Random: Iran, Bush, Dems, Terrah, Energy, Nintendo

Iran

Ahmadinejad gives the peace sign!

I’m already tired of this charade they call diplomacy with regards to Iran. Is there any doubt that no one is going to change their minds? President Ahmadinejad is calling the U.S.’s bluff, knowing that the U.S. is inextricably locked into both Iraq and Afghanistan right now and that the pre-emptive policy the U.S. adopted did not lead to the success it hoped for. Ahmadinejad also wants Iran (and himself) to be the example of an entity that stood up to the U.S. He’s also challenging the idea that only a few countries can be trusted to be nuclear. Think about how other countries feel about being left out of the club. You’d resent it too.

Meanwhile the U.S. is charging ahead in its usual manner, pushing for U.N. resolutions and claiming publically that it’s relying on the system to fix the problem. I can’t think that strategic types inside the Beltway think that any more talking is going to change things unless the U.S. concedes nuclear exclusionism. Which means they have to be gaming Iran right now. I mean, right? They’re not THAT stupid, right?

What does Iran have to lose by continuing to resist? It will be a victim if the U.S. attacks it, and just drawing out the whole ordeal is harming relations between the U.S. and its “allies” who aren’t looking forward to sticking their necks out half-heartedly again. If the U.S. takes any action against Iran like sanctions or bombing or invasion, it will be nothing but a rally point for Iranians, even those who in general want to shed the aging conservatives who rule Iran.

Even if the U.N. resolved to take action against Iran, that’s not going to change anything. Iran has no need to budge.

Ahmadinejad:

“Before the report’s release, Iran’s president said he doesn’t “give a damn” about calls to end his country’s nuclear program.

Speaking at a rally in northwest Iran, Ahmadinejad said his country had a right to pursue nuclear technology.

“Those who want to prevent Iranians from obtaining their right, should know that we do not give a damn to such resolutions,” said Ahmadinejad, according to Iran’s official news agency IRNA.

“Enemies think that by … threatening us, launching psychological warfare or … imposing embargos can dissuade our nation to obtain nuclear technology.””

Bush relying on

I watched President Bush talk on CNBC in front of the White House, and he mentioned Iran. He made it sound like he was putting his full faith into the U.N. to resolve the matter. Sound familiar? This is why this whole thing is a charade. It’s like Caesar refusing the mantle three times.

Smartly Iran is not messing with oil output — I mean, after all, it’s a fucking slot machine for their coffers and hostile action against world oil supply would constitute a declaration of war among American hawks — yet American “experts” warn not to trust Iran. This whole trust thing is so out of control, by the way. Go back to the Dubai ports deal… We’re not exactly as welcoming as we claim to be.

Of course Iran is pursuing a destructive policy for itself in the long term but in the short term it is trying to be the example. Oil profits will continue for a while but I think the end of those days are coming faster than people expect. Also, there are plenty of other countries in the world who just said fuck it with regards to trying to being political players and instead are concentrating on making their national businesses competitive, and even protecting themselves against the corrosive effects of unchecked globalization. Iran is running an inefficient government right now.

Energy

Gas is affecting decisions I make. I don’t drive to the movies anymore and I certainly don’t drive down to Nashville on the weekends. Even drives to the mall just to go driving are scrutinized. At some point I think this will happen on a larger scale. Think about what we’d lose if we could no longer go on the great American cross-country drive?

I was listening to NPR the other day and it had some guy talking about how nuclear power is not the way to go, in light of the Chernobyl anniversary. I forget what the statistic he mentioned was but I’m not sure I believe it. It was something like how all the combined renewable energy sources produced more power in 2005 than nuclear energy did. Is that possible? The point was that perhaps we do not need the potentially devastating nuclear reactors when in aggregate the growth of renewable energy will suffice. Personally I don’t think nuclear energy is so bad. Wired had an article extolling nuclear power’s virtues.

That all got me curious so i went to the Dept. of Energy’s site and started looking at more numbers. Check out the DoE’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy site, for example. Great stuff available…

The State Dept’s 2005 Terrorism Report

This new report (warning: PDF file) is chock full of misleading statistics and back-slapping for countries united in the war against terror.

It starts off with a dubious claim that Al-Qaeda is losing control over its operational arms, citing Zarqawi’s letter to Zawahiri that was intercepted. I would not say that Al-Qaeda is losing control at all — in fact, its efforts to control or re-appropriate Zarqawi to other positions indicates its concern at maintaining its accessibility to Muslims everywhere. They want to push jihad as a global and spiritual movement, not bloody violence, beheadings, and massive slaughter.

One salient point that was barely touched was that the increase in the number of radicalized Muslims meant that attacks could be expected to be small, poorly organized, and unpredictable, demonstrating the wish of newly radicalized Muslims to try to take any action possible, despite their lack of expertise. The key point is that the report tacitly concedes that the movement is growing quickly and out of the control of counter-terrorist agencies.

One thing I hate about the report is that it lists countries and their contributions to the war against terror, which amounts to Bush’s listing of members of the “coalition of the willing”. It demonstrates an attempt to show how everyone’s working together, holding hands and singing, and generally improving the world.

This is sobered by the year’s statistics, which basically say that Iraq’s innocents are dying at extremely high rates, and that Iraq contributes to most of the global terrorist attacks. Suicide attacks, rare in Afghanistan in the past, have picked up considerably at the end of 2005 as information-sharing and further radicalization of Islam spread. Hurray!

I hate those statistics that compare the number of terrorist “attacks” and people injured/killed year over year. I mean, that doesn’t mean anything. 9/11 immediately added over 3,000 people to the count. So theoretically if that was the only attack that year, you could say that attacks dropped sharply from the previous year, even though that attack was more deadly and effective than any others in the last few decades.

It’d seem to me to be more important to look at the spread of Muslim extremist attacks and techniques employed around the world. Or arrests in various countries. But the writing on the wall, the fact that radical Islam is spreading across the planet, is not good to talk about publically. The small community that made up terrorism is now a massive movement.

Fucking Dems

So Bush’s approval rating is in the toilet, Iraq is sucking, and gas prices are bleeding us. What do the Dems do? They make themselves look bad! AWESOME! GOOD JOB GUYS! Yes, let’s put taxes on gasoline. Let’s punish oil companies by taking windfall profits. Let’s inhibit a free market that’s trying to act upon supply and demand in what is already a heavily manipulated market!

How do the Democrats do it? They’re probably STILL going to lose in 2008.

In Clive Hamilton’s “Growth Fetish”, he argues that the left has lost its influence because it has adopted the same addiction to economic growth that the Republicans have. By admitting that the most important thing to solve all ills is to grow economically, the Democrats concede that altruistic and un-business-like principles like helping the poor and feeble are not sound policies to follow in a society that loves growth. Therefore both political parties are mired in the same box of thinking — meanwhile, the Republicans have differentiated themselves through exaggeration from a growing group of more conservative liberals, and have taken power in this manner.

I think what we need is the birth of a new party, a party that seeks the “post-growth society” that Hamilton discusses, a society that seeks more reward than just growth and higher wages. A society that seeks more personal enrichment, community, and “eudemonism” (Hamilton’s term), or seeking happiness in life as the main goal.

Optimism

I’m not pessimistic. Really. I mean, I’m pretty fucking happy with how the oil thing is going. On CNBC they are talking about oil independence and alternatives and reduction in consumption and all sorts of things I wouldn’t have expected to hear so soon.

The faster oil prices go up, the faster we’ll take the threat seriously. And take me, for example. I think I probably represent a lot of 20-30 somethings who don’t want to just get some ordinary desk job but instead want to work for a meaningful cause even if it means a pay cut. And what I’m interested in is working for an organization that is pushing for weaning ourselves off a carbon-based economy. It’s probably the most important thing humans need to address right now, besides the Internet.

That these ideas are already hitting the mainstream is highly encouraging. I believe that all these smart, un-utilized minds will thirst to work on finding new solutions and improving alternative energy collection efficiency so that all these different forms can be combined to greatly reduce the so-called carbon footprint.

When Bush, an oil man in the flesh, is at least publically talking about it also, that is encouraging.

Look at this MSN Money article on the true cost of hybrid cars. The Prius is the only hybrid that will save you money over five years right now — and its new version with 90mpg and a much more powerful engine will come in 2008. The other cars still lose you money, but surprisingly only $300 to $4,000. Considering how little attention has been placed on hybrid technology (even as combustible fuel is the #1 waster of energy world-wide), the fact that we’re already that close to reducing the costs of owning a more environmentally and consumption friendly car is amazing.

I predict that within the next decade we will experience an energy Renaissance where we will free ourselves from energy waste and will actually find it an art and a worthwhile pursuit to adopt ecologically friendly policies. I think it will all happen much faster than the timelines suggest, as all this untapped energy and talent dogpiles on.

It makes me giddy to think about the after-effects of this conversion.

Nintendo Love

I own Nintendo stock. And I’ll be adding more if I can get good prices. Yesterday the company announced that its new console would be called “Wii” (Whee). The mainstream immediately poo-poo’d the name, just as it initially panned the Revolution a year ago when Nintendo announced it at E3. Nintendo claims it represents their new branding of fun, community-based play as well as two i’s to represent the innovative new controller.

My thought is that the name will become recognizable over time, if not always in a positive way. Already the press generated has really helped awareness for Nintendo. Meanwhile, Microsoft announced that losses for the unit that includes its Xbox 360 doubled its losses from last year, presumably from the costs of developing, manufacturing, marketing, and releasing the 360 this year. Sony is expected to take a huge financial hit also once it releases the PS3.

Meanwhile Nintendo is posting great financial numbers and is embracing gamers old and new. I’m sold!