22 February 2008


  • Feb 22, 2008


Couple years ago I posted about trends in the US government spending (it popped back up to the top because I updated the first graph)
Since then of course the trend I described has only increased and intensified.

Today I look forward instead of backward, and suggest something crazy!

18 February 2008

Education -> Now, with references!!!!

  • Feb 18, 2008

Education -> Now, with references!!!!

NOTE:  let me say upfront that I think this entire entry is a gross oversimplification.

We (Americans) aren't very smart.

Oh sure, there are plenty of individuals to prove me wrong; but as a whole, as a nation, I think it would be hard to argue.

But we are like the school bully or the rich kid (whose parents think it's good for him to go to public school).  We get our way all the time, and no one dares to point out to us how dumb we are.

We alone still use the English system of measurement, being afraid to learn something new, even if it's far easier in the long run.  50% of us believe in literal creationism (dinosaurs are either a hoax perpetrated by scientists and/or the devil, or they died in Noah's flood), and another 40% believe in intelligent design(1). Contrast this with England, where even 97% of priests and ministers don't believe in literal creationism(2)! 20% of us think the sun revolves around the earth,  and 11% can not find the US on an unmarked world map.(3,4)

Clearly we have the resources.  We have by far the largest total GDP, as well as one of the highest per capita wealth in the world.(5,6)

So why is it this way?


04 February 2008

Evil will always win. But its OK

  • Feb 4, 2008

Evil will always win. But its OK

Whether history teaches us to be optimistic or pessimistic is only a matter of when and where you choose to look.

There have been wars at least as long as there has been civilization - which of course continues to today.
Empires have risen, Persian, Chinese, Mongolian, Ottoman, Aztec, Inca, British, USSR.
Some lasted for centuries, some covered the majority of the world (that the culture knew of).
Every one of them fell, for one reason or another, eventually.

That could give hope that the US, which is extending influence both culturally, politically, and militarily throughout the world, will inevitably follow - but its seems obvious that it will be replaced by another - no matter the ideals in begins in, it will inevitably grow corrupt. They all do.

In the 3rd century BC the Egyptian library/museum at Alexandria contained the collected knowledge of the Egyptian and Greek civilizations, the largest in the world. While the circumstances of its destruction are debated, it was apparently due to some combination of war and religious fundamentalism.

The civilizations of the Mediterranean created, among other things, plumbing, calculus, and democracy (but only for white male property owners) - and at the hight of the Roman Empire, a popular spectator sport involved watching humans fight to the death, and eventually flooding the coliseum to create mock sea battles - but with real weapons - for the entertainment of government and the wealthy.
In the Dark Ages, as Rome fell, much of the infrastructure was allowed to fall to ruins, and everything from libraries to aqueducts was lost - along with the education and intellectual development that had accompanied it, and much already acquired knowledge and technology was lost.
Then came about the forced conversion of people in Europe, Asia, and Africa to Christianity and Islam, as well as wars between the two (the Crusades) - ultimately spreading throughout the world, and, of-course, lasting to the present.
Europe's renaissance consisted largely of no more than the re-discovery of things which had been previously known, but lost.

For every Ghandi there has been a Hitler and a Mussolini. For every Roosevelt and Carter we've had a Regan, A Bush, and a Bush Jr. Lenin's "people's revolution" turned quickly into Stalin's purges.
Che failed to start a revolution, and after all of Chavez's work, today immigrants still work in pesticide laden fields for far less than minimum wage while middle class Americans with far more comfortable lives advocate criminalizing them for it.

For all the noise the anti-war movement made, American troops pulled out because the North Vietnamese won.
In fact, the non-violent success Ghandi seemingly had happened to be at a time when the British Empire was already in decline with Canada, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Egypt, and Iraq becoming officially fully independent in (or around) 1931, and their military over extended worldwide - a guerrilla war with Ireland, the aftermath of WWII, and calls (and actions) for independence throughout the British Empire in Asia, Africa, and the Americas. For 40 years India had sought independence, but it was not until these - often violent - worldwide events came along that it was finally granted.
Then, almost immediately, (as British representatives had predicted) the country split, and the potentially violent stand-off between newly formed Pakistan and India (both of which have nukes) has lasted to this day. So much for non-violence.