Author Archives: thewanderer

Talladega: The Tour De France of Not France

Trying to add a little travel talk in your life, when you think of the most epic sporting events in the world the Tour D’Franc will most definitely take the cake in a lot of peoples minds. The great finish on the Champs Elysees is one of the most amazing happenings and with some of the most extraordinary athletes in the world. However, if you were to compare this to any sporting event in America I could not think of anything more awesome than NASCAR at Talladega. This epic clash of motor-sport Albert Einsteins defies all rules and creates something so awesome only people with a lack of normal hygiene can truly love and enjoy. I am proud to say that I am one of those people that fits into this most prestigious category of Awesomeness.

The most recent race at Talladega, Aaron’s 499, definitely showcases the most amazing driver’s in the world of American motor-sports, while drawing in the most eclectic crowd of people who lives by the rules of MacGyver. This all weekend event is a perfect way to bring people who have like beliefs and idea, which are that America is the greatest place on Earth and Jeff Gordon is a bitch. There may be some who do not share those ideals, but they will be swiftly dealt with by a drunk old woman with 3 and a half teeth.

I do not mean to belittle or talk ill of the people that attend these gatherings because I attended this showing of American greatness. The people here were some of the nicest I have encountered in a long while. Everyone is very welcoming and has a smile on their face, except when you talk about socialism, soccer and anything that makes the red, white and blue looks uncool.

However outrageous the fans at these venues may be, you must commend the drivers skill to race a car around such a difficult track. These drivers are truly another breed of crazy that takes their racing machines to the ultimate limit. Talladega is one of the few tracks that requires the drivers’ to limit the speed of their vehicles for safety reasons. This 2 and three-quarter mile ring can get these cars up to a speed well around the 220 range if not for the restrictor plate that is mandatory for the race. This by no means make the race any less exciting when, especially when they come of turns bump drafting each other at about 190 miles and hour.

This was the first time I was able to go to one of these races. I can honestly say that I had the dumbest/drunkest grin on my face during the entire race because of the sheer power and amazing ability that was shown by the drivers of these vehicles. I have never been to something so grand in the middle of no-where. If any of you has the ability or wants to experience something a little different, most definitely check out a chance to go to Talladega, Alabama for a true experience of America and how people in the South get down. Do no go their for a girls weekend or a lame gathering of bros because you will easily be bitch-slapped back to reality by the middle-aged man throwing jello shots at you or the blaring country music that destroys anything hipster.

I  promise that a weekend in Talladega will be one of the most epic of your life, even if you have to get out on bond.


Why did this almost government shut-down look like two fat kids fighting over the last piece of cake?

This almost government shut-down came down to the age old fact of who is going to get their way. The Republicans in the House believe that the government is spending too much money and want their to be budget cuts because they believe that tax payer dollars are being ill-spent. The Obama administration and the Democrats do not believe in this spending cut and especially do not believe in the Republicans plan to reduce the national debt. As we can see it is a match to see who’s dick is bigger and these politicians stubbornness almost led to millions of American being affected negatively because of it.

I do not understand how their thickheaded reasoning could propel them to almost shut-down the government because of this bickering. Common ground needs to be found because we can all see that the Republicans have a goal to crush any attempt the Obama administration makes to try to push further program spending that they do not approve of. This is meant to lower the federal budget because Republicans feel it is getting too “involved” in people’s lives. I for one do not understand what that means because I feel it is the governments job to protect and provide for its people and that means that everyone does their bit along the way to help. I feel that there are a lot of people who seem unwilling to help their fellow man through paying taxes. I know that nobody gets excited about paying taxes, but those who make more should give more and those who make less should not have to give as much. I understand that those who may give less get a disproportionate amount of the services those funds are appropriated for, but that is the reason those funds are there. To try and give these people a better life because they do not have the luxury of being wealthy and comfortable.

I feel that some people are misconstruing the government’s involvement as an invasion of privacy when it is not that at all. I don’t feel that helping others and providing them with services that make their life more comfortable and up to the standard a developed nation should be is that much to ask. I know that maybe my money that is taxed is not always going towards the programs and services that I am passionate about. It can go to bailing out big banks that I find to be huge crooks, but it can also go towards helping a family where the breadwinner has lost his or her job and my taxes are making sure that they have enough money to eat. Those type of programs make me happy to know that my money is being well spent and it is helping those who actually need it.

Hopefully the people making the laws will understand that we as people all have a obligation to help others. I don’t care which party does it, but they need to make sure that their personal issues with each other does not get in the way of their real job to help the American people. Too many people rely on the actions of a few and when these unnecessary stalemates occur it does nothing to help our country.

Getting Connected: Present Day Revolutions and Technology

The use of technology has changed our world culture in so many ways that one could not count that high. The most amazing thing about this technology is that is can be utilized through so many mediums. Taking a look at the Green Revolution in Iran we can effectively see how the use of services such as Twitter and Facebook can not only be used to communicate with friends and write non-sense, but to organize political rallies and mass demonstrations. This may come as a great shock to those in the Western world who use these services on a daily basis to check to see what Chad Ochocinco talked about the night before (which really isn’t that interesting). These services can be used as a very instrumental political tool especially when someone wants to reach a massive audience instantly.

The use of this technology has granted people in “closed societies” the ability to see and hear what the rest of the world is doing. In the societies that we are currently seeing popular uprisings the international community has acknowledged the fact that these are oppressive societies. Many of these societies have internet access is reachable for many of it’s citizens. Places like North Korea and China keep a very tight grip on what content is allowed and what is most definitely not. Places like Libya went into a “cyber blackout” after the fact, to restrict with use of communication for the common citizen. This does prove to hinder people from communicating, but the spark has already ignited the flame. No matter how long the internet traffic is down, people around the country know that their feelings and sentiments are not of those held by the few, but the many.

In many of these places is can be said that social media did not cause revolutions and popular uprisings. We can attribute this to a multitude of things that range from high unemployment (especially among educated youth), non-democratic societies, oppressive regime structure (which is prone to rejecting any and all forms of change), and a bureaucracy driven on clientelism. Twitter did not cause these people to join forces and band together. It did help people express themselves in a time of great unrest. People from other countries were able to exchange ideas and information, which is always the backbone for such change to occur. The exchange of ideas and information has driven societies to transform and grow.

Right now we can see that happening in places that have seen oppressive rulers who have been in power for decades see their rule come to an end. No amount of money can save a person who is seen as illegitimate in the eyes of their people. The international community does help sway the tide on many levels, however the grunt of the work comes the people who call these places home. If it weren’t for technology I wouldn’t be able to write about what is happening in these places thousands of miles from me and you wouldn’t be able to read my 2 cents on the issue.

This is obviously not a perfect depiction of what is going on everywhere, but it may lay the stepping stones for this to happen in a larger country, maybe even in a more developed nation. No one knows the extent of technology’s reach, especially when it comes to pissed off people talking about what is pissing them off. Thankfully I’m not that upset about really anything, but I do like analyzing why other people seemed to be pissed and what they do about it. Finding out how such social mediums play a role in future political happenings will be a very interesting for all of us to experience.

How does self-interest translate into humanitarian intervention?

The recent operation undertaken by Western European countries and the United States is a very dramatic step in the enforcement of the no-fly zone over Libya. This enforcement of the no-fly zone has made hast from the inception of the U.N. Resolution to actually implementing the resolution through active military involvement. The use of 121 Tomahawk missiles on strategic military targets in order to degrade and essentially eliminate Libya’s ability to patrol the sky. Now the enforcement of this resolution is something that has moved faster than almost any resolution I am familiar with. Things like economic sanctions and internationally isolation may have moved faster in the past, but still probably has not been at this speed. It definitely makes one think that what part of this is because of economic downturn in the states that have decided to enforce the U.N. Resolution.

The main focal point of U.N. Resolution 1973 is to protect civilians from Qaddafi’s forces and their bombardment of rebel held strongholds where the main targets may not be the rebels, but the people who care caught in the crossfire. However, the Western powers that have intervened in Libya to assist the civilians from further humanitarian atrocities, I feel there is a definite self-interest approach to acting so quickly in this matter. States just don’t act with such haste if they do not feel they are going to get a return on their investment. There were many other instances where people are being oppressed by the leaders of their country. Take the instances of Burma, Ivory Coast, Rwanda, Sudan or Cambodia. These were all instances in which the people of these countries were being brutally murdered, assaulted, and their rights being totally trampled on, but they did not hold such weight in the global economy as Libya does.

I do understand that the major underpinnings of this resolution and the action taken place by the Western powers was to make sure that humanitarian norms are upheld and people are not attacked and killed by this brutal leader. However, the fact that U.S. and Western European oil prices have risen quite substantially because of this uprising, I feel has a major part in this equation. This can definitely not be said on paper or through any official release, but greed always has its place in warfare. I do feel that people are innately good and they do things that not only help themselves, but those around them. However, states act in self-interest, especially when this involves contributing a vast amount of military resources to have it done.

In addition, the United States does not have a great track record with initiating military involvement under the auspicious of the U.N. The United States has the resources to do things unilaterally, thus does not need the approval of the U.N. to carry out military strikes against another country or entity. This does grant them further legitimacy in the eyes of the internationally community, so when the violence does quell and oil exportation begins again and new contracts are signed the focus will be not on how much money is being made, but how many people were saved.

This will definitely be a very delicate situation to deal with, as Qaddafi does have a following within his stronghold of Tripoli and does still possess military armaments. The ground advancements must come from the rebels who have already showed initiative in trying to change the situation in Libya. International intervention on the ground must continue to be focused on providing humanitarian aid and assistance and not become a policing entity where those from the opposition are left ostracized. It will be very interesting to see where this military intervention will have moved in the next week, due to the fact it was initiated so quickly. The military coordination needed for this operation will definitely make the task easier for those states involved and interesting to see who will take the lead if Qaddafi has been weakened to a terminal point.

Interlaken, Switzerland: Adventurers Dream In the Swiss Alps – Part 1

Now this tucked away town is deep in the heart of Switzerland. It is probably one of the greatest places to go if you need to quench your adventurous thirst. Interlaken has every possible extreme sport one can dream up. If you want to go ice climbing, you can do it. If you want to go sky diving, you can do it (and what better place to do it than right over the Swiss Alps). If you want to go canyoning, you can do it (google it). This gorgeous town nestled right in between 2 lakes (hence the name Inter- between and Laken- lakes), is probably one of the most beautiful places in the world to explore.

Interlaken has a very fun loving atmosphere that is shared by all of its residents. This is probably one of the most pristine places I have ever been and would probably give up something super awesome to go back there again. This travel destination does push some of the other extreme destinations to the curb in my opinion. I have never been to a place where I could drink tap water that came from the mountain that also calls this place home. The ability to really become a part of nature through the endless amount of outdoor sports that are offered cannot be compared to any other places I have visited.

In addition, if you would like a taste of tradition Swiss culture there are various shops and parts of the city that can give you that. As long as you stay away from the Hooters and Casino in town, you will get an untainted view of Swiss mountain/countryside culture. It truly pained me to leave and I know that many others that have been to this place have felt the same.

One of the great places to stay for the adventurer if called Balmers. This is a hostel and might not be fit for those older individuals or couples. It is a definite for younger people who are interested in meeting people from around the world. The people that visit this extreme slice of Switzerland all come for the adventure. You cannot stay at the hostel if you are not into partying hard at night and really immersing yourself with what Interlaken has to offer by day. It is definitely meant for those with a rebellious edge that enjoy the calculated, and miscalculated risks that Interlaken has to offer.

In my next post I’ll go over some of the exciting things you can do in Interlaken that will most definitely give you a much needed jolt of adrenaline.

How Technology and Science Helped to Prepare Japan for the Unexpected

The horrible events that unfolded off of the coast of Japan these past several days feel like it was Mother’s Natures most intense attempt at destruction. This very advanced society was not able to stave off the ability of Mother Nature to take charge when she feels like it. Japan understands that its placement in the world makes it very prove to earthquakes and the tsunamis that follow. Japan is in perfect placement in the “Ring of Fire” to be susceptible to a large earthquake and the tsunami that follows.

Japan has taken steps to have an early-warning system in place which is named the DART (Deep-ocean Assessment and Reporting of Tsunami). In this advanced system a combination of surface and ocean floor readings are used to analyze a multitude of calculation that assist in determining the intensity of an earthquake or tsunami. This early warning system was able to save the lives of thousands of Japanese citizens due to the mechanisms built into the system to alert people thought their television and cell phones. Additionally, the fail-safe mechanisms built into industrial and transportation systems cause them to automatically shut down during such occurrences to minimize damage.

A Japanese tsunami detection buoy

This advanced this system may be able to alert the people of Japan about an imminent threat, however the placement of this event next to 4 nuclear power stations could not have been written better. The vulnerability of these stations due to their close proximity to water sources for cooling purposes do make them extremely vulnerable to such acts of God.  The exponential complications that will now unfold in the coming days will highlight how destructive and long lasting this event will be on the people of Japan.

Although this author does not have much to add to this horrible catastrophe I truly hope that the coming days will paint a much better picture than that which is being reported on recently. I am confident that the people of Japan can rebound from this horrible act, but the amount of time it will take will be the question at hand. The buildings, infrastructure, and lives that were built in these places in Japan took decades, even centuries, to construct were swept away with one precisely placed natural even.

The lawmakers in America should most definitely take this event as a warning of what could happen to our West Coast. The densely populations cities of San Diego, San Fransisco and Los Angeles can most definitely be threatened by an tsunami from the Ring of Fire. The GOP lawmakers have proposed massive cuts for the National Weather Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) which are not only integral in the Pacific early warning system, but can be used to progress our scientific community. It only takes one time to cause massive damage and destruction for people to realize that change needs to be made. How about we try to ready for that spontaneous occurrence of Mother Nature’s fury because you can always rebuild a building, but no amount of money will bring back people that could have been protected.

Muammar al-Qaddafi: A true leader or desert version of Charlie Sheen

We have all seen the recent events that have unfolded in Libya these past several weeks. It is very hard to realize that a sane and competent leader has determined that it is in the best interest of his people to attack and repel the popular uprising that has swept the North Africa by storm. The only possible comparison I can draw from this is that he has taken some cues from Charlie Sheen and is trying his hardest to become a winner. No one who has been the leader of a country since 1969, which has a quite defunct civil society, an equally inept bureaucracy, high un-employment, and an economy built on a finite resource, wants to see his people being actively working to dispose him.

Muammar al-Qaddafi can now be considered much more delusional that the most extreme of Hollywood celebrities. His power is hanging by a thread that is more vulnerable than a Charlie Sheen stripper binge. His strange accusations that drugs have been put in the publics water to make them react in this manner is a very sad ploy to create some propaganda that remotely might work in his favor. His blame on Al-Qaeda stirring up trouble in Libya is another silly accusation putting blame on a group that is active in his country and throughout North Africa, but not in the capacity that would be able to turn tides of a government

The very intriguing thing about Libyan society is how it is extensively based upon the tribe. Their influence reigns supreme. This allegiance to the tribe far surpasses the loyalty to one’s country that most citizens of other countries draw allegiance to. Qaddafi understands this and has tried to incorporate tribes under his rule through a manner that grants them power positions within the military, politics, and special forces. His family has done a great job solidifying their role as having a conglomerate on Libyan political and military society. It can be said that their own allegiances ultimately lie with Muammar, however the control of their private militias in a semi-anarchic society begs the question which direction will the different members of the family choose if the situation in Libya strongly favors the opposition movement.

The most important thing that the opposition movement can do right now it to hold on to the key cities of Benghazi, Tobruk, Ras Lanuf, and Brega due to their strategic location on the coast and their oil refineries. In effect, this would be able to choke the major points of commerce that Qaddafi relies on for income. Encircling Tripoli would truly put a noose around the Qaddafi regime.  I feel that the longer the opposition is able to grasp on to these key cities the greater Qaddafi will look illegitimate in the eyes of the people he currently calls allies. However, the opposition cannot do this on the weapons cache they currently have. It will be interesting to see what sort of outside influence will ally itself with the opposition movement. Qaddafi does have many enemies in the world and in the coming weeks we shall see these enemies emerge, especially if the opposition continues to make gains.

I feel the only way to really make this revolution work is to get the people involved. Qaddafi is only one man, but a unified Libya against this horrendous ruler has the ability to turn it in the direction that this 4th wave of democratization is proving to be. Samuel Huntington could have only dreamed of such rapid change.