Neo-conned A seemingly objective and well thoug…

Neo-conned

A seemingly objective and well thought out article by a member of congress(!). Neo-conservatives have taken over the government (congress and the executive). They believe in Machiavellian philosophy of authoritarian government, perpetual war and “honorable” lies.

The congressman argues that neo-conservative actions are eroding the constitution and the principles of the Founders when they ‘entangle’ us in foreign affairs and support the welfare state. The first point is better made, it seems probable that the current foreign policy of the US government is contrary to our neutral/isolationist tradition. While the declaration of independence proclaimed universal, inalienable rights of all humans, the subsequent constitution never required us to spread these ideals overseas. In our tradition, foreign policy is only made in respect to our defense. Of the two options for defense strategy, altruistic neutrality or proactive meddling (including preemptive war), I think the constitution, and certainly the founders, would favor the former. In any case, it wouldn’t hurt for someone to remake the argument for neutrality. (My first reaction to this idea is negative as I think ‘isolationism’… How can you square neo-liberal ideas of free trade and the American tradition of neutrality? Both seem to be sane ideas, more sane than pre-emptive war.)

The second point is not as effectively made. Why does big government undermine the constitution? My gut agrees with this assertion, but the proper argument wasn’t made in the article.

In any case, I want to revisit this article and the “liberty committee”.

Coldplay Lyrics: A Warning Sign A warning sign…

Coldplay Lyrics: A Warning Sign

A warning sign

I missed the good part then I realised

I started looking and the bubble burst

I started looking for excuses

Come on in

I’ve got to tell you what a state I’m in

I’ve got to tell you in my loudest tones

That I started looking for a warning sign

When the truth is

I miss you

Yeah the truth is

That I miss you so.

A warning sign

You came back to haunt me and I realised

That you were an island and I passed you by

When you were an island to discover

Come on in

I’ve got to tell you what a state I’m in

I’ve got to tell you in my loudest tones

That I started looking for a warning sign

When the truth is

I miss you

Yeah the truth is

That I miss you so

And I’m tired

I should not have let you go

So I crawl back into your open arms

Yes I crawl back into your open arms

And I crawl back into your open arms

Yes I crawl back into your open arms

Coldplay Lyrics: The Scientist The Scientist …

Coldplay Lyrics: The Scientist

The Scientist

Come up to meet you, tell you I’m sorry

You don’t know how lovely you are

I had to find you

Tell you I need you

Tell you I set you apart

Tell me your secrets

And ask me your questions

Oh let’s go back to the start

Running in circles

Coming up tails

Heads on a silence apart

Nobody said it was easy

It’s such a shame for us to part

Nobody said it was easy

No one ever said it would be this hard

Oh take me back to the start

I was just guessing

At numbers and figures

Pulling your puzzles apart

Questions of science

Science and progress

Do not speak as loud as my heart

Tell me you love me

Come back and haunt me

Oh and I rush to the start

Running in circles

Chasing our tails

Coming back as we are

Nobody said it was easy

Oh it’s such a shame for us to part

Nobody said it was easy

No one ever said it would be so hard

I’m going back to the start

Randy E. Barnett on Supreme Court & Sodomy on Nati…

Randy E. Barnett on Supreme Court & Sodomy on National Review Online

Randy’s right on. He says we’re all missing the boat on the Supreme Court sodomy case. The real story is that the burden of proof regarding whether or not a law governing private affairs is constititional has moved from the individual to the government. The court used to presume that laws passed by the Congress or by State legislatures were constitutional. You had to petition the court to prove that the law was not constituional. Now, the court will require the government to justify its limits on liberty.

My favorite line is this one: a legistlatures “judgment of immorality means nothing more than that a majority of the legislature disapproves of this conduct, which would be true whenever a legislature decides to outlaw something. Such a doctrine would amount to granting an unlimited police power to state legislatures.”

Americans must preserve institution of marriage …

Americans must preserve institution of marriage

Is it just me or does this editorial have no substance at all? To summarize: gay marriage is coming, marriage is important for society because you raise children through this institution, marriage is being destroyed because people are confused about what it is, society is headed to ruins. Oh and how dare those unelected charlatans (i.e. the nine Supreme Court justices) destroy our society without asking us?

If marriage is so damned important, why would making more people eligible to participate in the institution be a bad thing? Also, why, again, can’t homos raise children?

What confuses me about marriage is that there are these arbitrary rules governing the institution. Marriage is only betwen men and woman. (Why?) Marraige is important to help raise kids. (What about couples that don’t have kids?) The institution of Marraige must be supported by the government but that support must be unequal. (What other legal institution have this kind of baised governmental support?)

Policy should not be guided by personal preference. Senator Santorum should express his opinion, but he shouldn’t insist that his preferences for how other people live be codified in the constitution.

Marriage ‘tames’ geniuses, criminals Hah! I kn…

Marriage ‘tames’ geniuses, criminals

Hah! I knew it…

Previously, I’ve heard that criminal ‘instincts’ are dulled by marriage. This is why marriage a stabilizing force in society and why societies that have strong institutions of marriage have ‘evolved’ to be less violent. The context being that American culture is headed to shit because of the decline of marriage.

This article goes one step further. Marriage dulls creativity. So to counter the conservative argument that marriage is good for society, this article suggests that it can be bad by distracting our best creative minds.

Put up or shut up It’s time that I put my words…

Put up or shut up

It’s time that I put my words into actions. Repeatedly, I’ve said to myself and others that its more important to pursue your own ends, to be an individual first. I’ve said that the groups you belong to come second to yourself. Remarkably, its much easier to say then do.

I’m a tall, white man. I’m a geek. I’m college educated and I’m a manager at work. I’m the Man. I’m a member of KQED (the SF public TV station), the EFF, the ACLU, and I’m registered in the green party. I’m a member of the NRA, but I don’t tote a gun. I don’t smoke and I’m a jogger. I’m a genXer and a child of young boomers. And until a few weeks ago, I was one half of a ‘couple’.

Each of those groups wants to grab a hold of my identity. The green party pamphlets, printed on triple recycled paper, come in the mail with my renewal notices from all the charity ‘membership’ organizations. My intercourses with them entice me with offers of money, pride and a sense of belonging. They shame me into their arms with sprinkles of white liberal guilt and suggestions of bad things to come without my support. I’m reminded how I should or should not live. Slight gestures dictate how I should or should not behave. Examples show me how I should or should not think.

I’m seduced into consuming this group fodder and the blame for this should is placed squarely on my own willingness to belong. That willingness is guided by insecurity and lack of confidence in myself. For wanting to belong is the opposite of being an individual. It takes courage to be an individual and you have to work at it. Lack of courage or laziness pushes you away from yourself and it becomes easier to consume others’ thoughts and behaviors then it is to invent your own.

But individuality is insidiousness as it is its aim to undermine others’ individuality. To have a thousand followers, is to be the ultimate individual. For to have followers means that you’ve created thoughts or movements that are so original and provocative that others give up their own to borrow yours. You must destroy others’ individuality to complete your own.

On the flip side of the coin: as an individual who seeks to be creative, you’re drawn to other individuals who are like-minded. Like gravity in the forming of solar systems, these individuals form groups. And of course, those groups, being groups, are hell bent on destroying the individuals in them.

Why do individuals gravitate towards each other? You cannot create anything out of a vacuum. An individual’s creativity, whether its in art or science, is shaped by the observations made around them and it is shaped by the creations that came before. In painting for example, the artist fills his canvas with particular visualizations of the natural world. To be original and therefore creative, he must paint in response to others that have painted before him. Even if he paints the opposite of what has been painted before, he can only paint in the context of what was painted before or what is being painted now. In any case, the very notion that he is a painter requires that he has joined that group of people that wield paintbrushes and who know the names of all the colors on the color wheel. There’s no such thing as the painter who is not a painter.

If you are an individual consumed with ideas, you are naturally attracted to other people that are consumed by similar ideas. Ideas, like works of art, build off each other. The group’s purpose becomes allowing the individuals to efficiently build off each others ideas. The group develops short hand ways to talk about things, making it easier to create new ideas and subsequently attracting more people to the group. This is why economists talk of demand curves and sociologist talk of power dynamics. In physics, relativity was a revolutionary idea, but, contrary to some theories of otherworldly origins of Einstein, even it was developed in the context of the thinking on physics of the day. Who could really believe in the “ether”, anyway?

In a sense, this all means that groups enable individuals to be creative. By presenting a dogma, the group allows individuals to build upon the faith or to bounce ideas off the canon. An individual’s creation can be additive or it can be made in contrast to the present way of looking at things.

So groups are good, right? Right, except they also can be destructive to the individual. The group has the ‘average’ individual. Of course, the ‘average’ group member is not a real person, but if you took an individual out of the group, at random, you would find some of the traits of the ‘average’ individual. The larger the group gets, the easier it is for any one lazy individual in the group to pretend to be average. So instead of generating their own thoughts and actions, the lazy group members starts acting and thinking like the ‘average’ group member.

Well, I’ve been getting lazy lately. I was too willing to let my identity morph into the averages of the two primary groups I belonged to. First, I’m a manager at a small company. My thoughts were consumed by 401ks, stock options and all manners of business jargon and fad-speak. This is all typical of your average businessperson. Second, I got lazy in relation to my ‘couple’ group status. Buying a house and having children consumed my thoughts. Again, these things are typical of your average middle class male provider.

Truth be told, I’m not really big on making a lot of money or on deriving meaning in life via reproduction. My laziness and group identities were pulling me away from myself.

I’m resolved now to do the following because they better define me and speak to what I think is important in life:

– I will volunteer in the community, ideally helping children or the poor (within the month)

– I will meet interesting people that are interested in ideas and learning (ongoing)

– I will recruit and groom a replacement at work (starting in October)

– I will get into a top economics PhD program in a California public school (2005-2009)

– three letters of recommendation (1 by the end of the year, the other two before next summer)

– I will take math and economics-related courses at DeAnza (one each quarter)

– I will take the GRE (early next year)

I will make progress towards these goals every day. I’ll note progress on this website. Please, loyal readers, keep me in check.

The new gloomsayers America is an empire. Call…

The new gloomsayers

America is an empire. Call it what you will, but it is an empire and we should learn to manage it. This is the point made in the cover articles in this months Atlantic Monthly. If Rome’s empire entailed the capture of territory, our’s is in the spread of freedom, capitalism and democracy. We should get good at managing this spread.

It sounds like Fareed Zakaria’s book seems to hint at how to manage our empire.

To manage anything, we need to know how to measure it. What is empire? What are its components? How do you measure its ascent or decline?

AlterNet: Strom Won’t Be Missed I think Christo…

AlterNet: Strom Won’t Be Missed

I think Christopher misses the point. Strom Thurmond is a great American as he embodies our history. He was a living reminder of our collective past and of the progress made and not made in his life time.

I’m not going to celebrate on his birthday and there shouldn’t be any statues raised in his honor, but we shouldn’t disparage the dead man. Let’s remember him to remember where we’ve been and where we still need to go.