Archive for the ‘Smart’ Category

The New “New Deal”
December 6, 2008

by pegleghippie

I’d prefer the “Millennial Deal,” or “Democratic Deal,” or basically anything with a more historically-appropriate name than the elusive word “new,” but everyone you and I know are going to call this the new new deal, so i’ll just go with it for now.

What I’m talking about is this:

Obama says that he will implement a  massive public works program to fully modernize our nation’s infrastructure, both to create jobs and to become environmentally friendly.  

On top of that, there’s talk of the total spending of this depression reaching a staggering 8.5 trillion dollars.  That’s just mind boggling, but it’s also big enough to really get things moving again.  I’ll let Paul Krugman explain why this is a good idea.

So basically I’m really really fucking impressed.  Obama is doing what progressives have been saying needs to be done.  He isn’t playing politics, or “triangulating,” as the Clintons called it.  Sure we can complain that his cabinet is “too beltway,” but that’s a pretty minor complaint considering that he seems to be acting like a better-informed FDR.  In fact, that’s the only complaint that us lefties seem to have.

 Shortly before the election (and before the financial meltdown), I wrote that, based on where our country was, there was nothing significant that Obama had proposed that I myself wouldn’t do.  It turns out that my assessment was more true than I thought, because I wasn’t expecting this crisis, or this type of direction out of the crisis.  A new New Deal is what we’ve been waiting for, and, amazingly, it seems that that’s what we’re getting. 

Just goes to show, absolutely anything is possible in politics, so dream big.

Waking Life
November 14, 2008

by Pegleghippie

I have a new favorite movie.  It’s called Waking Life, a 2001 film by Richard Linklater, and I’m a little jealous that it exists, because that means that I don’t get to be the creator of such an awesome piece of art.  

Honestly, I was beaten at philosophy tonight.  I didn’t know it was a competition until this film came along and totally kicked my ass.  Now I know a little more about the stakes involved.

Waking Life follows a guy as he has various philosophical discussions with/dreams about writers, philosophers, psychopaths, crackpots, filmmakers, imaginative figments, and one very pissed off libertarian.  Many of these are real people really being interviewed about their area of expertise (oddly, many are faculty from the University of Texas at Austin), but the interviews flow seamlessly between real and imagined.

And imagination is really very important here.  The protagonist spends a long segment of the film not knowing if he is awake or dreaming, and the settings only subtly clue you in.  Eventually he becomes aware that he is in a lucid dream, which turns into a bizarre series of dreams-within-dreams, and the discussions turn increasingly towards what a dream-like reality entails.  Things end with the suggestion that all these dreams are the last firing of consciousness before the protagonist dies, but the narrative is unclear about whether this actually happens.

I can’t accurately summarize everything I loved about this movie.  Top of the list is the conversations, which are consistently mind-blowingly well thought out.  Here’s one example of an earlier one:

Insane, right?  and there are dozens of these, on a wide variety of topics, in the movie.  You could teach a course on this movie alone, going topic by topic, exploring each one for all that it’s worth.

Next thing I loved was the animation.  I’m sure you noticed from the first clip, this movie looks strange.  The style changes at least every scene, and often in the middle of a scene.  The strangeness of dreams is very well captured here.

I’ll admit, if you don’t like philosophy you will not like this movie.  Fortunately for me, I love philosophy, and this movie challenges me in ways I had not even considered.  I need to get a copy of it and watch it until I’m comfortable with the discussions.  Only then will I feel qualified to really engage with all these topics, and to conceptualize exactly what it is that Linklater did here.  

If you do like philosophy, even a little bit, see this movie.  I doubt you will regret it, and it may even change your life.

Quantifying Rationality
April 21, 2008

by pegleghippie

This post may be a bit all over the place, and It will definitely be on the heavy side, so strap in now or get out of the car.

strap in

Now I know that the motto for this blog is “building irrationality.”  I’m going to do the opposite.  Sorry Mekhami, sorry Teslanaut, but my purpose here is to make the idea of a ‘rational individual’ a little more concrete.

Some of you may see my phrase-choice ‘rational individual’ and think of economics.  Good job!  That’s what I was thinking of too when I came up with these ideas.  Bear in mind that I have not formally studied economics in depth, so the following may be old news, but it’s so specific, and only briefly touches on the field of economics, that I doubt I’ll be committing any Faux Pas’ here.


The Pre-Apocalypse Plan
April 16, 2008

With all the current eco-friendly, Save the Trees, “Go Green” lifestyle stuff being a huge hit for magazine sales, sometimes I am left wondering; Do people realize that this is natural?

I mean it is proven that the Earth’s climate changes are cyclical in nature. We have a few thousand years of happy fun times, and a few thousand years of ice. That’s right, ice. An Ice Age to be exact. Followed by a crappy sequel, Ice Age 2, with just a brief intermission of what we call, “The Human Race.” It’s like the Earth’s enormous reset button.

So, I am left to wonder. Obviously this Ice Age that we are coming upon isn’t going to happen until our great-great-great-grandchildren’s great-great-grandchildren have great-great-You get the idea. But when that does happen, what will the human race do to survive? I mean, humanity has survived for this long, I hardly think an extended winter’s going to put it out of commission.

So aside from extraterrestrial colonization, which is the most likely solution, my first instinct was, “Burrow.”

I am driving in my car, pondering the logistics of a completely self-sustaining underground society, capable of living for the thousands of years of Ice Age without starving, running out of oxygen, inbreeding diseases that wipe us out, killing each other off from cabin fever (Heeeeere’s Johnny!), etc.

My initial logistical insertion was Reproduction Control. Someone would have to monitor and control who could have children, and when.  As totalitarian as this sounds, overpopulation would lead to starvation, and underpopulation would lead to… well… no population. Kinda what we’re trying to avoid here.

Food would have to be diverse. Plants and animals would have to be kept, grown underground. There would have to be some form of mass-false-sunlight, for two reasons. One, so that food could grow. Two, we would need those plants to keep manufacturing our oxygen.

How big would it be? How much space would you need for crops and livestock? How would you screen who lived in the society and who died above ground? Would you allow expansion? Would you forbid religion? Leave us your comments, suggestions for my secret lair- I mean, hypothetical survival society.