Russia will be free!

It appears that hundreds of thousands of Russians have reached Howard Beale-like levels of intolerance with the status quo. And what a joy it is to see the Putin-Medvedev team reel. From USA Today:

Rally participants densely packed a broad avenue, which has room for nearly 100,000 people, about some 1.5 miles from the Kremlin, as the temperature dipped well below freezing. They chanted “Russia without Putin!” A stage at the end of the 0.43 mile avenue featured placards reading “Russia will be free” and “This election Is a farce.” Heavy police cordons encircled the participants, who stood within metal barriers, and a police helicopter hovered overhead. Alexei Navalny, a corruption-fighting lawyer and popular blogger, electrified the crowd when he took the stage. A rousing speaker, he had protesters shouting “We are the power!”

Pictures of the massive protest can be found at HuffPo.

And the rain on the Putin parade continues to come down too. Former Soviet premier, Mikhail Gorbachev, has called on Putin to resign.

You know what grinds my gears?

One of my favorite segments from Family Guy was Peter’s out of left field tirades entitled “You know what grinds my gears?”. I had one recently and here is a compilation from youtube:

What led me to that video was an editorial over at the Huffington Post by a respected academician, Benjamin Barber, who rails against the hypocrisy of American exceptionalism in light of our frenzy to cut funding to important programs and entertain the possibility of an unconstitutional default. I agree with Barber’s thesis that we have passed the point of being exceptional and the debacle happening Washington is example #1 but the tone of his column is just deliciously curmudgeony:

Leadership is a competition in big deeds not big talk. Big deeds cost big bucks and demand from a people confidence and a willingness to sacrifice, as well as a firm sense of how the private and the public intersect and reinforce one another. No nation ever maintained a global role by dismantling its government and refusing to pay its bills. We certainly cannot be number one and turn over leadership in physics to Europe (as we did when we dropped out of the super-collider race and punted to CERN in Switzerland), end our manned space program and defund the Webb telescope, and give up on higher education and public health. Launching Predator drones over Pakistan while we stumble into default won’t cut it. In short, we can embrace timidity and go on maiming the public sector, destroying democratic governance and stashing our shrinking wealth (unequally divided) under our mattresses. Or we can walk the bold talk and share our common-wealth (well named!) and resume a global leadership rooted in vision, dynamism, equal sacrifice and hard work. But please, all you “exceptionalists,” all you libertarian and Tea-Party and fiscal conservative hypocrites, stop preening to show off your new clothes when you’re dressed in tatters. Stop telling the world how great we are, and yet telling us how impotent we are to pay for, let alone realize, greatness. Stop shouting “WE’RE NUMBER ONE” when it’s because of you we’re heading for number 35.

Being a space nut, I was particularly incensed (my gears are grinding) at the defunding of the Webb telescope. Just how dedicated are we to shaming the legacy of John Glenn, Buzz Aldrin, Sally Ride and all the other brave Americans that inspire generations to believe that we can achieve the unthinkable?

A gotta see movie

Brad Pitt is already getting some oscar buzz for his part in the upcoming Terrence Malick movie “Tree of Life”. I am so excited to see this movie. This is a movie aimed directly at the hearts of those suffering from a quarter-life crisis:

THE TREE OF LIFE is the impressionistic story of a Midwestern family in the 1950’s. The film follows the life journey of the eldest son, Jack, through the innocence of childhood to his disillusioned adult years as he tries to reconcile a complicated relationship with his father (Brad Pitt). Jack (played as an adult by Sean Penn) finds himself a lost soul in the modern world, seeking answers to the origins and meaning of life while questioning the existence of faith. Through Malick’s signature imagery, we see how both brute nature and spiritual grace shape not only our lives as individuals and families, but all life.

Sunlight, Water & Carbon Dioxide=Diesel?

HuffPo has some fascinating news on the renewable energy front. A company by the name of Joule Unlimited has announced the creation of a cyanobacterium which transforms through photosynthesis sunlight, water and carbon dioxide into diesel fuel. This particular form of cyanobacterium was created through genetic modification and the company’s CEO Bill Sims makes what I hope time will demonstrate to be an appropriately bold claim:

“We make some lofty claims, all of which we believe, all which we’ve validated, all of which we’ve shown to investors,” said Joule chief executive Bill Sims. “If we’re half right, this revolutionizes the world’s largest industry, which is the oil and gas industry,” he said. “And if we’re right, there’s no reason why this technology can’t change the world.”

Sites to watch on Egypt

Wanted to share some of the sites I’ve been using to follow the revolution in Egypt.

Enduring America, Al Jazeera, The Guardian and the Huffington Post have some excellent live blogging. CNN correspondent Ben Wedeman @bencnn has been faithfully providing coverage particularly via Twitter. On Facebook, user We are all Khaled Said is also providing some excellent coverage.

Good hash tags: #jan25, #jan28, #egypt, #cairo

Another people rise up

The picture says it all, doesn’t it? May we all stand in solidarity with the brave men and women who don’t ask but do demand a government of their own choosing and respect for rights fundamental to every single human being on Earth. The January 25th demonstrations against the nearly 30-year rule of Hosni Mubarak continue. Even after the regime outlawed demonstrations and ordered security forces to quell the unrest. And thank goodness, just as I was beginning to wonder, Mohamed ElBaradei is headed back to Egypt to “support efforts geared toward a transition to a new government”.