January 31, 2008

Why I don’t want the First Lady in the White House

Nothing and I mean nothing would be better than having a Woman President. Except maybe a black man. First of all let me state, that I belong to the majority that thinks the Republicans should just save their money and not bother running in 2008. I am convinced that every sane person who is eligible to vote in 2008, and those two are not mutually assured, knows what is good for them at this point.

The choice of Democratic candidates is large (I wrote this a while ago). I realize that most people and pundits are thinking how silly it is to start campaigning so early. What they, and Al Gore, do not seem to understand is that the Presidential Election 2008 are like the NBA Playoffs last year. They will be decided in the early rounds. The final will be a formality. Which only shows that it’s OK not to vote for an Oscar winner (I wrote this a long while before the Nobel thingy happened, maybe that would cancel out the Oscar).

I write this article with the above premises in mind. A Democrat will win, and the choice is between a black man and a woman. I guess it would be too easy to just give us the choice between a black man and white man of comparable status, or a woman and a man of comparable stature. But instead it has to be a relatively inexperienced black man, and the nearly former wife of a former President. Anyone want to take bets that Mrs. Clinton was playing a long game when she stuck with her husband? We could discuss the merits of each candidate, for example various policy choices, their foreign affairs mettle, their stance on universal health insurance and global warming. But I don’t think that their differences in policy statements are huge. I think that they are equal in their skills at being politicians, although with strengths in different areas.

The choice comes down to an issue different from politics and policies. It comes down to adherence to the Constitution of the United States of America. That original founding statement of the country was conceptualized with one specific purpose. A later President succinctly said “…that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth”. I take the most important meaning from the Constitutions and Mr. Lincoln’s speech to be that the self governance of the people in this country is inviolable. This was extraordinary at a time when the common mode of governance was the absolute monarchy, a hereditary system based on the belief that rulers of monarchies were chosen by a god, or at least proxies of that deity. This modus operandi became unacceptable in this young nation. Both the issue of hereditary and god-given right to rule were made obsolete with the first confident John Hancock on that parchment.

This to me is the crux of the choice between Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama. Today seven years ago, Mr. Clinton was the President. I know I am stating the obvious, who could forget those good old days? But I do find it surprising that all those Democrats who were taking issue with the son of a former President being elected into the White House after only eight years of interlude, think nothing of accepting the candidacy of Mrs. Clinton without blinking an eye. What happened to the “sanctity of our democratic values”? What happened to the “raison d’etat” of this land? Suddenly lefties think nothing of putting together another political dynasty, when only recently they were so against it. What are we going to do next, elect the daughter? I hear she is quite smart. I find this dishonest and inconsistent. I also think it dangerous. Instead of nipping the acceptance for this form of hereditary rule in our political system in the bud, we would encourage it. We would extend our blessing from the left to the last example from the right. It would become common place for politicians with family ties to strive for the highest offices in the country. Are we not close enough to being led by a political and elitist caste as it is? With politicians groomed from an early age, going to the right schools, joining the right fraternities to making the correct career choices we are on our best way back to the bad old days. John Hancock would rotate in his well earned resting place.

I know that in these insecure times we long for something known, something that we think safe that carries minimal risk. Maybe that is the reason why absolute monarchies evolved in the first place and were successful for such a long time. But being afraid of the unknown may not enter this equation. This country has managed to peacefully transfer power from one reasonably independent individual to another for over three centuries and that process should remain intact. Then there is also the fact that most people who would vote for Mrs. Clinton would at least as much be voting her husband back into the White House. In fact, to most people this seems to be the good idea here. I wholeheartedly disagree. Not only is it unconstitutional for the spouse of the President to have undue influence, it also shows that we should not be voting for that candidate in the first place. If she was qualified on her own, we would not feel the need to bring her husband into the equation. It is sad to have to apply this logic to the first female candidate with a serious chance of success. But integrity and the law of this land, given to us by one of the nicer documents in the history of humankind, demand it.

Because of this I choose the greater of two goods. Not only would we preserve our democratic institution but we would also send a clear signal to every citizen of the United States of America and to the rest of the world. That this country elects colorblind and without prejudice in regards to sex and origin of the candidate. There is no higher proof that this country is truly governed of the people, by the people and for the people, and that this bastion of universal equality shall never perish. What better way to claim leadership of the free nations of the world in these globally insecure days could there be?

(I must have just watched some patriotic movie when I wrote this, or something)

fast ohne worte

January 30, 2008

the focused and not so focused

YUKs

started a blog. on top of his natural stoicism, or maybe despite of it he provides insights into food for thought and vice versa. it makes for a delectably respectably and most notably eclectically oishi mix. and if you know whats good for you, you stay away from his much feared death pointer aka super kancho. it is truly disturbing. nice work man, except what is this thing with the humping monkeys... dude!

January 25, 2008

chinese stairway to heaven

Strangely enough I have been wanting to see this Chinese exhibition since I read an article about new Chinese art in the Atlantic Monthly. Why is it strange? This is in Vienna. It's not like I was expecting to see a Chinese art exhibition in an Austrian Museum about which I read in an American magazine.

January 17, 2008

dark matters

At some undefined point in the early 21st century we were overrun by our own science output. Gone are the days of the generalist, the enlightened noble man, who was interested in and capable of not making a complete fool of himself across a wide range of disciplines. We all know the spectacled geniuses of days gone past who contributed, to our great gain, in fields as diverse as Astronomy, Biology, Arts, Mathematics, Anthropology and the study of really small but largely disgusting living things – Entomology. So small was the knowledge in each discipline that one man could conceivably master several of them. In fact most disciplines only came into being because of the heroic inquisitiveness and disregard for having ones face dunked into successive proverbial academic vats of future organic fertilizer. Happily they plunged in, not only enabling humanity’s unshackling from the dim intellectual climate of the dark ages but also setting us into the general direction of an ever increasing cornucopia of expanding scientific horizons. We truly stand on the shoulders of giants. Relatively speaking.

Today though, any and all taxi drivers, neighborhood pub proprietors, politicians and professors of economics frequently can be overheard saying “Don’t explain viral transfection to me, I won’t get it anyway”. How often do you come across an article or a news item and it just blows your mind to think about it? So you let it go and file it away in a dim recess of your mind around which cobwebs soon form. Who really cares to understand how their Plasma TV works as long as it delivers HD quality on Super Bowl Sunday? Who really wonders how, if the Universe is only fourteen billion years old, it can possibly be 28 light years across? E = mc² and all that.

The brief reprieve from our general ignorance of the knowledge accumulated by humans is over. It lasted from whenever you want to say the Enlightenment started until right about now. This is not such a long time as to be incomprehensible. Neither does it mean that all humans understood everything there was to understand. It does however mean that

the end of enlightenment

is upon us. We can not perceive the intricacies of string theory. We can not fathom eight dimensions. If you ask us how large the Universe is we might toss out a number. But understanding how we fold space unless we think it in a Homer Simpson kind of way, involving Doughnuts, is as beyond us as flying, or as telling a 15th century priest that the earth was not the center of the universe.

But now we have a new priest caste. The new priesthood that explains the things to us does not wear some priestly outfit anymore. They have anti-pen-leaking-devices in their shirts where the padre of old might have carried a bible on his heart. They do not explain heaven and possible afterlives to us. They focus on the here and now, and maybe the tomorrow. They do so in no less confusing terms then the old-school priesthoods explained their particular knowledge to us.

Interestingly enough the infidelity to their heavenly lords displayed by the masses over the last couple of hundred years seems to have coincided with the increase in general knowledge of the here and now. People who understand the basic parameters of their existence do not have to rely on semi-mystical explanations thereof.

However, now we are rapidly entering a stage of human development that individuals can not comprehend on a generalist or even a specialist level. If you want to really understand the problems of viral transfection, namely how to insert therapeutic DNA into viral genomes, you will have to spend a couple of decades on under/post graduate, PHD and Post Doc work. At which point, of course, the field will have moved so far ahead of your pithy knowledge that you can either take advantage of the newest transfection drugs to fix your nearly senile brain, start over again, or just plainly say “Don’t explain this to me, I won’t get it anyways.”

Now imagine - this is not too hard, just think of you – an average IQ possessing person, in an average job, maybe even doing some fairly intellectually taxing work. How is this person ever going to really understand what is going on in the gazillion different disciplines that populate our sciences at this point? You are right it will not happen. What will happen instead?

Not understanding the basic parameters of our existence is the same as not knowing, and that is unacceptable to our psyche. We look for alternative explanations. We must know. Therefore we will explain. As opposed to the majority of human history, during recent centuries ever larger numbers of humans knew basic principles of how our planet’s functions and what our existence on it entails. When before we had needed the priestesses to explain our originational sins to us, suddenly we thought that we knew our past and were capable of understanding our futures – soon it was going to be just a matter of time, of processing power, before we finally knew it all. What we did not consider was that even though this knowledge is being assembled and will undoubtedly keep being assembled into the far distant future, the accumulated knowledge would become too diverse, too multifaceted, too disintegrated. Not any one person, and certainly not your average Peter Illetschko could hold it all in their head. For that reason we are once again, as in the dark ages, reaching a state of divorce between knowledge and society. We are consciously distancing ourselves from any claims to understand what the bleep is going on with all this newfangled stuff out there.

Newton was sort of obvious to understand. Even if math boggles your mind and even he was a genius, at the end of the day we could all observe the apple fall from the tree. But how are you going to observe a neutron streaking across a gaseous container after you sucked it out of a Helium-4 Source of Ultra Cold Neutrons? How are you going to measure the universe? How are you going to observe dimensions four, five and six, if all they are is mental constructs in the minds of maybe three mathematicians worldwide who are smart enough to understand the concept?

You are not, and when the pressure of not getting it weighs to heavy on your mind, when you crave those warm & fuzzies, you will crawl back to the first guy who gives you some mildly sensible balderdash of why you are not a monkey.

January 8, 2008

levantine

I recline in the sauna enjoying the calm at the end of a day spent at harassing and receiving in kind. Enters a fine example of a fiery maiden, queen of the Levant, heiress of olive tree groves and date plantations. Confidence of her forbearers strong in her voice, knowledge of her beauty engraved in her gait. She is fully dressed. You understand dear tortured reader; I myself am a libertine, a whore of the flesh a lover of skin. Dress me in more than a fig leave and I shall perish from this earth. She sports sneakers. Let me be clothed by scarcely containing a towel. She wears a sports bra, under her white shirt. Let my skin cry out to be cleansed by the heat of the calm at the end of a day. Sports pants cover her shy shoestrings. Let my mother, and every Finn I ever knew, look on in astonishment as I bask in clean pores while the Levantine reeks in her sweaty clothes. How do I know her voice? She is on her mobile. The water she assiduously sips is Smart.

January 7, 2008

deep economy for future generations

While reading Deep Economy I came across Future Generations (really nice URL). Since I do not know that much about development aid I will not write much about it. Deep Economy gives some cool examples. So when I searched for Future Generations on the net this is what I found. The third one is diametrically opposed and equally disturbing (they request that you please look beyond their un-pc style, in this regard think of them as you would of creationists). Why is it always the ugly, stupid and mostly geriatric people who think the world would be better off if we cleanse the gene pool according to their precepts? And why do I find them on the same page as rescuing Tibetans from themselves?

You shouldn’t worry, my dear nazi pigglets, nature will do it for you, and much more equitably,then you could ever manage. See, those according-to-your-warped-psyche unwelcome members of your holier-than-thou gene pool know a great deal more about living in a fucked-up world than you and I do. They already are in it. So god willing (and this is something I would pray for) you, I and our respective cultures, with our penchant for periodic genocide, will punch our tickets way ahead of them thereby paving the way for Shambala’s rebirth. Don’t be surprised if you return as a mollusk.

deep economy

Just finished reading Deep Economy by Bill McKibben. Nice read, too much community for my taste, but that’s just me. I am however in the process of talking myself into joining a CSA here in Phoenix, although I will depend on my cooking-fiend roomy to cook up a storm with all the fresh produce I shall get every week (don’t tell him). The basic of premise of the book is to go local, in all manners possible. He says its good for the planet, the taste buds, the wallet and even the soul. That last one I am dubious about. I am just not a big fan of people and meeting more of my neighbors strikes me as really annoying – why do you think I blog if I could just talk to you instead?

Of course food is the prime example, we all know how far that strawberry you are enjoying in midwinter traveled to get to your plate. Do you remember the years, when certain fruit and vegetable simply were not available? I do, although I hated veggies back then, so it didn’t bother me so much. How trippy is it, that now when I go shopping I don’t even know which fruit and veggies are out of season and ergo shouldn’t be bought.

Surprisingly enough, McKibben also mentions power generation as a possible locally produced product. Here in Phoenix solar power is pretty obvious, I am not sure why there isn’t more of it. I don’t think it is possible to get more sun than Phoenix does, and SRP the local power company allows you to net-meter. It doesn’t get any more locally produced then having power coming from your roof. Imagine how happy you will be when prices of power start reflecting the real costs of energy production. Lets say the Democrats win the presidential election, and the President doesn’t get shot, at least not right away. And lets say, for a change, our hopes are audaciously fulfilled and that person actually does what they say they will do. A cap and trade system on carbon dioxide is put in place. Who do you think will pay the additional costs of production? If you are thinking consumer, you are probably right. How cool would it be to have that Solar on your house, instead of paying SRP through your nose so they can pollute your planet even more. If the new prez is really smart he will enable private consumers to buy and sell their CO² emissions as well. You could sell your CO² Permits to SRP because they are still burning that stupid coal and need to offset their emissions with yours. It would make it so much more personal and local, too.

  • So you would use less of their dirty power.
  • Produce your own emission free power.
  • Get paid by SRP for feeding power back into the grid.
  • And get paid for selling them your emissions permits.
  • Screw the grand kids if I can make money of this.

Of course the more efficient thing to do would be to reduce consumption instead of increasing production. Replacing those single pane windows will go a long way, its cheaper than solar as well, but just not as cool! Imagine all the girls you can pick up with “Hey, wanna see my solar panels?” Windows just aren’t sexy like that. “Yup, the panels power my Jacuzzi!”

January 4, 2008

my new toaster

I bought a toaster the other day. Not a fancy toaster, just a plain old toaster. It cost 7 dollar! How can a toaster that consists of several pounds of raw materials, that needs to be manufactured, and since it is made in China, also shipped over here cost less then a matinée movie ticket?!?

I question this discrepancy. The question obviously leads back to how cheaply things can be produced in China. We in the West, in Europe and the USA love that these things are so cheap, we with our cumbersome regulations and environmental protection rules could never achieve that. Which is why the heavy industry machinery (smelters the size of seven story buildings) in the German Ruhr-Gebiet along the Rhein, have been dormant for some time, and recently and finally have been dismantled. The German Greens love this. The Germans love it because they are so green. They point to the 20 % CO² reduction in their heavy industry and pat themselves on the back. We do the same thing here in the States. We love that our rivers are cleaning up, that Sulfur is not raining from the skies anymore, that those old Cap and Trade systems actually worked. Our smelters have been dismantled as well, and glad we are of it. But where did they go?

Oh, that’s right, 1000 Chinese dudes came to the Ruhr Gebiet, put numbers on all the moving parts, took them apart, stuck them into a bunch of crates, shipped them to China, and put them back together again. Well, aren’t we glad that those smelters aren’t smelting in our backyard anymore? We killed a bunch of birds with one stone here. We helped the Chinese produce cheaper because their second hand capital costs were much lower. We got rid of our pollution. We get to concentrate on the new economy and don't have to worry about the nasty working conditions. We get cheap products. And on top of it all we can blame the demise of the world as we know it on them. We cleaned our act up after all. Look at our lovely record on environmental protection. All we need to do now is get our cars cleaned up and we will be model citizens, the good guys that we always knew we were. It’s those capitalists in communist's coats over there who just insist on belching their crap into the air at ever more alarming rates.

While we are at it maybe we can send them our Pig Farms as well. That way they will get the untreatable
staph infections from the little piglets and our mono cultures of food production. We already outsourced manufacturing, why not the rest as well? They can breath that crappy air, infect themselves with the deadly staph, dance in the acid rain, drink the poisonous water, and die of the Bird Flu. We will build a big-ass arcology on top of them, because then we won’t have to build one on top of ourselves. It’s only fair to confine their nasty multitudes and by-products so we don’t have to contain our green pluralist population. Its their fault after all, they are the ones flushing the planet down the toilet.

This is all too Orwellian for you? Never worry, I have just the thing to calm your chittery nerves and their bad attitude: Here, have some Soma.

der depperte

Ein Depperter geht im Wald spazieren, auf einmal steht mitten am Weg ein wunderschöner Pilz! " A Schwammerl, a Schwammerl!" sagt der Depperte und beugt sich hinunter, um es zu pflücken.
Auf einmal kreischt das Schwammerl:" NEIN, bitte pflück mich nicht, ich bin ein Glücksschwammerl, wenn du mich nicht pflückst, hast du drei Wünsche frei!"
Der Depperte sagt drauf:" Mhmm, I mechat voi gscheit sei! " - "Pffff-blitz" und er ist es.
"I scheiß mich an!" Pffff-blitz- er kackt sich an.

"Maaaa, bin i deppert!" Pffff-blitz

"A Schwammerl, a Schwammerl!"

January 3, 2008

rich mogull

So I am cruising, killing some time, checking the sites, looking for abstracts. What do I find? The five coolest hacks (they are ok, the really cool ones we will never know about). I look for some more and possibly interesting patterns and find Rich Mogull. Are you kidding me? Rich, I hope you are at least upper middle class. Or maybe you really like semi-challenging skiing? If not I want to see a birth certificate and congratulate your parents on sticking to their guns. My parents didn’t – thank you!

January 2, 2008

ideas for your climate

Does this sound like a good idea to distribute the costs of controlling climate change? I do think it sounds quite positive, as it rewards good consumer behavior. I think this is good, because when we institute a cap and trade system the costs will in the end be handed down to the consumer anyway. The car will just be more expensive and we are already paying more for gas than ever before.

Only problem I see is that the next two years are earmarked for negotiating in Bali. And what will result is global NIMBY. I guess if thats where I would be negotiating, I would try to stretch it out as much as I can myself. Its nice there, and before the Climate Change hell breaks loose completely and drowns Bali's treasures I would want to enjoy it as much as I can.

Bugger that the UN tells us we need to arrest the increase of CO2 in seven years otherwise Blue Mars will be an understatement and Armada Storms the norm.

Denis Kucinich

The only guy that says, “I will cut 15% of the Pentagon budget and stick it into free public schools up to tertiary level”. We all know he will not make it out of the Primaries for a lot of reasons, mostly having to do with Americans knowing deep down inside that they benefit from an American Hegemony. My lefty friends, it may be convenient to bash the warmongers and the Bushit that’s been happening, but we all know that we reap the fruit of dominating the globe on a daily basis. Pointlessly, yet as an alternative, may I meekly suggest to consider all the cool shit we could do if we would cut our Offense Budget to the levels of China, which is a laughable 45 Billion USD. That would mean a windfall of 580 Billion USD (not counting war debt, which is not included in the Offense Budget) for the US Taxpayer. I leave it to you to pick your favorite pork-barrel because there is room for all of us.

1776

Anyone ever read any David McCullough? I just read his book “1776”. I am partial to Mr. McCullough because I really enjoyed his biography on Harry Truman. From the couple of history books I have read in my short and brutish life I find his words the most accessible.

So this book deals with the beginning of the revolutionary war of the USA against the Evil Empire. It does not deal with the whole war, but only with the events from the siege of Boston, to the evacuation of New York to the battle at Trenton at the end of 1776. Mr. McCullough is a very popular describer of American History, he does it in a fresh and nicely disguised patriotic manner. You don’t even realize his bias, which is fine, since he probably does not either. Those brave Americans always faced the greatest odds, had the worst equipment and the most gallant of them all was his Excellency, Mr. Washington - God’s humblest servant - a man made of benevolent granite whose only foible was the correct construction of his home. If Mr. McCullough were British his work would unleash a physical revision of history.

I ate it up, there is nothing that gets me going like a well-rounded heroic epic of underdogs making good. But let’s just say we take all of the odds that the American revolution faced in that first fateful year at face value. What the reader must conclude then is that America is a nation born of war. With little means to defend what it thought to be its inalienable rights, with few men to stand up to the greatest army in the world, with even less equipment for those men, with no money to pay the peasantry so called to arms and with military leaders that surely had no clue as to the intricacies of killing and maiming as many of their opponents as possible. It is utterly beyond me how the Brits didn’t just absolutely massacre the Americans in a really short amount of time. The situation was so bad that at the end of the fighting season of 1776 there must have been somewhere upward of 40.000 redcoats around New York State and roughly 7000 American Soldiers, most of which had no shoes and the rest was sick to death, hungry, hadn’t been paid in months and shouldn’t even have been called a militia. So here is a collection of peasants with no protection against New England winters, no bullets, no intelligence (as in spying) and no leaders yet still they manage to somehow hang on. And in the end they triumph over what was supposedly the greatest army of all times.

This helps me realize why this country is the most secure in the history of humanity, yet the most insecure in its own mind (Chomsky). It was born form war, and it sucked at it. This hasn’t changed much over the last couple - three hundred years. The USA still likes to go to war, and she still sucks at it. The intelligence in both spying and plain strategic brainpower is still horrible. Mr. Washington had no clue what the Brits were doing, and neither do the modern Armed Forces. Usually we, the population, need to give our representatives and military leaders quite some times to get knocked about a bit in order to learn the lay of the land. And even then it is not to be taken for granted that all that firepower will guarantee a victory over those originally proclaimed to be easy prey bad guys. Don’t get me wrong, nobody is as excitable as my current country men when they think a good cause is on the horizon. They are just a little stupid when it comes to understanding who is holding that good cause up, and to what end. So in order to make up for sucking at fighting and strategery this country shoots up steroids like Roger Clemens. Rightly, they figure that if they can not compete in skill and motivation they at least can be twice as big as the other guy. Which of course only works a little bit, because if you are not good at kicking ass, and primarily rely on being grossly large, there remains the thought that there always is a bigger dude out there somewhere. Hence the perceived insecurity.

So lest you wonder why the USA is so easily aroused, consider that she was a child of war, like the last two generations of Afghanis, and that seemingly every weakness and strength of character and skill can be traced back to the Revolutionary War.