Of Rome and Rhetoric

A brief survey of world-wide power struggles could lead us to a sense that we are entering a golden age of reason and restraint. Consider the peaceful and hailed resolution to the election debacle in Kenya—powersharing. A similar truce resulted from the most recent Pakistani elections: two non-allied politicians have set aside differences to effect change, while their hated rival promises to work with them legally and in all good faith. Columbian, Venezuelan and Ecuadorian presidents stopped calling for each others’ physical and ideological dismemberment and resolved their differences in discussions that included both monetary remuneration and the highly unusual admission of wrongdoing. The official passage of power from Fidel to Raul went off without a single shadow of Cold-war era overt or covert ‘liberation tactics.’

Don’t buy it.

Allow me to remind you of the effectiveness of the longest-running peace talks in modern history. Israel’s ongoing discussions with her neighbors have accomplished approximately nothing. We’re talking multiple rockets launched across an arbitrarily placed and heavily fortified border into civilians. Daily. To say nothing of China’s relations with Tibet and Taiwan. Or the entire continent of Africa. And may I point out that half of the inhabited continents still admit regions controlled by self-styled ‘warlords’?

Lest you think the last paragraph a sulky reveling in unfinished business, I remind you that those regions not mentioned above are governed by politicians who, for example, play word games to pretend they are noble in their shameless power-grabbing or create new offices to work out of while their puppet holds temporal power.

And before you condemn this article as unnecessary schadenfreude, allow me to state the reasons for my nihilism. I recently finished reading (in audio form) Sir Winston Churchill’s History of the English Speaking People. I could find no point in the history of this great people—the founders of constitution-based government, the progenitors of modern democratic structure—in which political development was accomplished by disinterested parties. Indeed, that oft-cited paragon of the the recognition of the universal rights of mankind, the Magna Carta, was little more than the protection of a particular class’s rights signed and enforced only when that class had the physical strength to support it. Our great nation of liberties can be quite easily reduced to a list of the watershed interests that determined the governance of the moment.

Certainly there were selfless and far-sighted individuals—groups even—who acted out of a genuine desire to benefit mankind. Such individuals were quickly swallowed into or manipulated by systems highly efficient in heedless self-promotion.

It goes beyond government. This inability to survive as a society is deeply rooted in humanity and is patently obvious in our systems of education, religion, resource allocation and family structure. No thinking person really questions it, yet we can’t fix it. Think socialism. Think survival of the fittest. Think bread and circuses. Think Nash’s Equilibrium Theory. Think existentialism. Think nihilism.

And people call my faith a crutch.


The Best and Brightest

If my day weren’t full enough after finding Colbert Report episodes to download, I stumbled across an article to provide the packing peanuts. Adding to the joy is the BBC’s characteristically British coverage. Read the short version to slam your funny bone against the story’s ludicrous details as frequently as possible. Read the full version to find out one of the men involved is named Barney Jones.

I’m tempted to think this article is actually a work of fiction, because it hits so many humor points. I don’t really care if it is. It wouldn’t be any less funny if I read it in the Onion.

It’s Thursday

The trees on campus have suddenly burst forth their offerings of flowers. From nothing yesterday to furry white limbs today. With the same glorious burst of spontaneous beauty, I bring you video update two.

Indefinite Temporality

Yes, my site looks different and boring. That’s because I just upgraded to WordPress 2.5. While it doesn’t change a lot for you, things look pretty different from my end. So until I figure out how I can make the best use of my site, things will be changing whenever I have time to mess with them.

In Other News…

Live!It’s a boy! If China were a pregnancy, I’d be giving birth. Today officially marks nine months. And for those of you that think it’s ridiculous to talk about a man giving birth, you’re not reading your news very well.

Also a boy: Kent Halsey. Kent has officially been awarded a highly coveted place on the blogroll both because he is an all-around cool guy, and because his stuff is always worth reading. I’m not even kidding, I invisibly added his blog to my blogroll as soon as I set this thing up even though he hadn’t posted in something like five hundred days. And my faith paid off. Kent is back online. Definitely worth celebrating—a celebration of reading, that is.

In case you were wondering, it’s moderately official: Binge drinking makes you dumb (as in, actually causes dumbness, not the weird verb tense that I’m sure has a name I don’t know that means binge drinking proves you are dumb). I say ‘moderately official‘ because they performed what seems a relatively unscientific test (see science disclaimer) on twenty six binge drinkers, comparing their results with a control group of thirty four. And all to prove that binge drinking is bad. It hurts your memory. So now I know not to trust habitual binge drinkers’ judgment. ‘Cause I would have otherwise.

I have discovered I like links. It think it makes me feel academic, with links functioning as footnotes.

I am actually going to be helping teach basketball today. You might want to wipe the spittle off the screen. I hate laughbursts because of the spittle.

And, finally, global warming is a hoax. OK, so that’s not exactly accurate. They say, though (and this time I actually know who ‘they’ are), that temperatures have decreased over the last few years. Temperatures peaked in 2005, and are now back to 1998 levels. And while these temperatures still seem to be higher than previous decades, I can’t help but question their evidence. Anything that has ‘proven’ rising temperatures in the last three years has suddenly been proved wrong, and anyone who said anything contrary is a liar. More or less.