Thursday, November 30, 2006

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

All things must pass


February 25, 1943 – November 29, 2001

Monday, November 27, 2006

Does money buy happiness? (click)

Interesting article. Here's an excerpt:

Considerable evidence suggests that if we use an increase in our incomes, as many of us do, simply to buy bigger houses and more expensive cars, then we do not end up any happier than before. But if we use an increase in our incomes to buy more of certain inconspicuous goods – such as freedom from a long commute or a stressful job – then the evidence paints a very different picture. The less we spend on conspicuous consumption goods, the better we can afford to alleviate congestion; and the more time we can devote to family and friends, to exercise, sleep, travel, and other restorative activities. On the best available evidence, reallocating our time and money in these and similar ways would result in healthier, longer– and happier–lives.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

We have a winner



So if you see this pic can you tell what it is??

It's the U2 stage configuration for the stadium shows.

Congrats to John K of Boston for his I.D. Your DVD is in the mail...

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Contest

Do you know what this is?



The first person to post the correct answer gets a free DVD of An Inconvenient Truth.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Too close for comfort (click on title)

Stephanie Coontz, a history and family studies professor at Evergreen College in Washington, wrote a very interesting op-ed piece in the NYTimes a few days back. Now that the census bureau has published figures about the decreasing percentage of "married" households, apparently people are once more freaking out about the institution of marriage.

As the article points out, our "tradition" of modern marriage has a very short history, and is obviously very troubled. And we all know people who completely focus on their marriage, and then when it goes south they have absolutely no contacts or close friends and no idea how to build a full, well-rounded, community-oriented life. We are so brainwashed about marriage and relationships - and seriously, it's just one path. What a breath of fresh air to read this article.

Almost all marriages fail even if they don't end in divorce, and this has been true for many years. What the article doesn't mention is that not only are married households the minority, but married households with children number less than 20%, yet from all we see in the media about the most important thing being a relationship and family you would think it was 98%.

The truth is that most people are just not cut out for this type of marriage - making it the be-all and end-all to our emotional lives. I know I wasn't. And even if you think you love non-stop intimacy, if one bases one's emotional health or self esteem on this relationship, or defines their happiness based on inherently fragile ties with one other person, then what happens if/when it goes south, or you never marry?

The only time I feel really myself and content is when I'm involved with circles of friends, some family, engaged with work, volunteering, and just dating casually. And I tried - over and over - including being married twice. Not everyone is the same, and I get really tired of being pressured into acting and wanting the same as everyone else.

Less independent-minded individuals are made to feel sad, or less somehow, when they are constantly bludgeoned with the societal stereotype about wanting to be married. It's too bad, b/c marriage is the hardest, most frustrating thing most people have to go through in their adult lives, even if it begins well and has many good moments - still super hard. People shouldn't feel bad about themselves b/c they won't settle or just don't want somebody living in the house with them for the rest of their lives, or worse yet, made to feel bad b/c they haven't met someone they care enough about to take the biggest risk ever. Like that's their fault! Not wearing the right makeup now? Not skinny enough? There are entire industries focused around this perception, that there is one path, and you better follow these rules and get on it or you'll be miserable. Guess what? You fall for all this marketing and you'll be miserable either way.

And pressure to have kids when the planet is already over-populated beyond any sustainable point, no matter how generous the markers? Don't get me started.

Most people certainly won't let people bully or brainwash them into joining other social institutions they don't feel an affinity for. It's a weird thing.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Local B.S.

It only takes a few propositions to remind us how entirely red this state is. And not the kind of RED that is going donate money to fight poverty and AIDS in Africa.

While I'm sure many people were relieved that Prop 107, "Protect Marriage Arizona" did not pass, the margin was so narrow (15,000 in this county) that you know you are surrounded by people who not only hate gay people, but they are also too stupid to realize that this proposition would have negated domestic partnerships, affecting elders and others. Gay marriage is already illegal here. And if you need a proposition to protect a bedrock institution, perhaps you should realize that this institution is on its way out.

Sure, we elected a Democratic governor with 65% of the votes. We also passed 4 (count 'em - FOUR) propositions that in one way or another further punish illegal immigrants for being here just because all of us immigrants got here first and stole everything from the natives. They sure don't want that happening again.

OK, More than 65 percent of the voters approved a minimum-wage hike. About 62 percent of us approved a ban on small cages for pigs and calves. (SHOCKING!!!) But they (and I mean they) also voted an $.80 hike on the cigarette tax to fund an early childhood program that claims to be able to provide state-wide, regionally based program services for at-risk preschoolers for 10% administrative costs. This is just wrong on so many levels that it is worth a post by itself. For now, let me say that the government, any locale at any time, cannot provide anything for less than 37% admin costs - it's just not possible for them. And the only reason that cigarettes should be further taxed for preschool programs is if the preschoolers are smoking.

And perhaps the voters should have paid attention to the fact that if they ban smoking everywhere and raise the tax on each pack by almost 50%, that is not going to provide a lot of funds for their program. And why cigarettes? The so-called sin tax? How about taxing SUV's or other items that are actually increasing the rate of global warming, or a tax on beef for helping destroy the rainforest to similar effect (if you don't know what I mean you need to go read some stuff), or... and I know y'all think I've totally lost it - an additional tax on gasoline? You wanna get moral about it? There are many many non-smokers carting around 20 lb preschoolers in 3-ton SUV's - they need to pay for their own life choices.

Think it through, people.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Voting Sucks

The voting process is ridiculous. It's already proven to be wrought with fraud (see GAO Voter Fraud Report if you think I'm exaggerating), and ways of turning voters away or just eliminating their vote altogether are getting more sophisticated and numerous every election. Voter turnout falls when it's raining, or even when it's cloudy. The lines get longer (well, if you're in a certain kind of neighborhood) and don't even get me started on the people who stand out front thinking that you're undecided and if they just get in your face the right way you'll vote for their [candidate] [proposition] [new hairstyle].

It took me 4 times longer to drive the extra 5 blocks past home to the polling place than it did to vote - 7 stoplight waits? Come on. It was either that or get up at 5 and stand in the cold and the dark. And I'm pretty motivated - if I'm not, moveon.org will keep reminding me that I need to be, or I'm a p.c. criminal. Who makes the computer-less feel guilty? Did you know that more people vote on any one American Idol show than in any national election EVER? That's because A. it's easy and B. they're comfortable with the process. Not to mention that they actually feel like they have a stake in something, that their vote will be counted.

This year there was a huge focus on producing ID's. The latest trick in the disenfranchisement franchise is punishing the transient, the car-less, or the simply disorganized for not having proper ID with them. Who are the transient and car-less? Yup. Poorer people who overwhelmingly vote Democrat.

Way before Diebolt guaranteed the Bush election and delivered, people couldn't even get the hang of paper ballots. Can you imagine deciding something REALLY important, like the new American Idol for example, by driving somewhere you may never have been, in the dark, waiting in line, punching holes in paper, and then having the 95-year old volunteers count them up by hand (when it takes them 5 whole minutes to find your name in an alphabetized column) while you rush home to watch the results on TV?

Sure, I can get an absentee ballot and mail it in, but I am not likely to find the ballot, or do it in time, or have a stamp (see above: disorganized). And if ID's are so important, than why don't you need one to mail something? If I am driving to a polling place through traffic, parking and walking a mile, waiting in line, and having the voting process explained to me by someone who thinks Jon Stewart is a 16th century philosopher, why would you need my ID? WHO ELSE IS GONNA DO THIS FOR ME?

But dude, I am almost ALWAYS near a computer. Sure, I may not remember my PIN, but if you compliment me by letting me vote the way I feel most comfortable, I will show up every time, and vote in every single election. I know this is scary for you, what with all the accountability and everything, but if the banks trust online transactions, you should too.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Favorite flicks in October

Lucky enough to see these before wide release:

Babel
Stranger than Fiction

both, excellent

The Proposition


Ick:

Beowulf and Grendel (Toronto version) - cannot say enough bad things about this movie, but Stellan Skarsgaard was really really good as King Hrothgar
The Puffy Chair (sundance liked it why?)
The King (Gael Garcia Bernal has been cloned and he and his double are in 60 movies this year alone)

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Road

I have a thing for end-of-the-world novels and films. Part of it is a hangover from studying sociology, seeing how the author sets up communities or relationships after whatever disaster has caused the end of the world as we know it. Another part is just that it's a stretch to try to imagine letting go of everyday comforts, losing all your friends and family, seeing if you have it in you to operate on a survival level.

There are many lame stories, not thought through well or that rely on happy endings. But there are great ones - Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood, On the Beach by Nevil Shute, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, by Philip K Dick (which became Blade Runner).

But I have never read one as disturbing, as haunting, and finally as devastating as The Road by Cormac McCarthy. You can almost feel the physicality of the disaster, and the emotional and spiritual repercussions just rip through you every few pages. Despite the horror though, and there is plenty, I could not put it down. There is no way to predict what will happen, either on the next page, or at the end. And the writing - it's incredibly spare, but the imagery is abundant.

Stephen Schenkenberg (see blog on right) wrote me just as I was writing this, here is part of his reaction from his blog:

"Never before have I been this devastated by a book. I felt gutted as I read it. If you desire art that affects you physically, apocalyptic visions described with crushing beauty and masterful economy, I know of no other book to point you to."

The story centers around a man and his boy making their way south years after an apocalyptic event which is not described in detail. Here is an excerpt:

"In those first years the roads were peopled with refugees shrouded up in their clothing. Wearing masks and goggles, sitting in their rags by the side of the road like ruined aviators. Their barrows heaped with shoddy. Towing wagons or carts. Their eyes bright in their skulls. Creedless shells of men tottering down the causeways like migrants in a feverland. The frailty of everything revealed at last. Old and troubling issues resolved into nothingness and night. The last instance of a thing takes the class with it. Turns out the light and is gone. Look around you. Ever is a long time. But the boy knew what he knew. That ever is no time at all."

Ever is no time at all.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Let's get rid of the bastards

Click on this link to read the NY Times Sunday editorial about the Republicans' behavior over the last two years and why this election is so crucial for the country's, and even the planet's, future. What a Difference Two Years Have Made

Saturday, November 04, 2006