UP, JADED ONES. Never done this before. But there are a lot of
unanswered questions in the posts and comments of the past couple of
I'll just make a few comments to sink the needle in.
I've been struck by how many of you -- even in trying to be optimistic
-- are devoted to the idea that American "exports" are mostly negative.
I think this reflects the overlooking of some key variables and a parochial viewpoint. The
variables I didn't hear mentioned? The Internet, cellphones (Arab
uprisings and their internal/external communications, anyone?),
Johnny-on-the-spot response to natural disasters, and the still growing
number of families all over the globe who have one or more relatives
living or studying here. The movies and TV shows you think are so
disastrous in PR terms are probably communicating things you've ceased
to look at -- the amazingly high standard of living enjoyed by even
those who are poor in our terms, the amazing freedom to criticize the
U.S. government and still obtain lucrative international distribution
(Freedom!), the extraordinary technology involved in all our media
productions, now taken for granted by us but almost miraculous to many
in the global audience, and the enduring archetype of the maverick
American hero, who doesn't have to submit to any authority to prevail
and survive, if not prosper to an exceptional degree.
Besides which, our music is all over the world. Good, bad, or
indifferent it speaks to the world's young the same way American jeans
spoke to the children of the Iron Curtain countries a generation ago.
You all take being American for granted. They don't. Why they're still
trying to come here and live, even from countries who officially
despise us and have aimed all their propaganda at discrediting our way
of life. Every America-hating director, actor, and musician is actually
making his despised homeland more attractive to all the people who know
they don't have what the haters no longer see as a privilege.
What I meant by vitality.
A nod to Helk. He wants to discuss presidential candidates. I thought
I'd opened the door to that, wide
open, but nobody responded. So come out and
talk. Don't just sharpshoot. Make your case and arrive at some valid
Japan. What do you all think of the current disaster? I have a few
prodding thoughts. Our own media and government tend to exaggerate rather than underplay
emergencies for political ends. Our anti-Bush press declared there were 10,000 dead in New Orleans
before it quietly conceded there were only about a hundred. In Japan,
home of the
most obedient, well organized, and homogeneous people on earth, the
government has consistently understated likely casualties, dangers, and
national impacts from the first moment. Yet with some notable media-distorted
exceptions, we seem to have a talent for recovering from horrific disasters in places like Tornado
Alley (and this week in northern New Jersey) with barely a peep. Who's
exceptional? Them or us?
Nuclear plants. A 9.0 event that happens once in a couple hundred years
is supposed to make us panic
about the "China Syndrome" all over again. I'm guessing that wouldn't
happen without the ratings-driven hysteria of the 24/7 news cycle, and Fox News is as guilty as
anyone. Maybe more so. (Don't get me started on the fact-free incitations of Allyson Camerota and the shockingly nepotist promotion to International Correspondent of new college grad Peter Doocy, whose Fox host father can't even pronounce the name of Miyagi, Japan. We're supposed to take any of these folks, seriously?) What do you think?
Wisconsin. As ugly a display of nasty inter-party political combat as
we've seen in years, but as far as I know, nobody got killed -- unlike the ongoing protests in
Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain, Yemen, Libya, etc. A lot of marble got damaged
in the capitol building and the place stank like the Superdome after
Katrina, but only the rhetoric was actually homicidal. Do you feel
ashamed or proud? Why?
World Leadership. The catastrophe in Japan has caused the publication
of figures we haven't seen in a while. Did you think China with its
billion-plus people was actually overtaking our economy? (Bet you did.)
The proof of our decline. Turns out the three economies behind us in
rank don't add up collectively
to the GDP of the United States. And Japan -- even before the
earthquake/tsunami -- had a national debt twice its GDP. I predict that once
again, the world's weakest form of democracy, i.e., the parliamentary,
will fall at the precise moment when it needs to lead firmly and
without partisan favor. Which our republican democracy is expressly designed to enable, except when we have a cipher as president.
Okay. Enough. Discuss amongst yourselves. And by that I mean anything that strikes you as
worthwhile. When the whole world seems to be falling apart and the
president is invisible except for participating in a Gridiron
roast, everyone else should be prepared to say a little something.
just smacked Eduardo in the Comments, which I hate to do, because he
came in leading with his chin rather than his own ideas. My smackdown
is meant as an inspiration for him and the rest of you. "Open Thread"
means talk about your subjects, not mine. I was only trying to stir the
pot, not mandate the recipe for the resulting stew as one more
reflection of me.
For the timid or for those who want a closing thought for their wise
comments, I'm presently torn between two wildly discrepant posts, one
on Evolution and the other on March Madness (meaning the combined
insanity of this month's NFL lockout coupled with the conveniently
sudden MSM consensus that student athletes, especially -- surprise! -- basketball players, should be paid
for being subpar students who receive this one, against-all-odds
lottery win of getting a chance at a college education they wouldn't
otherwise qualify for.) You can end your comments by voting for one or
the other of my post ideas. But I really hope you offer some coherent
personal arguments on another topic first.
And I won't even promise I'll pay attention to the vote totals. Who
votes for what, or doesn't, might make all the difference.
Friday, March 11, 2011
OR SOMETHING. Just kidding. There's no such thing as a Quantum
Not that I know of, anyway. But I was struck by some documentaries I
saw today on Netflix. The first was called Incredible Creatures that Defy Evolution.
It's frankly creationist, but that doesn't mean it has no interesting
points to make. There's a website
that provides some background, and it lists creatures whose set of
special survivability capabilities would seem to be simultaneously necessary, not
gradually developed through a process of incremental Darwinian
It's completely useless, of course, to point out that I believe there's
room for some intelligence in the species definition game without a
simple "God did it" explanation. The harpies will be here in an instant
to denounce me as an idiot and fool for noticing that Darwinian
gradualism -- "punctuated equilibrium" notwithstanding -- just doesn't
work in every instance.
That's why I was similarly struck by a documentary called "The Quantum
Activist," in which a renowned physicist argues for the existence of
God as a scientifically verifiable concept.
I don't agree with everything he says, either, but he speaks eloquently
about the difference between the "bottom up" materialism of
contemporary science and the "top down" possibility of a quantum
universe characterized by nonlocal communication. Of consciousness as
the catalyst of the material
world, not the by-product of mere matter. Which I've only been writing
about for 40 years or so.
If you're not, you can wait breathlessly with the rest of the American
population for the two-foot tsunami that's threatening Los Angeles with
seriously soggy Jimmy Choos.
And, yeah, I'm feeling heartsick for the Japanese. Kind of creepy,
really, to hear all the fretting about Hawaii and California when there
are real casualties in Japan.
Have we really become a nation of pussies?
and Zbig's commie daughter. It's beautiful to be MSNBC/DC.
. Everything that's wrong with the mass
media. Laura Ingraham can be a killer, but with David Brooks, is she?
No. She's a respectful lamb. Forget his pomposities, his bigotry, his
self-contradictions. Why? He's employed by the NY Times, and it's never
good business to piss off the Times.
Just to remind you, here's what we've said about Brooks and other
elitists in the past.