31 March, 2008

If evil has a flavor, it must taste like Robitussin.

So today was the first actual, realistic sick day I've had in a while. In light of the first week-long sickness I've had in a long time, I appreciate "mental health days" all the more. However, you can never shake that feeling that when you're home alone doing nothing, that you're just wasting time. Well, not wasted, I watched Snakes on a Plane, which is an oh-my-goodness terrible movie in the MST3K tradition. I strongly recommend that you watch this, as the people who made it were absolutely serious about this half-baked idea of a film.

On a sidebar, if you happen to see my wife, please inform her that she is an absolutely wonderful and selfless woman. Meg -- despite her own full plate-- has been doing a fantastic job of taking care of me these last few days and I owe her everything.
If I think of more to say, I might add some later, but I can say that the usual philosophy is absent today.

25 March, 2008

Linux is always an adventure. My iBook is starting to show it's age and I had to bring it in for physical repairs
(on day 1,050 out of 1095 of the warranty), so I'm using my 2001 college desktop-now-frankenstein-Linux machine.

What I love about getting "up to your elbows" in a computer's workings is how a simple measure can delightfully exponentiate into ridiculousness. "Oh, the clock is off by 7 minutes" turned into "why doesn't java work?" turned into rooting around in root to figure out how to get it right... long story short, in what should have been a 10-second adjustment (checking time.gov and resetting the clock) turned into a 20-minute exploration of getting stuff to work in Ubuntu. Rarely do I ever turn off this machine without having felt that I learned something about Unix.

A bit busy today (with god knows what....) I hope that I'll update on this soon!

PS-- while I look for a new laptop, does anyone have any suggestions?

20 March, 2008

The Third Estate

So Facebook has recently changed their "political views" tag. It used to be that you had a choice of "Conservative", "Moderate" and "Liberal", whereas now, it's an empty slot to fill-in whatever. I like this because rarely do some other group's political/economic ideals adequately reflect what I believe. So I put in "libertarian progressive"

Progressive is a term that I doubt would surprise anyone, and I use the qualifier libertarian for the government-should-stay-out-of-my-business ethos which is planted deep in my upstate New York roots. This idea of Left-Right orientation on the political spectrum works well for most purposes, but one should remember that to properly describe one's views in relation to another's this is best done on a two-dimensional axis of social views vs. economic views. A pure libertarian, for instance, would hold for the social freedoms of a "progressive" and the economic freedoms of a "conservative", whereas a pure republican would have high scores in the conservative direction on both axes. So this presents our problems with a one-dimensional left-right relationship.

Friends and I once mathematically described this geometry of politics, which would serve as excellent fodder for a future post, and if I remember, you will see that someday.

Yet the idea of the classical definition of a "libertarian" annoys me. I do, in fact, consider myself one, but on the aforementioned chart, I rank strongly for social freedoms, yet economic restrictiveness. It's my belief that the current definition allows for the freedom of people and their enterprise (business), yet in a world where business has free reign, can a population be free as well?

This is an unfortunate issue which I do not believe I have heard/read anyone speak about-- what is the proper place of business in society? Only an anarchist/communist/fool would say that it is entirely unnecessary, but none of us are blind to the gross abuse of power when too much is alloted to businesses. The view from my perspective is that the major groupings in a modern society break down as: The People, The Government, and The Business. You cannot mix these. Much in the way medieval Europe had the organization of "Estates of the Realm" (Nobility, Church, People), in the proper functionality of the 21st century, there must be a balance struck between each branch.

Until I do further study into the topic area, I'm uncertain as to how much I can say about the topic, however, in the current view of "freedom," each of the three estates must have enough to counter an overabundance of power in any one.

Throughout history, there has always been the ruling elite-- behind or in front of the scences. In antiquity through the middle ages, this was seen in the clergy, as the church/gods/priests had ultimate power, knowledge and wisdom. Through the Renaissance to the 20th century, power rested nicely (and unnicely) in the hands of monarchs, empires and a scattering fo republics. This power structure still exists in many parts of the world. Today it is the moneymakers, entrepreneurs, and capitalists who effectively move ideas and people and power in much of our world.

Business exists for the service of people and the people's collective (government), and must seek to remain an intricate, efficient, noble part of day-to-day life, but too many tend to think of it as the system rather than a part of it.

Must be tired. I notice that complete thoughts aren't happening as clearly as they should be. Perhaps I'll continue this rant later.


18 March, 2008

"Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society"

I'm doing taxes now. Since I tend to have a warped personality, I'm beginning to view this mess of forms, regulations, and government as a puzzle to solve, and enjoying it

06 March, 2008

I am far too entertained when watching my cat do something stupid. Honestly. I just spent about five minutes observing him smack a box of candy with his paw.

In addition, Meg and I bought Across the Universe last weekend and I have not been able to get the Beatles out of my head since. A point was raised, however, when watching this 1960s musical melodrama about the generations. (Yes, both my parents and parents-in-law watched this too with commentary). There is a point, however, in specifically the parallels between the Vietnam and Iraq Wars.

There are certainly a lot of people angry about Bush's War, both home and abroad, much like the unfortunate mistake forty years ago, but we are without the protests, the activism, the marching. I am as guilty of this lethargy as so many others. It is certainly understandable the the nature of the world itself has changed, and for the better is many respects; this is particularly poignant when viewed through the lens of the internet (is that supposed to be capitalized?). There is without a doubt no shortage of web-activism, but I feel that many of us are removed from this. Millions are on MoveOn.org's mailing lists, but do computer-generated form letters from a "Click Here to notify your congressman/senator/governor/President Bush" really have an impact?

Does social change need the classical thousands marching in the streets? I can recall only one major event in March of 2003, right before the beginning of Bush's War*. Personally, I long for that sort of involvement-- a desire to be a part of history. I wonder now where our place is.

We qualify as "Generation Y." I like this term because someone once argued against it by saying that it made us sound "cynical and jaded" which I think astutely describes the wave of Americans born roughly between 1980 and 1993. Gen Y now enters into the beginnings of "real world" (and there is turbulence in our landing), to the beguilement of those who came before us. We are the Americans who came of age in a time of tribulation, of disaster, of change upon us whether we wanted it or not; and as we age, the older ones will step to the side and this will be ours. And our responsibility to solve for the latter end of the 21st century. It has yet to be determined how the Boomer Generation's impact on the world will be measured let alone ours.

Anyone have any thoughts?

* I'm trying to propagate the term "Bush's War" as the name for the current conflict. This is nice and egalitarian. Those who think of this war as good will always remember who led them to this glory, and those who hate it will always remember whose fault it is. Either way, I want history to remember this one as the act of our leaders and not of our nation