September 17, 2012
direct job creation, Economics, education, Jefes de Hogar, laissez-faire, welfare
The government’s primary responsibility is to protect the lives, happiness, and stability of its citizenry. I believe direct job creation programs should become a cornerstone in welfare programs to support unemployed people, in the short run, and serve as the launching pad to reeducate those people in the long run.
Governments can either neglect their citizenry or invest in them. In a case where laissez-faire economics prevail the workforce is left to its own initiative to find employment. I believe this method is inefficient; often people act irrationally, due to lack of education and information, as they pursue employment. Often they can waste much time and resources and still be unable to obtain a job. I believe when governments invest in their citizenry the populace is better off. My reasoning is that unemployed workers with financial support are better situated to find new work, become educated about potential opportunities, and pursue new careers through learning new techniques and skill sets. Without any income these unemployed workers would be forced to instead starve, turn towards illegal means, or fall into costly debt and permanently injure their financial potential. With financial support they can concentrate on finding a stable income and forgo significant problems. This second option makes sense to me, it seems to head off spiraling unemployment where laissez-faire instead permits chaos.
The issue then becomes how to distribute welfare to those who need it. Blank checks and unmarked bills seem like a short sighted way to provide aid. People are inherently irrational; while they might be making decisions, with their government aid, that makes them happy they also may be perpetuating their unemployment. I believe that governments, as the employers of last resort, should be able to step in and give any willing worker employment through direct job creation programs. It is the job of the government to protect its citizenry, giving them an income is perhaps one of the most concrete ways to accomplish basic objective. It would not matter if these programs were as simple as planting trees, cleaning graffiti, or being crosswalk guards as long as it transmitted an income to support those who were once unemployed. The added benefits to the community services are an ancillary positive that helps neighborhoods and gives once unemployed workers a sense of optimism and a bit of dignity when they pick up their paychecks.
It is my personal opinion that direct job creation programs do not go far enough for helping the unemployed citizenry. Direct job creation does employee workers and stabilize their lifestyles, but it is vulnerable to costly overuse. Argentina’s Jefes de Hogar program found a solution in its worker training programs. I believe that community jobs can be essential in alleviate unemployment in the short run; in the long run they become needlessly redundant and potentially wasteful. I propose that workers with unneeded skill sets should be reeducated so they can pursue a new career, hopefully even one that pays better. With reeducation programs once unemployed workers should be steered towards higher skilled jobs that need more applicants. Simultaneously, this action fills hiring holes in the economy while hopefully upgrading the lives of once unemployed workers. Any loss to the taxpayers, spent in lifting a once unemployed worker to the sectors where new employees are most needed, will be paid for by the higher tax returns of those individuals who increased their human capital and earning potential.
I believe that the government should be an employer of last resort, in the short term. The steady support of welfare should be able to be counted upon to aid unemployed citizens. Direct job creation gives short term aid to those who need it most and it hedges against unemployed people wasting time and resources. It can even provide the means to reeducate once unemployed individuals so that their lives are actually better because they got fired.
September 8, 2012
Kickstarter, Planetary Annihilation, Real Time Strategy, Uber Entertainment, Videogame, war
Every would-be world conqueror gets their start playing tactical video games; some classic examples are Civilization, Age of Empires, and StarCraft. A new contender is being added to the list of great strategy games, Planetary Annihilation. This latest real-time strategy vision pioneers a new trail; rather than just a single map being the battle field whole solar systems are up for grabs.
Space, the final frontier … of warfare
The loose premise for Planetary Annihilation is robot armies are fighting each other for galactic control. Fun, right? The real focus of the game is in revolutionary global combat. Most games have square maps which cut off suddenly to prevent flanking armies from falling into the void. In Planetary Annihilation the battlefields are spherical planets. Troops march and fly around the world, doing combat in all three hundred and sixty degrees.
More complex maps add a solar system of battlefields. Moons can be mined. Asteroid can be turned into continental sized missiles. Gas giants fill up the screen as multiple lunar battles take place across space. It is hinted that whole planets can be thrown at unsuspecting opponents.
Already Uber Entertainment, the producers of this strategic and hilarious game, has surpassed their initial goal for Planetary Annihilation. With a whopping $900,000 in pledged funds production has already. Yet as more funds were pledged new ideas were birthed for each new threshold.
Upon passing the $1.1 million dollar barrier water worlds, complete with a whole new variety of aquatic robots, were added to Planetary Annihilation. Two hundred thousand dollars later orbital units were added and gas giants entered the warzone. The next threshold of $1.5 million will add strange new worlds coated with lava and cloaked in metal. The $1.8 million dollar threshold seems to be the most interesting to me; it activates the galactic campaign. By doubling their initial goal battlefields Uber Entertainment will make the whole galaxy open for combat.
The rewards for aiding Planetary Annihilation are both novel and far-flung. $20 will garner you a copy of the game, alongside over 12,000 backers. For $50 you will get a unique commander exclusively to fundraisers, but for $1000 you can get a unique commander made exclusively for you. My favorite option allows you name planets within the game; I think naming a planet after myself might just be worth $150.
I support intergalactic warfare; click here to support Planetary Annihilation!
September 6, 2012
Alex Hornstein, Automation, Energy, international, Kickstarter, Mirco Solar Plates, news, Shawn Frayne, Solar
I believe that passionate and invested inventors are the best innovators. Now it is time to add Alex Hornstein and Shawn Frayne to the ranks of the Wright Brothers and Alexander Fleming. Our two new revolutionaries are pushing the boundaries of solar energy. They are not pushing them upwards for large panels, instead they invested in small hyper efficient solar panels which can power every small object in any home.
Micro Solar Panels, A Plethora of Opportunities
Small solar plates are increasingly becoming an integral part of the world’s solar supply. In the past, only devices like throwaway calculators and a few outdoorsy tools were powered by small solar panels. Today, there are already niche solar markets arising; everything from cell phone chargers to glow in the dark bricks are powered by the sun.
Most small solar panels are produced in a slow and inefficient manner. There are whole factories dedicated to outdated and time-consuming. Panels are hand glued together; as many as one in five are discarded due to workmanship faults. The annual output of one factory is around a 300,000 units. These panels will last approximately two years, under the best conditions.
Currently, our two new inventors are gathering funds to finalize their invention, the Solar Pocket Factory. Just one of these table-top factories can produce a whopping 2,103,793 panels in a year; a panel can be produced every fifteen seconds. These durable have a ten-year guarantee. The factory can fit in a pickup and run anywhere in the world or even on the go.
This project is currently a favorite on Kickstarter. This grass-roots site connects inventors, innovators, and artists with people who want to support their causes (and get nifty prizes). For instance if you give our lauded innovators a scant $35 they will ship you everything you need to build a few small solar devices with their patented plates. Big spenders can select the $10,000 option; with this prize our inventors bring their micro factory to your hometown and crank out hundreds, if not thousands, of plates and products. A whole town could be powered by one little trip. The future looks sunny.
Wanna help the cause? Their Kickstarter Project continues until September 14, 2012. Click here to green up your home!
September 4, 2012
Arab Nations, Christianity, Communication, Conviction, Islam, Muslim, Public Relations, religion
Today in my physics class, for non-physics students, my professor scrawled the familiar equation:
E = MC2
Then he asked the class what the equation represented. The selected, overly confident girl, name all the critical parts of Einstein’s historic equation and then espoused on how faster than light travel creates energy. The professor corrected her, cruelly saying that science fiction society did not meet until five. She looked shattered.
This got me thinking; how do we become assured the facts we know are true. We cannot just assume that they are true, Kay of Men in Black attested to when he informed Will Smith “Fifteen hundred years ago everybody knew the Earth was the center of the universe. Five hundred years ago, everybody knew the Earth was flat, and fifteen minutes ago, you knew that humans were alone on this planet.” Just because some fact is common knowledge or explicitly communicated does not make it true, although if there are any aliens reading this I would love this quote to be proven true. ( I want to believe) It comes down to our personal reasonings to decide what is and what is not. Therefore, I believe those forces that inform with our reasonings and make themselves agreeable tend to shape our perceptions of reality.
This got me thinking, more so than before, what makes an argument convincing?
I personally believe the most convincing arguments are those which we can prove to ourselves without any outside pressure or assistance. Perhaps the laws of mathematics have become a lynch pin in modern society on this principle. Rather than feeling out soft subjective answers the cold calculus can be solved, checked, and evaluated by anyone around the world. A math equation is hard to argue with.
However, this means those with best numbers and manipulating equations can shape reality and build bridges of “truth” that anyone can believe in. This assurance, I believe, may have been essential to bad bankers and shady real estate salesman as they convince innocent people to take unnecessary and costly loans. Math shapes our perceptions of the world, for better and for worse.
Another sphere of undeniable convictions is the religious one. People’s whole lives can be dominated by religious perspectives, from evangelicals in the bible belt to whole countries throughout the Arab World. This is neither good nor bad; it just is. In each of these popular religions there are religious texts, the Bible and the Koran respectively. The books speak to anyone who is willing to receive them. I believe that by being able to talk to a person in a personal and inherently religious manner that many normal barriers can be transcended. By talking to the soul of a person many a zealous soul can be gathered for the faith.
On one end of the spectrum there are mathematically proven facts and equations. On the other end there are inner, unbeatable truths that rest deep inside ones soul. I believe that with the right zeal and ideals either of these routes can communicate any idea to an audience and convince them it is true. New equations will secure funds to send rockets to Mars. Religious blogs and passionate webcasts are already winning heart and minds across the world. Perhaps my errant classmate stumbled upon a book that was powerful enough to speak to her soul and change her perceptions. I know that I have run into more than a few.
August 31, 2012
Autoethnography, Autoethnogrgaphy, Ethnography, Liberal Arts, Objective Truth, philosophy, Sciences, Subjective Truth
Scientific reasoning is on based repeatedly testing and refining theories. In the pursuit of the objective truth, the singular reality of a solution, academics and scientists generally curtail their own biases. This action attempts to eliminate subjective truths, realities that we believe in but are not always true. With mathematics and the sciences this system works out well. In the liberal arts these efforts can inhibit academic progress.
These liberal arts confound the limits of mathematics and empirical reasoning. While scientists file case studies and field reports those in the liberal arts compile ethnographies, qualitative research design aimed at exploring cultural phenomena. However, cultural forces are immeasurable. I believe with the liberal arts there is no objective truths, only subjective truths. I reason that while a math equation will only have one answer there are a thousand unique and personal interpretations to even the simplest of poems. All of these interpretations all equally valid, on the condition they can be supported, because there is no single answer for questions of culture.
Issues arise with the liberal arts; they are using the methods of the sciences to attempt to explain issues which confound those very sciences. This leaves academics in quite the pickle, as they hurt the findings of their works in their attempts to remain unbiased.
The Solution (Sometimes)
The autoethnography : this adaptation of the ethnography takes the qualitative rigor of the original while allowing for the unique viewpoint and experiences of the author to replace desensitized studies. While this would be laughable to apply to the fields of math and science ( 2+2=5 because I feel it should) it works quite well in the liberal arts. Many of the fields were formed to fulfill and debate opinions birthed from a cultural yearning. There is no way to empirically calculate the value a degree in English, Women’s Studies, or Art, but culture would grow quite stale if even one of these actors was missing. Bridling the autoethnography gives every liberal arts academic the best tools to express themselves. In doing so they will better be able to capture culture and we will all be able to appreciate it better thanks to them.
March 24, 2012
Foreign Policy, Geopolitics, international, Iran, Israel, Israel-Iran War, United States, war
How long till war?
All eyes are on Iran and its nuclear program. The Iranian government has stated that it pursues only peaceful ends in its new-found interest in uranium enrichment. Israel and the United States have accused Iran of building nuclear WMDs. In this article, Part 1, we will review how Israel and Iran are igniting the next world war and how conventional methods of defusing this situation have failed. In Part 2, we will examine the diplomatic failures which have allowed this situation to persist and worsen. In Part 3 we will review unlikely alternatives which might be able to prevent the United States from being dragged into a 21st century Vietnam.
Why are Iran and Israel Moving Towards War?
Iran and Israel have the keys to peace or war in the Middle East; they both choose war. we can see the rational explanation behind this absurd decision by looking into game theory and the Prisoners’ Dilemma. Both sides have the option of backing down; however, if either side took enacted peaceful measures it would open itself for attack from the opposition. Without mutual trust or a shared allied superpower to help negotiate a thawing of relations these nations are locked onto the war path.
How Will the War Begin on Our Current Course?
Israel has talked openly about a preemptive strike. With a surprise attack Israeli fighter jets plan to cripple the Iranian nuclear program beyond repair. Iran will doubtlessly strike back; igniting a regional war against Israel. The United States will most likely be dragged into the conflict with the inevitable Iranian retaliations. In an American military war-game codenamed Internal Look, which played out many possible scenarios following an Israeli preemptive strike, United States ships were attacked by Iranian planes attempting to intercept the retreating Israel fighters. This is one of dozens of possibilities which could throw American into a pan-Arabian war in one of the world’s most volatile and important regions,
Why is It Important to Prevent War?
Life and energy.
It is of primary importance to maintain peace to prevent wholesale slaughter on a scale not seen since the end of World War Two. Iran uses human waves of millions of loyalists to crush enemies while Israel decimates invaders with overwhelming air power and possibly nuclear. A conflict would kill thousands; if there is an alternative, it must be pursued
Second, oil is something critical to the Middle Oil flow will slow to a trickle if war explodes across the Persian Gulf; either blockades of the Straits of Hormuz or wholesale destruction of regional oil tankers could cut off the world’s energy supply. International blackouts would cause unprecedented chaos.
The question becomes that if war would be so disastrous why would the powers that be allowed it to deteriorate to this strained point? Find the answer in Part 2; it will be up tomorrow.
All comments are appreciated and will be answered promptly.