Saturday, August 26, 2006

The Nature of the Beast

There's a story about a certain mammal whose species I cannot remember now and a scorpion going across the river. The scorpion goes on the mammals back promises not to sting him, if he takes him across. In the middle of the river, the scorpion stings the mammal and they both drown. Just before they do, the mammal asked the scorpion, why the ****** did you ***** bite me you stupid ***** *****? (Kids always get the abridged version of that quote and I have very good information that the said mammal was from the Balkans region). The answer the scorpion gave was pretty simple: “It’s in my nature.”
That got me thinking when I was reading a book that, among others, deals with slavery. I am wondering whether the hierarchical structure of our society is such because it’s efficient and it is developing as the methods of production develop or whether it is in the nature of an individual to simply want more than their neighbor, regardless of everything else.
Why does it matter? It matters simply because I refuse to take the nature of the beast as an excuse for a lot of attempts of enforcing our will on others. And even if we are a species who are bent on world domination and have fun and fits of manic laughing while doing it, it’s still not an excuse. It is an excuse if you’re a bug. There’s more to being human than to being a bug though. Then again I could be just the naïve mammal who took the beast across the stream. I’ll think about this…

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The fine art of reading

When commuting to work in the morning and back home in the evening, I travel by bus. Cheap, efficient, ecological, relaxing and on top of all those very important reasons I don't have the money to buy a decent car. Partially because I have to travel to work by bus, which means I’m bored on the way, which means I buy books to read.
I’ve long since given up on the local libraries to have anything interesting I want to read, as their budget for new foreign literature just about covers the 8 copies of The Da Vinci Code, always booked in advance anyway. Still, I notice that people I know don’t frequent libraries much and neither do they spend a lot of time reading. Admittedly, a lot of people I know are working jobs that require them to read all day, but you cannot really compare a document you read at work with a good book.
I wonder why don’t people read more? Am I a creature of the past, who still believes in paperbacks while the world has moved on to more advanced forms of consumption of information? Probably. Good literature is not necessarily about information, though. It’s about the appreciation of a good peace of art woven together with a story. People rarely take the time for that any more. There are a lot more important things to do, than indulge yourself in a book, while commuting to and from work… Or are there? Try it. You might even like it.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

What happened to Harm Principle?

Not much. I’ve been taking a summer break after exams and then I started working again so I ended up doing everything else and not finding the time to post here. Have no fear, however, the Harm Principle is back, I just need to organize my time a bit better so I can write a post now and then.
We mostly all live in a stressful environment so we’re all obsessed with organizing it. A very wise man said, however, that although every great undertaking needs organizing, you’re bound to end up with people who think that the organization needs organizing. You end up doing organization for the sake of organization and loose sight of the real goal behind it. It’s a lot like money. It only makes sense when you’re earning it for a goal, but too many people end up earning money, to get more money. Both categories of people are very common and although they usually end up being very organized, or very rich, they usually don’t achieve the great undertaking they’ve planned to achieve when they were 16 and neither do the rich often find a fulfilling use for all that pile of treasury bills and whatnot.
Next time someone tells you to clean your room, just tell him that it’s organized enough to allow you to find stuff in there. Having perfectly square bed covers is not really all that important. If you shock them with the answer, tell them to read Harm Principle now and then. Maybe the person they were before their obsessions took over will like the concepts behind it…

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? NO, It’s an intercontinental ballistic missile!

North Korea is doing new missile tests with rockets that are believed to have enough range to hit anywhere on the globe. They might not be as accurate as western counterparts, but if they ever launch a nuclear strike, it won’t matter much, if they miss by a few kilometers. World is upset, we’re getting emergency Security Council meetings and Japan is pretty nervous.
What’s the main difference between North Korea having nuclear weapons and USA having nuclear weapons? USA is a bigger global terrorist than North Korea ever has the potential to be, true. Main difference, however, is that you can trust the US president to play by the rules. He has to get reelected and if your people are vaporized by other nukes if you start shooting your nukes, then those people cannot reelect you. Nuclear weapons and mutual assured destruction is essentially a good thing in modern world, where we all play by the rules and we all know we will all die if we break those rules.
There’s a difference, though, when new players enter the field and they have no intention of playing by the rules. They don’t care about their own population, and they have a pretty good nuclear bunker for themselves. In such a scenario, there’s trouble.
It is ironic that the same weapon that can keep the world safe is suddenly causing so much trouble in world politics. Something that was in the domain of the big guys to set the rules with is now becoming available to the little guy, like Iran or North Korea. Sure, they might not have working nukes and delivery systems yet, but they’re getting there. When the nuke monopoly is broken we will cease to have any effective form of world government, which we now, on some basic level, have. Any chance we could get the new WTO treaty signed before the little guys get really pissed off by the continued opression?