Zero-Sum Politics

Liberals see “rights” as something of a public good (like national defense or a scenic view), whose consumption by one individual doesn’t diminish consumption by others. In fact, they believe that all Americans are thereby made better off.

In the conservative version of identity politics, however, everything’s a zero-sum game: Freedom from discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion or other characteristics doesn’t unleash greater human potential to the benefit of all. Instead, it’s a step backward for everyone else, part of the never-ending war of all against all. Your gain is necessarily my loss.

In a world where one sees others gaining with a zero-sum game view, one should have fear for oneself, family, and friends. When the government encourages certain behaviors, they are picking winners and losers. Fear of being the loser becomes a real thing.

Whereas, with the non-zero-sum point of view, when the government encourages certain behaviors, it lifts up the lowest to improve the environment for everyone.

Closing In On an Earth-Sized Planet

Now Kepler has found the much-anticipated first rocky, Earth-sized exoplanet. It did it by staring for months on end at the same 150,000 stars in the constellation Cygnus. Kepler’s 1-meter-diameter telescope, hooked up to a sensitive light-measuring instrument, is capable of detecting the dimming of a star as a planet orbits in front of it—even if the star dims by only 0.01%. That’s like detecting the dimming of 10,000 light bulbs when one burns out, noted Kepler deputy science team leader Natalie Batalha of NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. (Source)

Maybe we need to find one sooner rather than later?

“As I look out the window, I see a very beautiful planet that seems very inviting and peaceful. Unfortunately, it is not…. These days, we are constantly reminded of the unspeakable acts of violence and damage we can inflict upon one another, not just with our actions, but also with our irresponsible words…. We’re better than this. We must do better.” Scott Kelly, Commander of the International Space Station and brother-in-law of of Gabrielle Gilfords

We Remember

Today is the day many Americans will signal (any nonverbal action or gesture that encodes a message) their nationalism by displaying pictures of the World Trade Center, the United State flag, NYFD logos, or yellow ribbons. Given the current climate, such signalling probably is wise as anyone like me who fails to appropriately signal can be viewed as a traitor. Unwilling to explicitly state hate and needing to show solidarity with those who do, people will opt for the subtle support.

I remember feeling sad for families who lost loved ones.

I remember hoping few of those who witnessed the events had sufficient emotional support and would avoid suffering Post Traumtic Stress Disorder.

I remember people writing or sayings the only terrorists are Muslims. They were completely oblivious that Timothy McVeigh was executed 3 months to the day earlier for committing the most recent terrorist bombing on United States soil.

Of course, I blogged about 9/11.

Anger, hate, and fear are destructive emotions. Nothing good comes from them. Good comes from deciding to go beyond them. Until then the terrorists really have won.

Nationalism

Soccer clubs are tied to a neighborhood or city. Doing well inspires local pride. National teams expand the base of supporters.

German Flag
German Flag

Beirut-born Ibrahim (or Youssef) Bassal displayed a 70′ x 20′ German flag to show his family’s solidarity during the World Cup where millions of smaller flags are everywhere. Only people keep vandalizing the flags because they brings up painful memories. It speaks volumes about the tension over national pride when people resort to vigilantism over something like a flag. Also, there is something ironic about people stealing a flag because to them it represents the Fourth Reich from someone who would be a victim if true.

“This time we’re not going to let them attack it. We’re going to guard our flag. We are sleeping here in the shop and waiting for Saturday. We’re not going to let the left-wingers destroy us — or the right-wingers. We live here. Our kids are born here. We want them to keep living here,” Bassal says.

Personally, I think the anti-nationalists forget their history. Of the many, many opportunities for Adolf Hitler to watch soccer, he only attended one and left early from it because Germany was losing to Norway. Since Hitler disliked football, this national pride in something he disliked should be a good thing.

One more thing… Long before Jackie Robinson integrated baseball, South American countries found black players could be very skilled and promoted integration. Hitler would oppose the team because of the racial diversity of the German team like Aogo, Cacau, Boeteng. Therefore, a win by the German national soccer team is a win against Hitler.
🙂