Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Why you should not waste your time reading anonymous posts

Here is a link to an article that mirrors the statements I am constantly making about these websites where people rant and rave under the guise of a psuedonym. The problems are several fold: how can I care what you say if I have no clue who you are and how can you care what you say if you don't have to say who you are? The newspapers seem to be encouraging this sort of behavior by hosting these so called community conversation blogs but we can't even tell what community the bloggers live in. To me it is just detritus. This guy cohesively points out why I am right: http://www.townhall.com/Columnists/DennisPrager/2007/10/23/internet_anonymity_is_as_destructive_as_internet_porn

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Atlas Shrugged Revolution

Seems it is the 50th anniversary of the Ayn Rand novel Atlas Shrugged. In the story she advocates for a sort of personal responsibility mode of living in the context of an objective reasoning philosophical approach. Google Atlas Shrugged right after you read about it on Wikipedia and that will help explain the philosophy.

Right after I read a Shrugged anniversary article I was perusing Ron Paul for President website. It was real interesting to read a post by a young supporter to find out what attacted him to that campaign and his reflections on our society in general. Of course, I also hear a lot about this from my own little college student who is working on his campaign.

I am thinking that Ron was reading Rand and that sparked the revolution.

Anyone else think this is an interesting juxtaposition?

Friday, October 5, 2007

From Chicanos to Churchill Cogent Quotes Abound

I keep running across these great quotes but capturing them is another matter.

For instance, I was listening to an interview with Cheech Marin, of Cheech and Chong fame. It seems that in addition to being a great comedic actor he is also a proponent of Chicano art. And yes, he uses the term Chicano; a great word and very apropos. He is not pushing Mexican art-rather it is the stuff of Americans who are of the latino ancestry. One of my friends, Kathy Murillo, is one such person with her La Chica crafts. Since helping us with our third cookbook, Gifts from the Southwest Kitchen, she has parlayed her hobby into a line of books and products and a website. In other words, her own mini-industry. Check her out at http://www.craftychica.com/.

Anyway, back to quotes, via Cheech. He said something like, “they don’t build museums for banks; art is how our culture gets reflected to future populations” or something like that. I know the bank part is right. Of course, that got me to thinking about the world because he is so right. Why do we spend all of our time chasing money to buy stuff—it is so fleeting and meaningless in the end.

Somehow we have been psyched into thinking we need all these things. But my personal experience with stuff is that it eventually breaks so you either have to spend your precious time getting it repaired or getting it replaced. Which in turn adds to the expense, the time pressure and the stress; and to what end?

Which got me to thinking-how much stuff is enough? And do people always want more such that they will do almost anything for money? No wonder we are all so cynical. And one of the things we are most cynical about is our government.

Which got me to thinking, why is the government--and politics as a necessary corollary—so bad? The president has a 30% approval rating. The only ones with a worse record is Congress—22%. Why?

One example of the inane things that Congress does was on the radio yesterday. As the result of the subprime mortgage debacle-due in no small part to people trying to buy more house than they can afford (why?) Congress has determined that if those people who go into default have their mortgages forgiven this is putting them in a lousy place with the IRS because that forgiveness under the Tax Code is considered income on which they would owe tax. Bummer. Congress rides to the rescue: let’s give them an exemption! But what are we going to do when we don’t get the tax money that would have generated? Why lets turn around and tax people who, in their sound financial decision-making found themselves able to own two homes-we will just charge them capital gains tax when they sell the second home. (Why anyone would want a second home is beyond me (see above) but I am on to another point now.)

How in the world do they justify that? First of all, if the subprime market had not gone bust those people would be going merrily along deducting their interest and not paying tax. So how Congress thinks they are losing out by not taxing the debt forgiveness is beyond me. Second, why punish the people who are behaving responsibly in their financial matters for something they had nothing to do with and would never have done in the first place?

Are you starting to get the picture about why Congress is more reviled than even President Bush? How do they get away with it?

Why, we elect them; that’s how. And why do we elect these dopes? In a word, money. As a journalist following the Republican presidential candidates admitted to my daughter recently when asked why they don’t give Ron Paul any ink-they and by extension we voters, follow the money. People spend money so they can get curry favor from the government so they can make more money and buy more stuff. Why?

I was looking over one of my favorite websites: http://www.boingboing.net/ when I came across an article about how Lawrence Lessig-scholar and IT genius was quitting the biz and turning his attention for the next decade to addressing corruption in governments. Lots of luck, Larry! But a noble pursuit, that is for sure. Anyway, I think Larry may soon be coming around to my way of thinking. My thought is that democracy, as an experiment, is fatally flawed in that anyone can vote. Because of this and our innate desire to have more stuff we are susceptible to the call of money and this Congress is an example of what that buys you in the end.

This brings me to the next quote. Some guy who was responding to Lessig’s announcement with words of encouragement offered this observation from Winston Churchill: “The best argument against democracy is a five minute talk with the average voter.” That is kind of what I’ve been thinking.

Looks like Cheech and the chica are a lot smarter than the rest of us. Maybe I will take the afternoon off and go look at some Chicano art. Oh, wait, I can’t--got those steamer repairs to pay for.