Archive for October, 2006

Distraction Politics

Sunday, October 29th, 2006

The U.S. is coming upon another election, and the drum beats of American democracy are in full swing. Politicians pretending to be Christian to get the support of the Christian base, all the while spewing empty campaign promises to be broken upon (re)election. Millions are spent on shameless attack ads, and wedge issues, like stem-cell and gay rights, are all brought to the surface… clouding the political arena and keeping the real issues from surfacing.

Andrew Sullivan, on Real Time w/ Bill Maher:

“We have a war that we are losing, doubling of the debt in the next generation, a suspension of Habeas Corpus and the authorization of torture. So of course we’re talking about [trivialities and wedge issues]. They’ve got to change the subject, because on the real issues, THEY’RE GONNA LOSE!”

Some Documentary Reviews

Friday, October 27th, 2006

America: Freedom to Facism

The premise of America: Freedom to Facism is that the majority of Americans are under no obligation to pay income tax, that income tax is a scam, and that the IRS is running fraudulent, illegal activities.

Education and roads, and most things that people assume is being funded by income tax actually comes from other sources, like local property taxes, and gasoline tax. The trillions of dollars that people pay in income tax only go to pay off interest on the national debt, and make federal reserve bankers more powerful. Income tax is just a way to shift wealth to the rich and control the population.

If you are a regular American, you should watch this documentary, because you may not have to pay income tax ever again. It is available for free on Google video, click here to see it.

Human 2.0

BBC’s Horizon put out an hour long special called Human 2.0, which covers the upcoming singularity where humans will be able to transcend biology. Covering the latest advances in neurotechnology and computers, Human 2.0 shows how in the future we will be able to use technology to redefine humanity.

The programme covers issues like how we will be able to extend life indefinetly with technology, as well as create artilects, which are artificial intellects that can be trillions of times more intelligent than humans today.

The main theme is a derivation of the works of Ray Kurzweil, whose work is fascinating. In fact, I find the whole notion of a singularity to be very hope inspiring.

Anyone interested can find a full version of the program on the Horizon webpage

Most of Our Universe is Missing

Another BBC Horizon programme, Most of Our Universe is Missing is an introduction to the Standard Model of the Universe, where the Universe is made of 4% Atoms (matter visible and detectable to us), 21% dark matter (stuff that has mass but can only, and of yet, be detected indirectly), and 75% dark energy (which is causing our universe to expand at an increasing rate).

The science is brought down to a layman’s level, and the visuals and graphics are terrific. A write-up about the special can be found here.

Confession of a Former Capitalist

Tuesday, October 24th, 2006

For a significant portion of my life, when it came to economic systems, I would think of only two – communism and capitalism. As a devout capitalist, to even look in the other direction would mean adopting communism. And communism would make me think about losing everything I had… and I didn’t want to lose everything I had.

But, as I grew older, I became aware of how little I knew, and it helped me to keep an open mind. The only way to be less ignorant is to learn, and an open mind is integral to learning. Now I hope to always have the pleasure of finding out new things.

Many of the things I’ve found were never really taught to in my education or upbringing. One of these is the wisdom of Buddhism. Buddhism taught me a new perspective on dealing with desires and fears, as well as a highly insightful way to look at existence.

Another thing I found is how important it is to think positive. The world around us is what we make of it. And the power of positive thinking can extend to the future of the world. For, when enough of us are thinking positively about the future of the world, we will have the power to make the world a better place.

I’ve also learned about spectrums, which are ranges of possibilities, like temperature, or color. Much of the human experience is on a spectrum: physical attributes like height, weight, color, gender, as well as mental characteristics, like personality, intelligence, and sexual orientation. Very few things are black and white… most everything is on a spectrum of one kind or another. To think of things solely as being two-dimensional is a mistake, one which I still sometimes make when I am being lazy or ignorant.

As for being a capitalist, I’ve found that there exists viable alternatives between an egalitarian society and a world let allows billionaires horde while billions starve. A mixed economic system, like the capital cap, lies in between communism and capitalism, and it is a way to achieve a medium in between extreme wealth and extreme poverty… a world with the potential to make universal education and health care a reality while eliminating starvation and easily curable diseases.

We may never have a Utopia, but there is no reason we can’t head in that direction.


Sunday, October 22nd, 2006

Both war and peace are self-perpetuating.

War is caused by hate, and war creates hate. War happens when people are divided, and war makes people divided. War is caused by people being selfish, and war makes people selfish. When war-profiteers profit from war, war-profiteers gain more power to wage war.

Peace enables love, and love enables peace. Peace is about togetherness, and unity brings peace. Peace helps the whole community, and a healthier community is more likely to be peaceful.

When part of the status quo is war, part of the establishment got to be powerful from war… ergo, part of the establishment wants to preserve war to preserve their power.

To stay in power, they need to keep us divided and unable to stop them. When we are unable to unite and stop them, they stay in power.

The more we come together, the louder our voice will be, and the more power we will have to make the world what we want it to be.

The more we invest into things that bring peace, the more peace we can make now, and the more peace we will have in the future.

If we want peace on earth, we need to continually lean towards peace and try to steer our species in the right direction so that we might eventually create a self-sustaining world of peace.

My Dangerous Idea

Monday, October 16th, 2006

Every year, the Edge Foundation asks its members a challenging question, and posts the answers. This year (2006), the question was WHAT IS YOUR DANGEROUS IDEA? – An Idea that is not dangerous because it is assumed to be false, but because it might be true.

Many of the edge’s luminaries responded, and while only a few struck me as remotely dangerous, I don’t blame them for keeping the truly dangerous ideas to themselves. Although I am not a member of edge, I came up with my own dangerous idea, as follows:

My Dangerous Idea : World Peace is Possible

While the concept of world peace would seem to be anything but dangerous, it is the transition from our current world to a world of peace that can be considered dangerous. The thought of our world becoming peaceful represents the biggest threat to nearly all of the most powerful leaders of the world.

In a world of peace, war and extreme poverty would be unheard of. A world of peace would provide basic necessities – food, shelter, health care, education and transportation – universally for free. This would mean that industry leaders and multinational corporations would not have the same clout as they do today.

In a world of peace, instead of entire populations being gripped by fear of outside threats, there would be no more outside to be threatened by, since we would all be part of the same global family. This would mean that political and religious leaders lose their control over their flocks as people learn to enjoy life free of irrational fear.

The changes that would be required to achieve a world of peace are so terrifyingly dangerous to the leaders of the world that they would do anything to stop it, making the transition to a world of peace a danger to everyone.

As those in power become aware of an increasing threat to their power, it will be the rest of us who face a backlash of oppression. In a worst case scenario, after police and military stop the uprising in a bloody slaughter, technological and pharmaceutical forms of control will ensure that we all end up as organic robots.

Indeed, the thought of a peaceful world being possible, and the questing for it, could result in the greatest atrocities ever imposed on humankind.

Bill C-2

Friday, October 13th, 2006

There is a bill that has been passed by the Canadian house of commons, and is now waiting on the Senate for approval, called Bill C-2. Bill C-2 is “An Act providing for conflict of interest rules, restrictions election financing and measures respecting administrative restrictions transparency, oversight and accountability.”

Some of the main points of this bill are to limit the amount that individuals can give to political parties, and more importantly, make corporations, unions and associations unable to donate anything to political parties. THIS IS HUGE!

For too long political parties have been dependent on corporations and big money to run their election campaigns… but if this bill passes and is everything it could be, then no longer will elections be auctions to be won by the highest bidder. Instead of legalized bribing of politicians, we may now have a more democratic system where actual voters matter more than money.

Of course, there is still the problem of have political bias in the news media, but this still seems to be a step in the right direction.

A Global Consciousness

Monday, October 9th, 2006

Imagine, if you will, a device so powerful it could instantly make everyone feel what the whole world was feeling. All the pleasure and all the pain of everyone, felt by everyone.

I know that when I feel pain in myself, I want to ease that pain, and I imagine most people would do the same. If the whole world was as one, the world would naturally want to heal its pain and ease its own suffering.

While such technology doesn’t exist yet, we are slowly heading to a point where it will be possible.

Video sharing, blogging, rss, instant messaging, and voter moderated forums/news are all examples of how we use communication tools, like the Internet, to enhance our global consciousness.

As we develop ways to understand how the human brain works, so too will we learn how our brains store ideas. Once we get far enough, we will be able to treat our brains like a hard drive, giving us the ability to read and write information directly to our minds.

We will also be able to send and receive ideas between minds, thereby creating technologically based telepathy that lets us truly connect our minds.

If we combine this technology with the Internet, we will be able to create a global consciousness… a worldwide neural network that we can join and leave at will.

It is my hope that as we approach this point, we will end extreme poverty on earth. No longer will our world’s most powerful be able to hide their head in their riches and their toys and their greed and their lust for power. For they, like all of us, will be held accountable for the repercussions of their actions by their own conscience and their own sense of empathy when they truly look at the suffering that they have the power to prevent.

Google Video Rocks

Monday, October 9th, 2006

Google Video, the online video sharing site, has many excellent full-length documentaries available, some of which present very dissenting and controversial points of view.

These documentaries, and many others, are freely available to anyone in the world (barring countries which prohibit free speech).

Free speech is essential. It helps us combat tyranny.

BBC’s “Why We Fight” which deals with US foreign policy and the industrial military complex.

Loose Change which presents an alternate viewpoint to what happened on 9/11.

The radical Alex Jones’ Terror Storm, which is a stirring film.

Outfoxed, a documentary about the inner workings of the propaganda machine known as Fox News.

Peace, Propaganda and the Promised Land, which “provides a striking comparison of U.S. and international media coverage of the crisis in the Middle East”.

Growing the Gap

Friday, October 6th, 2006

The income gap between the rich and the rest of the US population has become so wide, and is growing so fast, that it might eventually threaten the stability of democratic capitalism itself. – former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan

Middle Class Families in Worse shape Than Ever – CNN

The gap between the wealthy and the poor is growing. The rich are getting richer, and the poor are getting poorer.

This leads to the poor having less resources, less education, less social services. It also means the poor have more desperation, more insecurity, and are more likely to resort to crime and violence.

The growing wealth gap also leads to the rich leading more comfortable, more content lives. The rich become increasingly segregated from the poor, and increasingly more afraid of what the poor represent. The rich become more likely to support incarceration and punishment instead of lending support and aide to the poor.

As one of the world’s superpowers, the U.S. Is leading the world, meaning this wealth gap is increasing all over the world. This leads to instability, violence, and increased conditions that breed terrorist organizations.

Peace, poverty, wealth and war are inextricably linked. If we want world peace, it will require a redistribution of some of the wealth from the hands of the few, to the hands of the many.

The Power Struggle Juggle

Thursday, October 5th, 2006

Before we formed civilizations, humans were nomadic hunter gatherers, and the social structure was most likely a hierarchy similar to how some primates organize themselves today. We would have had a few dominant members of either sex and one alpha figure making the ruling party, and all other members having progressively less status as you go down the hierarchy.

Back then, there would have been power struggles, both within the tribe, as members try to become the dominant members of the tribe, as well as power struggles between tribes as they competed for land and resources.

With the advent of agriculture about 10,000 years ago, civilizations started to grow, societies formed, and the basic hierarchical structure of the tribe was expanded to fit the structural needs of the society. Instead of a ruling party for a tribe, we had a ruling party and an alpha figurehead for the entire society, with other parties having progressively less status as you go down the hierarchy.

Since then, there have been wars between neighbouring societies, caused by one society’s leaders using their power to try to overthrow and absorb the power of other society’s leaders. As well, there are internal power struggle between different parties all trying to become the ruling party of their society.

On top of this, there is a power struggle between the selfish desires of the ruling party and the selfish desires of the rest of people. The ruling class perpetually manipulates the laws (either written or unwritten), shifting the balance of power in their own favour. Eventually the people have enough and start to unite against the ruling party. When the power of solidarity amongst the people is greater than the power of the ruling class, they can successfully revolt and disperse the power to a new, more generous ruling party. The people disperse, going back to their work and living their lives, leaving the new ruling class the opportunity to gain power. The new ruling class will go on to be overthrown when their quest for more causes another revolution, and so forth.

So, societies battle amongst each other, members within societies battle for control over the society, and the people who make up the society are constantly battling against their own ruling party’s desire for power. This trend would continue on indefinitely, were it not for new technology.

For one, technology brings with it highly destructive weapons. A society that tries to claim too much power from other societies is at risk of instigating a war that destroys virtually all life. This leaves the only option for expansion being to attack countries that lack their own WMDs. When the time comes that all societies have WMDs, mutually assured destruction awaits any nation with goals of conquest.

Technology also brings new means of control for the ruling party. Ubiquitous, automated surveillance of public and private life, combined with increasingly effective means of information control, gives the ruling class ways to tighten their control over the people. Tightened control means the ruling class can increasingly strip the people of power with the comfort of being able to quash any potential uprising. With enough new laws, with more ubiquitous surveillance measures, and harsher enforcement techniques, the ruling class could gain enough power to install a totalitarian regime, where the system remains unchanged indefinitely.

But technology also brings the people a new means to create solidarity and resist totalitarianism. Communication tools, like the Internet, make it easier to form social networks and unite against tyrannical ruling parties. The solidarity of a people united gives them the power to resist their ruling class’ exploitative ability.

We are coming to a crossroads on earth. One path leads to a world where most people have been killed, and the survivors eek out a living Mad Max style. Another path leads to a world where the ruling party, using the latest in technological forms of control, successfully installs a worldwide totalitarian regime. A third path leads to a world of peace created by humans who have used technology to form a worldwide system that is both pluralist and democratic.

World wide destruction is not, IMHO, desirable for our world. And, while a worldwide totalitarianism would mean way fewer decisions to make, it would probably mean living as a non-thinking drone in a completely mechanized system with zero consideration for anything other than the preservation of the system itself.

Instead, a worldwide pluralist democracy represents a future that most people should want for themselves and their families. A world where power persistently stays with the will of the people, keeping any person or any group from gaining too much power. A global democracy that hears the voice of the people and resists totalitarianism.

We, the people alive today, have the choice between these three futures. We have the ability, right now, to further the global democracy we have already begun to create. We can make the world a better place.