George Washington on Political Parties

George Washington on the dangers of political parties. I think, it’s obvious when reading, there’s a reason that he’s been held up as an icon of liberty. Sometimes it’s important to take a step back from the status quo and remember that what we assume is the best path forward is not always the most beneficial. Let not the wisdom of ages past be lost…

I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the state, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party, generally.

This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, or repressed; but, in those of the popular form, it is seen in its greatest rankness, and is truly their worst enemy.

The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty.

Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind, (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight,) the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.

It serves always to distract the Public Councils, and enfeeble the Public Administration. It agitates the Community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which find a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.

There is an opinion, that parties in free countries are useful checks upon the administration of the Government, and serve to keep alive the spirit of Liberty. This within certain limits is probably true; and in Governments of a Monarchical cast, Patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favor, upon the spirit of party. But in those of the popular character, in Governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged. From their natural tendency, it is certain there will always be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose. And, there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be, by force of public opinion, to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume.

Also, a sad hat tip to the good writers (such as Washington above) that conspiracy theorists get their semi-incoherent writing style from. Random Capitalization sure Serves a purpose Nowadays, Doesn’t it…

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We Live On A TARDIS (Seriously)

I was watching some Doctor Who before and I came to a surprising conclusion. We actually live on a TARDIS. TARDIS, of course, stands for Time and Relative Dimension in Space and it’s (if you’re one of the three people that doesn’t know anything about Doctor Who) the ‘ship’ that the good Doctor uses to traverse the universe.

The Tardis. By aussiegall from sydney, Australia (Dr Who Uploaded by russavia) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

It has a few odd qualities about it. For one, it’s ‘dimensionally transcendant’, which means, as the Doctor’s companions almost always point out, it’s bigger on the inside than it looks on the outside. It can travel through time and space and it possesses sentience, of a sort.

So how does the Earth measure up as a TARDIS? Continue reading

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Christopher Pyne Pines For Australian Science (Though Not Enough To Save It)

So I was reading an article on the Guardian about Australian science being squeezed, like a mob boss squeezes a small fruit stall owner, and this particular quote by Pyne struck me:

“The funds for NCRIS only exist because of savings elsewhere in the higher education package.

“The way for Labor to support NCRIS, which they themselves defunded, is to support the higher education reforms.

“Labor needs to stop playing politics and enter negotiations with the government because it will be on the heads of Labor, the Greens and the crossbenchers if it closes,” he said.

It’s a small statement, well, relatively small at least, but the thing that strikes me is that it’s just so…goddamn…political…

You see, Pyne is giving the excuse, or the ‘argument ender’, to his base. He’s saying, “Look, it’s everyone else’s fault if this travesty of a budget cut to Australian science comes to pass! (It’s just coincidental that in order to stop this travesty of a budget cut to science, everyone else has to agree to my travesty of a budget cut to education.)”

This, as I said, is to give his base something to argue back against with people who disagree about his actions. It doesn’t matter, of course, that what he really means is, “I want my education cuts to pass and until they do, I’m going to hold my scythe next to the string that is holding Australian science up! And if, dog forbid, you don’t agree with me before I cut the string and Australian science plunges into this convenient volcano…Well then you only have yourselves to blame!”

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Is Scott Walker Secretly Tony Abbott?

Abbott-Walker Mutant

Scott Abbott, or perhaps it’s Tony Walker…

From a comment on a Dispatches From the Culture Wars post titled Scott Walker Proves His Foreign Policy Chops by raven (raven wrote the following comment, not the blog post):

Walker certainly didn’t do much for Wisconsin. His track record on the economy and budgets is simply terrible.

In terms of recovery from the Bush Great Recession, they rank low, 35. Wisconsin is running a $280 million deficit this year and projected $1 billion for each of the next two years.

Meanwhile the adjacent state, Minnesota has a Democrat governor who raised taxes. They are rated 5th in recovery and running a $1 billion budget surplus.

Walker must have to keep talking about union busting because he’s only done three things, cut state services, trashed the state’s budget and economy, and demolished a few unions.

Hmmm, so not only is Scott Walker’s foreign policy woeful (saying that Reagan busting up the 1981 strike of air traffic controllers was the most significant American foreign policy decision in his lifetime…) but his conservative policies (cutting state services, “incidentally” increasing debt in the service of the rich and attacking workers rights) have sent Wisconsin down the drain, directly next to a state run by a democrat, with liberal (not our liberal…God I hate how they’ve corrupted that word) policies that is in excellent health.

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Entropy and Life

There are some interesting links between the concept of entropy and the existence of life in the universe. It seems as though the two are connected somehow, but we’re not entirely sure what the basest relationship is. We do know that you need entropy in order to have life (life is, essentially, the universal journey from order to disorder).

A new study published in the Journal of Chemical Physics (lead author Jeremy England) has revealed a mathematical formula that could potentially explain how life grew out of the basic process of entropy (if you don’t want to read the technical paper, there’s an article about it here). Continue reading