It seems to me that a lot of naive idealism is made possible by people not taking responsibility for the steering of society. "Somebody Else's Problem" can be helpful in letting us focus on particular aspects of a problem, but it also can be part of evading responsibility that leads to some important things just being dropped. By separating ourselves from the whole effects of our actions, we smash our pottery by releasing it above the floor, rather than smashing it into a wall. The responsibility is still there -- all we've done is found a way to feel better. In particular, I've been reflecting about, in regions of the world just a step above being run by warlords, how actions that in more civilized parts of the world would be considered barbaric may in fact be necessary to advance/sustain civilisation. In more desparate situations, societies and their leaders do what it takes to survive and reach upward. Creating a just society is an important goal, but we should not expect there to be no blood needed for the long stages to reach civilisation. This an inconsistency in advocating the virtues of a great society before they are sustainable.
The enlightenment I seek is an antithesis of "make money fast" schemes -- offers of great wealth are actually offers, real or not, to harm society, partaking in unknown subjugation of labourers. Sustainable and careful living is in my eyes a prerequisite to cleansing oneself. Desire for wealth partially inverts, parts fall away leaving a desire for security and the material possessions one wants for a good life. Making money fast becomes disgusting.
In the news...What's that coming over the desert hills? They're wearing red, and riding horses.. and they're about to pass out because they're wearing too much.. Yes, the Canadian mounties are off to Afghanistan .. well, maybe not the mounties.
It looks like I'll never be visiting DisneyWorld again. Honestly, I haven't been interested for a long time, but now I probably won't be draggable there by other means.
BushJr has infected Blair with his stupidity. I wonder how all this will look, 200 years from now. My suspicion is that the history books will document neocolonialism tied to hypocratic morality causing the abused parts of the world to polarise and mobilise to strike back against the western powers in the only way they can. Just like in colonial times past, the powers that be refuse to even look at the real reasons for the war, writing it off as insanity.
Of course, mental gymnastics are not restricted to heads of state -- Visa, in case you are not aware, charges both businesses and users of credit cards when transactions are made with them. They forbid businesses to pass costs of business along to customers who use credit cards, in effect mandating that the costs they impose are invisible to consumers. Visa claims that it's protecting customers from attempts to shift regular costs of doing business onto customers. Of course, all costs of doing business, in a functioning normal business, are bourne by customers -- all it's doing is wrinkling true costs to make, as the article notes, cash payers subsidise credit card users. It would be nice, I think, if the government would nationalise banks and issue a standard bank card, run to break even.
China is rattling its sabre again.
Oh, and in case you didn't know, the NIH is still full of corrupt government-types.
Finally, an interesting thing I read on Wikipedia in the article on Furigana. First off, some background. The Japanese regularly use 4 writing systems. The first two, Hiragana and Katakana, are best thought of as being related in the way block letters and cursive are in English -- they are forms of each other, and are also properly thought of as the native alphabet of the Japanese language. There are roughly 50 characters in each, with each letter representing a lone vowel (A I U E O), a consonant-vowel pair (KA KI KU KE KO, MA MI MU ME MO, etc etc), or N (normally used to end words). Hiragana is used for native Japanese words, and Katakana is used for words borrowed from other languages. Kanji is another writing "system", used for a large number of words originally borrowed from Chinese, as glyphs. Generally, one memorises what a given character in Kanji means and how it is pronounced, and there are thousands of Kanji that are considered valid in Japanese. Finally, Romaji is used to directly write western words in western characters. Given the rich background of Japan's ethnic heritage, it is useful to have the origins so visible. I imagine English might make more sense if its word origins were tagged -- our grammar rules are heavily mutable depending on what language different parts of the sentence come from. Anyhow, as Kanji are difficult to learn, the Japanese use Furigana -- the practice of writing hiragana pronunciations next to Kanji in texts for people who might not know the relevant word, so even if they don't know it's meaning, they can at least pronounce it. According to the article,
because the kanji represent meaning while the furigana represent sound, one can combine the two to create puns or indicate meanings of foreign words. One might write the kanji for "blue", but use katakana to write the pronunciation of the English word "blue", thus using an English word while providing its meaning. The Japanese translations of Harry Potter use this to translate puns while retaining their meaning, and to translate some words like "Firebolt" which are proper nouns, but whose meaning should not be disregarded.
In a similar vein, some Westerners choose kanji for their names, and use furigana to clarify the pronunciations. This has a particularly neat effect when the kanji are chosen not for their phonetic value but for their meaning, allowing one to translate the meaning of one's name while retaining the original pronunciation.
Yet another use is to provide English text and use furigana to indicate the pronunciation of each word. Another even more esoteric use is to write English text, and in furigana write Japanese words, even in kanji, that correspond to the meaning of the English, effectively translating it in place.
(wikipedia Free Documentation Licence blah blah...)