This blog describes some ideas that seem to be different from the current train of political thought. I will try to bring up somewhat unique and innovative ideas regarding political systems and policies in the US. I hope those who comment also bring in such ideas.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Monitor the Honduran Elections

Do you think the elections in Honduras are fair or crooked? Monitor them yourself today, and post what you observe. Here is a link to cameras monitoring various election points:

Strangely enough, the main stream media has not posted links to the sites so that people can monitor the elections for themselves. Of course, given the Chavista media bent, they do not want people to observe.

But, we will observe. We will report.

Viva Honduras!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Book Review: 1776

I just finished 1776 by David McCullough. It is very fascinating to read about this pivital year in United States History. The bravery, pluck, and perseverance of Washington and the Continental Army is truly inspiring. Their initial success at Boston was washed out by a disasterous New York campaign in which they exposed themselves to the British fleet, and were lucky to escape.

The losses led to a large number of desertions, and the near distruction of the army. However, after retreating across New Jersey, they end the year in splendid fashion with a gruelling but successful crossing of the Delaware in a blizzard, then winning the battle of Trenton. Their only losses of life were two people who froze to death on the march. Truly amazing.

It is commonly taught that the German soldiers stationed in Trenton were drunk, and thus the Continental Army had an easy time. However, McCullough points out that this was probably not the case, as the soldiers were quite disciplined, and he quotes historical records saying that they were not drunk. This makes their overwhelming victory even more impressive.

I recommend the book. For me, it is a well-told account of an amazing and world-changing twelve months.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Honduras standing firm against Zelaya and Chavez

From Stephen A Kusmer in the South Bend Tribune:

The people of Honduras have accomplished something truly beautiful. It is no trivial feat that this developing nation, highly susceptible to the pressures of corrupt authority and false promises, and faced with opposition from everyone from Chávez to Obama, was able to unite to avoid joining the ranks of Venezuela and Cuba.
More praise for the job of Jim DeMint, this time from the Kansas City Star:

In August, a report by the nonpartisan Library of Congress concurred with DeMint, saying that Zelaya's ouster was legal, though it said Honduran soldiers had overstepped the law in secreting him out of the country.
Columbia has sent their ambassador back to Honduras. Now Panama says that it will recognize the elections.

(President Ricardo Martinelli of Panama) also urged the international community to support the elections and the eventual winner of the presidential contest, saying, "The best way to come out of the [political] crisis is to hold the election in peace and to have them recognized internationally."
Ulf Erlingsson reports on the likely uptick in tourism after the elections, certainly good news for those of us with family trying to make ends meet in Honduras.

Hurricane Ida passed over Nicaragua and up towards the US, bringing rain over Honduras for many days in the process. But just as sunshine comes after rain, so will a new day of proseperity dawn over Honduras after this year’s extraordinary political crisis.

The Newsweek blog mentions how Brazil and other Zelaya supporters have lost face.

by allowing Zelaya to use his diplomatic shield to broadcast radio messages from the embassy, Brazil ended up looking like a biased broker
Also in the news is renewed funding for Honduras from many sources, such as the IDB. However, if Honduras is to develop a vibrant economy, it needs an end to corruption more than handouts, and booting Mel is one step toward that goal.

The new openness toward the Micheletti government is also evident in recent statements from the European Union, the government of Spain, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), and other international organizations that had suspended assistance programs.
Also check out the following from blogs I follow.

La Gringa
Public Secrets
My Roatan

Friday, November 13, 2009

Book Review - The Big Rich: The Rise and Fall of the Greatest Texas Oil Fortunes

Since the writer has written for the Wall Street Journal, I expected some good economic analysis in The Big Rich. Alas, it was not as potent an analysis as I would like. Instead, the author seemed to prefer to waste times on mocking their political beliefs, though never actually providing arguments for or against their beliefs. Thus, it was more of a distraction then a contribution.

The book was longer than it needed to be, especially since it could have used much more historical and economic analysis. The stories of risking it all and hitting a gusher are inspiring, as it is these types of people that make a big difference. However, it also shows how success can lead to their downfall, as after getting a fortune they risked it all again, and lost it. Even billionaires get in trouble by getting in more and more debt - something sensible governments should take to heart.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Anthem by Ayn Rand

Following up on the previous post discussing The Fountainhead, I also recently finished Anthem by Ayn Rand. This time the hero is a scientist, and not an architect. It explores the consequences of a society that entirely devalues the individual, and the ultimate triumph of an individual over that society.

Once again, the story and characters are not entirely convincing or compelling. But, the story of triumph of the human spirit is enormously compelling, and connected me to novelette. In some ways, it is a "cliff notes" version of Fountainhead in a different format. If you have not read "Atlas Shrugged" or "Fountainhead" I would recommend reading Anthem first. It is a very quick read, and I finished it in one sitting. You can get a feel for her style, and decide if you want to delve more deeply into her philosophy.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

"The Fountainhead" by Ayn Rand

Now comes my delayed post of "The Fountainhead" by Ayn Rand. It is a rather thick novel, and to a certain extent more a book on philosophy than a story.

The characters are meant to exhibit principles. Thus, they can come across as fake. Howard Roark, the heroic architect, comes across to me as somewhat autistic. Dominic Francon, the herione, comes across to me as psychotic, with a more messed up "love-life" than a lampooning of the Jerry Springer show. Gail Wynand, the tough kid from NY who made good, but his fatal flaw of being a "second hander" leads to his downfall. Since I like good character development, it was a little frustrating.

The story is compelling. It has to be, or you would not get through the preaching. Roark working his way through low-level jobs, finally getting a chance to demonstrate his architectural genius, and then destroying a partially-built building when interlopers ruined it. A jury, practicing the lost art of jury nullification, acquits him.

The theme of the novel is that the producers, creators, designers, and builders are the highest manifestation of humanity. It reminds me of "quality" as discussed in "Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance," as the book discusses architecture, quality building, and art. Ironically enough, both the undercurrent of quality and the undercurrent of psychotic characters.

Rand has been in the news recently, with a whole variety of people reporting on the new popularity, and even the new book reader from Barnes and Noble featuring the novel in publicity shots. I ended up reading The Fountainhead because it was on the shelf at Goodwill, I needed a novel for a trip, and I had never read Rand before. So, it had nothing to do with the current popularity of her work.

The Fountainhead is now quite popular in India, with an Ayn Rand-India blog. Judging from my Chinese friends, I am sure it will be quite popular there someday as well.