Archive for October, 2008

At last weekends LSU-South Carolina game, one of the refs got a little too caught up in the moment as he took down the Gamecock’s QB. Guess he is leading ref’s in sacks this season,

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I love John Oliver, he is my favorite daily show anchor. Although, this video proves that John can do more than just cover the news. He can cover books too!

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After reading Fareed Zakaria’s Post-American World over the summer, I’ve gained a huge amount of respect for his optimistic vision of the country. One of the points he makes that concurs with my observation is the persistence of the myth that the US is the “bestest nation in the whole entire world”. We might have been at one time, but we’ve got some work to do.

In his most recent column, one paragraph summed up the US situation more than any other I’ve read recently,

In America today we’re getting government wrong in a big way. We have a patchwork of bad regulations, subsidies, and ad hoc interventions. Policies are designed to pay off powerful constituents rather than generate long-term growth. We have the most expensive and inefficient health-care system in the industrialized world, the most wasteful energy usage, the lowest savings rate, the worst maintained infrastructure, a complex and corrupt tax code. We’ve gotten by despite all these problems because the overall system has been dynamic and the world looked to America as the place to put its savings and its faith. But the free ride is coming to an end. It’s time to get serious.

I’ve come to think that government is the solution, not the bane of all existence.

I want to pay more in taxes. I want more public works projects. But not in the way we’ve had for the last 20 years.

If we just modify our government to slightly improve the way we currently do things, we are headed for a rough few decades. We’ll need some smart policy makers to survey the American landscape and to act effectively. Let’s hope we get some this November.

I know we can turn things around Washington...

I know we can turn things around Washington...

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Not too much unlike our national presidential debates,

[via Boing Boing]

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Some German/Austria/Swiss wind turbines had a bit of a problem recently. I’m a big advocate of renewable energy as you may know from reading my blog or twitters. But I have to share the triumphs as well as the failures.

These are some interesting shots taken of a wind tubine on fire,

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As I was reading at the car inspection place waiting on my two month overdue inspection to finish, I couldn’t help but overhear Fox News on the waiting room televisions. John McCain was talking at his rally in Indiana about how it was the definition of the American Dream to own your own home. (And just to let you know that I’m not targeting McCain on this, Obama says similar things all the time).

At the exact moment when I heard McCain say that, I read in Master of Mysteries by Louis Sahagun (the biography of 1920-50s LA spiritual leader Manly Palmer Hall) the following excerpt,

‘A nation is an inert mass also if it has no appropriate and adequate idealism, any culture that is materialistic cannot survive because it lacks vital principle.’ 

And while I enjoyed the biography because it was a carnival side show of the wacked out new age beliefs that some of these “spiritual leaders” had, it is impossible for me to blanket judge these early century philosiphers because of their looseness with science. They did have some valid insights into human nature and American idealism. But Sahagun added some interesting notes of his own in the following paragraph which truly allowed the passage to register with me,

“But no sooner had WW2 ended than Americans with dependable union jobs… became absorbed with single family tract home and automobiles for no money down.”

An interesting insight delivered through the vehicle of synchronicity. 

That revised American Dream of the 1950s which embraced rampant consumerism has become the bane of modern society. As other cultures gain economic prosperity they seek to emulate our non-sustainable lifestyle. I’m far from a neo-malthusian thinker, believing that all resources are finite and that price plays no factor in human decisions, yet there is a fundamental physical truth to reality. Entropy will eventually change our forms of energy into less usable states. 

The problem with the current American Dream is clear to me: rampant consumer driven materialism and a desire to own too much.

Now I don’t fault the poor or the rich for seeking a more stable lifestyle. That is their right and an acceptable one at that. Yet, the means by which we have sought out that stability has resulted in a plethora of problems. Environmental degradation, externalities passed on to third world nations, a “need” for all these ridiculous electronic gadgets and such. A belief that simply being American means a right to cheap energy and world domination is meeting its end. And justly so, it simply was an illusion. 

I hope that Americans take this opportunity of financial crisis to look upon themselves and to examine their place in this global society. Are the ideas that we hold about our nation valid, or a mirage sold to us by generations of manipulative “patriots”? 

The idea that every American should own a home is problematic on many levels, it limits economic redistribution, keeping labor away from the jobs that need it. It also drives many people to volutarily enlist in slavery, running up debt that can never be paid. 

An interesting insight from my recent trip to Austria was the number of co-family homes and renters. Austrian home ownership is usually only for the most wealthy and those that can truly afford it. Why are these countries having the same problems we are? They either tried to emulate us or invested in our housing market from abroad. A move which has revealed itself as a fatal mistake. 

Let’s prepare for a new America, maybe not even one offered by either of the major political parties, where we can break free of the materialistic shackles that bind us. 


An example from Austria of multiple families living on the same property

An example from Austria of multiple families living on the same property

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Last night after work I headed to Asheville with John Avery for Atmosphere’s Paint the Nation Tour. It is likely the only hip hop show I’ll ever go to that is 98% white people (that’s Asheville for ya!).

The show was a lot of fun! Atmosphere tore down the house and he was so incredibly positive its amazing. I think that stylistically, hip hop and rap has become so derogratory and demeaning towards society, women, life, etc… and Atmosphere counters all that with socially conscious lyricism that exposes the hypocricies of modern america and encourages you to smile.

At one point during the show a random kid takes another guys hat and throws it on the stage provoking a fight. Atmosphere stops the show and tells the guy that he is an idiot and that he needs to go talk to girls or something else. He then hands the hat back to the guy in the crowd. Good stuff.

It was the first show I’ve been to since last spring… I didn’t get a chance to do anything when I lived in Western NC this summer and I’ve been so busy in Charlotte I’ve missed a lot of great tours through here. I’m hoping that this one has just kicked off my fall music season!

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