Thursday, September 25, 2008

My favorite issues

Are the ones that rise above party politics in a hilarious and interesting way.

What prompted this post?

It's a thought sure to turn heads. Paying citizens to not reproduce. Disgusted? Intrigued? The reactions run the spectrum, I'm sure, though many are probably immediately repulsed.

And we should be. It's an awful thought, one that conjures images of Nazi Germany, among other things (as the reporter points out).

But if disgust is your only reaction, you're probably haven't been somewhere very poor and overpopulated. The land of my birth (India), for all its beauty and greatness, certainly is such a place. This type of policy, if implemented, would provide immediate relief to the hundreds of millions of citizens who are currently starving on the streets (if you're still repulsed that I sound like I'm endorsing this, which I'm not necessarily, read that number again - a population larger than that of America starving on the streets). Furthermore, it will pave the way to a smaller and more sustainable population.

Take a step back. In the grand scheme of things, the issue is way bigger than people living on welfare. Our current population growth, as a species, is fundamentally unsustainable. Unless the people all over the world realize this and start to have fewer babies (a possibility, albeit an unlikely one), at some point in the future, we will have to implement state-required birth control or, worse, mandatory sterilization. If that's the future, offering money on a voluntary basis for sterilization doesn't seem like such a bad idea.

Just a thought. But now the bigger point - if this future does pan out, and we need to implement some sort of limit on children, which party do you think will champion the cause? In the video, it's a Republican from the South (who contrasts greatly with the subtly shocked and "morally superior" CNN host). But, in the future, I'd bet it's the Democrats (the party of abortion and big government) that would be pushing such a bill (in a sense, it could even be seen as an issue of environmental policy).

Another interesting issue is that of marijuana legalization, and, specifically, the case of Gonzales v. Reich. In short, the case pitted the federal government against a California medical marijuana user who was growing his own marijuana.

This is classic liberals vs. conservatives, right? Wrong. Yes, you had liberal marijuana legalization advocates on the side of Reich. But another group rallied to his cause: far right libertarians. For this group, possible opposition to marijuana use was dwarfed by their desire for states' rights, and this was textbook case of state government against federal jurisdiction.

It's always fascinating when groups on polar opposite sides of the political spectrum are united by a common cause. Anyone know any other great examples?

Is this news?

So, what they're saying is, in our economy, with our structure of rewarding profits and punishing losses, with companies needing to show continued growth and returns to keep their stock up, banks were pressuring citizens to take on loans that might not have been in their best interest? Shocking!

As a sidenote, the one positive that will come out of our economic mess is a drastic contraction of the financial industry. We need more of our smartest workers creating actual value, instead of pushing money around (I know they do more than that, but it's crucial we have the bulk of our intellectual capital invested in the production of goods and services rather than in finance).

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

So much to say

So today...

Congress still didn't pass the bailout bill (and I'm not sure it should).

McCain decided to suspend his campaign and go back to Washington to "work on the crisis" (whatever that means). This means that the debate on Friday is probably off.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the American Empire is nearing its end, all but repeated his desire to wipe Israel off the map.

And, thankfully, Obama continued to trend upward.

The word that comes to mind: chaos. It feels like this is the most chaotic world situation of my lifetime. But then again, I'm certainly more aware about the "world situation" now than I ever have been, so perhaps I'm speaking out of ignorance. Who really knows anymore...

In any case, I'll start to try to get some stuff on this blog in the coming days - each day I go to bed at night with the goal of cranking out a post, but between work emails and a sneaking in a TED video before I sleep, it hasn't been happening. I'll try to rectify that soon.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The 49ers could actually win the Super Bowl this year

Or, at least, anything is possible:

Right now, the 0-2 (and, last year, 1-15) Dolphins are destroying the Patriots (undefeated in their past 18 regular season games. Past that, Oakland is on the verge of being 2-1 (leading the undefeated Bills), and Cincinnati has a 3 point edge on the Giants. Granted, a ton of this could change in the next hour, but wow. Go Niners.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Why the name change?

Because the insanity is no longer virtual. It's practical and real. It's metaphysical, metaphorical, perhaps a little spiritual, and certainly grammatical. Banks are going under on Wall Street, and conflicts are stirring in Iraq and Russia and Israel. We're fighting a war on drugs and a war on terror and a war on poverty. The price of oil is soaring, along with temperatures. Now that we finally have enough to eat, we're eating too much, and dying because of it. We have the power to recreate the fractions of a second after the big bang but not to educate our youth. Our economy is... well, we're not quite sure what it's doing. And did I mention that our government has been using one credit card to pay off another for a really long time?

The rise and fall of civilizations have characterized our past as a species. But with the internet and onset of globalization, we stand at the threshold of a new world (and human) order, marked by connectivity, prosperity, and, just maybe, understanding. And despite all our progress, our entire way of life hinges on a myriad of factors - our environment and energy, among others - which today appear to dangle by the thinnest of threads. Or perhaps it's our hubris in thinking our times are somehow more critical, consequential, or trying than those which have passed.

So what does it all mean? I have no idea, only that I'm opening this blog up for a wider spectrum of posts (and I think I'm going to start posting more often). Stay tuned, but don't look down. And good luck - we're all counting on you.