Read George Washington’s Farewell Address

All those voting in the mid-term election next week (that’s everyone, right?) should take some time and read George Washington’s Farewell Address.  Wikipedia also has a synopsis of the Address if your literacy skills are inadequate.

It’s amusing and disconcerting to note that practically all of Washington’s advice has been ignored.  He advises against political parties:  We’ve got ‘em in spades.  He advises against public debt:  Uh, yeah, blew that one too.  He advises against favoritism toward other nations:  We’ve got Israel and Great Britain.  He advises against frivolous Constitutional amendments:  We had Prohibition and we’re trying to a Marriage amendment.  He even advises that the morality of religion should influence government… so of course we went with separation of church and state.

Buy hey, what does George know?  He was a doddering old man when he wrote that crazy stuff (with help from James Madison and Alexander Hamilton).

I read somewhere that one Senator every year reads Washington’s Farewell Address aloud on the Senate floor.  (The House apparently stopped the practice in the supremely ironic year of 1984.)  I think that should be televised for the whole country to hear.  I also think every president should be required to publish a farewell address with advice for the coming generations.  (Not in the form of a best-selling memoir.)

Daemon by Daniel Suarez

Daemon by Daniel Suarez (Dutton, 01/09/2009)I just finished Daniel Suarez’s much talked-about Daemon.  (Talked about among the digerati, at least.)  It’s not a literary masterpiece, but it’s a great story and a thought-provoking idea, and I think it will resonate particularly well among the tech-savvy and younger generations.  (There is talk of an upcoming movie, which would be pretty awesome.)

I think Daemon draws so much interest because it’s founded on real technology concepts and things happening in the world right now.  It’s all completely plausible in the first part of the book.  Later on, the author puts things together in ways that are far-fetched, but it’s still not hard to imagine some of these scenarios happening in my lifetime.

In addition to being a good story, it’s also a fascinating look at modern society.  One of the basic premises of Daemon is that corporations have effectively replaced nation states as the ruling class not just in the U.S. but the entire world, and given that corporations are heavily dependent on computer networks and the automated trades of the stock market, the ruling class is ripe for an overthrow by a network of hackers.  Daemon’s plot basically poses a scenario where the disenfranchised are given the power to destroy corporations and the worldwide economy.

In the real world, there’s no doubt in my mind that wealthy corporations run governments, but how would you stop it?  The strong have always and will always find a way to prey on the weak.  Nobody in government is going to stop that, since they are the primary beneficiaries of all the lobbyist money pouring in.  So some sort of citizen revolt could be the only way, and certainly nothing empowers citizens more than the Internet and instant global connectivity.

But is a bloody revolution a viable solution?  What would be the cost of such a revolution?  (In Daemon, the cost is high, in my opinion.)  Does it even matter if corporations run the world?  Would a post-corporate society be any better?  I’m looking forward to seeing what develops in the sequel, Freedom (TM).

The 2010 Macbook Air

Product ImageSo I’m looking over the new Macbook Air announced the other day.  It’s a beautiful piece of hardware, but at 11″ and 13″ and only a 1.6 GHz Core 2 Duo it seems like more of a “couch” netbook than a productivity laptop.

Which I suppose must be their goal.  But I just can’t figure out why anyone would pay $999 all the way up to a jaw-dropping $1599 for something just to email, surf the ‘Net and play Farmville while you’re watching TV.  I mean, who’s going to do anything serious like edit video on this tiny thing?  You can get a Windows netbook to do all your surfing for under $400.  Or you could go crazy and get a serious business and modest gaming laptop for like $800, still well under the price of a Macbook Air.

Apple continues to be the Bose speakers of the computer world.

The 2010 “Race” in the Virginia 7th District

It’s that time of year again.  The time when we in the Virginia 7th District pretend Eric Cantor has some competition for his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

There are actually three candidates to choose from this year:

Eric I. Cantor (R) *
Rick E. Waugh, Jr. (D)
Floyd C. Bayne (I)

In yet another in a seemingly endless stream of political ironies, Floyd Bayne is listed as the Independent Green party candidate on the State Board of Elections web site.  Yet on his own web site, he’s referred to as the Conservative candidate and the Tea Party candidate.  (There is also the curious statement “The Independent Greens of Virginia is a Fiscally Conservative Virginia Party” way down at the bottom.)

image

Winner predictions?  I think this hilariously lopsided fundraising graph captured from opensecrets.org on 10/11/2010 pretty much sums it up:

From opensecrets.org

Happy Knights of Columbus Day

In today’s political climate of trying to repeal the 14th Amendment – a clearly anti-immigrant sentiment – the irony of a federal holiday brought about to celebrate immigration is impossible to ignore.

From the Wikipedia article on Columbus Day:

Like many other struggling immigrant communities, Catholics developed organizations to fight discrimination and provide insurance for the struggling immigrants. One such organization, the Knights of Columbus, chose that name in part because it saw Christopher Columbus as a fitting symbol of Catholic immigrants’ right to citizenship: one of their own, a fellow Catholic, had discovered America.

In April 1934, as a result of lobbying by the Knights of Columbus, Congress and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt made October 12 a federal holiday under the name Columbus Day.

So all those calling for the repeal of the 14th Amendment should protest by going to work.

P.S.  In Virginia, this day is also Yorktown Victory Day.  Who knew?