Sunday, January 24, 2010

Update

Well, all you readers, robots and keyword searches, perhaps not so evident to shallow flybys but I haven't been posting much lately. I haven't been happy with the direction of my blog. I think I've been pedaling near the edges of "rant". That last one, (I plan to re-word it) sounds like I'm some dramatic scientist... "I detect..." Who the hell starts off with that kind of opening?

Anyway, I will get back to it because it is a passion of mine but I need more time than I've had lately to sit my ass down and type, which is much less convenient than the time it takes to ponder on the state of affairs as your brushing your teeth.

I'm still here - I keep up but my short time also declines my research, perhaps being the reason for the recent drivel following my piece on Prop 8.

I've been working on a piece that comes from the heart of the metaspective, hope to post it soon.

In the meantime...

Hati ... My thoughts and prayers. Here's a good use of military applications too. Maybe global warming will give us an alternative market for the military other than war.

Marines leave Iraq ... Not sure how this affects me. They're just being moved from one place to another. But I don't get as much as a whiff of any kind of conclusion to the entire forced reconstruction of a sovereign state. It seems we're all expected to get bored and move on.

Conan O'Brien ... whatever.

Droid ... I just got one. Love it. I already wrote an app on the emulator.

Obama ... Nothing like a bi-polar government to dilute the charge of a young president. I still like his messages and his direction, but it takes more than a president to do the things he talks about.

I think we're the deer in the headlights. The two parties have effectively nuetralized the government, in effect paralysing it as what we are unprepared for approaches at high speed. Economic globalization for which the average American is entirely unprepared for. This globalization by the way, seems inevitable to me unless political discords like war can interrupt the free-market. The effects of global warming for which our supply chains are entirely unprepared for is also something to which a government needs to react.

Well, there's the free market, the ride that was fun while we had the money and now that we don't it's a nightmare. Maybe this is where statehood get's pushed aside by the charter, or maybe that's already happened. If in the 20th century, US corporations were able to dictate foreign affairs covertly, without the bold gestures of flags and forts that London's 19th century charters worked with, then why would we assume the extent of corporate power in the 21st century would be obvious in anyway?

Well, more on that later... Oh, and sorry about the state of my website. I know the links aren't working. I'll fix that soon.
 

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Imperfect Systems

I detect a fundamental problem with capitalism... It's the simple fact that everything is balanced on the dollar. The dollar is reconciled mathematically, which is not how humanity is reconciled. Humanity is reconciled through intuitive judgment and judgment is not mathematical.

So there's a mismatch, where the mathematics of Wall Street drive everything to the ends where conflicts with humanity can only be expected. BTW, I also happen to detect a fundamental flaw with socialism, in that people, though capable of judgment, often suck at it.
 

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Obama Loosens Travel Restrictions to Cuba

With each passing day since Barack Obama took the White House I feel like America is becoming more and more the champion of democracy and humanity that we have for the past eight years only pretended to be. In his latest roll-back of oppressive laws passed by the Bush Administration, President Obama has lifted the law that says Cuban-Americans can only visit their relatives in Cuba once every three years. Now, these people can visit their families in Cuba as much as they want. Another victory for love, family values and freedom.

In response to Florida representatives, Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart, who say that easing travel restrictions is a “serious mistake” that will embolden the Cuban dictatorship “to further isolate, imprison and brutalize pro-democracy activists” I point out that we've been putting up restrictions on Cuban travel and trade since 1962 and yet according to Amnesty International, there are still hundreds of political prisoners in Cuba, so it would seem that keeping Americans apart from their families in Cuba isn't going to defeat the tyranny there. Maybe it's about time we stop trying to fight tyranny with tyranny.

Besides, these two congressmen don't even offer any logical explanation as to how easing travel restrictions would actually embolden the Cuban dictatorship. Are these two conservative politicians just emotionally pissed off people who want the U.S. to keep a cold shoulder to Cuba out of political spite? Seriously, who needs that kind of policy?

So in the absence of any logic coming from the Florida peanut gallery, I will offer my own approximation... the only logical connection I can think of... that increased travel between the US and Cuba may increase the flow of American ideas and culture which may inspire some Cuban people to push harder for some of what we have that they don't have, and if the Cuban government becomes emboldened, it would be in reaction to such increased demand which we should expect in any push toward democracy anyway.

Tough luck Lincoln and Diaz-Balart, the days where your view that families should suffer under oppression for the sake of playing tit-for-tat politics could rely on the alliance of an equally petty and tyrannical president are over.
 

Monday, March 30, 2009

Black Gold: Wake Up And Smell The Coffee

I've been a proponent of fair trade for a while now. It's good to see such a well made documentary that explains some of the reasons why...

Black Gold:
 

WBT Redneck Caller: CigaretteTax

Continuing from the last post...

The next comment, which by now didn’t surprise me at all, was his complaint about taxes on cigarettes. Can you say “RED-NECK”? The D J's inbred response (no more surprising on any conservative talk show) was a general gripe about “sin taxes” being a way to control people... Oh, oh... hang on everyone, we have a conspiracy theory afoot... Jesus, no wonder this is a red state, people get fed all day long with these gripe wads of stupidity. If I thought it would make a difference I would have called these retards up myself to explain a few things. First of all, you get what you pay for and that applies to government as much as anything else and you can't reasonably expect to pay for a decent government without taxes – it doesn't matter how left or right the government is, the rule remains the same. The only real difference between Democrats and Republicans on this matter is that Democrats have the balls to raise taxes to pay upfront for their expenses while the Republicans prefer to fund their expenses by quietly borrowing money against future taxes so that “for now” they can maintain their “anti-tax” illusion despite the fact that the interest incurred on the debt means that it's going to take even more taxes to pay off Republicans expenses, dollar for dollar, than it does to pay for expenses incurred by Democrats.

Anyway, understanding that the government that provides law and order, education, infrastructure, defense and everything else we take for granted has to be payed for with taxes, the next question is where to get the taxes from. Personally, if given a choice of taking the money from the budgets that feed families or from the pockets of people who can afford cigarettes I prefer the later. So-called “sin tax” isn't a way to control what people do, it's a way to minimize the cost of government on budgets allocated for basic needs. People need food, they don’t need cigarettes and that makes the sale of cigarettes a logical and morally sound source for government revenue. If a government wanted to stop you from smoking they wouldn't make their revenue dependent on you doing it. Duh.... If the government actually wanted you to stop doing something they would simply make it illegal, such as the laws against smoking pot, or gay marriage or the push to make abortion illegal, all of these by the way, being conservative campaigns, as are almost every other push to control what people do.
 

WBT Redneck Caller: Black Sense of Privilege

The other day I discovered a true example of genuine southern redneck stupidity when I tuned into WBT in Charlotte on the AM band. They were broadcasting a talk show on which the host and a caller shared some ridiculous perspectives on black people and cigarette tax that's just too good not to post on my blog. Since the two topics are not really related to each other I'll post each discussion on separate entries.

The caller was a 65 year old man who first commented on how “the other day” he was standing in a long line at the grocery store and an “African-American” woman pushed her way to the front and set her things down expecting to just cut in front of the line and that when the woman behind her said something, she turned around and said “you got a problem with it?”. I wasn’t sure where the caller was going with this story until the DJ piped in and asked if he was implying that the woman’s attitude stemmed from a sense of privilege because the president is black. At that point I turned the volume up, there’s no way anyone can support such a ridiculous accusation and if that’s where the caller was going then I wanted to hear the DJ set him straight. I thought for certain, he was going to remind the caller that sometimes people are just rude and it’s silly to connect that with Obama’s presidency, but he didn’t. I was shocked.

The caller just said that there seems to be more of that kind of attitude now. Amazingly, that WAS his point! And the DJ simply reinforced the accusation by summarizing that this black sense of privilege is just ridiculous. I couldn’t believe my ears! Maybe having come from California I’m not accustomed to the backward quirks that I keep hearing about in the south. Is there enough ignorance and stupidly among the black folks here to generate a prevailing sense of privilege because the president is black? I don’t really know for sure but my bet is that the black woman who pushed her way to the front of the line was simply a rude person and that the color of her skin, or the color of the president’s skin has absolutely nothing to do with it. But is there enough ignorance and stupidity here among the white conservatives to support such prejudice on public radio? Well, apparently there is, WBT just proved it beyond the shadow of any doubt. All that’s left is to wonder where it comes from. My bet is that the caller is some old-school good ‘ol boy who’s all bent out of shape because we have a black president and the DJ didn’t have the decency to question this accusation on public radio because he is just as prejudiced as the caller is.

 

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Thank You President Obama!!!

President Barack Obama,

Thank you for being a rally point for the millions of people who have had enough of the emotionally driven, irrationality that has dominated our politics over the last eight years. It feels good to know that we now have a president who stands for America rather than a president who stands for American power (as something to be exploited). I just hope more Americans who haven't figured it out already can someday realize the difference. And to all those American citizens that voted for Obama... Thank you!
 

Sunday, November 02, 2008

California Proposition 8

Let's get right down to business here. I want to know why Californian voters are willing to use constitutional amendments to eliminate protection for what I think is one of the most important values the California Constitution has to offer, equal liberty and justice, for the sake of legislating a religious definition of marriage.

I understand that marriage is one of the most important aspects of social life and I respect the views that people have regarding this very special union between a man and a woman that serves as a solid foundation for building a family. I understand this through first hand experience as a man who chose this path by marrying a woman and building a family with her. I also understand out of experience that religion can be harsh about who can and who can't marry because the woman I chose to marry is Roman Catholic and her church refused to marry us because I am Protestant. When we decided to get married by a Protestant priest, who provided a non-denominational ceremony, the Roman Catholic church told us that they would not recognize our marriage, but fortunately for us, the state of California didn't get involved in religious discrimination and granted us legal recognition and we went on our way to raising a perfectly normal family together.

I think this is one of the great arguments for separation of church and state. Obviously religions have their disagreements and a secular state simply stays out of the argument; it's the only way to avoid one religion using the state to overrule all the other religions and personal paths, which was precisely the reason why the forefathers of our nation came to the New World; to escape religious persecution by the state, to live in a world where people have the freedom to make personal choices about their spiritual path, where the state doesn't stand in the way of anyone following the guidelines of their chosen path but doesn't allow such guidelines to be forced on others who choose something different.

Battle for the Constitution: Equality vs Discrimination
In 18th century Europe, religion dominated the state to a large extent on the ideas put forth by the "Divine Right of Kings" to which Thomas Jefferson responded with the phrase "All men are created equal". It's on this pillar of American principle that the California Constitution has NEVER before drawn a line between people based on religious ideas but Proposition 8, if allowed to pass, will change that for the first time ever. This isn't about whether gays are loosing their rights, this is about introducing legal discrimination. Discrimination IS a black and white issue. Either we believe that all men are created equal or we don't. Is it so important that the state endorse a religious definition of marriage that we should turn our backs on what America stands for? In this article I try to find an answer to that very question.

In 2000 over 61% of those Californians who voted pushed Proposition 22 into California Code, making same-sex marriage unrecognized, but California is a constitutional democracy where it takes more than a mob of prejudiced voters slapping laws on the books to violate the moral values that a constitution is established to protect and in May of 2008 the Supreme Court in Sacramento did their job and overruled Proposition 22 because it violated the equal protection clause in the California Constitution. So at this point, if people are still hell-bent on introducing discrimination into law they need to seek an amendment to the Constitution in order to disable that protection and this is precisely what Proposition 8 aims to do.

The argument in favor of proposition 8 opens with this passage...

Proposition 8 is simple and straightforward. It contains the same 14 words that were previously approved in 2000 by over 61% of California voters “Only a marriage between and man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”

California voters should be aware that despite the simplicity of these 14 words, Proposition 8 is NOT the same thing as Proposition 22. Proposition 22 was only concerned with a legal definition of marriage which may explain why it got a 61% vote. Proposition 8 however is very different in that it seeks to change the Constitution, the very guardian of equality, justice and liberty. Same definition of marriage yes, but escalated to the constitutional level in direct conflict with the equality clause. This IS discrimination and once ratified, Prop 8 will compromise the integrity of our constitution in defending the principles of equality described in the constitution as inalienable rights. So let's look at what reasons could possibly validate this aggressive move.

What Could Possibly Make it Worth It?
Let's look at the reasons provided ballot. (I’m providing direct quotes from the Argument in Favor in the interest of integrity but I am also paraphrasing so that I can cut through the crap and say it straight).

#1: “It restores the definition of marriage to what the vast majority of of California voters already approved and human history has understood marriage to be.”
#1: It amends the California Constitution by adding its first definition of marriage. This definition has been approved for state code by a 61% majority in 2000 and is similar to many other understandings of marriage throughout history.

#2: It overturns the outrageous decision of four activist Supreme Court judges who ignored the the will of the people.
#2: It eliminates the constitutional basis for the Supreme Court decision to overrule Proposition 22.

#3: It protects our children from being taught in public schools that same-sex marriage is the same as traditional marriage.
#3: (No paraphrases required)

The first and second reasons amount to the same thing, a reinforcement of Proposition 22. But that doesn’t really answer my question… a law is just a law. What is the reason for this law? Why is it so important discriminate against a certain class of people that it’s worth changing the constitution itself to allow for it?

The third point seems to at least make an effort to justify this insanity, but it seems to lack the slightest bit of substance. Both my kids went to public school in California and neither of them can remember ever being taught anything about marriage. I also went to public school in California and I don’t remember any such instruction either, nor does my wife or anyone else that I know who went to public schools in California so what are they talking about? Here’s what the ballots pro-argument says…

“State law may require teachers to instruct children as young as kindergartners about marriage.”

At this point, the argument references (Family Code 51890) which is actually the section of California Education Code that defines the “comprehensive health education programs” as all educational programs offered in kindergarten and grades 1 to 12, designed to ensure a list of things including instruction for aiding them in making decisions in matter of personal, family and community health including…

(D) Family health and child development, including the legal and financial aspects and responsibilities of marriage and parenthood.

I somehow doubt that teachers are going to teach 5 year old children about the financial aspects and responsibilities of marriage and parenthood, this is clearly an item on the list intended for older students. But go ahead and read it code, it's not hard, then ask yourself how in the very next sentence the Argument In Favor comes up with....

“If the gay marriage ruling is not overturned, TEACHERS COULD BE REQUIRED to teach young children there is no difference between gay marriage and traditional marriage.”

Like That'll Ever Happen...
Could be... So, this isn’t about something that is actually happening because there is NOTHING in the code that "requires teachers to teach young children there is no difference between gay marriage and traditional marriage." This is clearly about what people imagine COULD happen. OK, so there's a risk that after 150+ years of California history a new rule COULD be added that requires teachers to teach young children there is no difference between gay marriage and traditional marriage and I understand, this is what constitutional law is about, protecting people from what COULD happen, but there's a lot of stuff that COULD happen... what makes this particular issue worth a constitutional amendment? Is the threat THAT dangerous?

First of all, is it even that likely? It's never happened before and it would be a PTA disaster if they tried. Schools already know about the dangers of approaching certain subject areas with children and gay marriage is one of them. I think it would take a very determined school district to overrule parent objections just to tell children that there is no difference between a gay marriage and a "traditional" marriage. Their dogged persistence would then have to battle state hearings that would result from overruled parents appealing to the state. Is it really worth compromising our equality clause for such an unlikely event?

So What if it Does Happen? Can't Parents Handle It?
Well, as unlikely as it is, something like that COULD happen, maybe some virus from outer space will make teachers crazy, who knows... Well, the next thing to consider then is... so what if it does happen? What harm would result from a young children being taught in school that gay marriage and "traditional" marriage are no different? (As if they don't already know that...)The Argument In Favor states that this issue is... “for parents to discuss with their children according to their own values and beliefs. It shouldn’t be forced on us against our will. Well, I read the referenced code and ironically, the only definition being forced by law is the definition that Proposition 22 established and Proposition 8 is taking to the constitution.

But let's talk about that... Supporters say that this issue is for parents to discuss with their children according to their own values and beliefs. So what's stopping them? What does it matter what the teachers at school say? When my son was in 3rd grade he brought a book home from school that said people who smoke cigarettes are bad. My father-in-law used to smoke cigarettes then. I felt the message he was getting from the school book was misleading and so I sat down with him and explained that grandpa isn't bad, he just has a bad habit. He also learned that teachers aren't always right and I believe that he eventually learned to find truth beyond the lesson. Easy. Simple. So why isn't that sufficient? Do supporters lack so much confidence in their parenting skills that they feel they need to gag alternate views with laws? That's pathetic.

Don't Use My Constitution to Teach Your Kids Intolerance
So, what this amounts to is the subtraction of a fundamental tenet of American values, equality, from the constitution to enforce a popular but specific definition of marriage in the the state code so that teachers can't tell children that there is no difference between gay marriage and "traditional" marriage and I guess this is important because alternate views are dangerous? I dunno, I loose it about there. I just think Prop 8 supporters need to stop trippin' on gay people for a moment and consider the bigger picture here.
 

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Intervention and the Swerving Economy

Interesting op-ed in the Wall Street Journal last week (10/27/08) titled “The Age of Prosperity is Over” written by Arthur B. Laffer. CNN-Headline news mentioned it on one of their late morning shows but I only caught bits and pieces because the TV was in commercial evasion-mode. You know, when every three minutes the commercials come on and you mute the TV, get focused on something else and then suddenly notice the show is back. But I caught enough to get curious about why Laffer thought the Age of Prosperity is over. The title invokes such a drastic picture. So I ran down to the hotel lobby and picked up a copy of the paper and read it.

Laffer brings up some interesting points but what I got in the end was another plug for the free market as you might suspect just from his opening paragraphs where he says “Financial panics if left alone, rarely cause much damage to the real economy, output, employment or production” and from his closing paragraph where he says “Whenever people make decisions when they are panicked, the consequences are rarely pretty.” In other words, intervention is a bad idea.

In support of his later closing statement he reminds us of several examples of bad decisions made in the throes of economic panic but interestingly is entire editorial is void of any examples to support his opening claim. To me this reflects a one-sided point of view that I find typical among proponents of free market. After reading the article, I decided to take a shower and think the editorial over in my head. As I did I was reminded of a car accident I had a few years ago.

I was in the fast lane and a truck passed me along the right, pulled in front of me and then slammed his brakes on. I had little choice but to slam my brakes on too, but that wasn’t enough, I had to swerve to avoid crashing into his tail gate. Now the car I was driving was a rental, a Chevy Impala (which for those of you who don’t know drives like a boat). The combination of the panic caused by the truck in front of me and my unfamiliarity with the car I was driving resulted in my over steering, I probably swerved about five times, each time resulting in a wider arc requiring more drastic compensation, each time I over estimated and gradually I lost control entirely and smashed the car into the center divider, totaling the car, almost dislocating my shoulder and ripping a patch of skin off the back of my hand.

The point is that my panic and resulting over reactions on the I-77 that day is a perfect analogy to the panic driven decisions that Laffer was describing in his editorial. But my analogy also brings up another important consideration that Laffer’s one-sided perspective doesn’t acknowledge, that simply letting go of the steering wheel wouldn’t have helped me either. In fact anytime you drive your car, even when driving in a straight line in perfect conditions with your mind drifting off into the clouds, your hands are constantly saving your life, by steering. I remember when I was a kid in the back seat watching my dad’s hands on the wheel as he drove us along a long and straight two-lane highway through the California desert. I noticed his hands were never still, they we always moving ever so slightly in either direction. If he were to suddenly commit to taking his hands off the wheel we would have wound up plowed into a Joshua tree in no time.

While I agree with Laffer that decisions made to fix the economy while in a panic because the economy is swerving all over the highway rarely wind up looking pretty, I don’t agree that the answer is to simply take our hands off the wheel. I think we need a steady hand on the wheel at all times so that the economy doesn’t swerve in the first place. It doesn’t have to be heavy handed, just even handed, that’s all. As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so if you don’t want a lot of-over-the-top intervention then invest in a moderate dose of sensible intervention before the economy get’s out of hand.

Indeed, we should note that while we can criticize all the intervention being proposed by our government today, with confidence that most of it will fall short of fixing the swerving economy, we shouldn’t forget that it was the lack of intervention that caused the economy to swerve in the first place.
 


Archives:




Noteworthy:

* Current Post
* Inside the Patriot Act
* Luminosity of a Future City
* Arctic Drilling
* Human Decline
* Wealth Inequality
* Bush Sells Our Forests
* Healthcare and Terrorism
* Chemical Assault
* The Cuban Medical Industry
* The Endless War
* Do the Rich Need Tax Breaks?
* A Collapse of Some Kind
* Guantanimo Bay

* About the Picture
* More Stuff...
* About Metaspective



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Electronic Frontier Foundation
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UNEP
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Books That I am Reading:


The World Is Flat
A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century

Thomas Friedman

In this book Thomas Friedman continues his exploration of globalization and how the playing feild is leveling out.

War on the Middle Class
How the Government, Big Business, and Special Interest Groups Are Waging War on the American Dream and How to Fight Back

Lou Dobbs

This book is pretty much a print version of his TV program. This is what I call good investigative journalism


Books That I've Read Lately:


Catcher in the Rye


J.D.Salinger

My daughter is an avid J.D.Salinger fan and turned me on to this book. I'm glad she did. I read the first half on one airplane trip and finished the next half on the return flight. Salinger's naration is wonderful, his vivid style reminds me of Steinbeck.

Crash Proof
How to Profit From the Coming Economic Collapse

Peter D. Schiff

I've been reading the writing on the wall for some time now about the comming economic collapse and this book is one of those messages. I highly recomend this book for anyone interested in an easy to understand explanation of what is causing the crises and basic strategy for how to weather the storm.

A Peoples History of the United States: 1492 - Present


Howard Zinn

This book seems to draw a lot of criticism from people who point out that Zinn fails to present the complete picture, but I think that's the point. Zinn is simply filling in the gaps intentionally left by "politically correct" historians and in so doing, he sheds light on some of the real American heros who continue the "politically incorrect" American Revolution to this day. These heros are not the celebrated leaders and soldiers of the American Establishment who took the reins of exploitation from the British Establishment but the working class people who continued to stand up to exploitation regardless of what banner they wave. It's these working class people who continue to fight for liberty and justice and it's these unsung heros that we need to thank for our way of life and we can thank Howard Zinn for pointing them out, especially now that patriotism has somehow come to mean loyalty to a flag rather than to a principal.

Paradox Of Choice: Why More Is Less


Barry Schwartz

An interesting counter-view to the ever-so-popular notion that our vast array of options improves our culture.

Why I Am A Reagan Conservative


Edited By: Michael K. Deaver

I'm reading this book because I don't consider myself to be conservative. I suppose this is because I've been focused for so long on issues around which conservatives hold positions that I disagree with. But recently I've been looking beyond these issues in search of what I might agree are valid conservative positions and it seems the more I look the less I find, which is alarming to me considering the influence that conservatives have over the policies that effect our lives. Hopefully this book will provide me with some insight.

The Ayn Rand Reader


Ayn Rand: Edited by Gary Hull

I know, I know... what is Ayn Rand doing on this booklist? Answer: I read from as many perspectives as possible. Being a free thinker, I refuse to submit myself to a reading diet. Besides, I want to understand what it is that Ayn Rand fans are raving about and what institutes like ARI are pushing into our education systems.

A Thousand Barrels a Second
The Coming Oil Breakpoint and the Challenges Facing an Energy Dependant World

Peter Tertzakian

I've been trying to understand as much as I can about the coming oil crises. The author is Chief Energy Economist of ARC Financial, one of the world's leading private equity firms focused on energy. As far as I can tell so far, his book isn't a crack on politics or doom and gloom but a straightforward analysis of the realities of energy that so many people are ignoring.

TechGnosis
Myth, Magic & Mysticism in the Age of Information

Erik Davis

I've actually been reading the hardback version of this book, on and off, for long time now. The problem I have with this book is it's depth. Davis presents so many interesting ideas and references that I wind up placing a book mark and taking excursions into related materials. It can take me days to digest what Davis is saying in one sentence. Eventually, I always come back to the book, drawn in my Davis' poetic language of intellect. This book represents a true frontier for my mind.

The Moon Is Down


John Steinbeck

Steinbeck is always an easy read for me. His characters and scenes are so vivid. But this book in particular has the added significance of having had an extraordinary impact as Allied propoganda in Nazi-occupied Europe. Despite Axis efforts to supress it (in Fascist Italy, mere possession of a copy of the book was punishable by death) hundreds of thousands of copies were secretly translated into numerous languages, printed on unnaccounted paper and smuggled across borders. This story, a triumph of ideas in the face of cold steel and brute force, offered hope for the "unconquered" people under foreign occupation and celebrated the unbreakable spirit of free people. I feel like I should be sending copies to Iraqis currently under US occupation, but that could easily be construed as an act of terrorism.

Confessions of an Economic Hitman


John Perkins

I've been able to put two and two together for some time, so nothing in this book astounds me but it does bring the workings of the international banks and corporations as well as the US government out of the speculations of so-called conspiracy theories and into the matter-of-fact narration of one man's career path as an economic hitman.

Collapse:
How Societies Choose To Fail Or Succeed
Jared Diamond

Facinating book. Jared Diamond's name is what caught my attention as I was killing time at the bookstore at the airport. I was very impressed with his documentary "Guns, Germs and Steel" and figured he would make this study of societal destinies equally interesting. I was 100% correct. I especially enjoyed the chapters on the collapse of the Polynesian societies, realizing the scale-relativity with the evolution of our global society.

Brave New World

Aldous Huxley

Of course... the third book in my dystopian trilogy.

The United States of Europe:
The New Superpower and the End of American Supremacy
T.R.Reid

An excellent perspective on the power that's rising in Europe as we Americans continue to sleep with visions of our own glory in our heads.

Imperial Ambitions:
Conversations with Noam Chomsky on the Post-9/11 World
Noam Chomsky, David Barsamian

As always, Professor Chomsky presents that calm and collected voice of logic that cuts through all the noisy rhetoric, half-truths, corporate funded media hype and emotionally driven spin sessions. Barsamian's interviews with Chomsky are clear, crisp and sober conversations.

Farenheit 451
Ray Bradbury

Figured I'd continue my journey through "negative-utopia" that I started with 1984. It does seem appropriate given the current state of America from which I found much more connection with Bradbury's vision than I did with Orwell's, especially the way in which the real source of oppression is not the government but the people themselves.

Cuba
A New History

Richard Gott

Just a straight forward history book, but Cuba has a facinating history that reaches back to the days of Columbus and offers everything from pirates to revolutions.

1984
George Orwell

It seemed like a good idea to refresh my memory of a mid-century perspective on where the world is headed. Although I found some relief in knowing that we have not followed the Stalinesque course to the letter, I nevertheless found much of Orwell's larger concepts ringing ever so true in 21st Century America, especially Orwell's concept of continuous war and Big Brother.

The Best Democracy Money Can Buy
Greg Palast

Easy read... Palast is a circus ring master showing us unbelievable things. Penetrating investigation with a sense of humor.

One Market Under God
Extreme Capitalism, Market Populism, and the End of Economic Democracy

Thomas Frank

After reading the Lexus and the Olive Tree, I felt I needed a counter-balance view of globalization and how the liberated capitalism that I see everywhere around me, breaking the chains of regulation, is riding the globalization wave.

20:21 Vision
Twentieth-Century Lessons for the Twenty-First Century

Bill Emmott

The author, Economist cheif editor, tends to present very objective and slightly outside views of American economics/politics. I think this renders a more accurate assesment of how we fit in with the rest of the world. The book is a tour of the major forces of the 20th century with emphasis on how they are currently shaping the 21st century.

The Lexus and the Olive Tree


Thomas Freidman

Damned good book! Really opened up my eyes to what globalization is all about. Freidman's style of writing is engaging and his explainations are straightforward. I can see why people regard this book as the essential primer on the subject. I can also see why people think he is "pro-globalization" but I tend to think he's not so much promoting it as just pointing out the inevitability of it. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in understanding globalization.

The Gnostic Gospels


Elain Pagles

I thought it was good. Explains a lot about the gnostic strain of Christain faith.

Consilience


Edward O. Wilson

Facinating. From the moment he starts decribing the Ionian enchantment on the first pages. This book describes the interrelation of seperate bodies of knowledge and how it all comes together.

The History of Money


Jack Weatherford

Human culture is possessed and these are some involving stories about the demon we call money.

Other material of interest:

Origins of the Federal Reserve (PDF) - Murray N. Rothbard

Excellent account of the monetary imperialism that led to the creation of the Federal Reserve.

The Elkhorn Manifesto
R. William Davis

This is an open letter to Americans that provides a historical perspective on the U.S. government's prohibition of Marijuana. Without stating any position on that particular issue, I have nevertheless saved a copy of the letter here because of what I think are some valueable and verifiable references to to what I call the "corporate priority over the better interests of the nation".