Monday, March 9, 2009

Future Tech

Apparently this is on the way:

And I'm still stuck on trying to figure out how to use my cell-phone.


Take Your Pick

Charles Krauthammer believes that President Obama is intentionally deceiving the American public in trying to convince us that the root cause of our economic woes is the lack of nationalized health care, weak schools, and dependence upon petroleum. Here's the crux of Krauthammer's column:

The logic of Obama's address to Congress went like this:

"Our economy did not fall into decline overnight," he averred. Indeed, it all began before the housing crisis. What did we do wrong? We are paying for past sins in three principal areas: energy, health care, and education -- importing too much oil and not finding new sources of energy (as in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the Outer Continental Shelf?), not reforming health care, and tolerating too many bad schools.

The "day of reckoning" has now arrived. And because "it is only by understanding how we arrived at this moment that we'll be able to lift ourselves out of this predicament," Obama has come to redeem us with his far-seeing program of universal, heavily nationalized health care; a cap-and-trade tax on energy; and a major federalization of education with universal access to college as the goal.

Amazing. As an explanation of our current economic difficulties, this is total fantasy. As a cure for rapidly growing joblessness, a massive destruction of wealth, a deepening worldwide recession, this is perhaps the greatest non sequitur ever foisted upon the American people.

At the very center of our economic near-depression is a credit bubble, a housing collapse and a systemic failure of the entire banking system. One can come up with a host of causes: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pushed by Washington (and greed) into improvident loans, corrupted bond-ratings agencies, insufficient regulation of new and exotic debt instruments, the easy money policy of Alan Greenspan's Fed, irresponsible bankers pushing (and then unloading in packaged loan instruments) highly dubious mortgages, greedy house-flippers, deceitful homebuyers.

The list is long. But the list of causes of the collapse of the financial system does not include the absence of universal health care, let alone of computerized medical records. Nor the absence of an industry-killing cap-and-trade carbon levy. Nor the lack of college graduates. Indeed, one could perversely make the case that, if anything, the proliferation of overeducated, Gucci-wearing, smart-ass MBAs inventing ever more sophisticated and opaque mathematical models and debt instruments helped get us into this credit catastrophe in the first place.

And yet with our financial house on fire, Obama makes clear both in his speech and his budget that the essence of his presidency will be the transformation of health care, education and energy. Four months after winning the election, six weeks after his swearing in, Obama has yet to unveil a plan to deal with the banking crisis.

So far from seeking to solve the current crisis, Krauthammer implies, the president is seeking to exploit it to promote an ideological agenda that destroys capitalism and establishes socialism. Whether this is true or not, it's certainly the case that our financial crisis has nothing to do with schools, health care, or energy. By focusing on these things rather than the banking and stock market collapse Obama exposes himself either to Krauthammer's withering charge of willful deceit or the more charitable charge of gross incompetence.


Mano a Mano

Two titans in the field of philosophy, Alvin Plantinga and Daniel Dennett, squared off in an exchange at the recent meeting of the American Philosophical Association. Prosblogion has a minute by minute account of the exchange recorded by a philosopher in the audience. The account won't be of general interest but will be of interest to those acquainted with the work of either of these well-known scholars.

According to the anonymous and self-described biased recorder (his/her reasons for wishing to remain anonymous are interesting in themselves), Dennett embarrassed himself and Plantinga won the field.

The readers' comments are also worth perusing.