Heroes: Obama complains that “a handful of senators” are standing in the way of the renewal of the Patriot Act. Bless 'em.
To Infinity And Beyond: Our economic, political and social systems are totally dependent on endless growth – of GDP, of money, of profits, of population. Too bad that endless growth is not possible on this planet. We need a new story line.
Discussion: For various reasons, some good, some bad and some criminal, the US healtcare system seems destined to ruin the economy. A lot, probably most, of our healthcare costs that are not tied up in insurance company profits and paying for unnecessary tests and procedures stem from keeping a very small group of folks alive for another month or two. If it's not your mother, when should we say no more? If you had to pay out of pocket, rather than taking it out of the pockets of tens of thousands of perfectly healthy young people, how much would another six months of your dad's ever increasingly disjointed ramblings would you pay for? How much should we as a society pay for, and who decides? I ask because my mom needs some pretty expensive surgery – that you're going to be paying for - that has at best a 50/50 chance of doing a bit of good...
Black & White: We are clever enough to develop instruments that let us detect the changes in the Earth's gravity field caused by ice losses in Antarctica, and dumb enough to cause those losses.
Leg Bone Connected To The Hip Bone: The rise of right-wing political movements in Europe is not an accident, it was a foreseeable (and quite possibly desired) result of the introduction of the euro over a decade ago. In order to save the eruo – and the project to unite all of Europe as one large profit center – the ECB chose to impose a policy of austerity and high unemployment on the continent. Since taking a stand against the machinations of the ECB is the equivalent of political suicide, little effective resistance to these undemocratic policies has been raised. Europe's masters have little interest in reducing unemployment, inequality and growing poverty among the working population. Intentionally or not, the ECB austerity measures have given rise to right-wing nationalist (and fascist) parties which blame immigrants for the disaster the ECB has wrought. The US is about to follow Europe further down the austerity and inequality road. It'll be fun.
Second Call: Here's another report on those Yemeni computer nerds who hacked into Saudi Arabia's networks and retrieved top secret documents. And still we learn nothing of the content of these documents...
Capitalism's Conundrum: Capitalism is all about free market competition, until it's not. Corporate leaders hate competition – it drives down prices and profits. So as soon as they can, capitalists become monopolists, squashing competition wherever and whenever they can. If they can't beat 'em, they turn to government to redefine the marketplace so they can dominate and profit. The ultimate goal of a capitalist is to become an oligarch, dictating conditions that benefit the large (tax breaks, etc) and keep the small (regulations, etc), small. Sound familiar?
It's Easy: The US could easily avoid a war with China; all we'd have to do is give up our empire. That's not going to happen, so odds are pretty good the war will.
Gentle Criticism: Economist Robert Shiller points out that, unlike 1929 when only the stock market was seriously over-valued, today it is not only the stock market but the bond market and the housing market that are over-valued. It is, he says, “an interesting phenomenon.”