I have been on Facebook since its inception and over the years I had accumulated somewhere north of 800 or 900 “friends”.    The problem I have with Facebook is:

1)  It substitutes breadth for depth.

The interactions I’ve seen have little to no substance and although you remain in touch, I find that contact to be shallow and fundamentally meaningless.  I mean lets face it - there’s only so much you can say in an IM or a ‘post’.   Are you really having in depth, meaninginful conversations?   Basically these contacts are ‘pings’ or ‘updates’ and quick highs.

2) This lack of substantive depth to Facebook relationships provides a user with a false sense of importance and security.

Sure it’s nice to have 800 Facebook friends and be invited to a million parties or events but do you ever actually attend?   Are those friends really there for you and are you really ‘there’ for them?   It sure does make you think there’s a big safety net out there even if there is not.

I believe it was Chris Rock who said “You’re only as loyal as your options.”  Well Facebook warps a persons sense of options while at the same time providing a false picture of those options as being happy, fun and joyful while the reality could be something quite different.    String together a series of joyful anecdotes or smiley pictures and it’s easy to get the impression that people are having an amazing time and have very little hardship they are dealing with.

3) It devalues our time and we’re simply not present.

Can you watch a movie on your couch w/o checking Facebook or having an IM conversation?   Do you get home and the first thing you do is check Facebook?    I sit behind a computer all day so it made sense that I would take some time to check Facebook but what happens when you get home and you ignore your family or regular friends because you want to see whats going on in Facebook?    Guess what - nothing is going on in Facebook!     Its mental drivel akin to watching a highly edited reality tv show where everyone is happy and excited all the time.    Its not real.      Real is picking up a phone or carving out a few hours to hang out with someone (and not checking Facebook at the same time).    Every minute you spend on a social network is a minute your not investing in the people that give a shit enough to spend their most precious commodity with you - time.

If you’d rather be on Facebook than spend time with me what does that say about me..where am I on the list of priorities?   It’s a bit insulting and yes I did it for years like a rat in a lab experiment.

I guess the question is do you prioritize connectedness over quality.   It’s been suggested that humans thrive on a biological need for gossip.   That it used to act as an early warning, planning and strategy skill.   Maybe true and maybe why there is such incredible adoption to this kind of technology but what about my final concern with Social Networking.

4) The safety of communication.

Having been a part of the early days of IRC and other instant messaging platforms one early lesson most of us learned is that people will say things from the safety of their living rooms and computer screens that they would NEVER say to someone in person.    We all did it back then and now over 100 million+ people are piling onto Facebook and have access to one another and I would guess are likely to say things that they wouldnt IRL (in real life).   Anger, flirtations….the best and worst of who we are all at the tip of your fingertips.

I’m not suggesting regulating or banning these types of technologies (the same rules above apply to IM, email & text messaging imo!)  but I am saying that our brains are wired for optimism and we don’t always take the time to understand the negative effects they have on our relationships and how it changes our priorities and the things we value.

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2 Comments | Category: General

The lesson here is you can spend $9 Billion a month, over a Trillion dollars, (at the time of writing this article) and kill tens of thousands of innocent people in an endless war or you can isolate and alienate dictatorial regimes and stand with the people when they decide they have had enough.

Arguably, the populations in both Egypt and Iraq may have had the same complaints.   On one hand, the US recklessly got involved and spent lives and treasure it could not afford.  On the other hand Egypt and Tunisia fell under the weight of their popular uprisings.

I think there’s a strong case to me made for non-intervention.

(and when I say non-intervention, I also mean not subsidizing and arming regimes that are hostile toward their people.)

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Democrats and Republicans can always be counted upon to be united in one thing - opposition and confrontation with Iran.

The relentless hostility of both parties towards Iran is baffling to me.

What is Iran’s threat to the United States exactly?     Iran has no military capability that can extend itself over 7000 miles to reach the US, however the US seems manifestly fixated with the goings on in Iran.   Clearly this is just another example of the US playing the role of “Global Cop” for the benefit of the Saudi Arabian oligarchy as well as Israel.

Republicans constantly rail against government entitlements such as welfare while simultaneously Democrats rail against corporate welfare and yet both parties have absolutely no qualms subsidizing World Order for the benefit of countries that have proven they have their own best interests at heart!

Why is the US the thought leader when it comes to additional sanctions against Iran?    What business is it of ours to protect countries like France, Saudi Arabia and Israel that have absolutely every means and resource at their hand to defend themselves against this arguably 3rd world country.

There was a great deal of hope that Obama would see the futility of such useless foreign policies but it appears that it will take even more visioned leadership to move the US past its role as global bully.

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I was thinking on the way to work today and asking the question “How much of a revolution is Irans current regime different from the Shah’s regime?” and I had a tough time answering that question.

On one hand Iran was ruled by the Shah, a dictator.

Iran is now ruled by another dictator, Ali Khamenei.

The Shah of Iran was seen as a puppet of the west, namely the CIA and United States. while Ali Khamenei is clearly a puppet of the of Islam (which cannot be held accountable the way ‘the west’ can).   So both are puppets in essence.

The Savak or Iranian Secret Service was the Shah’s tool of choice for the oppression and subjugation of political opponents.

The Basij (i think) now take on that responsibility for the sake of oppressing opposition to Islam.

So from my point of view, and as an outsider, its seems to me that this revolution wasn’t very revolutionary and has in fact simply replaced one dictatorship with another.

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In 1862 Abraham Lincoln signed the emancipation proclamation which freed African Americans from confederate slavery.

The similarities between Barack Obama’s intended presidency and that of Abraham Lincoln have been the subject of discussion and comparison but who will be the subject of Obama’s Emancipation Proclamation?

Domestically the inequality of same sex relationships will be an issue with a constant drumbeat.   There are environmental concerns which required an even hand and equalizer in the face of economic priorities.  Additionally, there are millions of Americans in private jails languishing under the weight of draconian drug laws.

The final and most corrosive inequality within America’s sphere of influence is U.S. backed and sanctioned treatment of the Palestinian population in Gaza and the West Bank.

Certainly one might say “well Palestinians are not a domestic issue, so forget about it” but it in fact is a domestic issue when tax payers fund, law makers endorse and our administration insulates Israel endless  bombardment and economic strangulation of millions of Palestinians.

It is a domestic issue just as our laws and taxes are used to enforce discriminatory marriage laws, exploitative environmental laws and jail non-violent drug offenders.

Where is the “change” that Barack Obama campaigned upon if he parrots the past 60 years of U.S. foreign and drug policy.  How can he hope to establish an ounce of credibility when the U.S. spites world opinion on the matter much like Bush did in Kyoto?

Same difference. Same irrationality.  Same disdain for world opinion and equal human rights.

This is Obama’s chance for change.

This should be Obama’s Emancipation Proclamation:

1.  Equal rights and the freedom to marry for same sex partners.

2.  Equal rights and freedom from environment exploitation.

3.  Freedom for millions of non-violent drug offending Americans from jail.

4.  and finally, Equal rights and freedom for Palestinians.

Do the right thing Mr. Obama.  The time is now.

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There is a lot of talk since Israel’s recent strike on Gaza about Israels withdrawl from Gaza in 2005 but what is forgotten, or at least not discussed when assigning blame or framing victimhood is Israels never ending economic siege on Palestinians.   Granted, borders may have changed but this change is merely cosmetic in the shadow of the stranglehold Israel retains and tightens on the lives of every day Palestinians for one reason or another.

Providing land is a metaphor for economic, social and personal prosperity.  In and of itself land does not accomplish anything if it is inaccessible for development and agriculture.   This ovation was yet another disingenuous whitewash by Israel to masquerade the banner of “good faith” to world while simultaneously choking off access to food, water, electricity, supplies and adequate health care.

Do Israeli’s forget the ghetto’s of Warsaw that were created for them or is their memory only focused on the wholesale slaughter of Jews?   Were the open air prisons and ghetto’s not a crime in and of themselves?  Didn’t Hitler consider Jews to be a conspiratorial threat much like Israel considers anyone that threatens Israels security?

Barack Obama declared “If somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I’m going to do everything in my power to stop that. And I would expect Israelis to do the same thing.”

Really?  Is that all you’ve got Mr. Obama?  Is that the depth of your understanding of the situation?

What if someone was denying your child access to food, water or health care?  What if your democratically elected government were under constant military and economic siege by outside forces that only held their own interests at heart.. would you do nothing?  Would YOU have the right to defend yourself Mr. Obama?

Are only the powerful permitted the right of self defense?

The situation is maddening and Obama’s selection of Hillary Clinton appears to promise more of the same.

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I’ve been hearing this over and over lately.

“We’ve got to act!”

“We’ve got to act now!”

“There are no guarantees, but the cost of doing nothing will be catastrophic!”

Sound familiar?   It’s the same mantra the likes of Al Gore and scientific community have been saying for quite a few years now and what was the response?   Republicans scoffed, jeered and derided them.   They held up a handful of questionable scientists with dubious credentials and financing to mobilize their constituency against “acting now” and instead do nothing.

So here we are in the wake of An Incovenient Truth and now its a Republican administration along with its appointed multi-multi-millionairre Henry Paulsen that are watching billions wither away in the stock market and all of a sudden they’re waving the same flag except this time its in defense of speculators.

They say 50% of Americans are vested in the stock market, yet 100% of Americans will participate in the bailout and 100% of future Americans will be invested in this short term bail out.  We could make money on this deal tho!   Ya right!   Just like when Iraq was going to pay for their own war?   Cmon.   How stupid do you think we are?   Oh ya - pretty stupid.

The administrations crystal ball is so clear when it comes to money isnt it?    Its unfortunate that this crystal ball was tucked away in a closet somewhere while everyone was in ‘buy! buy! buy!” mode and raking in billions.

Why would I trust a single thing this administration recommends?   Frankly I dont.   I’d rather do nothing than let this administration do a darn thing.

If the Democrats had an ounce of backbone, they would tie climate change directly to any proposal by Secretary Paulsen and for once, level the playing field.

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1 Comment | Category: General

Have you ever met a more meek and gullible set of indidivuals in your life than the congress of the United States?

Just a few years into the wake of the biggest blunder our country has seen in decades, once again the executive branch is at with its Shock and Awe fear campaign this time directed at the economy.

You would think that Wall Street is a fourth branch of government the way they seem hell bent on handing over even more money the government cannot afford.   Maybe Wall Street is a fourth branch of government.  Maybe the millionaires club that sits in congress is very much worried about their investments much as they are about their own raises and health care.

It takes this group little to no factual information to get rocked to the core.    We’ve heard time and time again about the doom and gloom on wall street - yet life goes on.

Add to the equation another cult of personality figure the likes of which we have not seen since Colin Powell and you’ve got an almost identical formula as we did in 2003.

Ambiguous facts,  extreme blunders that were “not our fault”, fear and loathing and of course our benevolent knight in shining armor Secretary Paulson and you have the perfect recipe for an economic coup.

Maybe if we sit this one through we can rebuild our economy on more than a house of cards that it seems to be.   Maybe we’ll spend what we actually earn.  Yes, maybe we’ll have to do without for a time, but I think the result will be better than a further reinforcement of the illusion that is the American economy.

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The “lack of unity” that permeates on both the left and the right exemplify the oversimplified and obsolete two party system that exists today.   Beginning with Ross Perot and continuing with Ralph Nader and now alive and well with Hillary Clinton, we continue to see example after example of how irrelevant a two-philosophy political system really is.

Its no use now or in the future to suggest that one party can reflect the ideals of all republicans or democrats. To force or require nuanced positions to accept the majorities rule just leads to more and more disenfranchisement in both political parties.

The current political dominance is simply unsustainable and results in American versus American rather than freedom and liberty for all.

There is no political freedom in the United States as long as two parties monopolize rule over our economy, politics, health care system, tax system and other major positions.

If two companies ran all of our health care, all of our air travel, all of our power plants, all of our phone systems we simply wouldn’t stand for it and would probably legislate against it - but thats not possible in this case because we’ve let the wolves guard the hen house.

Devils advocates will say that nothing requires people to be Democrat or Republican and that freedom exists for other political philosophies but that’s not the point I’m talking to.   I’m talking about these two parties imploding on themselves because there’s no room for the Hillary Clinton’s of the world.   There’s no room for the Huckabee’s and Romney’s of the world and therefore all Americans suffer (and so do the two major parties) from this oversimplified system that simply-does-not-reflect-the-will-of-all-Americans.

The defections on both sides exemplify this effect and result in a diluted politik.

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With the recent collapse of companies that participated in high risk mortgage lending both republicans and democrats have been fairly united in picking up the task of bailing out companies that participated in these risky transactions.   I’m fairly perplexed by the near universal agreement on both sides of the aisle to bail out companies that make bad decisions while effectively ignoring Americans that made bad decisions by taking on these loans.

When an individual makes a catastrophic financial mistake when and where does the government step in to bail them out?    In fact legislators and credit card companies took on the effort to pass bankruptcy laws that further hold individuals responsible for their bad debts by making it harder to disavow themselves of their loans.   Where is the justice for Americans?

Bad businesses get bailouts while bad Americans get the finger?   How long will Americans continue to stand for this abject favoritism?

If I were to go bankrupt and lose billions would the government turn around and lend you or me MORE money?   Up is down and down is up but nary a peep from congress or the american people.

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No Comments | Category: Money, Politics