Monthly Archives: February 2005

Politics: my position on Bush’s foreign policy.

Last Updated: 02.11.2005 – 2:35 AM – THIS ARTICLE IS A WORK IN PROGRESS!!!

First off, for me everything comes down to one question: “what will minimize suffering in the short/mid/long term?”

Consequently, while the answer to the above question seems to me to align with the political right, my interest lies SOLELY with the desire to understand: I am open to changing my position as, quite possibly, my present understanding may be incorrect. This issue is too important for egos to play any role in the formation of one’s opinion.

Also, I do know that much of what is here may sound like right-wing rhetoric, but please, if there is something that is obviously wrong, point it out to me, and I will change my view to take your comments into account.

Having said that, the following is how I perceive our world:


All countries are somewhere between Western and non-Western.

  • The Western countries have decentralized capitalist democratic governments
  • The non-Western countries are ruled by centralized elites having totalitarian control

Most are somewhere inbetween, but it’s safe to say that most are significantly closer to one of the above.
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Diary: offense

It is hard to understand when people take offense to comments that were meant in jest in good spirits. Why would you ever get offended if no offense is meant? Long discussion could follow, but I think I’ll spare both of us.

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Politics: Rebuttal – last election

Encountered an aggressive left-winger who gave the following two statements (paraphrased):

“People are not tolerant. Just look at the last election.”

“The statistics show that the educated voted against Bush. And Europe is with them.”

I was too dumbfounded to respond, even though my response did not seem to be desired… understandably so given the charged nature of the question.

Well, what’s wrong with this:

1. The deciding factor in the last election was not tolerance. It was foreign policy.

2. Actually, if you look to CNN statistics, as Ilya pointed out, Kerry won Post-Grad (55% of the votes) and No High school (50%), while Bush won HS Graduate (42%), Some college (54%), College Graduate (52%).

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Diary: a funny thing happened on the way to the Nuyorican…

Today I decided to check out a poetry slam at the Nuyorican with Pete. And all was good but did not quite go according to plan… I finally finished my part of the Combiner for work, Alex picked me up, and we headed home to do a touch-and-go to head to the Cafe. We get there, Alex splits to hang out with Ankur and Sarah, and, having realized that the show didn’t begin yet, decide to make a stop to chat with him… and then I was pleasantly distracted, taken in a geodisiac-type route (I have chosen myself, mind you!) to Bua, where all ended up in almost a debaucherous reunion – Alex, Sarah, Ankur, my cute, slightly off-the-hook-but-in-a-good-way-new-found company (qt. 2), Shira, Kate, (aha! Didn’t think you’d get mentioned, did cha? Remind me to send you the cat stuff if I don’t do it by Monday), and their friends, and then I would see people from my past in the faces of random passersby, the most disturbing of which was Liza’s Mexican boyfriend… basically, I was… felt… and indeed lived popularity itself. Social butterfly on crack.

This, however, did not last long. Forget Pete not! So, I said my good-byes and off back to the Cafe, only to find out Pete and friends are at a local bar (having enjoyed 12 slams, which were not getting more creative). So I hang with them for a little, finally actually make it to the Cafe and catch the last emotional stanza of a grown man talking about his anguish caused by emotional abuse engaged in by his father (which, at the same time, brings about the feelings of compassion and incredulity, as the poem was more like an unstructured emotional outpour of which I am not a fan – where is the beauty?), so I split… we take the taxi back, and here I am typing away.

The conlcusion? The hero didn’t get the girl(s), the hero didn’t get to hear much poetry (let alone something worth remembering), but, the hero is going to sleep relatively early, which gives hope for a fruitful day tomorrow. Perhaps even including some reading, which would be great considering the poor quality of this post… However, tomorrow is another day.

And distractions – do call or drop me a line. That role-reversal thing was too hilarious to do only once!

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Musings: kids…

Damn it! I wish I had more time to write my thoughts down – every once in a while some ideas flatter me by passing through between my ears, but it happens so fast that I can’t even trace whether it is in-one-ear-out-the-other or some other twisted direction…

Anyway, food for thought: kids – if you take a kid and lay a table out in front of them full of food ranging from sweets to broccoli, will they adopt an optimal eating pattern? And then is their perpetual craving for candy and sugar an indication that they are not getting enough sugar in their system?

On the other hand, grandma says that children are very conservative in their eating patterns. Which means that their patterns may be formed by their parents, which would, in turn, mean that if the kid is begging you for candy, you should know enough to give them just the right amount…

Of course, as with all things, the reality is probably in the middle – habits form through outside stimuli and can be augmented while influenced by body’s needs… but the question of balance remains…

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Links of the day: Bugmenot, Mailinater – don’t give out your own address. – get account info for all sorts of sites

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Idea: historical data

A web site that would:

a) display graphs for different data in different countries (GDP, electricity, etc.)
b) allow to view data in historical context so that correlations can be found between events and different variables (ex: war in Iraq -> increase in GDP, variables related to freedom (number of political prisoners, crime rate, corruption rate, etc.))

c) periodic polls to collect public opinion that would allow to display public opinion over economic variables and events

A digression from this system is an online polling station that requires not only selection of a position, but selection of an explanation (and if such is lacking, then allows entry of a new explanation). New explanations are evaluated by a group of moderators, grouped, and offerred as choices. Eventually, hopefully, allowing the poll to solidify in a specific position. The bad part is that a single smart individual would probably have little leverage, but then again, it would be the job of the moderators to see potential explanations. The counterbalance is that ALL positions are presented in one way or another with the moderators’ opinions hopefully having minimal effect on the system. Woohaa!


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Musings: homeless…

After listening to a really good piece about the homeless at the Nuyorican, it really got me thinking – why are there so many homeless people? So I ended up having a short chat with two of them – laid off, no job, surprisingly well-spoken. So are these the people who make micro-lending work?

There must be many jobs around town that they could perform to make enough money to get something to eat. But for that, they need some basic skill and presentation. So perhaps it might be a good idea to have a city-driven program that would:

1) offer information pamphlets giving information in an accessible manner
2) offer testing services to evaluate one’s knowledge of the material, for which the test-taker would be paid some miniscule amount of money.

The main idea is that there is a level of income that makes a person content. The presumption (albeit may be a false one) is that a homeless person would prefer to make money through work, but lacks the knowledge or the initial funds (which is why micro-credit lending works). Therefore they need to be given immediate insentive in form of money to learn the material, and then be given incentive in form of ability to provide services to make an income.

What are services that they could perform:
1) personal guide serivices to tourists talking about a particular place (cheap, personal, of questionable reliance) – more money to be made than through retaking the test.
2) cleaning – some places are filthy. This is a fairly easy job that could be hour-less that would do several things at once
3) artistic projects – grafitti – would require some basic skills

Work on the outskirts closer to poor neighborhoods – becoming a teacher to make kites, a helping hand, etc. The trick is setting up a credible system of giving financial reward for rendered services.


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Link: Human Ethernet… – the possibilities…

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Musings: Psychology and Drama Therapy…

Having been dissed by Linda and Byron (thasssssright! Linda, pack your bags, the guilt trip just began), I decided to check out where I could get a bite near Union Square. So I ended up chilling at a pretty cozy bar/dinner place next to a girl, who, it seemed, was desparately attempting to hide in her NY baseball cap from a respectable, yet thoroughly drunk man the color of tomato. With his speech leaving much to be desired in both shape and content was making passes at the poor girl like a 747 at a turtle and just as effective… and try as I might, I could not come up with a way to save her. An apology for my complete lack of skillz, however, was a pleasant segway into an interesting conversation about psychology – turned out she’s doing her grad at NYU in psychology + drama therapy. Most interesting points I remember from the discussion:

– drama therapy distances the subject from the event allowing them to feel protected while bringing the events or aspects there-of through roles

For example: for an abuse victum, the subject can associate the other players with other characters from the memory.

– if I understood correctly, in drama therapy the premise is that every person has multiple roles. When something goes wrong with a person, one or more of those roles become more significant/insignificant than others (dominating ideas), and drama threapy aims to correct that

So that means that if we take an abuse situation, then the patient might have the following issues:
– overwhelming victum role
– negative associations between aggression and different acts
– overwhelmed positive associations

So to heal then would mean to break down “bad” associations or to overwhelm them with good ones, which is the primary premise of EMDR (AFAIK, of course). So then what is probably done:
1. role playing allows the individual to reassert a dominating role (balance inferior roles with superior roles thus attempting to regain other roles that have been dominated by the “I am a victum” role). Note that here, bringing up past experiences is not necessary. However bringing them up may begin to break down associations if they are linked to properly…
2. role-playing with a friend: if the friend acts as the aggressor, then, if properly executed, the patiend will associate the aggressor with the friend, but the positive associations with the friend would override the negative associations for the aggressor

This all feels like voodoo science. I wonder if there is any fMRI or some such evidence to prove or disprove this line of reasoning.

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