It’s Sunday morning. It’s time for some Reading Material!
The Occupy [City] movement was and is famously without a clear agenda. Much of this, I think, owes to the diffuse nature of the problem they’re trying to solve. American society has undergone a fundamental realignment in the relationship between Capitalists and Government. That previous sentence uses archaic language and isn’t really precise, so let me try again: The Occupy [City] movement exists to bring attention to- and protest against- the fact that the Republic is no longer Res Publica. This basic fact exists as a creeping, midnight suspicion in the minds of voters. It is not something that is generally spoken of in daylight hours. And yet here we are.
As an example of how America is no longer a Public Thing, I offer the existence of Zuccotti Park. Instead of taxing a company to create a park that would be owned and operated by the People of New York City, the City of New York mandated that a corporation would build and run a park. As a result of this, the First Amendment does not apply unless citizens ask the corporation to pretend that it does. Most malls- spaces that have replaced public marketplaces as centers of public consciousness- exist under these same strictures.
Arnold Schwarzenegger was a very bad governor. He rode to office on a promise to put a $5 billion hole in the yearly State budget, and fulfilled that promise within his first month in office. Most of his 2 terms were spent slashing services so that he could pay for fulfilling that promise. I shouldn’t be too upset with him, he seems to have entered politics as a joke that the rest of us didn’t get. The fact that his brand of
crazy very bad ideas were considered not crazy enough moderate by half the major political parties in California tells us exactly where to lay the blame for the fiasco.
Despite everything, I really do have hope for the human species. We’re cooperative by nature, and actually are capable of learning from our mistakes.
Frustratingly, innocent people are convicted of crimes they did not commit. This leads to a secondary problem of guilty people continuing to be free to perpetrate their crimes. It is often difficult to prove innocence, but every now and then we manage to. What happens then involves people admitting they made a mistake. That is an extremely difficult thing to do.
In fact: U.S. Grant seems to have learned from his mistakes. It’s one thing to say “I was wrong”, but offering amends by changed behavior is incredibly difficult. That level of humility is the only path to justice.
This is simple technique for being a genius. I’m not sure it’s really as good as its authors claim. Breaking down problems into component parts is the way my brain works naturally. When I’ve finished doing that, I don’t usually see a whole bunch of simple solutions- I tend to see a giant pile of new problems. Granted, this might well be a function of my own rather dysfunctional personality.
I’m sure by now you’ve heard about the murder of Trayvon Martin. It’s a sad, terrible affair, and I can only hope that justice is swiftly brought to the guilty.
Want to know how Trayvon Martin was murdered? American society is still Otherizing black people. That’s right: in 2012, people are still willing to publicly proclaim that a character they had (wrongly) perceived as white is deserving of less sympathy when she’s (correctly) depicted as being a person of color. I do think the solution to this is rather simple: our machines of cultural creation need to start inserting more persons of color- African American, Latino, Indian, Native American, etc- into their works. Indeed, some studio should spend a year making the default assumption that every unspecified ethnicity from is a random (non-white) ethnic group. We’d end up with movies that looked more like America, at the very least.
Did you know that there’s a government agency that has the job of insuring your employer treats you fairly? The fact that this is a partisan issue should tell us all we need to know about America in the 21st century. The fact of it’s partisanship is a solid sign that the Occupy [City] protests are onto something.
I’m embarrassed that I had never thought beyond the advertising potential of data aggregation. Kevin Drum is right: it’s the potential non-advertising uses that ought to scare us. We should- sneakily and quickly- put limits onto what the government is allowed to access. And create criminal charges for those who would gain that information with intentions other than sales.
It only took six months of internal inquiry, but the FBI has finally agreed that, in the future “training would conform to constitutional principles”. Bravo! Perhaps students will even be spared the knowledge that they can “bend or suspend the law”. Or, perhaps we could just dismantle the whole apparatus of internal spying?
Good news everyone! Orwell’s Diary is back!!!
If you click only one link:
The President may be the most powerful person in the world, but s/he lacks the power to persuade any Americans of anything once we’ve made up our minds. All a president can do is energize the base of their own party.