Sunday, January 30, 2011

abc news future of god debate

It turns out that there was a big flaw in the arrangement of the debate. The non-believer side was well cast. The fact that the two believers were quasi-deists obviated most of the thoughtful argument. By deist I refer to those who invoke an all-encompassing, loving-force type god. While such thoughts are crowd pleasing and great for warm fuzzy feelings, they don't offer much meat for serious discussion/debate. Especially given that the fundamentalist Christian/Muslim/Jewish practitioners are the ones who cause the most havoc in the world. The post modern deist argument could be nut-shelled as "God is Love and Can't we all just get along". And who is prepared to argue against that? The problem is that such diluted god-talk leaves one no closer to the solutions for life's pressing problems. We've all been taken round a big fuzzy circle and, in the end, left to figure out the answers for ourselves.

Still, it was worth watching, if for no other reason than to see Oprah's guru, Deepak Chopra, dethroned by truly intelligent thoughtful people. I'm certain his followers will perceive him as being set upon by atheist hounds. Everyone else will be able to watch him clumsily grasping at any handhold when confronted by those who are not so easily impressed with mystical jargon. It is my belief that he was exposed as the opportunistic hustler with the bloated ego that most of us long suspected.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Japan: Bust, Boom, Bust.

I grew up during the era when Japan was the place from which came our cheap plastic crap. My friends and me would laugh derisively at anything inscribed 'made in Japan' . We, along with the rest of the world, were more than a little impressed by Japan's evolution as a powerhouse economy and producer of high quality precision goods. I'm certain I never considered that the whole thing could go so far in the wrong direction and so quickly. Sure, the Japanese still manufacture much of the highly sought after goods in the world from cameras to automobiles. However, their organization, dedication to detail, and discipline have apparently not saved them from the same greed, poor planning, reckless spending, and half-baked economics that other first world nations practiced. The list of such nations would include, most notably, the U.S.A.

This sobering piece by NPR is worth a look:

Friday, January 28, 2011

The kid your mom wouldn't let you play with.

It just occurred to me that the U.S.A. has become the equivalent of that kid. We clearly have the bully-thing going. Give me your lunch money or I'll smash your face. We substitute ideas like, if you don't practice government in the manner we would prefer, we'll smash your face. Or, my personal favorite, you are not 'free enough' so we will smash your face. To be fair, we aren't exactly like the schoolyard bully. He eventually got tired and went home. Once we have begun to get-up-in-your-grill, count on us never going home. We don't get bored. We don't pause. We don't wander off to focus on something else for a while.

Then there is the whole drugs and violence thing. Briefly stated, our citizens have a huge appetite for recreational drugs. This appetite is overlaid with our innate puritanical attitudes (as expressed through our so-called War on Drugs). In short there are good people and bad people. Bad people 'do drugs'. We must hunt down and destroy bad people. However, by our own definition, a huge number of our own citizens are bad people. Luckily we have a time-tested playground-inspired plan to deal with such cognitive dissonance. As a nation we close our eyes, we put our fingers in our ears and commence to running around making mindless blathering noise. A discrepancy ignored is a discrepancy solved. Well played, America.

Some of us are thinking, isn't there a flip side to this coin? As it turns out, yes- though it is only fractionally different from the obverse side.

It seems that our largest trading partner is Mexico. One point for all the Wall Street Journal readers who were thinking Canada. However, Canada is our above board trading partner. The largest single transfer point for illicit drugs entering the U.S. is Mexico. This is incredibly convenient. It allows us to rationalize our demonization of Mexico and Mexicans who, after all, don't look as much like us as Canadians. Also our appetite for drugs along with our War on Drugs, creates the perfect marketplace for the millions of assault-style firearms we produce. The circle is complete.