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Olympics

As a citizen of the United States, I have gotten a vicarious thrill in recent years by the success of the U.S. in both the Winter and Summer Olympic Games. However, as an objective observer, it seems unfair to base Olympic teams strictly by nationality, since some countries are so much larger than others. A solution might be to have a maximum base population for any team, and then break the larger countries up into regional teams. For example, the United States might have four teams from the Northeast, South, Midwest, and West. What could be even more interesting (although probably political dynamite) is cross-national groupings based on local culture or ethic divisions, such as Cascadia in Northwestern US and British Columbia, or Kurdistan in Turkey and Iraq.

Sequels II

I finally figured out why the sequels to The Matrix were so disappointing.  It is because, in those movies, the Wachowski brothers tried to continue the series by exploring the metaphysical and epistemological implications of The Matrix, with subplots of boring old war and impossible moral dilemmas.  Instead, they should have focused on the moral implications of The Matrix itself.

In particular, they should have expanded on the conflict within Cypher that lead him to betray Morpheus in the first film, the fact that he would prefer to be back in The Matrix than outside it.  This could have been done by having Neo reveal to the population of The Matrix the truth (which the end of the first film implied that he would do), and have that as the basis for a conflict among those inhabitants.  There would have been those who wanted to fight the machines, leave The Matrix, and try to rebuild the world from its poisoned state, certainly a daunting task, and those who wanted to remain slaves to the Machines, but leave a normal and happy (if virtual) life.

Income Inequality

A Google bus was blocked yesterday in a protest that highlights the ever growing difference between the richest and poorest in the United States.  Contrary to popular belief, this is not so much a result of government policies designed to help the rich as it is the result of powerful forces changing the world, in particular globalization and the exponential growth of information technologies.  We need to find a way to counter this ever-growing divide while at the same time leaving markets and business free to continue their rapid growth and innovation.  I proposed one possibility in my essay on the U.S. Federal Budget, Taxes, & Jobs.

Minimum Wage

The minimum wage is in the news today.  The debate as to whether or not it should be raised misses the point.  We should recognize it for what it is, which is a form of wealth redistribution.

The US government employs countless different methods of redistribution; e.g. minimum wage, Obamacare, food stamps, welfare, Social Security, Medicare, etc.  Rather than wasting millions of dollars administrating all of them and endlessly debating their pros and cons, we should instead reduce them all to one form of redistribution.  The form I recommend is a tax rebate to every household in the country from a consumption tax rather than an income tax.  This would have many additional benefits such as automatically balancing the budget.  The details of my proposal are described at https://philosophyandideas.wordpress.com/politics/budget-taxes-jobs/.

Sequels

It is almost a truism that movie sequels are never as good as the original.  In my opinion, two of the most notable examples of this were The Matrix and Pirates of the Caribbean.  Are there examples where the sequel was better than the original?  I think Night at the Museum qualifies.  Star Wars might be another.

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I’ve read quite a few fantastic or incomprehensible passages in my years of reading philosophy, but here is one of the best:

“[N]eutral monism might be consistently combined with some version of panprotopsychism … according to which the proto-mental aspects of micro-constituents can give rise under suitable conditions of combination to full blown consciousness.”

In other words, there might be a kind of magical dust which when combined with the grey matter in your brain makes you conscious.  This was taken from the Standard Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on Consciousness, Section 8.1 (Dualist Theories): http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/consciousness/#8.1.