Posted by silentarchimedes on February 7, 2009
What is going on with the world today? Many of the institutions and systems we grew up with and believed in have crumbled faster than a crumb cake in front of Santa Claus. This morning sports fans were shockingly (or not) met with news that one of the few remaining baseball superstars to not be tainted by the steroids scandal, Alex Rodriguez, failed an MLB steroids test in 2003. Considering that this news was corroborated by four independent sources, and based on past evidence of such news, this story likely has meat behind it. As the Barry Bonds’, baseball’s all-time home run king, steroids perjury trial heads to court, we wonder if there is anything sacred anymore in sportsmanship and fair play. The list now includes Bonds, Arod, Marc McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens and Raphael Palmeiro. All were heroes and idols to millions and millions of kids and sports fans.
Sports is nothing, however, compared to the deepening economic crisis affecting the country. But, then again we need to ask ourselves how did this country fall into such a dire situation in the first place? With news of unemployment reaching 7.6%, worst since 1982, most Americans are sensing a pessimism in the country and its leadership they have never felt before. Corporations that have long been stalwarts have wilted after years of trustworthy service. Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers and AIG, just to name a few. Even General Electric has fallen on tough times due to untrustworthy leadership expectations and financial exposure. Then there are the frauds of individuals, such Bernie Madoff, and corporations, such as Enron and Global Crossing.
Polar bear cub
Then there is the global warming and energy crises. Due to the irresponsible and rampant use of oil and other natural resources, and the irresponsible output of chemicals into the air, river and ground, the natural balance of Earth has come under question. Dire predictions of sea levels, global temperatures, forestation, glacial coverage, droughts and diseases have left us wondering is there any hope left? Will there exist a viable Earth in 100 to 200 years?
It is truly amazing that all three of these problems have one major thing in common. Greed. Greed. Greed. What is most disturbing is that the situations did not become problems until the ultimate greed kicked in. Arod was already a once in a generation baseball player back in high school. It is fair to say that he did not do steroids as a teenager as his body structure was simply too small. Bonds was a skinny player with the Pirates but was already a five tool player on the path to the Hall of Fame. McGwire was an amazingly talented rookie with the Oakland Athletics. Why did they feel the need to use steroids and become even better than they already were? Why risk already amazing career trajectories with such greed?
Similarly, the financial companies that have gone bankrupt or bought up were very viable and successful companies (some for over a hundred years) before the ARMs and hedge funds became en vogue. Why the greed to do such risky investments in order to raise the bottom line and stock price? Was it all due to increasing stock compensation packages of executives? Was it all worth it? To dupe millions of unknowing citizens just for more personal money? What about Madoff? An already well-respected and wealthy investor; what caused him to risk everyone’s money (including hundreds of other wealthy individuals and companies), just to make more money for his firm?
Finally, the earth has remained relatively stable ever since the existence of man. However, since the Industrial Revolution and especially since the widespread use of combustible engines, there has been this disregard for the side effects of using such resources. Coupled with research in biochemistry and synthetic compounds, the effects of pesticides, mercury, lead and carbons have led to a precarious global balance. Millions of animal species extinct or on the brink of survival.
Are humans, the supposedly most “intelligent” species with opposable thumbs, in fact, the dumbest species ever? Just imagine outsiders writing about the history of man and what they would write about, especially the past 150 years. Just imagine what they would write about western civilization. Just imagine what they would say about the population numbers. Or about technology and medical research? Is this the final goal of evolution? We have reached the ultimate in special survival… our only enemy is ourselves? The whole purpose of natural selection is the survival of the strong. However, part of natural selection is natural balance. A species never wants to become too powerful because then their food sources and natural enemies would disappear. Humans have, in essence, overcome both these natural laws. Through natural selection (our brains and opposable thumbs) we are far and beyond the most powerful species. In a relatively short time, our population and power increased beyond control. Humans have no more natural enemies. The machines we have created are unmatched and only destructible amongst ourselves. So what does this all mean?
The human world does not have a checks and balance system. Nature and other species have always acted as the equalizers. The closest thing that comes to that is the United Nations, and everyone knows how ineffective it is. Additionally, idealistic political systems such as communism and socialism have proven futile. Even checks and balance systems, such as the one in the United States, has a limited efficacy, as witnessed by the politics, lobbyism and other issues. Nature is having a difficult time balancing the effects of human greed and power. Diseases and natural disasters are becoming minimal in damage due to medical research and better disaster predictions. Without any natural enemies, we are left to govern ourselves and our future. As exciting of a possibility that is, the track record of that has been phenomenally pathetic.
Posted in Economics, Ethics, Health and Fitness, Opinion, Politics, Science and Math, Sports, Technology | Tagged: Alex Rodriguez, arod, Barry Bonds, baseball, Bear Stearns, economic crisis, economy, energy, evolution, global warming, greed, Madoff, money, natural resources, oil, polar bears, power, recession, Sports, steroids, unemployment, Yankees | 6 Comments »
Posted by silentarchimedes on January 16, 2009
The year is now 2009! Just ten years ago, the country was at the height of the dot com era. I was in my last year of my undergraduate years and very eager to graduate and join the exciting dot com workforce. It seemed like paradise at the time. I remember getting about ten job interviews and declining several others. I remember the offers that came in from startup companies to established corporations. I also remember gasoline in Pittsburgh being around 90 cents because it was the only semester I had a car with me. The only thing that scared people in 1999? The Y2K problem. I also remember people being relieved that the Clinton presidency was coming to an end because of the Lewinsky embarrassment. That was ten years ago…
Now it’s 2009. A lot has happened the past ten years; the first decade of the 21st century. The decade that I grew up, age wise, at least. It is a different country now. A more sober country. A battle-tested country and a depressed and pessimistic country. Although most people heaved a sigh of relief when the Y2K problem never materialized, it wasn’t long before the country would begin a string of events that has led to the current depressed state. 9/11 occurred. The dot com bubble busted. The telecom industry collapsed. The Afghanistan War began. The Patriot Act was passed. The country went into and out of a recession. The Iraq War began. The energy crisis began. Hurricane Katrina happened. The housing bubble inflated and popped. The credit bubble inflated and popped. The country went into another recession. And not to mention the Yankees haven’t won a World Series since 2000. It has been a very trying decade.
However, the country and myself are in the same situation as we were ten years ago. I will be finishing my studies and looking to enter the workforce once again. The country is full of hope again that a new presidency can bring much needed change. Although the hope and environment are different this time around, we must draw strength from what we have endured and learned in the past ten years. Personally, I am a much more patient, practical and, believe it or not, optimistic person than I was ten years ago. Although I was more energetic and sharper back in my early twenties, the experiences I have gone through in my twenties has made me a much more balanced person that cherishes even the simple things in life. I believe this country is similarly in the same state. During the dot com era, the country seemed to move about with reckless abandon, as if the paradise would last forever. Now after ten years of hardship, the country must learn from these experiences and come together as one country to come out of this recession stronger and more optimistic.We have to because we have plenty more challenges to face in the second decade of this century.
I am excited at what the last year of the first decade of the 21st century brings. I am excited at the future of America. The 2008 elections were one of the most exciting ever and to see Americans rise up and meet the challenge was very refreshing. 2009 marks the end of an era and the beginning of another, for this country and for myself…
Happy new year!
Posted in Economics, Observations, Opinion, Politics | Tagged: 2009, 21st century, 9/11, bubble, Clinton, dot-com, energy, Hope, housing bubble, Iraq War, Lewinsky, Patriot Act, Y2K | Leave a Comment »
Posted by silentarchimedes on June 22, 2008
This is my top 10 list of actions in which the ratio of energy expended to the actual action is in the stratosphere. This is just a list off the top of my head and in no particular order. Also, the list does not include why the event is done, the repercussions of the event, and/or the money the event makes. I’m purely talking about the event itself.
Here they are in no particular order:
1. Auto racing – this includes all variants. As much as everyone makes fun of NASCAR for driving around an oval wasting precious fuel, F1 and Indy are just as wasteful. Not to mention all the other variants of car racing and monster trucks.
2. Military exercises – All the military grade fuel that is used for fighter jets, tanks, cargo, and other military vehicles during training exercises is crazy. At times of war, yes, it makes a bit more sense. But to fly jets that burn gallons of fuel per minute for training is totally wasteful.
3. Space shuttle – Just to get that damn thing into space requires three completely filled rocket-sized canisters with fuel. Then the empty canisters are dropped into the ocean before the shuttle hits orbit.
4. Commercial airplanes and private jets – Yes, many flights are almost filled to capacity, but I have been on many flights (especially red-eye flights) where the amount of passengers on a 100-person plane is less than what would fit into a mini-van.
5. Showers – I know it’s about hygiene, but the number of gallons of water just to “clean” ourselves everyday is beyond it’s actual worth.
6. Deforestation for farmland – Destroying one energy source for another. I would estimate a lot of the trees cut down for farming is not transformed into lumber or products. The trees take decades, if not hundreds, of years to grow and they are razed in under one week.
7. 24-hour lighting for security purposes – You ever see stores or office buildings leave their lights on overnight because they want to detract burglars from going in and also so their security cameras can record in the light? No one is in the building and yet the lights constantly stay on.
8. Flyers – There’s something about flyers that piss me off. If I used my own printer and printed hundreds of copies of the exact same thing and just passed them around in the city, I would kill myself. Especially eeing most of them muddied on the streets. Stop wasting paper and ink!
9. Spam through snail mail – Speaking of flyers, spam through the mailbox is just as annoying. All those pre-approved credit card offers, val-U coupons, and advertisements… It’s like print, waste stamps, straight to garbage!
10. Packaging, packaging, packaging – You ever buy something from Amazon and they put it in a box 5 times it’s size and fill it with paper? What about cereal boxes? Resources are being wasted with useless packaging for everything!!
Posted in Economics, List, Opinion | Tagged: energy, resources, waste | 3 Comments »