Friday, September 27, 2013

Unemployed What-Have-You

As someone who was recently unemployed due to being downsized, I'd like to elaborate a little on my experience as maybe it's a little bit useful to someone who is going through a similar experience. I'll very much emphasize that there are many, many factors that would make someone else's situation much more trying and difficult then others. I was very fortunate to have a masters degree of sorts (M.Ed), to have some decent experience, not too much in bills and a slew of other things that certainly should prohibit me from "telling folks what to do". There are also a slew of articles about career steps to take when you're unemployed which I don't want to focus on as much as the personal experience of unemployment and how to keep yourself going through such a time. Again, I'll mostly talk about my experience which may or may not be relevant to others. 

I'll first mention that it's taken me close to four months to land a full time job. I applied to 57 positions and had 13 interviews with six different organizations. I was applying to positions mostly in the non-profit, education, human services and higher education fields but also was motivated to secure a job with benefits that was full time. I didn't apply to many part time jobs but was at the point of reconsidering this. I expected to be unemployed for maybe 2 - 3 months. At the beginning I remember not really wanting to put the time into research as how to more effectively secure a good position thinking that I wouldn't be unemployed that long. I might of hesitated a couple of weeks to get on unemployment. I think that was somewhat of a mistake. I wish I had done a little bit more leg work at the beginning that would have paid off overall in maybe securing something sooner. 

Being unemployed is tough (though I'll emphasize again for most folks there would be a lot more pressure than what I experienced). On one hand you have a lot of time. You might think to yourself, "I should do all these fun things while I have this time as that will change when you're fully employed." Often you can't. You would feel too guilty doing so as you don't have a secure source of income. You have a finite amount of resources to spend at these points and certainly need to be thoughtful. Your job is to find a job which can take a lot of effort and energy, but at the same time it can be tough as the unemployed life is an unstructured one. It can be awfully discouraging as you send out an application and often just don't hear anything back. It can be scary and you can feel pretty bad about yourself even if you became unemployed because of external circumstances outside of your control (downsized). 

Securing part time, contract work was really helpful. I worked at a summer camp when they were short on staff and helped out with some educational programs. This really helped psychologically in keeping me somewhat in the habit of working and feeling productive while also bringing in some needed cash flow. It's also something I could refer to on job interviews. However, I did at points turn down work to ensure I had enough time to apply to other places. 

I was in a situation where I was applying to a wide array of jobs that were often fairly different. This made writing a cover letter somewhat tricky as you had to change things up a decent amount to make it match the job qualifications. What was helpful was simply having a document where I categorized and saved all the different cover letter sections I've written and thus had something to draw up. This was my Master Cover Letter Template. My girlfriend (whose pretty good at dealing with all job app jazz) very wonderfully looked it all over to make sure it was edited and helped add some pretty clutch statements that I think overall improved my rate of getting offered the chance to interview. She did this on track changes so I didn't have to accept all of it. A common phrase I used at the end of each paragraph was "to the position of (assorted position I was applying for), I would bring someone with a wealth of experience in developing and delivering curriculum." That was useful in terms of the cover letter.

This felt psychologically helpful, but basically, one of my friends mentioned to have a threshold of applying to two jobs a day and then you could be done. On many days I didn't reach this point, but this provided a bit of much needed structure having this threshold in mind. I could apply to two jobs and then enjoy the rest of the day. Some days there weren't two jobs that I thought I was that qualified to apply for, but still that was helpful.

I used a lot. The job I've accepted is one I found there. However, indeed was helpful, as was I applied to some jobs at universities but none of those went anywhere. Finding some human service organizations and larger non-profits to regularly check for relevant opportunities was helpful too. I had used google drive and docs to record every job opportunity I've found and make relevant notes if I was offered an interview or rejected. This was helpful just to keep everything together, especially when I used different computers.  

Staying positive was hard at points but I think good to do. I can be pretty bad at editing and polishing up work. I generally loathe writing a cover letter (see previous post here) and think it's absurd that you have to do so even though often you'll just not hear anything back and often employers might not even read the damn thing. I feel like there's generally a better way for our job market to operate. So I had some weeks where I ranted and raved like some type of petulant creature. At some point though I tried to focus on some of the positives of being unemployed (unsuccessfully) by saying ... Oh it's great getting to learn about all these organization, it's neat getting to develop my writing skills, it's wonderful having this time to catch up with friends, it's nice having some time to do some other projects and have a little lull. This effort, though not always successful, I feel was better than ranting and raving. I still think some reforms to the job application process are in order, but that's not necessarily helpful to dwell on when you need to find your next place. Staying positive about yourself was hard at points, but definitely important. Realizing it's pretty normal to be unemployed and that you are in fact employable seemed beneficial to remember. It's tough though as you can have a lot of time and mull on things and also get rejected in a lot of different ways throughout the process. Keeping up with running, eating well and all that self-care jazz is good to keep in mind. 

That's about it for now, below are all the articles I wrathfully read to brush up on my job hunting skills. Effective Cover Letters to Turn Downtime Into Job Offers to Write a Great Cover Letter Things You Should Be Doing If You’re Unemployed ADVICE ON YOUR LENGTHY UNEMPLOYMENT CAREER COUNSELING COMMUNITY Events work that inspires you letter necessity Letter what have yous ways to boost your career search to Find a Job (Yes, Even Now) into a job or something godawful ways you're sabotaging yourself's not about me, it's about you... the 20 questions you need to ask in a job interview Job questions

Monday, September 23, 2013

Foraging Towards Heaven

There  is no future out of the abyss that we've created for ourselves as a populace. That being said, sometimes we can find kernels of hope that can erratically burst with life in the otherwise doomed wasteland we call society. One of these that I was most blessed to find was in a book entitled, "Backyard Foraging", by Ellen Zachos. This very engaging annal documents 64+ plants that can be harvested, prepared and eaten by us humans. This women is a saint and I would gladly do most anything she requested.


This is because much of my Boston experience has revolved around the act of muttering vehemently at the flora that is present as if it could even listen. TThis is due in part to the immense amount of invasive and especially non-native invasive species of plant that inhabit the Urban Wilds. The Norway MapleJapanese Barberryswallow wort and Purple Loose Strife really do as much to crush our hopes and dreams for the future as they horde space, water and resources away from vegetation that would actually give something ecologically. Don't get me started on the Japanese Knotweed which could probably grow on top of your X-box console as it is that adept. These plants are hell on earth yet and in many ways we've lost any semblance of control over them.

The joy of Dr. Zachos' (I don't know if she officially holds a doctorate but I will certainly regard her that way!) book is that it guides you through the realization that  much of these horrid weeds are edible! Not only are there many edible plants out there, but many are healthy and sometimes delicious! For example...
Milkweed  - Many edible parts.
Dandelions - many edible parts (come forth sometime and we can brew some dandelion wine!)
Sassafras leavesDay Lily flowers, Garlic MustardRose Hips = edible, edible, edible, succulent!

And yes, the Knotweed is edible too. We're thus able strike back in a way that can help us be stewards of our environment and of our bellies. Some of the choice edibles one has to be considerate of. We shant' eat too many huckleberries for there might not be enough for everyone. You might also think, that a meal of just plants isn't the greatest. However only plants is what ultra-Runner Scott Jurek eats and that man has run hundreds of miles at a  time! Can you argue with that?
You Can't Argue With That
Somewhat related (though mostly not at all), this book can remind us of the works of the angry scientist Gary Taubes. This man, I believes, spends a lot of time writing to espouse an Atkins type diet saying that refined carbohydrates are what make us fat. It would be important, from Taubes perspective, that any of our carbs that we consume come from vegetation that is harder for our body to digest. This would prevent the insulin spikes that cause our cells to horde their fat rather than burn it. You can eat the squirrels too, but certainly don't refine any damn wheat into flour. Taubes will get you!


I now enjoy my runs now interspersed with foraging romps through the patches of Knotweed. I try to crush much of it (don't worry it's a futile effort and there will plenty of the damn weed to go around) as I wade through it's satanic groves. I look for ripe shoots that I can feast upon as I become satiated on their slightly lemony flavor and the sense that I am giving out at least a tiny fraction of the justice that they deserve as a species. This gives me at least an grain of hope. Make sure one only forages from plants at least 100 feet from roads!
What if we could all join together in foraging? We could all ignore the reams of products that the industrial food complex like to regurgitate upon us. The Spinach I like at the Shop and Stop costs me at least $3.00! I could forage my own salad and in fact the dandelion leaves are healthier! If we could all forage somewhat we could both do a small amount to help dismantle the machine that looms over us all and help maybe stem the overwhelming flood of invasive plants and their utter wrathfulness upon our fertile land.

The Machine

Thank you and god bless america.

Our American Dream

What the American Dream needs to be about for our generation is re-engineering and drastically improving the framework in which society needs in order to function. We can can't continue with this amount of dysfunction in our political system, our labor market, and our educational system. With our economy having a monstrous amount of income disparity, with global markets, food, water and key resources threatened, and ultimately, with a planet that is becoming less habitable for our civilization; we need to create a better system in which to continue our experiment of what we view as an advanced civilization.

Our "American Dream" needs to be one in which we're focused on using our intelligence, tools, and capabilities (which are as advanced as they've ever been) on restoring the capacity to maintain human civilization.
None of this white-picketed fence bullshit.
Pretty good to watch now

Friday, April 19, 2013

A Few Resources

Hi everyone. I just want to quickly put out a few resources that might be useful with the amount that we're dealing with as a city right now.
  • Riverside Community Care is a mental health organization that runs an after-trauma response program. They have a number of useful resources here that can be helpful for anyone. This is a general self-care check sheet that discusses some simple things to remember in the after-math of a crisis. It really emphasizes, maintaining social connections, sleeping regularly and promoting healthy routines but all things that are harder in the midst of a pretty harrowing event. Definitely check it out (here).
  • Two hotlines might be useful: The Disaster Distress hotline (1-800-985-5990) is staffed by trained counselors from a network of crisis call centers located across the U.S. They can give some counseling for people in an emotional crisis, tips for healthy coping or referrals. The Samaritans of Boston has a 24 hour helpline (877   870 - 4673) that is free and available for anyone to call. It's staffed by trained volunteers  who are there to listen and support anyone who is isolated, in a crisis or if they are having thoughts  of suicide. In the end, it's kind of like a professional venting service. It's extremely helpful for the times late at night, nobodies around and you have to talk things through. It's a great number to have if you have a friend you are  concerned about as well. It's confidential as well unless they become immediately concerned about your safety in a life or death type of way. This is the same idea but in an instant message chat. 
Probably many of you heard of the one fund. Red Line had a very wonderful deal for to by a three class pass for fifteen dollars (awesome deal) and has raised $1000 which will go to the Mass General Fund and the Red Cross. But I just wanted put in some articles that had some great resources for ways to help out and support those in the community affected by the attack on Monday. Apologies if they are a little dated.
  • Boston Marathon bombing: How to help mentions  a number of important ways to donate on top of some links for offering a place to stay, offering information to relevant authorities, to giving a blood donation,  to the Just get out there and run movement. Some of this might be a bit dated at this point but certainly still has some good ways to help which are crucial still I imagine.
  • This Yahoo article here mentions a movement to encourage random acts of kindness:  #26Acts2
  • Continue just to check in with folks. Asking people how they are doing and being ready to listen about any thoughts, feelings or reactions they have is very helpful. It's going to continue to be a lot to process and put together. I often loathe social media but I thought it was great as way for keeping people updated, posted and communicating.
 A few other nice things.
  • This article nicely explains how and why our hospitals were able to do such an amazing job treating those who were wounded on Monday. Some amazing doctors, nurses and medical staff that worked tirelessly  and critically planned ahead when news first broke out.
  • This time-lapse video of Yosemite (and SETI?) was kind of a nice breather.
  • Obama's speech at the memorial service today (or yesterday) was quite good.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

We're Mostly A Horses Ass

     In the post-industrial world we live in today, it's important to say to oneself that "I'm actually quite dumb compared to everything."
     This is important to do for many reasons but, it's crucial if we actually want to behave as constituents in our representative democracy. The reason for this is that too often we believe we have "the answer" to solve one of societies ills. This is in spite of us not possessing an expertise in finances, engineering, military, law or any of the other areas that we might be ostentatiously spewing our "informed opinions" like we're the goddamn holy grail.

     What we end up doing is trapping ourselves in a corner. With every problem that we're facing as a society; climate change, global terrorism and maybe a Nuclear Iran, educational disgust, abuses of all sorts, political corruption, homicide or suicide or just lacking enough space or water to support our global population, there are a multitude of solutions that are both possible and probably needed.

     What happens is that we all focus on our ideas to solve the problems (even though we might only know as much as a puddle of fucking bile in the respected field) and we become so heated and polarized to the point where our solution is the only possible one.

A lot to learn from here...
     Take the issue of gun control. First off, I don't think the issue itself is gun control, the issue is the level of gun-related deaths, both in homicide and suicide. Very quickly, the argument has evolved into one focusing on access to arms and the second amendment.

     One can find, first off that by far most gun-related  deaths are suicides and not homicides. One can learn about the level of guns already out there and questions as to whether we would actually take people's guns away. We can look at the level of violent images or media American children are exposed to and maybe even compare those with other countries. Hath one can then take note that the National Alliance  of the Mentally Ill (NAMI) recently gave the U.S. a whole actual "D" for our mental health system and think about how we support those who are dealing with acute mental illness.

     Gun control is part of the picture, as are the number of guns, but there are a multitude of other factors to explain just why we're so goddamn awful to one another and really just sometimes horrifying as a populace.

     What becomes important is to be able to concisely yet comprehensively understand and express the nature of a problem faced by you as a local in an area. Give that feedback to your representative, to your neighbor, to the experts in the respected fields that it relates to. Let them reconcile your feedback with their expertise and background knowledge (kinda like this economic setup)  of the whole situation and that will produce a much better  outcome then you pulling something out of your fat ass because your heated.

     Can you even begin to engineer a series of traffic lights in a town, or effectively make sure that the ones are already there are running probably? Probably fucking not, we just don't know enough! So why do we think we  have the "solution" to huge societal problems that are affected by a multitude of variables and then actually try to change things based on our stupid notions while not listening to the ideas of others who are  probably more capable?

Gonna get at ya'

     Know that you're basically pond scum in the big scheme of things. Compared to the complexity of issues we're faced  with today, you're essentially some neolithic, primordial creature that can barely detect  motion and produce your own body heat.  You're a Newt, you're ooze, and you shouldn't even begin to feel passionately about a specific agenda as you're probably just gonna be wrong in some way. Thus be open, listen, and focus  on understanding the problem rather than having the answer...

     Don't even look at me.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Coming to Conclusions

Another reason why we're kind of doing a terrible job at things may be as follows: Ok, Americans have a view point on things. Anything really. We all do.

But rather then letting our view point develop based on incoming information, we find incoming information to support our view point. This is our confirmation bias! We seize and freeze on information that supports our conception of the world in the need for cognitive closure rather than put ourselves in places both physically and cognitively that allow our views to be shaped by novel information.

If you're conservative you'll turn to fox news for your information and make sure to not watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer. If your liberal, you'll watch the daily show perchance with a side of NPR and PBR if that's still the rage. In the raging smorgasbord that is our media, we can pick and choose what  information we'd like to be bathed  in and can enter our own echo chamber. There are so many choices!

Rather than trying to reach a valid reality, we put  ourselves in a world that  is our conceptualized creation. It's mostly masturbatory  Rather then being challenged by new ideas, we let ourselves "feel good" and get real riled up about something that must be true. Rather than take a different mental perspective or develop a sense of skepticism, we sheepishly follow our feelings and follow others that hold similar feelings to a place that makes us feel even more strongly about what we already thought was  true not knowing how we even got to this place to begin with.

So much Bias! There is even one called the google effect! Fuck...

As a society, we can't even begin to function if this is how we all behave. If we can't allow ourselves to open our schema of the world to be altered by facts and new information than there  is no way that we can come together as a populace to compromise, find common ground or effectively govern. The polarization we see in our politics, which is a major factor in our congress being petulant and ineffective is caused by our tendencies to let our viewpoints shape our empiricism, versus the other  way around. We should stop this. Nobody likes this sequestration, I don't know what it is, but having such an ineffective society that lends itself to having such ineffective representatives really just makes all of us feel flaccid. No one likes that!

Let information be your quilt that is weaved from a fabric of many colors, strands and textures... Yes...Take in it's variety and complexity rather then only a part of it. Otherwise, your quilt won't be as pretty and it's uniformity will fail in it ultimately warming you for some reason.... heed these words.

Please do this as I don't think our ability to govern and ultimately function can survive if we don't.  Twitter can help actually! This too!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Why we are Failing

The question of societal failure, believe it or not, was a topic of my ranting at one point. This rant was mostly aimed at some kindred folk at MIT while we were eating pizza (that tasted like delicious) and I asked them why it was that so much attention and effort from so many smart people (dealing with gamma rays and the like) was being focused on a lot of things like Iphone apps and social media, and delving further into the digital age rather then dealing with issues like water scarcity or climate change.

It then turned out there was an On Point piece with Tom Ashbrook about this similar topic. The question was, whether as a society we were capable of solving the big challenges that maybe we once were. The big comparison was  putting a man on the Moon in the 60's during the Apollo Mission... would we  be able to do something on a similar scale today?

When NPR's most wiley journalist (Tommy A. of course) and my self are on the same page, you know somethings real wicked in the water and I get the chance to wallow in feelings of vindication!

Tom Ashbrook at the WBUR Gala Oct. 15, 2012. (Mary Flatley for Liz Linder Photography)Mary Flatley for Liz Linder Photography
This cat can ball!
As follows, I'd love to discuss some of the reasons, I believe (believe cause I stole the beliefs... you know... from other people) that we might be less capable of solving some of the global challenges of  our age today, then other generations in the past. Many more capable peoples have similar pieces to this, but at least mine will be guaranteed to have poorer punctuation.

I'd point out that much of what we accomplish today compared to what we used to  accomplish is fairly useless. The development of social media and our dive into the "digital age" are neat but often don't help us deal with our unmet needs (mind you sometimes they  do!). Sure  we can develop "angry birds" and "farmville", of course the sub-prime mortgage that was developed was great for everyone. But hear me out...

Just Destroying Everything we Hold Dear

No time on a digital device will:

  • Directly provide us the food we eat or allow us to eat.
  • Directly provide us with shelter.
  • Or provide clean water. 
  • Allow you to have a real physical connection with someone (unless there is google touch).
It's not reality and it's the world of reality, the real reality, that one needs to address in our day of age so wrought with issues. Until we transport our consciousness  inside "the Machine" as some say we should be hoping for, we need to deal with the big challenges that exist in the same realm as we do.

What our government has evolved into has disallowed us to deal with a lot of large issues. First off, let me state off by saying I don't think I'm a communist and do believe in the nature of the free market as the major driver of our economic growth. That being said, government that works well has allowed us to direct our efforts into accomplishing things  way larger  than we could on our own. Whether it be the Marshall Plan, curing Small Pox, Ensuring Civil Liberties for minorities, investing in huge and new forms of energy such as Hydroelectric dams or creating our interstate highways system. Our government has been this catalyst and tool to progress and invest in our nation.

Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein is Pumped about Solving Societies Big Problems 

As we now have a government that is riddled with special interest groups and infused  with a vocal vocal minority of officials who in many ways want to destroy it, this major tool has lost much of it's efficacy. The free market can and does accomplish a lot.  However, so much of what needs to be accomplished isn't always financially feasible. Instead, we get so many billions of dollars spent on industries that provide goods that are instantaneously gratifying but are not beneficial to our populace. Government, when done well has been a major tool for us to solve big problems, but when so many people want to gut it in the name of lower taxes and their is an utter lack of participation, this tool becomes fickle.

The fact that we under fund our government, largely in the name of by allowing many of the wealthiest citizens to maintain much larger sums of their wealth, has done much to erode the infrastructure that allows for the foundations needed to have a strong economy and solve our large problems. Obama mentions some of this in his State of the Union address, but if our roads, bridges, utilities, basic research, Public transportation and educational systems are  not invested in, what do expect to be able to do to have a better functioning society, economy and populace?

He's Ready to Solve Big Problems with His Hoarded Wealth

Some of these global challenges might make worthy targets to solve via free enterprise, but many of our catastrophic problems; like stalling climate change or having access to fresh water, like ensuring that we do much better then having 1 out of 6 American children grow up in poverty or 925 million people in the world facing food shortages, or ensuring that we have space to live and that the Earth is able to maintain it's integrity as a habitable body and ensuring a more equitable world that is able to sustain progress, have yet to be solved by the free market, as they are just not ways that an organization can work to generate the short term profits that they need to justify their efforts.

One can Doubt that The Free Market can Stop These Horsemen
The changes in our generation in the times that they inhabit also has an effect on what we're  able to accomplish. I and many others would argue that  some of our sociability has declined in our world today. We spend less time directly in contact  with other people. I would gander that there is less time where large groups of people are physically associated together compared to earlier  times, and I believe this is due to  so much of our time  being spent in a more isolated state due to the influx of technology. We can connect with others, but often these others we connect with are not in places we can physically see them. We might be able to associate with others on reddit and tumblr, and share an interest, but you can't touch these folks and much is lost in the digital association. This in itself is more then enough of a barrier to allows us to mobilize in some form of collective action to address a big problem as it's just hard enough to get enough of us in one place now.

For many reasons, elaborated on below, I think the world is more tolerant of shameful behavior and doesn't value the need to behave honorably. The financial / housing crisis might be an indicator. We're more willing to do the wrong thing to make a  buck. One big reason for this is just the complexity and inter-connectivity of our  whole world. Vested powers can screw over people they don't see. They won't have  to face these people and see the repercussion of their actions.

If lots of other  people do crappy things, or choose to do the right thing,  we can always feel that it won't matter that much if we do the right thing. If enough people taint the collective good, then really why do the right thing? If we want to deal with climate change, it's so hard to do so  if you know that your changed behavior will matter very little unless millions of other people change their behavior is well. The tragedy of the commons is more then in full effect in our very global and often unfettered economy where certain sectors can very rapidly profit and be rewarded for often crappy behavior.

There  is also the common argument that growing up in such a digitally wired world full of texting and tweets cause us to have short attention spans! RAA! Try to see me read Faulkner, it wouldn't work!

Yippy Kay Yay Motherfucker!

Through the destruction of much of our government's capacity to function successfully, through changes  in our generation that affect our behavior as it is now and through the forces that are currently in play that influence our behavior, we have many strong obstacles in place to solve large but important challenges and more so then previous generations.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Price of our Marketing

As I sit in my here in a room that can only be described as "reeking of decay", suckling on a bottle of a generic brand of Peptmol Bismol in a futile effort to stem my heartburn, one can surely reflect that there are serious flaws in the nature of our global economy. I certainly won't have solutions or anything that can be labelled as constructive here, but I sure will gripe like a hormonal adolescent denied the privilege of sleeping over at a friends house by their parents as there might be members of the opposite sex present.

I'll be concise for the sake of everything really. Our free market is based at least on some precipice that players in this economy will behave rationally and in their best interest. Each person will purchase, consume, produce, trade, invest, in a way that logically is to their benefit. Having a free market that allows us to act logically with countless other players involved can drastically fuel our growth. As players purchase or sell for items that are logical to do so with or trade in a way that is mutually beneficial, the overall economy can grow. 

Look at all them actors behaving in the global economy!
The main problem with this is that we don't often behave that logically anymore in our economy. In our consumer based economy, we are continually using our funds to buy or purchase things that are not  that useful and are  thus not that logical to invest in. The major forces in play that cause irrational economic behavior is the billions of dollars spent on marketing (464 billion is one number given in 2011).

One might say that as actors, we're just  idiots if we act based on marketing versus our logical interest. To some extent now we have to develop our ability as a populace to find ways to give as little cognitive effort to much of this marketing. However, companies would not spend this sheer sum if it wasn't effective, and obviously decades of growth and research in the Marketing industry have made them very good. 

Look at what everyone is able to build through effective marketing strategies! Huzzah!

For many people, advertisements are probably one of the largest sources  of information (albeit skewed, biased, or sometimes blatantly false) that they receive billions of dollars are spent advertising to children as they then become a major influence on their parents to buy things and literally don't have parts of their brains to understand the falseness and ill logic of whatever message an ad is touting.

Every child comes out ahead after watching this ad!

Nothing that advanced here or new, except to say that so much of society is continually trying to fuck you. Everyday, message after message  in a wide swath of formats, colors, camouflages and guises, you are a target by some institution to spend money on something that wouldn't be that logical for you to spend money on. 

Much of this leads to success for multi-billion dollar industries in things that simply harm us as a society. The fast-food, tobacco, casino, soft-drinks industries; all multi-billion dollars in pedaling bad things. 

The crossroads where Marketing Av.and Strategy St. lead to horseshit lane (sorry not that clever/ productive)

People would counter that these industries thrives as consumers choose to but their products and thus it is the nature of humans to do this. I would counter that again, these are  industries that rely on effective marketing to be so prevalent in getting people to behave poorly for themselves. Mind you, these vices do attract to us in a basal way, but without the forces of marketing (and marketing to kids) their size would be inordinately smaller. Joseph Stiglitz, wrote similarly (as many others have I assume) in his hit and feisty piece "The Price of Inequality".

"...mainstream economics assumes that individuals have well defined preferences and fully rational expectations and perceptions. Individuals know what they want.But in this respect traditional economics is wrong. If it were true, there would be little scope for advertising. (147)" 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Ideas and Their Origins

An unfortunate consequence of the human condition is how susceptible it is to biases and manipulations that can cause one to be so firmly entrenched into an illogical viewpoint. My own view (shaped by mounds of horse shit) is that so much of the misinformation in our world today can lead us as a society to come to some very illogical conclusions.

One unfortunate examples about how we come to our ideas is exemplified by the fact that so many German's smoke. Now, there are many reasons for this as this article illustrates, but one reason roots back to Adolf Hitler and his view on smoking. 

"The real reason could be the eternal millstone around Germany's neck, the Third Reich. Hitler was a fanatical anti-smoker and tobacco was condemned as a 'genetic poison' endangering the Aryan race. With that kind of anti-tobacco activist haunting the collective memory, it's no wonder that Germans are keen to be seen as tolerant of smokers, even if the logic is a bit faulty--Hitler may have been a vegetarian but that doesn't mean liberals should eat as much meat as they can (, 2005)"

Hitler hated smoking and the National Socialist Party created some fairly strict anti-smoking measures. It is thus that German has made the logical source  based judgement "Hitler was a bat-shit monster, Hitler hated smoking and thus smoking must be a good thing!". Now obviously just because so much of Hitler's views were atrocious does not mean that smoking is a good thing just because  he thought the opposite. Similar to this is our current political system and the heightened divisions between our two parties. As we're continually being called a "more  divided America" and because there is again, mostly horse shit being flung around our democratic discourse, so much of our political views our shaped by who says what.

Now, lord knows I do this.  If Politician X who I think is a fart in a can supports  policy Y, lord knows I'll be against it. But if Politician Y who I believe  is a top notch individual, I'll go along with the idea regardless of it's individual merits. I at least do this sometimes, and at other points  I'm able to catch this.  Romneycare / Obamacare might be an apt example of this. Though it was once create by a republican governor, once it becomes embraced by a Obama it becomes hated by the similar party that created it.

The packaging, labeling and a source of an idea becomes more important than the intrinsic merits of the idea which is unfortunate. It lends to the old theme of how mindless people can be in following ideas. The skepticism and ability to think critically become so utterly crucial. We have so many ideas out there, so many problems. We also have so many people and institutions that don't necessarily come up with good ideas but are very good at selling bad ones. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

No Future? No Baby...

I'm a greedy man... Right now I don't want to produce children. Now apparently, I'm not alone in this sentiment. Much of my fellow Millennial don't want to have babies either. No Babies? Isn't this the purpose of life? Isn't this in our instincts... to have kids?

The fact that this notion of childlessness is surprising / intriguing to hoity-toighty journalists on Talk of the Nation produces rancorous ulcers in my gut. This idea of going childless makes sense and should not be that surprising .. y'all left the world the way it is, why in the name of Moses would I want to try to rear a child in it? 

A diagram of my gut when people are  shocked that I don't plan on having kids.
We might end up like Japan one day having  more 80+ folks then little tykes bouncing around. Social Security won't be the security it once was, our GDP will slow potentially and things might just get a bit smelly. Still, unless a lot of things happen in a short amount of time (and I'm not saying that it can't) then society is really not giving me much to work with in terms of confidence in a conducive environment that can support my brood!

Life sometimes reminds me more of death. Now obviously I should regret saying this but I'm heated. But really, do you see other people that much in modern day times? Do you talk a lot directly to other human beings? Sometimes? Or do you text.... do you go on Facebook... watch the latest Walking Dead/ Game of Thrones /Family Guy or that scantily youtube video, or your call of duty. Lord knows I do the latter more. It's hard to see people, but it's hard because our world has become one in which we're so privately transported  by the devices around us. This isn't healthy, and this trends robs us of the very essence of our nature as social creatures and that's not good for child development. Fucken angry birds... 

Valued contribution to civilization
Parenting now seems more like careening your child through one self-created pitfall after another and spending a lot of money and really worrying as you do it. You gotta spend money to get them into activities, they gotta be supervised (ALL THE TIME). Not from your neighbors though, you don't know them and they could be cannibals. Rather than embracing life and initiative you're trying to structure the hell out of them so they get into college. They'res not time much for play, they gotta have internships instead. They can't be left alone or they'll play call of duty or porn! Be careful of the woods, but don't let them get fat, watch out for soda! Now sports drinks! Now swimming pools! Oh my god, now teletubbies are dangerous! Parenting is perceived as a constant battle for time and space against the real and existential threats of the world that are what our world is made up mostly of now.

Real dangery!

Economically... I don't have that many practical skills. Life's gotten really expensive and kids are awfully expensive. Right now, when you're fortunate to have any sort of a full time job and the price of homes, health care and many foods are just high and rising, it's so financially unfeasible to have kids. College. Everyone who played a part in making higher education both very necessary but also extremely expensive should just go ahead and punch themselves in the face. THAT was good for everyone, thanks! I can't envision being able to afford kids or to be able to do a good job in affording the time needed to rear them well. 

Morally. Now this sounds weird, but because things have just gotten so bad in my very limited view, it is our responsibility to fix things. Personally, I'm certainly not always wonderful with this, but that being said I would not do as good of a job for the world if I had to be a parent of something I kinda made. The joy of it I heard is where this comes from in the sense that you're  whole perspective changes based on the sheer love and ecstasy you feel for  your little creature. The attention, time, energy and resources that you invest in your child are not going towards other things, like functioning infrastructure! We need that. My teacher friends who are succeeding as educators can't imagine doing so if they were parents based on the time each area of their lives necessitates. They have every right to be mothers (at least I think) but logically it's probably better for society that they choose to continue to excel in their professional role then produce another life, even if they do an excellent job raising it (which they would). The important contributions that we need to make aren't going to happen if we're parents, at least in the way parenting has  evolved in our culture. Adopting might be fine, but I can't make an argument for creating a life when billions of lives are in peril due to the global circumstances that we're facing. 

Would hit actor Ryan Gosling have time to do his needed work here if he had children? I think not...

...and then there's the climate. Now god bless you if you've persevered  in denying that our climate has been changing. Your real special like. I'm glad you could hold on to such a notion in the face of immense scientific empiricism and rational thought. Sadly, life doesn't exist as we imagine or  fantasize it, even if we hold on to or perpetuate this imagined view of realty for some potential political gain! Sorry. As a human, you need to drink fresh water and you can't live in salt water. The food we eat still needs to grow, and the crops we plant to get the food we eat still need water and a reasonable climate to function. When so much of our planet's ability to do these things are in jeopardy... I mean really,what the hell? Of course our generation should all simply just have kids and shoot for that white picket fence and just hope that it's not flooded with death! Jesus Christ I feel like I'm taking crazy pills. You can't happily grow old with grand-children if the human civilization has collapsed in the mean time. It just doesn't work that way. Yes kids can be fun, but the mounting ice caps that will raise  sea levels and drown them isn't! (well in all fairness that last sentence isn't really accurate in it's portrayal of what would really happen).

Thank god this came out and fixes everything!

I could go on, the fiscal cliff, economic disparity, consumerism, political dysfunction, MTV, Grover Norquist... etc. etc. But, please know that we have to do something about these issues. These issues, the global economy, the dehumanization of our modern world, the changing climate among all make for a pretty crappy world in my view to produce a kid in. And yes, maybe I will adopt one day if more young blood is needed in our graying American landscape to keep it youthful / vibrant, but we certainly as fuck need to make this a more functional society. And yes, I'm probably failing at "doin something" about this, when I often rarely know what it means to be doing something but I can still do better. Overall, we might be failing more then we're moving forward with fixing our civilization, but theoretically we can do this. We kind of have to. After that we can pop them out... you know.... if all of our parts still work. 

G norquist want's most of your parts...