Are you a Republican – or do you know one – who is sincerely fretful about the GOP’s ticket for the coming quadrennial? Well, there’s good reason (on many levels.) But it appears there is hope! Or at least a fun wish fantasy, written and published with stunning speed by a master science fiction author, John Barnes. In a quick-topical (and hilarious) shortie-novel that’s set right now! In the few weeks before this year’s Republican National Convention.
RAISE THE GIPPER! is more a sudden piece of performance art than anything else. Staged precisely for a given moment in time, it fits into the tradition of such old-time favorites as The Mouse that Roared and Rally Around the Flag, Boys.
And it gives Republicans their utter wish fantasy, especially after wading through a primary season filled with dismal choices. Picture the scenario — Ronald Reagan, risen from the dead, tanned-rested-and-ready (hampered only slightly by the lack of a pulse) to lead the GOP to victory!
Think it’s all one-sided? Well, Barnes has some clever fun at the expense of flakey, Gaia worshipping, PC-vegan lefty-liberals, too! It’s a rollicking good time. Try some free sample chapters! (Or get it on Amazon.) And support performance art.
Is it understandable that some Republicans nurse dream-wish fantasies? One is tempted, indeed, to dream up alternatives to the current presumptive nominee — whose prep-school pranks included the deliberately traumatic bullying of helpless adolescents. Yes, there is forgiveness. But character is generally persistent, unless you see major life reversals that indicate a true change of direction. And in that case, would he not have sought out his victims, later, to make amends? Or shown compassion in his business affairs?
Oh one can sympathize. Raise the Gipper, indeed!
== From the Transparency Front ==
As you surf the Web, information is being collected about you. Web tracking is not 100% evil — personal data can make your browsing more efficient; cookies can help your favorite websites stay in business. But, says Gary Kovacs, it’s your right to know what data is being collected about you and how it affects your online life. He unveils a Firefox add-on called Collusion to do just that. It is a prime example of where we need to focus our attention in net-age battles over freedom and privacy. Not in futile efforts to regulate the mighty and police what they can know, but rather in forever-enhancing our power to look back… and thus to hold the mighty accountable.
But shouldn’t the light shine both ways? Read a scathing appraisal and denunciation of banking secrecy, of tax havens and the way at least seven trillion dollars vanish from the world’s books. For example: Nothing in offshore havens happens on a small scale. Almost any statistic flunks the red-face test. Consider the British Virgin Islands, home to about 30,000 people and 457,000 companies. In China, it’s said you haven’t made it until you have your own subsidiary in the British Virgin Islands, which holds more assets belonging to Chinese nationals than any foreign location except Hong Kong. “The secrecy laws in these tax havens are at the root of serious crimes: fraud, money laundering and international terrorism,” writes Robert M. Morgenthau in The New York Times.
There’s more money on deposit in the Caymans than in all the banks in New York City combined. Do you hear echoes of The Transparent Society? Or my novel Earth, in which the whole world finally gets fed up and storms the banks to make the records public? No issue is more powerfully important than tracing who uses these infamous dodges.
(Or more germane, when we seek to judge whether a one-time spoiled brat bully has grown up.)
What, then, can be done about all this? Plenty — if we act now. Nobody leaves their money offshore forever. The United States can direct its banks and their foreign subsidiaries not to engage in financial transactions in havens that have no transparency and no disclosure of the true parties of interest in financial transactions.
A bill has been proposed in the United States to prevent the use of shell corporations to hide the true ownership of assets owned here. This legislation would provide a model of openness for other nations to follow. Unfortunately, the legislation is bottled up in our own Congress. This should not be. America needs to set an example of financial accountability and insist that the world follow.
=== Political Miscellany ===
A study of economic mobility in the US by state shows a pattern that will probably be all too familiar to readers of ContraryBrin. All the out-performers except Utah (7 of 8) are blue states. All 9 under-performers are red states. So much for the idea of the liberal elite keeping the masses down and so much for the idea that Republican small government and deregulation creates a culture of opportunity.
Possible link between maternal obesity and low childhood intelligence. Gee wiz… will we ever see a single datum that the denizens of Red America, who proclaim so loudly that they know better how to live and raise kids, are ever right at all, even once? About anything whatsoever?
Companies are making billions from selling and reselling your personal data. Now, HP is seeking to patent a personal data stock exchange where you could get a cut from sharing your personal information on the open market. Are you willing to exchange your health records or friend lists or automotive GPS locations in exchange for money? And what if companies buy only the cheapest data. Is that data biased or less valuable? One can picture this in several positive ways. (1) people get paid for what is happening anyway, (2) it establishes a reasonable range for a reasonable property right and defies the extremists at both ends, (3) it establishes that grabbing personal information secretly isn’t just a privacy violation but a tort action and act of theft, (4) it creates a market industry whose interest lies in making consent and commerce the order of the day. #4 means that Big People Making Money will be incentivized to protect YOUR right to seal info, not have it be ripped off. Ah, but there are drawbacks…
Our ability to monitor our planet is at risk; aging Earth-observing satellites are being replaced too slowly, and older satellites are failing. By 2020 we may only have 25% of our current observing capacity. The shortfall comes as a result of funding cuts, canceled missions, lost satellites, failed launches and a shortage of launch vehicles to deliver new satellites to orbit. We have an urgent need to gather data on our planet to better understand the changes taking place on earth. (And yes, some of the funding cuts were targeted directly at missions that would have settled climate change. Those proclaiming “the science isn’t good enough yet!” are among those who have torpedoed the science.)
== Finally, some wisdom from a dour genius ==
‘Progress is not an illusion, it happens, but it is slow and invariably disappointing. There is always a new tyrant waiting to take over from the old–generally not quite so bad, but still a tyrant. Consequently two viewpoints are always tenable. The one, how can you improve human nature until you have changed the system? The other, what is the use of changing the system before you have improved human nature? They appeal to different individuals, and they probably show a tendency to alternate in point of time.
‘The moralist and the revolutionary are constantly undermining one another. Marx exploded a hundred tons of dynamite beneath the moralist position, and we are still living in the echo of that tremendous crash. But already, somewhere or other, the sappers are at work and fresh dynamite is being tamped in place to blow Marx at the moon. Then Marx, or somebody like him, will come back with yet more dynamite, and so the process continues, to an end we cannot yet foresee. The central problem–how to prevent power from being abused–remains unsolved.
‘Dickens, who had not the vision to see that private property is an obstructive nuisance, had the vision to see that. ‘If men would behave decently the world would be decent’ is not such a platitude as it sounds.’
– George Orwell (“on Dickens”)
England, wrote Orwell, is a family with the wrong members in control. Almost entirely we are governed by the rich, and by people who step into positions of command by right of birth. Few if any of these people are consciously treacherous, some of them are not even fools, but as a class they are quite incapable of leading us to victory.