Thursday, January 27, 2005

Informed Comment --
Juan Cole writes:

There are, of course, lots of elections in the Arab world. Some are more rigged than others. But there are almost no elections where the sitting prime minister and his party would be allowed to be turned out unexpectedly by an unpredictable and uncontrolled electorate. If Iraqi interim Prime Minister Allawi's list does poorly and his political star falls as a result of a popular vote, something democratic will have happened in Iraq, for all the serious problems with the elections.

This is pretty much the thrust of the matter. No democracy is a true democracy unless it capable of handing off power to the opposition peacefully. The American Revolution was completed in 1800 when Thomas Jefferson displaced John Adams' regime. I might actually believe that that Iraq is slowly blossoming into a free and democratic state if that thug Allawi loses an election, even if he loses to a greater thug.
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Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Filipino Food --
I wrote this reply to this post about rabbits as food.

I recently returned from the Philippines. All jokes aside, there are people there who do eat dog. Some of them even keep dogs as pets (separate from the ones they would eat, of course). The taste was described as "peppery."

Although I personally wouldn't eat dog, I realized I didn't have a problem with the idea of people eating dogs (and these weren't poor people who couldn't do any better than catching a stray and cooking it, these were what passes for middle class in the country). Just as I don't have a problem with going to the cock fights there (and winning some money due to my patented system for placing bets).

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Monday, January 24, 2005

Who Uses Friendster? --
According to The New York Times > Technology > this New York Times article:

". . . . Friendster is wildly popular among 18 to 21 years olds living in Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines, who account for a huge portion of Friendster's most active users."

Having recently returned from the Philippines, I vouch for this the truthfulness of this statement. I don't get why it is popular, but apparently, it is. Then again, the Philippines is, per capita, the greatest user of text-messaging.
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Saturday, January 22, 2005

On Privatization --
So, I missed the beginnings of the debate on privatization of social security that seems to be an obsession of all the lefty blogs I've been catching up on since returning to the good ol' U.S.A. So here's my take.

The tax code currently contains a lot of deductions which individually are well-meaning and might even be good ideas theoretically but which, taken as a whole, result in a bloated tax code that seems to make people do a lot more work than is necessary.

If people are required to invest money in stocks, that places a similar cognitive burden on a lot of people. Which is not to say that the masses are inherently incapable of being wise investors, but even if they are, these things add up. Social Security doesn't have to be perfect. Even if more money is possible with private investment accounts, it comes with a price.

Life is faster today compared to yesterday. Life is more complex. And it will continue to grow more complex. The individual ideal must give way to the ideal of man as an individual who is yet a part of a community. The mostly self-sufficient yeoman farmer or man in the state of nature are artifacts of the past, no longer things we should look to as models for the society we construct around us.

If Social Security can chug along in roughly its present form, without requiring much tinkering, then let us turn our political minds to other, more pressing needs of the day.
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Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Well, I'm back --
What a long, strange trip it's been.
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