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New Year's Resolutions.. and other thoughts
South Park Blue Suit
I only managed to accomplish 1 resolution from last year (acquiring an original by Sinc), but, what the hell, I'll give the whole resolution thing another shot.

1) Do a bunch of fun stuff that doesn't cost too much money
2) Finish 2003 at most $10K behind my retirement goal ($143K in non 401K, $30K in my 401K)
3) Take my mom somewhere nice for a week at the end of the year to even up the score with my dad (Hawaii?)
4) Visit my nephew up in Canada at least every other month
5) Maybe... finish up the MBA at CMU early in December or finish the MBA at the top of my class (May)

I've definitely found the past year to be personally pretty darn good. I hope for the same happens next year.

Recently, I've started on a news kick - paying attention to both local news and national news.

Local news keeps on reinforcing how fucked up of a city I'm in (headlines from this week included cops attacking a 70 year old and filing trumped up charges against him, kids brutally beating somebody to death for saying disparaging things about the steelers, cops shooting an unarmed 12 year old, cops arresting people and killing them in their custody, etc...).

Yes, Pittsburgh is a large city, but the amount of violence, bloodshed, and loss of life is still orders of magnitude worse that I was exposed to growing up in my town of 500,000 in Canada - even per capita.

America's key problem isn't that it fails to recognize the violence, but instead that it fails to work at actively making any of this violence so socially unacceptable that people are reluctant to engage in it. If the media would devote as much time expressing their extreme disgust with each and every party who engages in inappropriate violent crimes as it does with reporting those crimes, there wouldn't be as much to report on.

This country also needs to recognize that certain freedoms are doing it much more damage than good (including the massive propagation of guns that make it much easier to engage in violent activity that results in the end of life). It isn't too hard to look at the violent crime rates in other nations to understand the effect on this country of having weapons so highly available.

The legal world will always struggle with finding the right balance between protecting personal rights and engaging in benefit-cost analyses, but I believe it errs too frequently on the side of personal freedoms for the sake of philosophical consistency. It actively fails to protect many necessary civil rights (by failing to punish legal authorities for arbitrary detention and arrest, Rodney King events, etc..) while steadfastly holding to freedoms that are detrimental to society as a whole (right to own guns, regardless of their power, and the necessity of the owner to bear them).

The more I look at the national news, the more I become disgusted with our federal government and their failure to recognize the root causes of social problems in society and their steadfast belief that promoting more religion is the best way to alleviate those problems.

I think the blatant failure of religion touting politicians to recognize that no religion can answer the basic question "what made god?" just reinforces that these aren't the sort of people we want diagnosing more important problems like "why do people become violent, commit crimes, and do drugs?" and coming up with solutions. Solving these problems requires some pretty hard thinking that these types just aren't cut out to do.

I'm a bit happier with the government's stance on education (making it more results oriented at the primary levels) but it still gets a failing grade on giving people economic incentives to attend university and learn how to make the sorts of technological contributions that can lead to sustainable economic growth. Much of the growth over the past 10 years came from people learning how build systems to improve the most fundamental elements of business (making stuff cheaper, better, and more efficiently). Without a substantial % of the population going on to higher education that teaches these skills, there won't be sustainable economic growth.

Long term, I think the post-retirement plan is to head abroad to a nation that makes a bit more sense (Canada, Australia, Ireland, and Germany).

Wow... this post evolved pretty far... back to the new years thing...

I'm off work until Monday so I need to come up with something fun to do between now and then. The Steeler game Sunday limits my mobility, but I'm still tempted to take another big 5 day trip (ala the New York, Boston, Montreal, Toronto trip last year over Christmas). I just need to find a friend to go on the trip with, and get back by Sunday at 1PM.

Oh well, Happy New Year to all (and to all a good night).