Rohit's Realm - Politics

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March 14, 2004

Electoral Musings

Everyone who knows me, knows I'm not particularly politically active. I vote when there's an election, keep up with the national/international news, and have my opinions on most of the current issues, but I'm not conspicuously vocal about them. This is for many reasons, probably most important of which is that I think politics (and politicians) suck. It doesn't matter really where they stand on issues, or if they even do—they just suck. I suppose it's a necessary evil, although I am not sure about the necessary part. However, I'm neither qualified nor particularly interested in discussing the value (or lack thereof) of politicians. Instead, I wish to voice an opinion on this year's upcoming presidential election.

June 13, 2004

The O.C. Variant

Over the years, I seem to have acquired a reputation for cynicism, bitterness, and negativity, not undeservedly I suppose, and as most who have met me in person will claim (erroneously, of course), most of it is pretense and posturing. However, what I hope to discuss in this entry is something I feel very strongly about, and should be misconstrued neither as farce nor facetiousness. (As an aside before I begin, let me also note that I have used The O.C. correctly in the title of this entry—it is an entry about the Orange County variant, but I am not from the Orange County, despite what Fox might have you believe.)

November 04, 2004

Better Dead Than Red

Almost two days after the momentous 2004 Presidential Election and its fateful result, I'm still fighting a pervasive sense of disbelief and confusion. What? Are you serious? How could this be?

November 03, 2006

Pave the Roads, Assholes

With the 2006 midterm elections nearing, and the politicos, hacks, wonks, and worthless bloggers with delusions of grandeur of every persuasions all beside themselves to cover the election, I thought I might interject my always unwanted 2 cents. For us Californians lucky enough to live in a state in which our representatives are a foregone conclusion—and thus, our vote inconsequential when compared with, say, some shit hole in Ohio (three cheers for the electoral college!)—this election will really be about the large number of nebulous propositions that are on the ballot. I have not yet had a chance to go through them all, but I'm willing to bet that they are, as usual, mostly futile efforts to do good or worse, help people that will without fail ultimately end in billions of dollars in wasted expenditures and no tangible benefit to society. Thus, allow me to propose a Proposition that goes against the political grain and purports to provide an immediate benefit regardless of one's party affiliation, race, creed, or socioeconomic status. I call it Proposition 0: Pave the Roads, Assholes.

March 19, 2007


Unless you have been living under a rock for the past year—or see Paris Hilton1 as your mentor and role model—the name Barack Obama should certainly ring a bell. Given his compelling story, prolific star power, and seemingly unwavering optimism in the face of overpowering cynicism, he is someone I have followed since his arrival on the national stage in 2004 with the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention. On Saturday, I had the opportunity to see him speak at a rally in Oakland, Calif.

March 22, 2007

American Values Come to San Francisco

Considering the ravaging obsession of Americans of all political persuasions, be they liberal or conservative, with Fox's hit television series, 24, it should come as no surprise that Jack Bauer (played by Kiefer Sutherland) has become to the 21st century what Dirty Harry and Sonny Crockett were to the late-20th century: unconventional, petulant, blunt, and insubordinate to a virtuosic level, thus, embodying the role of ideal American heroes. Though the popularity of all these characters largely stems from their indubitable stance as the bad asses of their respective decade—and the borderline homo-erotic idolization of mal-adjusted adolescent boys (in both body and spirit)—these characters also retain their iconic stature for their characterization of an American value just as fundamental as freedom of speech and freedom fries: vigilante justice.

June 14, 2007

The Cross of Syringes

Hot on the heels of today's announcement in the San Francisco Chronicle that my dearly beloved (or intensely loathed) City of Berkeley is (finally) attempting to do something about the awful menace of transients and cracked-out bums that terrorize its streets, I would like to proudly announce the official release of the San Francisco Platform (Hope for a New Tomorrow) and the candidacy of my roommate, G-Unit (a.k.a. BliNG), for Mayor of San Francisco. For too long, we noble denizens of this great city have chafed under the yoke of soul-crushing inefficiencies and mind-numbing bureaucratic ineptitude. No longer shall we stand by as our enlightened city is overrun by bums, idiots, tourists, hipsters, and junkies! Have faith, ye with jobs and homes, and you shall be rewarded.

June 23, 2007

The Politics of Puerility

As an unapologetically overeducated coast-dwelling lib'rul that is hopelessly—and intentionally—out of touch with middle American values (of sanctimony and hypocrisy), I have often mentioned my great contempt for the majority of (barely literate) voters that, despite reveling in their own incompetence and ignorance much as babies do in their own shit, continue to hold as much sway as the individuals who spend their time educating themselves on the candidates and issues. Despite this overt disdain, by and large, I had up till now dismissed them as merely a nuisance (as does a lot of political science literature), whose random vote, while irritating, would nevertheless be rendered irrelevant when the knowledgeable (few) cast their own votes—much like Wikipedia. However, a column (subscription required) in this week's Economist will likely prove to be disconcerting for those who choose to still believe that the idiots amongst us can be appeased (with US Weeklies and American Idol). I mean, just look what happened to Chamberlain and Daladier in Munich.

June 27, 2007

Paradigm Shifts, Family Jewels, and Schrödinger's Cat

Though I have previously argued that a Heisenberg-esque Uncertainty Principle exist[s] in social interactions as much as it does in quantum mechanics, two recent (and unrelated) news stories have really driven home (for me, at least) the challenges we face, both as individuals and as a society, in attempting to make sense of contemporary developments. While this could be said about developments (or advancements, as the case may be) in any field of academic inquiry, be it art, science, or economics, the two disciplines I will focus on are (American) history and (molecular) biology, specifically the recent release of the so-called family jewels by the C.I.A. and recent developments in understanding the role of RNA, as outlined last week in the Economist (registration and subscription required, respectively).

August 10, 2007

A Tinge of Orange

For those that do not know me outside of my manifestation of blogger—and cynic extraordinaire—it might seem natural to assume that since I attended the University of California, Berkeley (Go Bears!), an institution long associated with dirty, unkempt, high-as-a-kite hippies, pinko Commies, God-less lib'ruls, and any number of social ails imported directly from France, that my personal politics likely conform part and parcel with that of a stereotypical Berkeley graduate. And while I certainly will not deny that I am generally receptive to progressive social causes, economic issues are an entirely different story. In that realm, I differ quite significantly from many of my comrades at Berkeley, as I am guided not by the four years I spent at Cal, but by the 12 or so years I spent behind the infamous Orange Curtain, i.e., in Orange County, Calif.

August 22, 2007

Rohit Reviews: The Audacity of Hope

I picked up a copy of The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama in February 2007, about six months after it had been released. Prior to even opening the book, however, I was besieged by the breathless reactions of those around me: the best book ever; or shameless propaganda announcing his bid for presidency. It seemed that despite all his efforts to temper partisan hysteria—to see the proverbial other side—Senator Obama's own undertaking had become part of that vitriolic game of tit-for-tat, good versus evil, black versus white, that necessarily seems to consume national politics in the U.S., now more than ever in recent memory. My own response to this book is dramatically less frantic.

November 12, 2007

Norman Hsu, Real American Hero

For those readers (sadly!) not encumbered by the addiction I unabashedly described 18 months ago as news junkie-dom, Norman Hsu might not yet be a household name, and his truly bizarre rise and fall in the world of fashion and politics not yet the subject of parlor conversation. More's the pity; he is quickly becoming my hero and role model. [...]

November 26, 2007

Suffer the Subprimers

For all but the most blissfully unaware of readers, the current brouhaha in the financial markets stemming largely from the continuing collapse of the subprime mortgage market should not be news. Markets first seized up this summer following stagnating house prices across the country and higher than expected defaults. Since then, much blood has been let: several companies that were major originators of such mortgages have gone belly up; thousands of jobs have been (or are soon to be) cut; and in the last month or so, two CEOs of large (investment) banks (Stan O'Neal, Merrill Lynch; and Charles Prince, Citigroup) have been pushed out amidst historical writedowns associated with subprime losses.

With shit hitting the fan so fast and so hard, it seems nothing—perhaps not even the U.S. economy at large—will come out unsullied. As with any mess of this proportion, our faithful representatives in Washington D.C. have only recently arrived upon the scene, mostly to point fingers at one other ex post facto, or, in the alternative, at evil-doers of one sort or another. And almost without fail, their solution has been to punish corporations that made such loans, and force those who hold the debt now to alleviate the stress on homeowners. An article in today's Wall Street Journal highlights pressure exerted upon one such company (Citi) to help out borrowers facing large and untenable interest rate resets, and thus, a rather significant risk of losing their homes. For some reason, very few people seem to be concentrating on the misdeeds of the borrowers rather than those who gave them the money; at the risk of sounding like the unsympathetic bastard that I likely am, I will take up this position that no one seems willing to defend. [...]

February 05, 2008

Vote or Die

As I sit here in my darkened 25th-floor apartment, staring blankly out at a completely frozen Lake Michigan, and anxiously awaiting the results of perhaps the most important Super Tuesday in my lifetime, I cannot help but be struck by the gross absurdity of the voting ritual that we idolize as the dearest representation of our collective freedom. It is a paradox I have puzzled over for years, never arriving upon a satisfactory answer: why do people, myself included, continue to partake in this farce that idealistic morons would have us believe is our civic duty? Put a different way—a way that is more suitable for the Realm—what incentive does any one have to ever vote? And absent any such incentive, why do people expend resources to do so anyway?

February 16, 2008

Barack on Sorting Algorithms

I am normally not a huge fan of posting videos (other than those produced over at 1524, of course), but for all the incorrigible (computer) nerds out there, the follow clip from Barack Obama's interview with Google CEO Dr. Eric Schmidt is awesome:

July 29, 2008

The Folly of Intellectual Abstinence

As it has been some time since I last expressed disillusionment with anything but my own woeful inadequacy, I thought I might take the opportunity to disabuse cherished readers of the notion that I have abandoned the contempt in which I hold most of society to pursue hating myself full time. Nothing could be further from the truth, and today, I turn to a topic that never fails to dole out soul-crushing disillusionment to any who seek it: politics. Tomorrow's Times (brought to me today by the magic of the internets) features an interesting article on Senator (and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee) Obama's twelve years as a professor at The University of Chicago Law School, and I highly recommend a read. While the piece covers a lot of ground, I would like to focus on one point in particular that is brought to the forefront: Obama never published a single piece of scholarly work while a faculty member at Chicago. My first thoughts: seriously? How is that possible?

October 16, 2008

Rohit the Plumber

For those of you who, like me, have been avidly following the 2008 presidential campaign since it began nearly two years ago, the next three weeks are likely to be insufferable. In less than a month, the dirty, unwashed, ignorant, despicable masses will emerge from their collective television-induced stupor for, perforce, a grand total of five minutes to select the most powerful person in the world in the most important election in a generation. Needless to say, my cynicism has been running amok these days—what shred of credibility said despicable masses might have had with me was eviscerated by the open arms with which the consummately unimpressive (and quite possibly corrupt) hitherto unknown Governor of Alaska was greeted. And while I have generally tended to eschew explicit political affiliations—in life in general and on the venerable Realm in particular—I feel compelled to break my own rules today.

November 04, 2008

Electoral Efficiency

Election Day 2008 is finally upon us, and after forty-five frustrating minutes waiting in line at my polling place, from 6:30–7:15 a.m., I can now attest to having fulfilled my civic duty. Since it is almost a near certainty that my vote will not matter in the least,1 I thought I might post on something other than my political persuasion (as I have in years past). Thus, rather than ranting about stupidity of the despicable masses, I will instead discuss the grossly inefficient process we like to follow to gather the worthless opinion of said masses, and how we might improve our—and their—sorry lot. And for those cynical readers out there, I will have you know that disenfranchising large swaths of the population is only part of my brilliant solution.

May 19, 2009

Congress Hates Me (and the Poor)

Damn. It has been a long time since I last posted. This has been a rough nine months (more on this later) for this blog, but as the school year winds down, I thought I would ease back into writing, with the goal of resuming my normal productivity levels soon. While the meaninglessness of life is certainly a topic to which I will return, I thought that today I would focus on something a little less cerebral: credit-card legislation making its way through Congress this month.

September 13, 2010

The Decentralization Epidemic

In a previous entry penned some three years ago, I discussed paradigm shifts (in molecular biology and elsewhere) and more generally our inability to properly comprehend contemporary events for which we are present with the same analytical rigor we are able to apply to the past. (Schrödinger's Cat was also mentioned, but that's mostly because quantum mechanics is awesome.) In this post, I will cover a new paradigm shift of sorts that seems to be all the rage in fields as disparate as politics and computer science: decentralization.

At the outset, two articles appearing in the August 14th issue of The Economist must be considered. (And yes, I am a couple weeks behind due to the twin malaises of exhausting travel and overwhelming laziness, but bear with me.) The first is an article on latest developments in artificial intelligence and the second is one on the transformation of Britain underway since the Conservative–Liberal Democrat coalition took power. So, what does artificial intelligence based on hive algorithms and the devolution of power from 10 Downing St have in common? Everything, really. Allow me to explain.

December 18, 2010

On the Repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell

As long time readers know well, my forays into the teeming cesspool that is politics have been few and far in between in the nearly ten years that I have maintained a web presence. And for good reason too: the contempt in which I hold most, if not all, of the über clowns in politics—and they are, by the way, all über clowns by definition for pursuing that ludicrous profession—is usually one I reserve only for loathing myself. Even if I wasn't an all consumed misanthrope to begin with, I am confident one glance at the morning newspaper's reports of the idiotic misadventures of federal, state, and local politicians would be sufficient to raise an ire that knew no bounds.

So, with that disclaimer in place, it was with pleasant surprise that I took in today's news that the esteemed ladies and gentlemen in the United States Senate finally decided to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell, the Clinton-era policy that banned gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military.