Friday, July 07, 2006

Abuse of Power

Make with the click to check out a cool parody vid.

Warren Ellis speaks wise.

"“The heart of magic is talking to your own subconscious.”

“You can’t dabble in magic. It’s all or nothing.”"

The fallacy of work.

Joe Robinson:
"But can't hard work be a source of pride?

I hear that all the time: 'That's what makes this country great.' It is a myth we have tricked ourselves into believing. The Dutch, the French, the Norwegians, the Belgians and the Irish are more productive per hour than we are, even with their four- and five-week vacations. We are number one in terms of productivity per person only because of all the overtime we do. And that's the number we count.

But isn't that the most important number?

It depends on your values. What is a gross national product when you don't have a life? A few years ago, the Norwegians found that they were 14 percent more productive than we are. So they elected to take more time off.

Are we really so different from the rest of the world?

Within the past year England added a week to its annual vacation policy. New Zealand added a week the year before. The Chinese have three weeks—Golden Weeks. Americans have a suspicion of leisure that goes back to the Puritan work ethic: idle hands are the devil's hands."

What you give, you get. It's not complicated.


Insight of The Day:
"We live in a 'boomerang' world.

Let me explain:

If you smile at someone, in almost every case, they will smile back.

Try it now with someone nearby and see if it works.

If you're kind toward someone, they will usually be kind in return.

Of course, this also works in the other direction.

If you complain to someone, they will 'share' their complaints with you. (In fact, you may quickly find yourself in a subtle competition to see who is more miserable.)

If you get angry at someone, they will usually get angry with you.

And so on...

I have a CHOICE about what I decide to 'throw' out into my world. I have a CHOICE about what I WANT to land at my feet?

If you want more JOY - throw it out there.

If you want more HAPPINESS - throw some happiness out there to someone else and watch it 'miraculously' come back to you."

" why is the superhero so popular in America?"

Paul Levitz, of DC comics, espouses the essential mystique of comics.

Who do you choose to be?

[Yes, way existentialist.]

Why is Superman so popular?:
"I got into this discussion with a bunch of international cartoonists a couple of years ago, when they were coming through New York on a tour. We went back and forth on it, and my conclusion was it is fundamental to the American myth of ourselves, that how you use your power is the important choice you make.

I think the superhero represents that step in American cultural iconography.

I can be anything I want to. I can be a superhero
-- I don't know if that is true in America, I think it is more true of America than most countries of the world, in terms of the ability to change class, occupation, where you live; we are less tied to where we start than most nations. So, if I can be a superhero, the issue of what I do with my gifts matters most. Will I use my gifts to make the world a better place, or to benefit myself? Those are fundamental American debates that the superhero metaphor works to define."

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The War on War. Or something. THE DIRECTOR'S LIFE - A true Texan, director Richard Linklater takes aim with both barrels:
"'What would happen if the war on drugs were to be over? Or the war on terror were to be over?' he asks. 'Nothing. You can't declare victory in a war like that. So by calling it that, you've just enslaved all of us for a really endless Orwellian ideal …. If you look at the war on drugs, from the time it started, all that has happened is that the prison population has quadrupled. So that's good for business. That's good for politicians seeking reelection saying they're tough on crime.'

Prisons, he says, are 'really full of petty drug offenders who aren't out to hurt anyone and haven't often hurt anyone but themselves. They are kind of pawns in a bigger power game. So there are lots of things to be paranoid about, I think.'"

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

What do you mean by freedom?

Happy [late] 4th of July.

Understanding the Meaning of Freedom:
"The Culture War today is once more about the question of what freedom is to be in America. But it is subtler. No slaves. Instead, ``detainees' in Guantanamo, held without due process; more than a million young African-Americans in US prisons, many held for nonviolent or victimless crimes; torture in Abu Ghraib and at secret destinations in Egypt and Syria; government spying on ordinary citizens. No slaves. Instead, illegal immigrants who want to come here to do back-breaking work for low pay and few rights. Remarkably, all this is in the name of ``freedom.' It is a right-wing conservative conception of freedom and it flies in the face of the freedoms declared by the Founding Fathers and expanded upon since.

...The mechanism of redefinition is cognitive. It is in our brains. We can't see it. Freedom is what cognitive scientists call an ``essentially contested concept," which means there will always be distinct and disputed versions of freedom that are inconsistent with each other. There is no single, universal, and objectively ``correct" meaning of freedom. There is a single, uncontested, but limited, core meaning of freedom that we all agree on. But that is the limit of consensus. Progressives and conservatives have different value systems that extend the uncontested core in opposite directions.

Progressives: There should be a freedom to marry. The government should not be able to decide who can marry whom.

Conservatives: ``Freely elected" government officials should determine who can marry whom. That's what a ``free country" means.

Progressives: Social security, the minimum wage, universal healthcare, college for all are ways to guarantee freedom from want.

Conservatives: Giving people things they haven't earned creates dependency and robs people of their freedom.

Progressives: Freedom of religion includes freedom from having a religion imposed on you.

Conservatives: Freedom to practice religion for fundamentalist evangelicals means spreading the good news of the truth of the gospel, which implies school prayer, ``under God" in the Pledge, the Ten Commandments in courthouses, and the teaching of intelligent design.

Progressives: The president's spying on citizens without a warrant is a violation of freedom.

Conservatives: The president is just doing his duty to preserve our freedom."

The assumptions of an air conditioned society.

Interesting ideas that the ubiquitiousness of AC is, well... not evil... but might come with significant costs. At the very least it increases a lack of awareness of our environment...

Pt I:
AlterNet: EnviroHealth: Air-conditioning: Our Cross to Bear:
"Traditionally, humans have dealt with heat and humidity by cutting back on physical activity in the middle of the day, maybe even taking a siesta. That was before economic 'competitiveness' became a universally accepted end in itself."

Pt II:
AlterNet: America's Air-Conditioned Nightmare:
"Imagine a country where economic life, by necessity, slows during the summer. Where potential customers stay home or go swimming on a hot afternoon, so salespeople are sent home early. Where factories simply shut down the line for a couple of weeks. That was this country before air-conditioning, but in 2006, it sounds like a distant, exotic land. In today's rapid-growth, high-consumption 'service economy,' workers and consumers, like computers and ovens, are components, each of which is maintained at an appropriate operating temperature.

...Only a tiny number of politicians, and no leading member of either major party, would dare put ecological limits ahead of short-term economics. Who's going to suggest that summer be a time to back off and simply not make, sell and buy so much stuff? None will dare say that a million and a half people have no business living and working in a place like Phoenix or that Miami has grown beyond supportable limits. And the ecological damage done by that refusal to slow the wheels of commerce is irreversible"

Monday, July 03, 2006

"Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology."

“Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology. We have the capability to make the world’s first bionic man. Steve Austin will be that man. Better than he was before. Better…stronger…faster.”

BBC NEWS | Health | 'Bionic' limb breakthrough made:
"The breakthrough, developed by researchers at University College London, allows the prosthesis to breach the skin without risk of infection.

The team says early clinical trials have been 'very promising'.

It hopes the work - which is to be published in the Journal of Anatomy - may help survivors of the 7 July bombings, as well as other amputees.

The work paves the way for bionic limbs which are controlled by the central nervous system."