Time Heals All Wounds.. And Then Kills the Patient
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Wed Aug 11 10:41:32 2004
Why do we love turtles?

Two days of bliss. I'm just really happy recently. It's a complex happiness, in a complex situation, but is quite good anyhow.

Monday evening, went to see The Corporation, a film I've been hoping to see for awhile, sequel in spirit (although not in authorship) to Moore's F911. It is, however, a much better film than F911 (which wasn't bad), and actually managed to make me angry. The film dances around being, and is almost, a life-changing film. Perhaps it would be to some people. It shoves me towards almost all my positions on politics, and involves a number of groups that I'm involved with in the production of the film. After the film, there was an ACLU-led discussion, where they argued that corporate free speech is a good thing because it's hard to distinguish political speech that's published by a corporation (e.g. the movie itself) from advertisements and lies that corporations put out. In the discussion afterwards, I suggested that lawyers could probably design a multipart test (as N suggested, perhaps based on ties to income, or I now think, focusing on brand image targeting of the relevant companies) to distinguish the former from the latter. It was enjoyable, but also reminded me of the deeply Libertarian roots of the ACLU. The alternative -- removing the notion of corporate personhood, seems better though. The historical information, and information about many of the scandals, are no doubt likely not to believed by Joe Random at the film, but many of them are things that I've followed through one means or another, and only rarely did it seem that they were actually being unfair. So, go see it. Note especially the interesting comment by Michael Moore (who was in the film but didn't produce it) at the end.

I find myself wondering if this is a new secret weapon of the liberals in politics - blatantly political films. I imagine that the conservative counterpart would be an instant flop (despite Disney's best efforts), and that F911 and this film both may be effective tools to recruit and inspire people for Liberalism. After the film, N and I had an interesting discusion, at the tree, about political convincing and philosophical eye-opening. I personally think that people much older than us are best seen as secondary targets for liberalizing -- the best time to focus our efforts on is secondary and postsecondary education.

Yesterday, we went rollerblading and then climbing. This was my first time rollerblading in many years (and my second time ever), and it was very enjoyable. I seem to have the motion pretty well down to move, but am not so good at stopping yet -- I have not yet fallen, but also have not learned to use the brake to stop. Instead, I point my feet in and push my legs out, using side friction to slow down.. or I stop by grabbing something with my hands. It is a joy to move on the blades. If I ever get really good at it, as natural as riding a bike is now to me, I can imagine rollerblading to work or something. It's novel exercise, and I feel muscles being sore that I doubt I've ever exercised to any significant extent before. The rest of the evening was enjoyable too. I wish I could save this chunk of time, or this feeling, for the rest of my life. You never know what the future may bring..

Why is it that it's seen as a huge and wonderful thing to serve in the military, but such a position is not given to those who act as a teacher, social worker, or others who, I believe, contribute more to society? These people don't enjoy the nice salaries and perks of military life, and give of themselves far more for a far more important good. War veteran? Sure, whatever. That's not how you earn my respect. We need a military, sure. It's important that they be effective, sure. They are, however, just there to keep society going in emergencies, and are generally less useful than police, and far less so than many other professions. Awesome military and so-so arts or science versus awesome arts and science and so-so military, I'll take the arts and science path.

For an alternate point of view on The Corporation, and the topic of the next meeting of the Generalists (philosophy group I'm in at CMU), there's the premise, "Pop culture is good for us", and an article to open the dialogue. As the ACLU guy made an interesting point -- we must have tests to prevent a slippery slope of corporate free speech restrictions ending up stifling other kinds of free speech we cherish, the article promises to make us think about the meaning of culture, and media asceticism. It may be unfair to compare the Taliban to people such as myself who are largely anti-commercial-media. There's a difference of method and of ends, and actually a difference of effects too. The Taliban was, as I understand it, against music in the general case, whereas in my ideals, music would be available but decommercialized and without ownership. Moving to ends, I don't think that asceticism, enforced from above, is a solution to society's ills. Well, at least I don't think I think that -- I don't think the recipient should ever be at legal fault, but rather that the producers who create needs are the problem, and changes to the economic system should be made to put an end to that industry. A mild asceticism, which may just take the form of anti-consumerism (simple idea, huge effects on one's life) is indeed something that I think will solve many of society's ills. Further, and here is where I disagree with many historical revolutionary groups, I feel that the revolution must be, in many ways, liberal. It is easy to confuse a vision for an ascetic, liberal society with either a return to old formalisms that are racist, gender-distinguishing, and religious, or to new formalisms that are just as stifling and harmful, e.g. Stalinist states.

Finally, as part of the normal discussion over sweatshops, it is often claimed that they're a benefit to the countries in which they reside, as they offer jobs to those who would otherwise starve. The counterclaim is that in such cases, the country has generally reorganized its economy in order to interest investors in coming in, as well as destroyed communal resources, thus creating the kind of poverty and joblessness that the sweatshops then *generously* come to fill. I'd like to really understand the counterclaim -- determine if it is honest, and if so, what mechanisms are used and how can it be most easily argued. If it is not an honest counterclaim, what still should be done, and are sweatshops still a problem? Hmm. Given the secrecy and harsh labour conditions, and their use as an environmental law dodge, I'd say they still are.