During the 30 minutes or so after boarding a plane and when you are free to use approved electronic devices, you can get a little reading done. On my last couple trips I had a stack of somewhat dated Newsweek magazines to pore through. Fortunately, there were several good articles, which I now pass along for your consideration (which I type on my computer during the period I am free to use approved electronic devices with the wireless features disabled). First a couple articles on the topic that has been on everyone's mind now that the Republicans are no longer "responsible" for the growing debt: Fareed Zakaria's Defusing the Debt Bomb talks about several concrete measures that can be taken to reduce the debt and The Real Greek Tragedy talks about why it is important to do that. Bringing a dose of reality to the debt issues is We the Problem which talks about why the US Congress will not enact any of the needed changes (he only gets it half right by blaming the people, lobbyists are part of the equation too). Shifting topics to the "partisan gridlock" in Washington DC, Ezra Klein's Stay Out Of It, Mr. President discusses how the mere act of the President, any President, supporting some legislative agenda tees it up for the opposition party to, well, oppose it. This opposition occurs even when there is not much substantive difference between the two parties' stances on the issue or when significant proposals of the opposition party have been included in the bill (giving credence to Mr. Klein's thesis is the fact that Republicans no longer support their proposals from the 1993 health care debate that are in the current bill). The actual distance between Republicans and Democrats on issues is discussed in How the GOP Sees It. Finally, Google’s Orwell Moment discusses their flubbed roll out of Google Buzz and why things like that should concern you. I like the Newsweek article because it actually uses Orwell's name in an appropriate reference to 1984. Most references to 1984 use terms like "Big Brother" in a pejorative way, e.g., "another example of Big Brother watching you." But what is most powerful about 1984 is not that people saw the hyper-surveilling, truth-manipulating government as an intrusive presence in their life, but as a comforting one. The vast majority of people saw the government as something that brought benefits (peace and stability) and were more than happy to trade some small, meaningless rights for these benefits. What rights are you willing to trade for the benefits of social networking?