Friday, December 23, 2011

Employment


Alright. On my way to more job stuff. As I was ranting about issues of employment last night, (while ruining whatever semblance of holiday spirit my family could have held on to) I thought it would be prudent to write a quick sortie of an entry regarding issues of employment. I'll make it succinct, efficient, concise, and quick and to the point (which is what concise might mean, so I wrote the same thing twice just really annoyingly).

To whom ever came up with the idea of a cover letter, I send you a mighty and emotional punch to the face. How dare you. They are really annoying to write. I don't think people read them that much for how much effort you actually exert into writing them. They're just terrible.

My commentary might say that especially, in our troubled economic times, employers and H.R. people (H.R. stands for human rage as that is what one must feel like as they involve themselves in such a department), please be kind. Be thoughtful about the requirements you set up for individuals hoping to be employed  by you. When you ask a question that makes one feel like they have to radically change a cover letter, that requires a lot of work sometimes and hinders ones life progress. People need jobs in our society generally, to live.

Please take this consideration especially when you have an automatic reply upon sent in application stating "Due to the high volume of applicants, we might not be able to get back to you...". Obviously you want to have some process that gives you relevant information of all the people you'd want to have at an interview, but don't be tricky. When there is a 1 in 50 chance at most that I might get  hired for your position, maybe fairly assume that for an individual to potentially get employed I need to apply to 50 jobs. If it takes 3 hours to get all my crap together to apply to you versus 1 hour, well, you can do that, but it's not nice. Don't be a jerk.

Also, if you have your own specific application, I'm sure that's neat for you. However, when it asks you to fill out mostly the same information that's already on your resume that one struggled ever so mightily to ensure the proper level of formatting, do realize that it makes one potentially want to place a hex on your institution. Again, in society, one likes to be able to pay their rent and meet their basic needs. Please think best about how you can get your needed information while not creating barriers to employment when there are already so many right now.

I don't know how it should be done. I am no expert in this crap and why would anyone want to be? Alright this is becoming somewhat too scathing. Apologies.

Then there is the interview. Clearly, as semi-Bostonian coming of age in the 90's, this clip below exemplified the most important techniques in nailing the interview:


Even more so then the crap I am ranting about, we have a whole issues with the CORI process which I will slightly begin to dive into when I'm back from doing my H.R. stuff. This refers to the Criminal Offense Record Investigation that employers do.

Huzzah

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Defeating Winter

Who Doesn't Want to Punch this Guy in the Face?

Winter is upon as I believe it's the month of December. Despite our freak 50 - 60 degree days, things will get cold as long we have some semblance of a regular climate  which I begin to think we kind of do in some nature. I thought it would be important to document my personal journey in trying to withstand the awful scourge of this dark and cold season, which has plagued New England at least since the 1920's. I'd also like to offer some general tips on how to keep your bodies, spirits, vitality and bodily fluids warm and energetic during such a period of terror.

Here are some hearty tips for the upcoming months. You'll be thanking me too when you're lacking in Scurvy and Dysentary. 

Winterize your House Physically and Emotionally 

Much like the zombie films in which lone survivors of humans must barricade the doors and windows to prevent the living dead from entering upon their homes, you too much barricade your house from the evil tendrils of the winter air.

-Seal up the windows with that plastic stuff real taught. Don't forget  the blow dryer to melt the double sided tape. 
-Use that weather stripping maybe.
-Put foam underneath major gaps in the doors and such. 
-You can clean your gutters as apparently this does something.
-Carpet your barren floors.
-Keep doors closed when leaving the house and leaving the heat on to some effect.
-Let light in during the day and trap it during the night time when it might otherwise leave  with SHADES!

If done right, you will be gloating in the opulence of your lessened utility bill as you imagine fat, dense  and racist molecules of cold air retreating at the might of your reinforced abode. 

Cook heartily, spicily and slowly I do say
Cooking a mighty pot roast or a chicken stir fry that is basically cooked for you while you carry about your business is an unparalleled boon on your chilled and darkened soul. Just drop the stuff in, put it on low or high depending on the meal, and it's as if magical spirits have prepared you a luscious feast upon your return. You'll definitely want to check out meals such as turkey chili. Making things as spicy as possible does even more to reinvigorate the spirits and heaten you up psychologically. The burning tells you your alive and also releases endorphins (your bodies natural pain killer) which gives you an added bounce to your existence.




Find Different forms of Exercise as one may do
The hateful cold of winter on everything warm, light and livable leaves you little opportunity to go for that jog you intend to go on after work. You can run outside in the dark with some extra layers but as we all know, the darkness gets scary. You'll have to contend with evil spirits and vicious fauna. No worries perchance. There are ways to keep your energies up somewhat creatively...


My boy Flynn from college recommend the P90X workout. Now just a little warning about Flynn: he's very talented, intelligent, affable, good humored and vivacious; so much so that we all are 1000% sure he's actually the Anti-Christ and we don't want to be around him (would you want to spend time with the anti-christ?). So he recommends P90X but would you want to do something the Anti-Christ is also doing? Hmm...

 Regardless, there are lots of other great video like workouts you can do with the space of a mere rug and maybe some weights. I also enjoy shoveling when I give it some time. If you want to feel like you're really defeating winter, what better way then to conquer the hordes of snow it bestows upon your driveway or street? Shoveling can be great exercise and I'd sometimes just shovel my street for fun, and for my conquerment of the elements. Just be careful that the crafty season does not pull out your back!!!

There are obviously gyms and then there are gyms that aren't terrible in nature like this one!!! 

Ensuring Winter doesn't get to Uppity Emotionally Speaking
This is a general tip that you New Englanders and fellow defeaters of winter might not know of. I find it very important, especially in the midst of a cold and weary day to verbally put winter in it's place. During my walk home from the T, I find it utterly crucial to "swear real good" at the vile climate and threaten it in different ways. I need to remind winter that if it even begins to to touch my sh*t, "I'll rip out it's icy gullet". This always keeps me feeling calmer knowing that winter is in check and I believe that if we collectively fend off winter in such a way as a city, it's powers will greatly weaken.

But yes, if you have a bad day, blame winter knowing that it's always meddling and give it a good bout of verbal abuse as you return home to your loved  ones.

Dormantation
It's in the nature of every winter creature to become more dormant during such of death. Winter birds spend less time out of their nests and squirrels spend time feasting upon the mighty bounty of acorns. Feel free to know that the climate not only makes it fine to be more sedentary,  but it might also necessitate this. So rather then going to out to all those clubs on the weekend, curl up with loved ones gently watching a wonderful cinematic film, playing a delightful board game, or continuing your chronicle into the world of The Wire while of course making graphic organizers to allow you to follow the plot threads and character development. 

This dormantation can allow you the needed rest to trudge through the misery the coming day. Be thoughtful about your moves much outside!

Watch Out for Winter's Poison Air!!!
After following the tips of sealing your home off from the outside cold and remaining more dormant, winter can play one of it's miserly moves by causing you to remain in such an un-ventilated house. It is thus vital that you ventilate your rooms for both your physical and emotional health. I can suggest two good methods, either by procuring a mighty humidifier or by developing your green thumb and planting and growing a foray of plants in your house thus infusing your home with the nature that you are subsequently robbed of. 


Plants Can Be a Useful Ally in the Battle Against Winter

These plants will release moisture through the air and can act as natural filters. I would suggest planting as many indoor house plants as soon as possible really. These plants not only can help your air but also make you happy in having another being present that meets the conditions for life. As you hydrate your plants, do remember to quench your own thirst with the practice of hydration! Winter's cold likes to fool you in drinking less water, but how can you begin to spit on February's army of snowmen if you have no liquid substrate in supply!?

Turning Your Sleeping Quarters into an Oasis of Light, Life and Hope
Improving the light conditions in your room is also important during the dark months which reminds  you sometimes of how Egypt felt during the time of the 10 plagues. Such Pestilence!!! A bright light can be acquired to give you that bounce in the morning needed to withstand January's onslaught. These lights aren't too expensive and you can start your morning reading your hearty news while eating your sturdy breakfast and having a light give you some of your needed strength for 30 minutes. This goes great with the plants I believe as they benefit from potential added ability to photosynthesize!!!

Definitely Correlated

Enjoying the Pretty of Nature
Though made exponentially more difficult, one can still venture forth into the outdoors and see some remaining survivors amongst the frigid holocaust. Upon entering into the world of nature during such a time, you might ask yourself, "What happened to the crickets, why do they chirp no more?". It's cause they're dead. "What about the buzzing of the bees?". They're dead too. "Why no butterflies gracefully flying?". DEAD or actually migrated to Mexico. "Why not even the gentle green leaves." Those green leaves are dead for good! Everythings dead.

However, everything is not dead, yet... The calm and serenityness of a winter evergreen forest can provide both hope and inspiration for us meager mortals. A hearty pine leaf lives on. Photography can still be an enjoyable endeavor most certainly, at the very least to document all the crimes against humanity winter commits. But yes do indeed, while dawning the finest down jackets, gloves and of course wool hats, go out and witness the beauty and calm that can still be present in a climate of destruction. 


Viewing a kind and gentle tree of pine can remind us that we too can survive winter

Coming Together
It is unfortunate that winter can cause us to forget about all the friendships forged during better times. However, winter is a time more then ever, where we need to come together, to enjoy and share the humanity, life and warmth that is so barren. It is a time where we need our joint energies to shovel out our snow drenched cities, towns and hamlets; to help our enterprises remain functional; to remind one another that although death is among us, we can still stand! Be ever so aware that winter will make you want to isolate yourself and to renig on your social contracts. Stand strong against such poisoned inclinations and have your neighbor over for a game of boggle, or check out a band at local nearby pub, or do carry on in watching the richness of the Wire but with friends who also might need to view such a series. Stand together or winter will surely win. 


demotivational poster OLD MAN WINTER



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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Ghost Hunting


People seemed to enjoy my last whimsical entry about my pet rodent. Well mostly my mom. Others mentioned that perhaps instead of ranting about society and politics like I'm god's gift to this green Earth, that I could have more funny entries that were personal. HOGWASH I SAY! Well, actually it's kind of easier to write the funny stuff sometimes, and I do dislike effort... so year.

As a young lad growing up in New England, I was always intrigued and in awe of ghosts. My mom would take me to cemeteries as a kid after much pleading (yes cemeteries) where I would be decked in the finest of plastic battle ware ready to  make contact with and if necessary, battle ghosts. We might peer over the darkened cemetery for some time; adrenaline surging through my growing body until it got to be 10 minutes till my bed time at which point we would leave.  I loved the idea of ghosts and monsters growing up. I was always a fan of these guys. 

"Ghost Catchers:  Legend of Beauty"

Wait, these guys...


This yearning may have remained somewhat dormant until our newest roommate, E-dawg (Squigee's savior), entered himself upon our beleaguered household. E-dawg has had numerous bouts with the the mundane, the inane, and ghosts. He had lived in "haunted" areas and has had two ghost sightings. He has volumes of ghost related knowledge and inclinations in his lofty brain.

After quizzing my roommate with the right amount of skepticism (If ghosts are real then where do they go to take a dump? Take that!!!) the season of witching and ghoulashing bestowed itself upon us graciously. October that is. Edawgg stated that this would be a wonderful time of year to go Ghost Hunting for various metaphysical reasons, but also thats what everyone is doing all up in here.

We plotted our route through the lush neighborhood of Jamaica Plain that might have the appropriate historical conditions for ghosts and was somewhat isolated and wouldn't require much work. Our third roommate G-man, also decided that he would like to join us on our ghostly romp. We then took to gathering needed supplies.

"How many flame throwers shall each of us dawn?" I asked, after which I was reminded nicely about ghosts not having physical bodies.

"Well then how am I supposed  to punch them in the face?" which was met by sighs.

We collected flashlights and I brought my book of Psalms of course, with appropriate passages rehearsed. E-man stated that really we just needed the flashlights but I insisted that I be ready with the appropriate prayers to fend off various monster demons. I also brought my ninja turtle action figure as I just like those.


We tallied hoe to our local. E-man recorded entries into his cell phone so that we could play back any noises that we heard just like real scientists do when they collect data. We took to the trails of our site and stated in our way that we were just interested in venturing peacefully, intending to quell the murderous intentions of all those uppity spirits. E-man continued to assure me that most ghosts are peaceful usually, that they generally are trapped in some type of loop of some action that was significant to their existence (perhaps my ghost will look something like this).



As we ventured further on our search, the trees looked to be extra windy in the darkness. Branches seemed to grab at you like fingers hoping to cling to some other form of life. Perhaps they wanted a hug, or perhaps they were infested with the evil spirits that  were certainly lurking. The sky contrasted gently with the surrounding nature and the crunch of the fallen leaves and twigs (which I assumed were finger bones) became quite calming. It was peaceful.


Perhaps things were too peaceful and I started peering further, my eyes now well adjusted to the dark (as my vision is nothing but exemplary similarly to the Red-Tailed Hawk). I looked into the thickening woods thinking "hey mr. ghosty pants, where are you....?" while muttering incantations. E-Dawg was guiding us on-ward inviting spirits to make contact with us in some fashion; be it through touch, through a noise or through drinking a monster energy drink in our company. G man was gazing and conducting scientific analysis on some of the natural objects we were encountering: rocks for example. Perhaps he was seeing if they had been tainted and/ or eaten by ghosts.


Feeling something scratch at my shoulder, I violently backed up and turned toward my accosting ghost which was merely a branch of pine. I thanked  the pine tree for helping me keep my guard up, while my roommates snickered slightly. Suddenly I noticed some shifting of stuff. I quickly pointed this out to G-man who replied "those are shadows... our shadows... not a ghost."

 I had him check one more time and he restated his previous retort. I for one believe that his shadow hypothesis isn't completely falsiable. How can we test out and metaphysically determine if those moving dark shapes are shadows versus ghosts?

As we noticed the shapes follow along with our movement as they were our shadows, a deeper calm set over  us. We could see stars, some stars at least which is nice for Boston which is splattered with light. I for one think we don't need artificial light when we have the beauty of stars. I would certainly sacrifice night time livability to better be able to view the constellations. Most, if not all would agree with me. I wonder how many Ghosts haunt the rings of Saturn? We came upon a minor stream, which I could presume was the River Styx taking us into Hades. The contours of the land gently turned and twisted.


Ghosts, no ghosts or simply demon spawn, we were outside in the prettiness  of night. One usually thinks of the night as a time of death and pestilence.  Perhaps this is right, but I believe it to be also valid that  night is pretty. Seeing the calm of night, the shift in ecology, the adaptions that are taken by life, the calm encompassing a usually bustling scene; this is worth experiencing. I for one was feeling a bit pudgy and was happy to "feel the burn" as well. What a pleasant experience despite not connecting with the paranormal...

"F***,piece of Sh*%, where the f##k are the motherfuc$#ng ghosts... those bastards, I just wasted my godd** fuc**%* night. Piece of shi$, as% monkey!!!" I extolled, as we camly ventured home.

What a delightful evening.  A nice walk framed with a very nice task. Like getting homework to eat Reeses Peanut Butter Cups from a Biology teacher.



In thinking about ghosts I would pose it to any readers of this fine and hearty blog. What do you think of their existence? Have you experienced some type of ghostliness or is this all a bunch of holly cake? What might allow for ghosts?

Good night.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Re-up? Reup, wait. It's Reeup.


Alright, so I don't know how to spell things to begin with and lack some level of phonemic awareness. However this will be second entry about The Wire. The re-up is what happens when the drug dealers get their drugs significantly again in the show. It involves the prefix re, which I think means again and thus works for the title of my entry.

Another friend of mine (that's 3 now that I have) suggested that I shorten the length of my entries and add more pictures. I thought about how terrible my attention span is and realized this makes sense. These blogs could be much more comprehensible if shorter and would require less time out of the busy lives of all you readers. It's a fast paced, fragmented world out there and you gotta break most things up into tiny little pieces to make them accessible. It might mean less work for me too which is perfect as I don't like exerting effort! Brilliant and thank you.. In all seriousness, my friend, G-dog, was right as he always has been and I thank him for his insight.

Back to the Wire, which is also chopped up succinctly and efficiently into small cute scenes in order to incorporate an inordinate level of complexity and plot threads all going on simultaneously, I'd like to further discuss it's sheer brilliance, talk about some of the characters, and talk about what we can all learn and then talk about to our loving spouses at the dinner table.

Check this scene out...


What a brilliant three minutes and forty five seconds. They investigate the crime scene using complex tools and only use variations of the word "fuck". How could a dumb 20 something year old like myself not aspire to be like these two gentleman? Think about that. The Wire can be incredibly funny. The humor bursts out sometimes covertly but often more overtly. The actors always play it cool as they're cooler then you, me and probably Kurt Cobain.


Sometimes the humor is overshadowed by the slang (which you build an understanding for much like you do for that Shakespeare cat), or by the thick Baltimore accent that certain character's have, but its there and it's spectacular. Whether it's Bunk's one night stand towards the end of season one, McNulty's drinking binges, Bubs moves to procure his fix, or just watching Prez awkwardly exist and behave. Check out this scene below from season one (I'm so astounded I can upload video, this will be spectacular and another wonderful tool I can abuse for my own financial gain!!!)



Simon stated during the commentary on the season five disc "No one works harder then a junkie" and then you're blessed with this amazing clip. I was delightfully rewarded when re-watching this scene with my spectacular girlfriend. She likes the show too which is good as otherwise things might not work out. The scene is incredibly funny at first (unless your humorless and cold like a Dementor in the Harry Potter series) but very quickly becomes frightening for both us and Bubs. Bubs not only reacts with fear that he could have been killed, but probably with guilt that his actions caused a feud between the dealers leading towards a brutal exchange.

Much of the Wire is how it depicts much of the brutality that can go on in a city like Baltimore. We see a barrage of violence that whirls through the city, especially when feuds erupt for territory or pride between rival gangs. As the show carries on, you're introduced to an unprecedented amount of chilling violence that our characters are willing to carry out. You see characters lacking any semblance of human care or connection in some of the gangsters paralleled by politicians, lawyers, city contractors all willing to sell out for their own personal gain allowing many of the awful things occurring in the city to continue.

Most of the characters are very complex. Like life, no one's a perfect saint nor are many of the characters that you'd expect to all bad actually that bad. Many of the gangsters are not simply able to be empathized with, many are actually very like-able and good (Slim Charles for example). Simon's view as a police officer was that you had to understand these nuances and spend time working with the people on the street if you were to be effective as a cop. You see how easy it is, starting at a frighteningly young age, for kids and other individuals to be lured into gang life. There are very few options for these characters. Take a look at this scene for example where "the game", or the whole drug enterprise as it's called, that most of the characters are involved in and the major players are nicely summarized by one of very complex protagonists of season one as he teaches his crew how to play chess.

Alright, I can't seem to put this in a blog. This is an utter disaster and how dare this not begin to work. Here is the link and I assure you I will test it out to make sure that this brilliance is available to all you wonderful and sensible individuals.

All the characters have shades of grey, but as the show progresses you start to realize how amazing some of them are. Whether it's because they are termed "good police" or do something spectacular in an otherwise difficult setting, you often are left spellbound when you step back from the scene for a bit. As mentioned in the previous blog the, Wire is meant to educate us and looks at what happens when the various institutions we depend upon have some significant level of dysfunction. Whether it's the testing that dominate and detract from a school's ability to teach to students, the stats and numbers game that pressure the police department to not deal with murders in the first place as they might be unsolvable, or the continual amount of politics that influence and dictates the lives of many of the major characters with power, we are berated and horrified with policies and organizational behaviors that are unfair or illogical and devastating to the health of the city.

The characters that we love are the ones that see the ridiculousness for what it is and risk their careers and sometimes their life to try to do the right thing. We can this in Prez. When continually pressured to teach to the ELA test as math teacher, he has his kids do so only until all other teachers or administrators leave his room and quickly has his math lesson that he making headway with prepared. We can see this in Stringer when he makes his fateful decision in season three (for many possible motives) to go to Colvin in regards to the Gang ware between Avon and Marlo. Colvin likewise demonstrates this courage in his creation and his effort to sustain Hamsterdam unknown to Rawls and Commissioner Burrel. McNulty and Lester are your continual rebels. McNulty reminds you of an older Dennis the Menace in season two as he conducts a swath of various calculations to ensure that Baltimore Police are assigned to investigate the deaths of 13 girls by determining that their place of death fell within city boundaries.

 All of these acts involve risk and conscious effort to actually do the right thing. It is for this reason that this show has become a favorite of mine. It's been of comfort as many of us have entered the workforce as naive 20 somethings or rather and have had to deal with some of the dysfunctional behaviors that are sometimes systemic in places we are employed or involved with. There is way more someone could say and many important things I could add about this show. Let me stop here though as it's getting late. Thanks.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Wire



Alright so I've decided that I'd like to get up to 10 blog plosts at least. At this point I'm allowed to put my blog on some directory so more of yous get to visit my blog. Now I want to thank those who have put up with my drivel so far as there has been much of this. I'd especially like to thank all the hearty citizens from Russia that have come by. Perhaps I can write a blog about Putin, Kruschev or Vodka at some juncture and we can formulate a nice discussion. But thanks for viewing and apologies for the offensiveness and all the other shlock being thrown every which way like a monkey hurling their feces. I digress.

Writing five more entries seems like much work. As jowly a character that I am, I'm not always so much into putting effort into stuff. What I might do is that I'll have haiku's for each entries. Each entry will simply consist of a nice 17 syllable ensemble articulating things to talk about a lot. That'll be cheap and easy. Then you guys can come visit and more of you will come visit. You can click on my ad's that I'll have covering every single possible spot on the screen, and then I can start collecting and hoarding all the money which has been my intention from the beginning. Well, haiku rhymes with "hi poo"  which is fecal and I'm not in the mood for fecality today and thus will begin a new entry that will be too long for anyone's good.

Many folks (well just 1) have shown curiosity about the pictures I have at the top of each blog entry. These pictures are of course are from the hit show "The Wire" that was aired on HBO. This show was the best show that has ever been made and only a Nihilist could disagree. I'd thus like to write about it, offer some commentary, and talk about how this show influences most of the actions of my life in some way. Now, many bloggers have various writings about this show, so I'm really contributing nothing new to the on line discourse by having this entry. The show also ended in 2008 so you've probably moved on with your life by now. Mind you, I haven't moved on and I don't care about you, or your family, or your needs in terms of reading this. I'm going to provide my insights into this epic show which I hope to not sully too much in doing so.

I'm sorry, I do potentially care about you, and the family, and thanks for being here...

The show relates much to the writings of this blog as they're both about society. Lots of things can be about society, but the Wire is often about that and so is my blog. Thus there is a relevance in this entry. As I will conclude at the end of the entry, The Wire proves to be a historical, sociological and gastronomic masterpiece that provides an engaging array of historical fiction that can be used as an incredibly rich tool for learning in our cold, dark and boring world.

Everything is important when viewing this entity. The main focus, especially at season one is the the drug war that is carried out between the police and the drug dealers. The War on Drugs is the backdrop of the show and what the writers do intend to speak out against. The show might be seen as another "cop" show like NYPD blue or that Hill Street Blues show of the 80's, however, nothing can be further from the truth.

By episode four, you'll start to be introduced to a wide buffet of colorful and amazing characters. You'll start to crave the show, much like Bubs craves his heroin in such heroic form.  In essence the main character is the city of Baltimore. It's inhabitants and institutions make up it's various parts and personalities.

You'll meet the various police officers and gangsters that are often paralelled with one another. Mcnulty is paralleled to Stringer, Daniels to Avon I believe in season one. They do that for some literary reason that is too brilliant for me to understand. You'll meet Bubs, who though homeless and addicted to heroin is rich in personality, connections and is a very good person that the world continually dumps on. Then Omar will pop out of left field, always watching in the shadows, navigating the Urban environment patiently until the exact right moment when he can stick up a corner or stash house with a sawed off double barrelled shotgun, robbing gangsters and dealers of their cash, drugs and anything else valuable (while blowing out their knee cap wrathfully). Then as most of us know by now, he's not only one of the most badass characters in the show but also one of most homosexual. Well he's gay which they added on as an amazing twist and very nicely pull it off. The characters are all amazing which is amazing cause there are so many of them. Even minor characters leave their mark on your conscious through the series teaching us about something meaningful and insightful if we're willing to listen...

The show builds upon itself, exploring the various parts, workings and institutions that make this city (and many other major urban areas) function or not function. You're introduces to the port and the dock workers in season two led by union leader Frank Sobotka whose just so stressed by so many stressful things that the guy is crapping out ulcers the entire season. Season three adds the element of politics into the mix and you're introduced to Carcetti and his whorish ways. Season four looks at Urban Schools. You're introduced to four amazing young 8th graders struggling with the incredibly tough realities that the world hurls at them. The last seasons introduces us to the media and how it affects life in the city and how it is sustaining itself/ struggling as an instituion.

The writers meant it to be this way generally. With season three for example, the writers wanted to see how the politics affected the realities of inner city baltimore. How do the various well-intended, careless and self serving moves of mayors, city councillors, and their decions affect what goes on for the average citizen in Baltimore and the war on drugs? Season four (which might rip your heart out and demolish it with sadness after using it as an enema) focuses on how the major gangsters you meet got to be the way they are. How do the streets affect the kids growing up and coming of age in our Urban environment infused with poverty, drugs, and crime? Season five, looks at the forces of the media shaping the events of the city by putting the pressure on everyone else in power and often becoming the typical 21st century crappy media where people can say whatever they want and call it valid (much like I like to do... ha ha ha ha :-()  )

I might be getting this all wrong to by the way as I've watched some of the commentary on season five's disc but have failed to watch other season's commentary and have done myself nothing but an immense disservice by not giving the show enough of my complete and undivided time and attention.

What really makes The Wire even more astounding is that much of it is quite valid. Events in the show are based on events or people that the writers became familiar with in Baltimore. That being said, the writer Ed Burns was both a teacher and a cop in Baltimore and David Simon was a handsome journalist. They have an expertise of insight into these institutions and the others that The Wire looks at. As other publications have written about and I'm merely copying them in their ideas, The Wire is a lot of current history efficiently kneaded and twisted together into a fine German Pretzel. It's fiction, and there are definitely parts of it that are unrealistic but much of it is so incredibly realistic (I can verify some of this especially in season four with my dumb 20 years of life that I've had) that you can't do anything but learn an immense about important issues and questions and contract a hernia.

I'll come back to this later as I have to attend to some buisness (and yes sometimes I do have a semblance of some level of responsibility). Readers (which might merely be my boy K-dawg), share your thoughts on things if your so inclined to. Have you watched the Wire? What have you thought was so good about it? If you didn't like it, what flaws in your character allow for such a result to occur? If you could invite one of the characters over for a pot roast dinner, which character would you do that for?

Apologies again for the ridiculousness, please don't take my writings too seriously and thanks.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Act


I'll talk to some of yous.

Occupy Boston has been here (well for a while) and I've read about it maybe. I've spent time with Occupy Boston collaborating in there general assemblies for some odd hours. I’ve hinted in other posts that growing up, I’ve felt that I have not been active enough as a citizen in this country, but also that currently, our system is so overwrought with shlock that its hard to feel that you can have a voice and participate meaningfully. So here we are.

There is an utter need to reasonably address the critical problems we're facing. Now sometimes the occupiers have been what I feel is somewhat ridiculous, unruly, destructive but often they have been quite impressive. I generally have been impressed with the inclusivity of the Boston Branch and their non-aggressiveness. You don't have to have an ideology to be with them I think.
I’ve liked there general assemblies. They've acted as a place for anyone to voice their views and opinions in a orderly and respectful fashion.  It’s serves as a public space where people of different sectors, or strata of society can come together to share their experiences, ideas and beliefs. I've always felt that in America's past and in general, people used to talk to one another more then they do now. In earlier generations, it wouldn't take a crazy movement spurred by economic and social unrest to provide this public space for people to come together to discuss.
We're  just so reticent now though and can enjoy the hit series The Office in the confines of our home, privately entertaining ourselves and with little need to interact with others. Who needs  to be able to talk to one another when I can enjoy things so readily? This is a poorly done rant, but basically, I think in Boston at one point it used to be more the norm that you could go to a diner, and talk to someone you didn't know. This doesn't happen anymore and thus ideas are not discussed and shared. This lack of social and civic engagement kills us I believe and is why the Occupy Movement's general assembly is so vital.
I mentioned the importance of this the one day I really participated in the Occupy movement (I only have gone for a day). I tried to emphasize this but was probably busy with various tangents. However, had we come together more as a community and society I think this crisis would have been stemmed out earlier. Had each of us been connected to more individuals, especially those in different groups (whether it's work, ethnicity, income, social groups) we would  have been more aware of problems earlier. Social Capital (as that Putnam guy terms it) can serve as a radar as more and stronger networks are created. Problems could have been more aware of earlier on and with more gusto thus motivating us to do something earlier before Lehman Brothers had what happened to them ever so much. We would have stopped this crisis earlier on from being as big as it has been.
It is also much easier to screw over  people when you have no familiarity of them. We are continually being called a divided society. We polarized we're told. The middle class is disappearing. Our politicians squabble. This all might be true and it's not my place to say one way or the other (though I generally agree and since when has it been my place to say anything I'm not sure). So, to all those who have been potentially greedy in some way and been involved in screwing some one else over (maybe you're a banker, but maybe you're the guy who took advantage of my confusion so many times) had you had some awareness and connection to those you're screwing over, you'd be less inclined to engage in such a behavior. When social psychologists look at reasons that atrocities can be committed, the ability to dehumanize a group you're harming was a major factor. If those who got us into this mess could be more aware of those that they might be screwing over, they would very likely have not engaged in as much of their behavior.
Vice versa too. For all those occupy wall street people who are barricading people from going to work in NYC, if you had a connection to someone working on wall street you might be very able to see their nuances, learn that they're probably not any worse then you are, and if they have engaged in something you deem immoral and understand the shades of gray that are more complex to grasp. It's important to realize that despite my anger at the way our economy has run, and I couldn't do a better job working in a financial sector position or running a bank. I don't know what APR is when they talk about it. It's also crucial to remember that we do need some type of a financial sector. We absolutely need it to work and run better then it is, to be more equitable or human in some way, but based on the populations and needs of people in society their needs to be the economic interconnectedness that we have. The Occupy people just have to keep this things in mind (as do I as I start fuming about an overdraft charge, or what Apple does sometimes with their Istupid machines). We thus maybe shouldn't form a human barricade prohibiting people from working in the financial district as that's fairly smelly.
I once borrowed a bicycle pump from my neighbor. Though I didn't successfully engage in using it, I might have, and that might have helped me in some way. Community does this. The ability to come together is an immense boon to livelihood both emotionally and economically. We’re able to share and trade resources. We're able to get jobs more easily because “we know someone” (though a friend from med school was saying how it's not equitable that you generally have to know someone to get a job and all things should be more computerized more so like his med school applications were). Most jobs I've gotten have been through word of mouth, though I'm generally perfectly qualified for the job (aside from slovenliness and both erratic and violent swearing). We learn of opportunities and can share opportunities we have. We're able to teach one another different skills and learn of various new techniques or strategies for solving a problems. I'm teaching one of my friends how to drive, and my roommates from a couple of years back taught me how to tie ties, organize papers, and really just do most things involved with living. This community is especially important, Putnam notes, when the economic climate worsens. All those mentioned above just become more required when there is less opportunity out there.
I don't know what I was even beginning to write about it when I started. Maybe it was about thanksgiving, or maybe it was about the new Muppets movie coming out soon. I don't know. But I really do think we're divided. There are the overt ways people describe in how we're more polarized politically, how we have a declining middle class (this cat doesn't agree there is a declining middle class) and such. Then there are the more covert ways in which we're just so engaged in our private behaviors (maybe that revolve around pornography, or just around some hit tv series which you don't share with someone else as there are so many hit series to choose from now) that Putnam discusses more. I think this kills us more then anything.
So, let's drop the ideology piece first off. Having a sense of humor is incredibly more useful then having an ideological sense. Not that you shouldn't have political and social beliefs, just loosen up some, be open to new ideas. Don't be so fastidious or obtuse (yes I can guess that neither of these words were used properly). It's important to realize that most things you believe ideologically are probably wrong in some way or can't operate in the realm of right or wrong to begin with. It's crucial to realize that you can't even begin to know close to anything that one can possibly understand in our universe. It's vital that you realize that by not listening to others and foreclosing on your own ideas, you rob yourself of an opportunity to learn. Lastly, if you put your beliefs above your care for your fellow individuals... well that's stupid, so don't do that or I'll get you.

Let's find a way to get back to a place where we can feel comfortable talking to one another more. Where you can take the T in Boston and it's not deathly silent and full of people playing that stupid chicken launcher game on their Iphones. We should use the wonderful technological tools we have available, but they shouldn't be using us . We should be engaging with reality and humanity more then more effectively advancing our text message use for the given month.
Let's take that step to connect more with those that we'd otherwise be nervous talking to. Let's listen, really listen, not listening so you can say your piece, but listening so you can understand, reflect, and learn for yourself what things are like outside of your little puny head. 


Have a yard sale. Invite your neighbors over for dinner. Maybe start a book club or spend some time doing a regular activity outside like walking the dog or wading through the communities recycling bin (please do). Say hi to strangers, not in a big way, but make it known that maybe you might care they exist. Get a dog so that you can walk it and they will do the socializing for you. Be drunk more, during the day, or use mescaline (ignore that). Attend or organize more of those communtiysh meetings about the neighborhood or schools or city council. Grow plants outside. Vote. Don't just vote, maybe volunteer (I didn't vote in the last election due to insurance related issues I was illogically concerned about). Use that meetup site. Maybe tweet about something, but in a useful way. Have a pot luck dinner or a BBQ (if you know how to do one which I certainly don't). Maybe get a screen and project movies onto it in your backyard like my neighbors do (but don't show terrible German contemporary movies). This is getting silly and you should have done something else many minutes ago but do take stock.
Overall, us, all of us coming back together will do more to prevent us from living up to some “lost generation” label that is occurring and will do more to help us rebuild and stave off future problems. We absolutely do need to improve our economy, but it is my thought that we can't do so unless we improve our society and can thus sustain economic growth. Lots of things get sold in our economy that are crap. They are marketed so effectively but really are hollow like the people who designed, build or sold them (take the Panera bread store). In the same sense we have to be worth the squeeze. We need to have skills, have good personalities and actually be a useful generation and I think from there the economic issues will progress. Let's do better and happy thanksgiving. I don't even know where I began to be going with this. 




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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Furthering Nature


I like to harp and attack but I thought it would be relatively mature to deposit some ideas to solving some of the things that I rant about. The series Lost I observed seemed to have  this trend where each new episode would open up all these new plot threads. My college roommates would continually watch, clinging and hoping for some type of closure to help alleviate  the suspense that the hit series had built up in them (I for one felt I was too weak willed to watch as I have an addictive personality). However, the show continued to open up more problems then it could reasonably solve and thus frustrated some viewers including some of my roommates.

This might have no relation to anything that is going on, or it might mean everything. I guess what I'm trying to say is I'll try to offer some solvency to all the many problems I bring up as thats nice to do. Reading Collapse by Jared Diamond was similar to this. It left me wanting a stiff drink to alleviate my fear of an impending doom that would be occurring and thus was just basically a downer. I thought his solutions to be fickle and weak compared to his analysis of the problems that he elaborated on. He shared his thoughts which I thought to be very well researched and I'll continually try to impress people at parties by talking about how the british brought rabbits and coyotes to Australia as they wanted familiar fauna and it was one of the many things they did that devastated the ecology of the continent. So I liked his main thesis and his main points and learned many things, but boy, was it depressing which from Louve's perspective is more  likely to occur again because I probably had that nature deficit growing as I was playing Goldeye too frequently rather then constructing forts in the woods with my peers and thus am depressed more. I don't want to be just a downer (and at least my incoherency will protect all of you from feeling too down).

When thinking about Climate Change, I  will often rant to my older family members how they can't even begin to grasp this deal. Sure they grew up with fears of a Cold War Nuclear Holocaust, but this was something that could be concretely stopped by not doing something. Sure, it was very tense, but it didn't seem inevitable. It also might have prevented some level of major war between because each side could have destroyed one another so easily. This was the idea of Mutually Assured Destruction.

Climate change seems inevitable. There is still a considerable amount of attitude that it's not caused by human activity. It's already occuring in some ways. I don't know if we're sure about how much we can stave off its effects at this point. I haven't read enough about it since I started caring somewhat about it (and by caring about I mean thinking about it in between bouts of Halo 3 and the hit game from my childhood Dungeon Keeper).

We gotta remember though how little we know (I'm a dumb 20 year old or something/ rather that thinks I know all) and that just because we can't conceptualize a solution to something, others in our 7 billion person world can.

In comes this Steward Brand guy. This cats legit and lives in a tug boat in the bay area. Maybe I should too. Whole Earth Discipline, one of my favorite reads as of recent, Brand states that there are three big things that he thinks will save the world that environmentalists (including himself back in the 70's) typically oppose. These three things are living in Cities, Nuclear Power, and Genetically Modified Foods.

The guy loves cities so he actually had two chapters on them. We typically think of cities as polluted and congested (which often they are), but we need to realize that as a species cities are a way that we can take up drastically lesss space. This is important for many reasons. He discusses the prarie states where youngsters have typically been leaving more rural areas and moved into cities like Fargo. As a result, many rural towns have literally been disappearing and the land to some degree "returns to nature" if you want to talk all hippied and all. This has a brought a return of buffallo or bison or something big and mammaley that we killed off once real good. There is more natural spaces.

 He goes on to say services that we expect such as trash removal, water, internet, cable are much more efficiently deliverable if we cover less physical area and our populace is more concentrated. It means less towers AT&T have to build to provide reception to rural vermont, less garbage trucks that need to go out to random places in New Hampshire and things become much more economical in that sense. Less money is needed to be spent on workers, gas, time, electrical cables, towers etc. You get the cut of my jib.

Brand is such a legend that he even props up the city slums that we often think of as miserable, terrible, diseases ridden, and abominations that nobody would want to live in. I think he discusses that all of these might be traits, but overall, in developing countries people would prefer to live in cities then in the rural areas. Cities (and very much so including slums) provide a lot of economic opportunity that the rural areas don't have.

There are massive informal economies in these areas (such as Mumbai in India) where people can set up stands, participate in markets, develop social capital and sometimes work their way out of slums. Informal shelters are setup developing efficiently like a bee hive. There are no schools, but  there are individuals who informally act as teachers. There are repair shops, literacy centers, markets and many other things you might see in a shopping mall that are present in a somewhat decrepit market form. Cell phones are actually much more afforable then they are here and individuals in these slums use them vigorously. Money can be transferred on these cell phones. Banking can be done. Cell Phones allow people in these areas to have some type of an "office".

They aren't good places to live from our point of view (in terms of general measures of quality of life) but for those living in developing areas they are preferable to the rural. City slums offer opportunity (with some creativity) to have a better quality of life especially for women.

My friend said to me last night "your writing will probably get you laid off and/or fired from all jobs that you could possibly ever have. Use spellcheck". Perhaps he was right.

I digress. Brand goes on to say that Nuclear Power is important. He himself protested it during the 60's and 70's (but who wasn't protesting nuclear power back then, I probably even was) but thinks it's actually very important now largely due to climate issues. Nuclear Power provides a lot of energy. It doesn't take up as much space as solar panels or wind farms might. By the time we have to deal seriously with the issue of waste, the technology that we'll have at that point will more then likely be able to handle it.

Basically Nuclear is almost renewable (very little metals are needed to generate lots of power) they can be built in a lot of places providing a lot of CO2 free energy. Typical green energy (wind and solar) simply don't provide enough energy (I doubt he dislikes them, but I think he's mostly comparing it to Nuclear). He goes on to say that a lot of the negative ramifications of nuclear radiation are overrated. Chernobyl has actually become a delightful wildlife sanctuary. Some radiation might be good for us like broccolli is. It innoculates us in some way. Things like that  I think. This should be generally what he expressed in his writing.  Do let me know if I have gotten these analyses wrong and mixed them up with the words to an Eminem song.

I aggree with Brand, and so should you. Thats arrogant, apologies. It would be interesting to see his reaction to the Japanese Tsunami and meltdown. My thought would be to not build nuclear reactors in fault zones. However, much of our population lie in areas that have significant geological activity and/or have extreme climate. This might be one of the limiting factors needed for consideration with nuclear power. One could find out these things and such.

To further continue this entry at a much later date and to further tear apart the work of this fine author in trying to summarize his wonderful findings I will start off on his views on GMOs. The guy likes them. Genetically Modified Organisms are key to the worlds survival he states. What stands out to me are his defenses (which I probably don't fully comprehend) of GMO's and his overall necessity. We have the potential, through GMO's to greatly enhance our food supply, and we already do this, and this is incredibly crucial for our population. He cites how India was able to develop Wheat that was more resistant to being blown over in the wind "Dwarf Wheat" or something. This allowed India to drastically improve it's yields and everything was suddenly perfect! Not true but it was an amazing feat.

We have enough food to feed our populations, and part of this success has been do to GMO's. With the onset of climate changes, changing our food supplies will be crucial. Brand states that we can potentially develop more crops that are easier or more replenishing of topsoil, that resist drought better. We can even make some type of soy product that makes us fart less as that will reduce our greenhouse emission (alright he lost some point with this example).

Regardless, we've  been able to do some amazing things with GMO's. Now there are total cons to GMO's and there are sketchy things that we do with it. Brand says the process of modifying our food is generally more precises then doing what farmers have done for thousands of years in crossbreeding them or what nature can do naturally. We're only crossbreeding a couple of genes when we genetically modify them.

He goes on to say that's it a tool that get's a bad rap partially due to the regulations that make it so it's difficult for anything but large scale companies to engage in this practice. This has led to the rise of some the activities that Monsanto and such have engaged in that people don't like no good such as generally have a uniform food surplus, taking such drastic steps to own a crop of food, charging farmers if some crop naturally lands in their field etc.

I fully don't begin to comprehend this issue but Brand takes a stance that the reality is we need to deal with the huge population. We want it to come down, not through collapse, or catastrophe, but gradually. We do however, need to acknowledge the current carrying capacity needs of our planet. GMO's especially are a tool. We might not want to hate them outright or ban them. We want to think consciously about how we use them. They have a lot of potentialy, but then I hear something about them killing honey bees real good and if anyone touches that vital bee I'll punch them in the face real good. I really like the honey bee and so should you. I digress. GMO's are a tool. We should and need to use them well.

Brand is also delightful in the tangents he goes off on from his main thesis. He has a delightful passage in which he describe how he arises before dawn often to go out and destroy various non-native invasive plants that are infecting the Bay Area. What  I delightful activity! He talked about how jacked up he feels in doing so and that humans have a long history of being stewards of their environment, not, simply natural by standers and that what we view as the natural environment might have in some way always been tweaked by our ancestors. This is important he says and our proper actions can maintain biodiversity. I for one enjoy at least stepping on the ravenous Japanese Knotweed that is ever so pervasive.

*******TAKE A BREAK, LIFE YOUR LIFE, THIS ENTRY IS GOING ON TOO LONG*********


Think about these things real good. I think a lot of the ways in which environmental movements have gone about things could be done more effectively. Let's take the Lorax story, by Dr. Seuss which is clearly my most advanced exemplar. One of the main points of this wonderful childhood story was that we're all in trouble if we use up our planet's natural resources. Any corporation, no matter how heartless, will eventually screw themselves over if they continue to behave poorly and greedily.

If we do have a stand that many of the major institutions and corporations are heartless, we can at least realize this. Oil Companies that continue to use up too much of our supply of oil will obviously collapse when our oil is gone. Same thing with Coal, we do have a lot more coal, but if coal companies use that up they are in trouble. If agribusiness messes up all of our topsoil to create farms, they're  not a feasible. If loggers use up all available forests, there industry will collapse. Take into account our financial sector. Generally, the recession that we are now in is bad for all major companies / corporations. If consumer spending is down, that's bad for Bank of America, for AT&T, for Wal Mart and especially the Sam Adams Beer Company as there is less disposable income that could be spent at these institutions.


If our businesses continue to behave badly, and all behave too greedily, they will certainly screw us over, but they will lose access to the resources that they need to survive (and I'll be cackling somewhere ironically with less teeth and various tools for foraging mushrooms which I'll have been living off of when things get really bad). If all the resources are gone, including consumers with disposable income, they will be ruined (much like that Onceler was when all those succulent Truffula Trees were cut down).

Vice versa, environmentalists need to take a stance where they acknowledge that there are 7 billion people on this planet, and there are realities to how we live. We absolutely need to change our behavior in how we individually consumer and dispose of resources, But many of us will drive. Many of us will use electricity. I'll take a shower with hot water and people in developing countries with developing economies want that too. Environmentalists need to realize that we need to be able to supply the level of resources that has societelly been determined as reasonable to ensure that humanity has a certain standard of living.

We thus need that power source that will feasibly and cleanly power a world of 7 billion. We need a food source that will be able to durably withstand drought and feed our world. We can't simply just reduce (though reducing is part of our toolbox). Brand takes a much needed stand in how to do deal with this his advocacy of Nuclear Power and GMO's. Many, including me, have advocated that with planning, we can find ways to humanely reduce our populations, maybe down to 1.5 billion. It would be wise, given the realities to reduce our populations humanely, but it should absolutely not happen through societal collapses, wars, famine or natural disaster. You wouldn't want that happening to you. Environmentalists need to realize that they need the resources provided by other sectors of society much as the power companies need to heed the lessons of environmentalists to be sustainable (who knows what I am beginning to say here). These groups have to not be fighting one another and realize that they have the same needs/ interests  and are dependent on one another.

Mind you I'm naïve, dumb and 20. Collaboration has certainly been tried I am sure and with little effect in the past. Americans might not be as well set up for it as the Germans are (they love to discuss). Fighting might seem like the only option in many cases and as I was playing so much Halo King of the Hill missions with my roommates I was unaware.


However, when possible, the chance to discussion, compromise, to plan and work together when realizing joint interests and dependency on one another, discussion and collaboration is certainly the best option. E.O. Wilson whose just great and I've mentioned before narrates this process in his wonderful (and I think only) fictional tale of his called Ant Hill. (***SPOILER***) There is a major environmental victory in this novel, not due to protests and fighting, but due to the hard work, dedication, discussion and far superior planning of a concerned individual that joins forces with the very developers that are intent on destroying the tract of land that our protagonist is so beloved to. He wins and wins more efficiently, not by fighting them, but by out planning them, and building up their trust.

 I'll leave it with this, happy thanksgiving and chew on how fat and unable to reproduce thanksgiving turkeys are when you chew on their flesh. My in law beheaded 22 of them apparently while working on a farm and I was nothing but impressed.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Nature



Alright, so post number three. I'm trying to keep this up at the very least in the aims of monetizing it which would be such a blessing in so many different ways. As always, there is a quantity versus quality debate with the nagging question of can you have both? So I'm gonna try to bust out a post, negating the quality but aiming towards becoming more comfortable writing drivel that my two readers will read with a faint glimmer of monetization. Sorry, I've gotten to the point now where I say things and I don't even know if they're meant to be sarcastic. I mean, it would be sort of sell outey if I tried to make a profit of this maybe, but my moral fiber isn't that strong and money is somewhat tight right now and thats what things are about.

I will also add that my blogs will often be negative, dark and stormy (like the drink). This if for me too. But I will try to be proactive and at least plagiarize solutions from others and call them my own to give a postive twist to things.

So I live in a city. Well Boston to be precise. Where I live in Boston I greatly enjoy largely due to the amount of green space that is currently present. Here this will give things away more. Needless to say, I am a few minutes away from a slightly lucious pond, a delightful park, an arboretum, an audubon sanctuary, two green way thingys and a buffet of community gardens. This I find great and I'll elaborate on why this natural presense is crucial and makes me a little bit less dead.
Biophilia is a term brought up by certain researchers. I believe E. O. Wilson came up with this theory. The idea to me is that we have an innate connection to nature (especially diverse nature) as that is the environment we evolved in. Most of our human history has developed in the natural world (with plants and stuff) rather then a world like Central Square in Cambridge. Certain aspect of our behavior, our genetic makeup are still adapted to that world and thus we have this biophilia (any philia term skeeves me out real good to be pretty honest and thus think E.O. Wilson failed us in this). So we have a strong connection to a diverse natural world. Which are you more attracted to actually: this or this! (Or this)

I'll often use the phrase (whever I can really) "from an evolutionary standpoint" after having read a couple books by Steven Pinker who is just great. His big argument in my most favorite book of his (of the two I've read), the Blank Slate, is really defending this idea of a human nature, and stating that it's actually a good thing that we have a set of complex and evolved behaviors. Our evolved  nature has allowed us to develop traits that have aided and still continue to help us survive in many crucial ways. We might find animals neat because they were a source of food (he might not have said this all this is probably me and probably wrong). We find small animals gross and disgusting sometimes because it was risky for our ancestors to eat them as it wasn't much food gained for the potential risk of getting sick. I read the book awhile ago and can't provide too many more examples. Evolutionary psychology and biology is a bit dangerous too as one can get too ahead of themselves in saying things like "From an evolutionary standpoint grilled cheeses are tasty to us because they remind us of our mother's milk..." as I often like to do. Also the methodology has always interested me. How would you gather evidence for backing some idea when the evidence is completely extinct? Anyways, the main point in my sharing of these ideas is that as humans, I certainly buy into the idea that we have "nature" to us, sets of behaviors, physical charactersitcs, traits, adaptations etc. that have evolved over the course of our history which mostly took place in the non-person-made world. Anyways.

Gardner, who championed the idea of multiple intelligences added a naturalistic intelligence that went along with these skills. It invovled the ability to recognize and interpret the natural world around us; to be able to keenly see something that might be camoflauged or hidden or to be able to differntiate between the minutia of two types of plants. So I don't know how this elaborates, but theres another guy who believed in our natural affiliation to nature and I had to learn about him at different points and maybe he's legit. I always think he's neat and stuff.
A lot of us our fat too, and fat is something to be sensitive about and hopefully have a war against as well as we need more wars on different things and it makes it sound like we mean buisness good when we've declared war. This is a horrible transition but a transition none-the-less. Richard Louve writes a book that was intended to alarm america about our disconnect from nature (Nature Deficit Disorder) and that's one of the reasons we're so fat! He argues (and he has a website with a domain name that is his personal name so we know he means buisness!) that the current disconnect is due to obvious ways with things like deforestation, but also partially due to the hypersensitivity of our culture and the need to always protect our kids kind of extremely (which I mocked in an earlier passage but was guilty of probably today and many other days really :-(. We're too scared to let our kids go off. We also have TV. We also sometimes try to overschedule our kids through everything and yea, they don't have time to play, to be kids with the outdoors and each other and that this is really bad. Heres what someone else thought about it or something.

He goes on to say, this nature deficit leads to obesity, but also childhood depression and attentional issues. He doesn't have as much research to back this up but has interesting examples and anecdotes (I might be wrong about this but I'm not sure if I care). He goes on to talk about the learning that occurs when kids play in the woods. The guy loves tree-houses and I would learn a lot building one apparently. I can't however. Partially I would somehow set the tree ablaze and mess up the pH of the soil, but there is too much lawsuit potential and legal mumbo jumbo that prohibit kids from doing these types of things now-a-days.

The guy ranted a bit. I was bored at points reading this, but with my attentional deficit that might have been partially caused by a nature deficit, this is logical. I generally buy into this or at least have forgotten and misconstrued what the main points of this were. I do think there is a general disconnect from nature and from one another that has terrible consequences for all of us. Kids can be kind of miserable now but often not always too. There is stuff missing, play is important and I feel outside, self-directed play by kids (esp with peers has decreased). What do I know though. I did babysit for some kids which largely involved being the person that picked them up from afterschool and took them to karate, basketball, chess, dance and piano (all true). We also like to get rid of recess real good sometimes.

There is not quite enough initiative that I see in our behavior any more (Ask a generation Y person to change a lightbulb, see what happens... ok they probably could do that). When we go to college we're called emerging adults. If we had more time, pressure and the opportunity during our development to direct more of our own activty and develop a sense initiative then we would be less worthless sooner as a generation. This ties in to the pervading structurization of our lives and the barriers put up to accessing our world of play, peers and nature as a kid. There is plenty of attentional deficit issues to go around and yea, there is plent of fat and depression.


My point of view is what often counts in life is positive experiences with other people, health, growth, learning new skills, accomplishments/ and or adventures, altruism, a developing understanding and learning of phenomena... This all counts to me (and is vague enough semantically where I can say that everyone aggrees). Nature counts a lot. We can see a patch of woods, even less then an acre, and it's just a patch of woods. However, if we look closer we can notice the differences in some of the plants. We can notice the shape, structure and patterns of one type of plant. We can be curious. Why is the leaf pattern different in these plants? Which plant will live longer?

Ok, I'll admit. I'm bored by the idea of this but do actually enjoy checking out the vegetation. The outdoors can provide an immense amount of joy, comfort and imspiration to all of us. It has done so for thousands of years. The more you get into things the less life sucks and nature is one of the best things to get into. We're damaging ourselves when we create more then needed barriers to us and the natural world (You do need a house, I know).

We should be at the point where we realize that in spite of all of our progress, we are part of the natural world. We are dependent on/ affected by the natural resources of our planet (oil, copper and maybe zinc), it's cycles, it's geography and we have limits that are influenced by it. We do need to ensure that we sustain the natural world which we are dependent on for so many of our needs. We need a healthy planet. For us a species moreso then anyone else. From my view if we establish a connection to the natural world, we'll be happier and in doing so will want to do more to make sure it's still there. The more awareness we have of something (a group of people, a language, or a place) the more of a connection we generally have to it unless it's negative, like you were bitten by a viper or something.

Take this one to the bank... They might charge you for having to hold it as it's so volatile...

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Monday, October 24, 2011

Development


I don't think most of the people I know of my generation feel this way but this is a strong sentiment that I have. I don't want kids. I decided this when I was 24. I would tell my parents somewhat solely for the drama (I was often an awful child). It's something I still believe.

This makes utter sense to me. There are personal reasons. I do love kids and am good with them, don't get me wrong. I'm a teacher which can work great for being a father, but also, you're stuck with kids for your professional day and having to deal with them again at home would be something. Teaching can take up your life to the point where you would have to choose between the two roles. I love adventures (and still do) and the idea of being tied down is not one that is appealing. This is all logical, at least to me.

My parent's want grandparents and it definitely is upsetting to hear this argument. However, the backdrop of our conversation would revolve around what is happening with the world. What I at least think and hopefully don't say fully to my parents is that I think things are pretty runied in this world and their generation did a lot of this ruining. It feels that the world they are still running and have left us with is one where people behave like there are no limits; that they can do or have whatever they want. There's a recklessness that's just so common place, and so much energy invested in things that just don't matter or that are bad for most of us. Theres not that much that they've left us to hold onto.

To those boomers, I say that I don't want to bring a kid into a world where you have to go to a college that is atrociously expensive but the degree barely get's you a job despite the fact that you're  probably stuck with massive debt after having gone there; where you can fairly easily have decades of war that are so removed from our consciousness that people don't seem to have awareness that they are even happening or that they can be started so easily. I don't want my kids to come into a world where they are so disconnected from people outside of their income or ethnic group, where the middle class is pretty much gone. Where the majority of their communication might be through texting, tweeting, or XBox live (or have their parents do too much of the previous... silly British). I don't want my kids to continually be afraid of just about everything.

As a parent, I would be told I should be concerned and/ aware of jungle gyms, meth, mercury, diabetes, lack of exercise, too much exercise, cyber bullying, TV, porn, not enough porn, people of different colors, swimming pools, power tools, dodge ball, predatory teachers or bus drivers, public transportation, urea and really just everything. One is very likely to not feel any level of comfort interacting with anything novel because it's probably scary and really might hurt you in some way and you can't afford that kind of risk.

Let's not forget about that little bit of global climate change looming over us where my kids will see more and more of our world become uninhabitable and see potentially billions of people being displaced due to physically not having their space. It might not even be the climate that kills us, but our fear and anticpation about what's to come that drives us into various maladaptive behaviors that are just terrible.

I don't want to be a dad when what's considered being a good dad is to sign your kid up for as much "stuff" as you can so that you can prevent them from having any semblance of free time where they would probably watch tv and play an Xbox of some sort or do cocaine or something. You have to have enough income for piano, karate, basketball and ballet lessons and the income to hire  someone to take the from points A - E, but in order to do this you barely get to have any quality time with them or even begin to think of letting them have a sense of initiative in directing their own play and activities (again that would be absorbed too much by HBO, Facebook and Wii if kids are left to their own whims).

The world is dangerous and we should be hypersensitive about our kid's well being and they should be continously vigilant too, even though crime might be down a lot from when I was probably a kid. They might not actually get to live that much but the world might be dangerous and we have to be vigilant!

I'll probably be lax with structure as things are confusing and complicated now. I want the best for my kids and will give it to them. I just have to make sure they have everything that they need and there are many things they need. They need a cell phone, they need the latest one otherwise it might not work well enough for what they need. They need friends. We can let them drink and go party as that's just being kids which is what we want them to be and we don't want them to not have friends. We also will underestimate how much that they drink or let  them drink with us. They do that in Europe and that way we're in control.  Lessons don't have to be learned and consequences don't really need to be experienced, we can always swoop in and make sure that they aren't going to feel anything too bad.  That'd be bad. The outdoors are dangerous and so are times where we can't be in touch with our kids and can't make sure that they are doing well. Kids know what's generally best for them and so it's important to provide them with things and stuff for them to live their lives.

Alright... so apologies for them terrible offensiveness. My parents were actually good, in many more ways than I can begin to appreciate. I was a tough little nugget too. I don't like what's happened with our world and I do attribute significant amounts of problems to the Boomers. I don't like the general culture of parenthood that exists today, but again, what do I know. I don't actually know that much on this topic and some of this  is based off of episodes of South Park. However, I think there is some truth to this. It's a direct fault or flaw with, but there are just so many competing extraneous forces to parenthood in our society right now. A mother/ fathers message is just not as salient when having to compete with Spongebob Square Pants and all the marketing, media, Call of Duty 3 hullabalooo. Also, these institutations that have emerged, often not with malice or bad intent have become so large. Large to the point where they are bigger then a group of actual individuals. Finally, my dad can remember a time when the world's population was 3 billions. Thats wildin. Again, it's seven again. I think this has implications for beyond what I, the boomers, Obama (or Romney) or most of us can begin to comprehend. The way society functioned for our parents in the 3-4 billion person world might not work now that the population has doubled. .
This is sad though in a couple of ways and the idea of being grandchildless saddens my parents. I'm encroaching on my 30's and notice myself unwittingly thinking about what I say or do if I were a dad. "My kids would be outside X hours a day and have hiked 10 of the 4000 footers in the White Mountains (I just thought of that) by age 7". I'd be sick at helping them with their homework, definitely without doing so for them (I'd totally let them take an F if thats what they deserved). I'd be pumped about setting up experiences in which they could figure things out for themselves. I'd let them watch TV but maybe break it subtly at some point and let them try to fix it themselves if they really wanted it or they'd have to go outside. I would make sure they could change the oil in my car (as I'm bad at it actually) and read to younger kids once they were in 2nd or 3rd grade. I'd praise them, but specifically, realistically and without forcing it (the fact that I linked it I think really forced it however). I'd give them plenty of attention, but in many ways without them knowing (not by stalking or facebook stalking, but kind of knowing what's up and caring, but outwardly lookling like I'm reading the boston globe). They'd know how to read a topo map no doubt and also identify the local species of amphibians and other fauna. We'd build a terarrium at some point and maybe have a rock and mineral collection (Mrs. Baum rocked that pretty good). Living would ensue, an awareness of the world around them would guide them (not a fear/ anxiety) and they'd be good.  I would certainly be frightened, confused and be terrible at points and as a 20 year old am talking like I know everything which is what I'm told 20 years old often do. Anyways, I digress...

 As an educator, a friend, kind of an uncle, a neighbor and community member I can do a lot of these things already (not as in depth) and do so in a way without having so much of my energy and time strapped up with the responsibility of fatherhood. I can involve myself in these endeavors in ways that fix the problems that are already out there that desperately need addressing without adding another body to our 7 billion word planet that is already stretched thing.

 I've liked the things I've read that have all types of new ideas and solutions to our problems that I couldn't even begin to imagine. I can take faith in realizing how minute my view is and how utterly incomplete it is. I'm wrong about so much and what I don't know is disgutingly huge. This is nice in the end and very likely one or some of the many things I don't even begin to know about will save our dysfunctional world. Still though, I don't like how the world is going right now to the point where I don't want to bring a child into it and thats a bit sad.