respected as such.