1.03.2005

Lots of Eyeballs

If you're looking for the tsunami videos check out my last post here.

Well my guess was right. BlogTorrent became the number one way to download the tsunami videos from the Internet resulting in over 100,000 visitors to my blog over the last week. I took down all of my blog images because my server wasn't able to cope. They'll be back in a week or so when things return to normal. There is a buzz in the air about blogging these days, probably due to the Pew Internet and Family Life Project poll. A quick Google News search for blog returned 3,920 results. In fact, TechCentralStation now has an entire section devoted to the blogoshphere.

A bunch of you have been checking out my profile so I've decided to link to my favorite posts about various topics below and took some time to summarize my thoughts on some topics beneath these links.

My thoughts:
For Love of Monkey
Modern Living
Driving Fast and Mortality
The Big Bang
The Media
Standards v. Choice
Artificial Intelligence
Cavemen and the Baby Bust
Necessary Demagoguery

Democracy, Marriage, Human Nature

My Ideal Retirement Situation
The Nuclear Family
Noam Chomsky Answers my Question
God, Coffee, Japanese Warlords
The Driving Simulator
Robots vs Striking Workers -- Woody Allen vs Brad Pitt

Basically my thinking boils down to the following:

Why I Write: It occured to me a few months ago that I write to sort out my thoughts. I learn more when I write than I would if I simply read something and moved on. Hopefully some of you will supply my impressionable 26 year old brain with feedback so I can learn something and write better articles.

Economics: Raising taxes to help the poor is counterproductive in the long run. Of course this has its limits but Germany's high unemployment is a result of extensive vacation time and generous unemployment benefits. America is the richest nation in the world because we nurture entrepreneurialism. Yes we have a wealth divide but our poor are considered wealthy in most countries. In short, raise taxes too much and it hurts the poor. Cut taxes too much and it hurts the poor. I do think the government should spend more on education/youth but that's long term thinking and doesn't really happen in a democracy. Democracy is the best system we've found so far but it's not perfect. Stephen Roach sums up my beliefs about economics with the following quote:
"In the future there are two roads. One is to look backward and hang on to what we think we're entitled to. The other is to recognize what has made America. Our virtues lie in a flexible and open, technology friendly, risk-taking, entrepreneurial, market-driven system. This is exactly the same type of challenge farmers went through in the late 1800's, sweatshop workers went through in the early 1900's, and manufacturing workers did in the first half of the 80's. We've got to focus on setting in motion a debate that pushes us into new sources of job creation rather than bemoaning the loss. There are Republicans and Democrats alike who are involved in this protectionist backlash. They're very vocal right now, and they need to be challenged."

Politics: Bush and Kerry? Both unfit for the job. I don't blame them though, human nature when applied to democracy results in the choices we're presented with. Democracy is no doubt inflenced by the media which is undergoing a major transformation right now due to the Internet and bloggers in particular. So while I don't think human nature will change any time soon I do think that technology will change the media which will in turn give us a purer democratic process. I have a degree in finance, I know a little bit about money and as far as I know there were no multinational corporations in the 1700s with armies of lobbyists. Now they use the 1st amendment as they once did the 14th to shore up their power all in the name of our founding fathers. A quote by Abe Lincoln:

"The money power preys upon the nation in times of peace and conspires against it in times of adversity. It is more despotic than monarchy, more insolent than autocracy, more selfish than bureaucracy. I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. Corporations have been enthroned, an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until the wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed."

He's right except for the fact that a large slice of corporate power lies in the control of the media which is now slipping away because of the distributed nature of the Internet. I disagree with a lot of Noam Chomsky's points but he does make some valid arguments.

Media: Dysfunctional but recovering. Jon Stewart had a point on Crossfire. I have faith that the Internet is going to come to the rescue here as well. The cable news networks have already split down partisan lines for the most part and it stands to reason that the blogs of the future will do the same. The difference is that the cost of producing and distributing content is now approaching zero. Musicians are producing albums in their bedrooms with laptops and Open Source software. People are making money by adding donation links to their websites even while giving away their art or software for free. Capitalism without Capital applied to culture is a beautiful thing. Ideas can more efficiently proliferate with new media technologies combined with the Internet. Journalists are scared of fact checking bloggers so they check their own facts. In the run up to a presidential election facts are good for democracy regardless of the winner. Dan Gillmore says it best in his free online book We the Media.

"This is also a story of a modern revolution, however, because technology has given us a communications toolkit that allows anyone to become a journalist at little cost and, in theory, with global reach. Nothing like this has ever been remotely possible before."


Faith: My blog isn't strictly political. In fact I don't think any of the topics here are really distinct. Personally I don't really understand faith yet. I grew up reading books about science and believe that we lived in caves 15,000 years ago. I'm agnostic, I don't know if there is a God but I found a quote about faith by a professor at a theological academy that makes sense to me.

"Marx said "Religion is the opiate of the masses!" And I agree with him … to a certain extent. If there is a drop of truth in Marx's words, it's when we forget that religion is a means which God has given us for achieving holiness and salvation. It's when we use religion only as a means of comfort in difficult moments of our life. Religion for us is just a soothing narcotic. It becomes an opiate for us if we forget that salvation is not merely our private business."

Faith, hijacked by partisan interests worries me more than the use of faith as an opiate. Something in me can't accept faith, some say I'm too rational. Strip away the opiates from faith and you're left with something fundamentally good. I simply chose a different means to the same end.

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