Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Music preferences

I am someone who came of age in the 1980's. The 1990's ushered in adulthood. So, what does this mean in terms of musical taste? Frankly, I do not look back with much fondness at 80's music. There is definitely stuff I love from the 80's, but in general the synthisizer heavy stuff just doesn't work for me anymore. U2, The Police, Billy Idol, The Go-Go's, R.E.M., Prince, Tom Petty, Springsteen, Van Halen ... these all roll off the tongue with some staying power. I know many of these got a start in the 70's, but I'm speaking of their 80's work in particular. If I'm in the right mood, I can handle a lot of other 80's stuff, but not like I used to.

I'm finding myself much more nostalgic toward the 90's. I listen to it more in the car, on my iPod, etc. than anything else. It seems like this is fresher music to me, even though it's a decade old at a minimum: Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Alanis Morissette, Barenaked Ladies, Cranberries, Dave Matthews, Beck, Cracker, Cake, Foo Fighters, Green Day, Hootie, Jane's Addiction, Oasis, Smashing Pumpkins, Sublime, Sugar Ray, 311.

The 80's aren't even #2. I guess if I were to rank the past 50 years, it would be:


These music periods actually break down to me as:

50's rock -> Beatles on Sullivan -> Disco -> Punk/New Wave -> Nirvana -> Hip Hop pop integration (late 90's) -> Current

Friday, September 11, 2009

Polarization - idiots and hatred

This country has become insanely polarized. I thought it was bad under Reagan/Bush I, took off under Clinton, and got even worse under Bush II. Now, it seems to be at an all-time high.

As a libertarian and generally agreeable kind of person, I've befriended people with just about every point of view. I've been exposed to the general philosophies of most sides. Some I understand a little more than others, but I believe I get the gist of most points of view.

Contrary to the rhetoric, nearly all people I've talked to (that are at least somewhat educated about the issues) are NOT idiots. They're not Nazis, anti-American, racists, homophobes, anti-capitalist, anti-liberty, crusaders, anti-God, etc., etc., etc. They simply may just have different opinions than you. Yes, most of these people have a limited knowledge of the issues they are spewing about (including myself). It's nearly impossible to be well-educated about all of the various issues, but most people have a reasonable amount of intelligence and common sense.

Where people tend to differ is:

1) Base assumptions
2) The people they associate with
3) The information they read, watch, and listen to

Base Assumptions

Believing that government is good/bad or a solution/problem makes a big difference. Government has grown massively over the last century. Viewing this as a good or bad thing has seemed to divide the country at a pace similar to the growth.


We all like being around people that are like us. It's natural. It can be anything from religion to politics to skin color. Homogeny creates a reinforcement of your own thoughts and ways. However, it can limit the thought process. It can create a mob mentality of "we're right" when discussing issues. How can anybody think differently? All of these people around me all agree, so therefore it is valid.


Gathering information is how we reinforce what we think. We look it up, watch a documentary, read a book, watch the news. The only problem is that things like "the news" are not what they used to be. Most forms of information media are now entertainment masquerading as fact. What's even worse is that a lot of "news" now comes in the form of opinion-based TV shows, radio programs, and bloggers. Just like with our peers, we surround ourselves with information sources that are similar to our views.

Just remember that the media is too often trying to entertain, not educate, you. They're looking for market share. Even if the hosts are true to their beliefs, the people employing them are looking for market share and hiring people to entertain. What gets market share? It's things that are enticing to read/listen/watch.

Now people are getting their "facts" from sources that not only sensationalizes and reinforces singular tendencies, but then points to the other people and calls them all kinds of names. People start believing it because the person makes a lot of sense on other things.

Their peers do the same and this infomation is shared among the group. It is resetting some base assumptions and these are being passed to their children.

This is polarized America and it doesn't look like it will get better any time soon.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Medicare does not work - at least not like people think

As part of the current health care debate, one of the frequently used arguments is that Medicare works. People like their Medicare and they're getting treated. That sounds great, right?

Well, where does the money come from? Similar to Social Security, it comes mostly from the payroll taxes of those that are currently working. You won't pay the bulk of your Medicare plan. You've been paying for your parents' Medicare. Your children will pay your Medicare. The only problem is that if things continue, they won't be able to. Healthcare costs are rising too quickly and there won't be enough working people. Both Medicare and Social Security are simply Ponzi schemes. As long as there are enough working people to cover the required taxes, all is well (in terms of coverage and the balance sheet).

Money doesn't grow on trees. When the government provides a service, it isn't free. It's the trap of many social programs. Somebody else pays and you get the benefits.