Are you a Republican - or do you know one - who is sincerely fretful about the GOP’s ticket for the coming quadrennial? Well, there's good reason (on many levels.) But it appears there is hope! Or at least a fun wish fantasy, written and published with stunning speed by a master science fiction author, John Barnes. In a quick-topical (and hilarious) shortie-novel that’s set right now! In the few weeks before this year’s Republican National Convention.
RAISE THE GIPPER! is more a sudden piece of performance art than anything else. Staged precisely for a given moment in time, it fits into the tradition of such old-time favorites as The Mouse that Roared and Rally Around the Flag, Boys.
it gives Republicans their utter wish fantasy, especially after wading
through a primary season filled with dismal choices. Picture the
scenario -- Ronald Reagan, risen from the dead,
tanned-rested-and-ready (hampered only slightly by the lack of a pulse)
to lead the GOP to victory!
Think it’s all one-sided? Well,
Barnes has some clever fun at the expense of flakey, Gaia worshipping,
PC-vegan lefty-liberals, too! It’s a rollicking good time. Try some free sample chapters! (Or get it on Amazon.) And support performance art.
it understandable that some Republicans nurse dream-wish fantasies? One
is tempted, indeed, to dream up alternatives to the current presumptive
nominee -- whose prep-school pranks included the deliberately traumatic bullying of helpless adolescents. Yes, there is forgiveness. But character
is generally persistent, unless you see major life reversals that
indicate a true change of direction. And in that case, would he not have
sought out his victims, later, to make amends? Or shown compassion in
his business affairs?
Oh one can sympathize. Raise the Gipper, indeed!
== From the Transparency Front ==
you surf the Web, information is being collected about you. Web
tracking is not 100% evil -- personal data can make your browsing more
efficient; cookies can help your favorite websites stay in business.
But, says Gary Kovacs, it's your right to know what data is being
collected about you and how it affects your online life. He unveils a Firefox add-on called Collusion
to do just that. It is a prime example of where we need to focus our
attention in net-age battles over freedom and privacy. Not in futile
efforts to regulate the mighty and police what they can know, but rather
in forever-enhancing our power to look back... and thus to hold the
But shouldn't the light shine both ways? Read a scathing appraisal and denunciation of banking secrecy, of tax havens and the way at least seven trillion dollars vanish from the world’s books. For example: Nothing
in offshore havens happens on a small scale. Almost any statistic
flunks the red-face test. Consider the British Virgin Islands, home to
about 30,000 people and 457,000 companies. In China, it’s said you
haven’t made it until you have your own subsidiary in the British Virgin
Islands, which holds more assets belonging to Chinese nationals than
any foreign location except Hong Kong. "The secrecy laws in these
tax havens are at the root of serious crimes: fraud, money laundering
and international terrorism," writes Robert M. Morgenthau in The New York Times.
There’s more money on deposit in the Caymans than in all the banks in New York City combined. Do you hear echoes of The Transparent Society? Or my novel Earth,
in which the whole world finally gets fed up and storms the banks to
make the records public? No issue is more powerfully important than
tracing who uses these infamous dodges.
(Or more germane, when we seek to judge whether a one-time spoiled brat bully has grown up.)
then, can be done about all this? Plenty — if we act now. Nobody leaves
their money offshore forever. The United States can direct its banks
and their foreign subsidiaries not to engage in financial transactions
in havens that have no transparency and no disclosure of the true
parties of interest in financial transactions.
A bill has been proposed
in the United States to prevent the use of shell corporations to hide
the true ownership of assets owned here. This legislation would provide a
model of openness for other nations to follow. Unfortunately, the
legislation is bottled up in our own Congress. This should not be.
America needs to set an example of financial accountability and insist
that the world follow.
=== Political Miscellany ===
A study of economic mobility in the US
by state shows a pattern that will probably be all too familiar to
readers of ContraryBrin. All the out-performers except Utah (7 of 8) are
blue states. All 9 under-performers are red states. So much for the
idea of the liberal elite keeping the masses down and so much for the
idea that Republican small government and deregulation creates a culture
Possible link between maternal obesity and low childhood intelligence.
Gee wiz... will we ever see a single datum that the denizens of Red
America, who proclaim so loudly that they know better how to live and
raise kids, are ever right at all, even once? About anything whatsoever?
Companies are making billions from selling and reselling your personal data. Now, HP is seeking to patent a personal data stock exchange
where you could get a cut from sharing your personal information on the
open market. Are you willing to exchange your health records or friend
lists or automotive GPS locations in exchange for money? And what if
companies buy only the cheapest data. Is that data biased or less
valuable? One can picture this in several positive ways. (1) people get
paid for what is happening anyway, (2) it establishes a reasonable range
for a reasonable property right and defies the extremists at both ends,
(3) it establishes that grabbing personal information secretly isn't
just a privacy violation but a tort action and act of theft, (4) it
creates a market industry whose interest lies in making consent and
commerce the order of the day. #4 means that Big People Making Money
will be incentivized to protect YOUR right to seal info, not have it be
ripped off. Ah, but there are drawbacks...
Our ability to monitor our planet
is at risk; aging Earth-observing satellites are being replaced too
slowly, and older satellites are failing. By 2020 we may only have 25%
of our current observing capacity. The shortfall comes as a result of
funding cuts, canceled missions, lost satellites, failed launches and a
shortage of launch vehicles to deliver new satellites to orbit. We have
an urgent need to gather data on our planet to better understand the
changes taking place on earth. (And yes, some of the funding cuts were
targeted directly at missions that would have settled climate change.
Those proclaiming "the science isn't good enough yet!" are among those
who have torpedoed the science.)
== Finally, some wisdom from a dour genius ==
is not an illusion, it happens, but it is slow and invariably
disappointing. There is always a new tyrant waiting to take over from
the old--generally not quite so bad, but still a tyrant. Consequently
two viewpoints are always tenable. The one, how can you improve human
nature until you have changed the system? The other, what is the use of
changing the system before you have improved human nature? They appeal
to different individuals, and they probably show a tendency to alternate
in point of time.
'The moralist and the
revolutionary are constantly undermining one another. Marx exploded a
hundred tons of dynamite beneath the moralist position, and we are still
living in the echo of that tremendous crash. But already, somewhere or
other, the sappers are at work and fresh dynamite is being tamped in
place to blow Marx at the moon. Then Marx, or somebody like him, will
come back with yet more dynamite, and so the process continues, to an
end we cannot yet foresee. The central problem--how to prevent power
from being abused--remains unsolved.
'Dickens, who had
not the vision to see that private property is an obstructive nuisance,
had the vision to see that. 'If men would behave decently the world
would be decent' is not such a platitude as it sounds.'
- George Orwell ("on Dickens")
England, wrote Orwell,
is a family with the wrong members in control. Almost entirely we are
governed by the rich, and by people who step into positions of command
by right of birth. Few if any of these people are consciously
treacherous, some of them are not even fools, but as a class they are
quite incapable of leading us to victory.