Thursday, November 08, 2012

The true failing of liberals

It is time for us to concede that we have been complicit in the problems that we face. It is time for us to own our respective roles in the ignorance that we mock and at times despair over. It is time for us to take responsibility for the edification of those around us.

I have, like many others, expended a good amount of energy deriving pleasure from the intellectual vaccuum that I witness on the conservative side of the political spectrum. I have creased my face with the grins of schadenfreude and the guffaws of superiority. I can be found, on any given day, to shake my head in open wonder at the profound absurdity of the modern electorate.

This, however, was a feast too great even for my appetite. The only thing I'm left with now is fremdschämen. My embarrassment for these people and their emotional reaction to what is objectively the best possible outcome leaves me empty. After gorging on the wailing and gnashing teeth of ignorant conservatives for the last few days I can only, now, feel pity. Pity, and remorse for my role.

There are two different things that people must invariably address when entering a debate regarding political ideology. The problems, and the possible solutions. One can only realistically be expected to propose meaningful solutions if they have had the opportunity to rationally observe the problem(s). One can only rationally observe a problem if they have both understanding of the problem space, as well as the capacity to analytically approach the elements behind it and the consequences of changes to them. The people shown in the images on the page linked above, are missing one or more of these key components. They either lack the knowledge of the problem space, or they lack the capacity to analyze consequences.

Politics is said to be a contact sport. Like in any contact sport there are winners and losers. Would you laugh at the losing team if they were handicapped? Would you mock their crying fans? This is what we all need to understand. These people have legitimate difficulties either due to lack of proper data, or lack of capacity to absorb said data. They are intellectually handicapped as regards this countries real issues.

I've had enough debates with conservatives regarding macroeconomics to know that you're extremely unlikely to change their minds regardless of the wealth of evidence you may provide. This should not dissuade us from trying. This should not encourage us to give up and become petty.

It's heart-breaking and exhausting at times to beat your proverbial head against a seemingly stone wall of ignorance, but we're the only ones who can. We most likely each know someone like this, someone who could have very well ended up in that album of shame. Let us make the effort to help them. Let's, each of us, choose at least one person to try to inform them of where their beliefs differ from reality.

One might say that this comes off as 'A Modest Proposal'. I'm not suggesting that conservatives, once properly 'educated' will fall in line and agree with specific policy. They may still very well feel that while the Affordable Health Care Act is both legitimately within the power of Congress and has been projected to lower both government expense as well as the cost of health care, that it's not the right path. They may still feel that even though lowering taxes for the wealthiest people has no observable effect on private investment, let alone general economic growth, that it's still the right thing to do. So long as they hold those beliefs based on at least a basic understanding of the consequences of their beliefs.

Rachael Maddow, I feel, said it very well.

Ohio really did go to the president last night.
And he really did win.
And he really was born in Hawaii.
And he really is -legitimately- President of the United States. Again.
And the Bureau of Labor Statistics did not make-up a fake unemployment rate last month.
And the Congressional Research Service really can find no evidence
that cutting taxes on rich people grows the economy.
And the polls were not skewed to over-sample Democrats.
And Nate Silver was not making up fake projections about the election to make conservatives feel bad.
He was doing math.
And climate change is real.
And rape really does cause pregnancy sometimes.
And evolution is a thing.
And Benghazi was an attack on us. It was not a scandal by us.
And no one is taking away anyone's guns.
And taxes haven't gone up.
And the deficit is dropping, actually.
And Saddam Hussein didn't have weapons of mass destruction.
And the moon landing was real.
And FEMA isn't building concentration camps.
And UN election observers aren't taking over Texas.
And moderate reforms of the regulations on the insurance industry and the financial services industry are not the same thing as communism.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

The artist without

I have never really considered myself an artist per se. I'm more of an itinerant dabbler in a variety of art forms. Line sketching, pen/pencil, charcoal shading, chalk, acrylic paint, free-form prose, rhymed poetry, photography, carving, molding, video/sound editing/production/composition, you name it I've tried it. Some of my literary conceits I've even subjected you, my hapless readership, to.

Lately I've found myself drawn more to the f-stop, filter, zoom, variety. To whit, I've become quite enamored of Deviant Art of late. I spent the better part of a day cropping, resizing, and posting photos to my account there.

I invite any and all of you who may pop in to check it out. I find I'm most drawn to land/sea/skyscapes, with a particular penchant for sunsets, but do have a few flowers, trees, etc.

A number of the photographs available there are photos from Maui and Yosemite, though some are from the Central Oregon cascades. I do try to label them appropriately.

Let me know what you think!

Friday, May 01, 2009

It grows in rivers, valleys, mountains, swamps, dirt, rock, on trees, amongst weeds, and through concrete. Light, air, water, and seed are it's only needs. But we prefer to primp, process, prefab, precinct, parse and poison the land. Shorten your stride and lengthen your view. It's amazing what a little perspective can do. Grocery cart or garden hose, pick your labor down cultivated rows. Retail, for sale, by the pound, aren't you proud. Sun grown, or lawn mown, in the ground, or drive to town.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Grab a seat

I have in the past, many times, usually to myself, ranted about the price tags attached to certain things. I realize that there is a certain amount of fogey vibe that goes along with bitching about things being expensive, but I feel that certain things are simply unjustifiably priced. A perfect for instance, in my mind, is the Humanscale chair. Humanscale offers all manner of types of chairs and configurations of each type. What they do not offer, is any rational justification for the prices they charge for their products which range from bottom-end ~$200 to top-end ~$1300.

I'll put it this way. If I spend $1300 on a chair I should be able to die a happy man for having the opportunity to sit in it. A chair that costs $1300 should be crafted from unknown materials out of Area 51, upholstered with the hide of the Loch Ness monster, and padded with the down from the goose that lays golden eggs. It should survive nuclear holocaust. I would expect to experience the rapture the moment my ass touched the seat because my cheeks would be resting on the pursed lips of God. The civilization of intelligent cockroaches that survive us on this planet should find these chairs and be able to determine why we ultimately failed as species.

I cannot begin to fathom how it can be said that a new desk chair could be objectively valued at $1300. Was it hand carved from a single piece of petrified wood that somehow survived millions of years of geologic turmoil only to be ripped from the ground and shaved and sliced to meet some artists rendition of the contour of the perfect human rear? No. It was, as the site describes it, "designed by legendary industrial designer Niels Diffrient, who is considered by many to be the world’s greatest chair designer."

Really? World’s greatest chair designer? Is that anything like 'world's greatest dad', or 'world's greatest coach'. Who gives a fuck if they were designed by Leonardo da Vinci or Bob from accounting? They're manufactured on a god damned assembly line like every other mass produced 'luxury' item. If the Venus di Milo had arms and cupped hands for a seat I could see paying $1300 for that. It would be a work of art. An irreplaceable one at that. But I wouldn't sit in it. It would be a conversation piece that would collect dust and eventually be forgotten and unappreciated. Much like the Humanscale chair. It shall pass on to the ages. An aluminum and plastic lament to the wanton consumerism and absurdest quest for style that spawned it.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Sweet Somber Soulful

Ever a breath away, riding on the winds. The taste of laughter, the smell of sorrow, the sound of fear, the feel of...indifference. All of the senses and nonsenses we hold dear and hostage to our self image. Our vision of ourselves will forever be tragically rooted between what we fear that we are and what we hope others believe that we are. In occasional fleeting moments the texture of our being comes into focus; the more sharply rendered the more quickly we adjust the composition so as to create a more obscure perspective. We reduce, reuse, and recycle our emotion, acceptance, empathy, and save, borrow, lend, and purchase outrage, joy, fear, and schadenfreude with our attention. Spans of certainty mar this landscape of doubt. To be certain is not to know, but to not know how to accept what is. Is this the means or the end...are we seeking a destination or have we arrived...does it matter? Truth is what you arrive at when you run out of imagination.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The issue of energy independence.

Energy independence for the United States may well not be seen in our lifetimes. The argument being that the inertia that the industry has accumulated over the last century is staggering. We are shackled to oil as religious fundamentalists are shackled to socially outmoded dogma.

The question that lies, or should, at the forefront of any debate regarding the pursuit of energy independence is not a moralistic one regarding the environment. It is purely, what can be done, and what is it going to cost. At the root of any question regarding government action is, 'is this something that the federal government should be involved in'. Too often this is ignored. The answer to this can be easily found in the ROI of whatever program is proposed. The problem right now is the fact that this question is not being addressed. It is not even a bullet point. The current administration saw fit to pander to the mid-west corn growers by passing legislation to provide massive subsidies based on ethanol production from corn. The efficiency, ROI, of this is without question well under what we should be shooting for. In business terms in order for any investment to be viable it must have at least a thirty percent return. Corn based ethanol has an estimated 24% return on energy investment. That's before even analyzing the externalities of the effect on world markets for grain and livestock. Quite simply, this was a fundamentally flawed approach both from the business aspect and the interest in energy efficiency.

Long story short, we must, without a doubt, begin to dedicate serious research into alternative energy sources, including alternative fuels and bio fuels production other than corn based ethanol. At a certain point we must reexamine the role of fuel in our lives, and in the marketplace. Fuel that is used in every walk of life, and effects the very nature of our society is a commodity. It is an energy source that defines how we live every bit as much as electricity. How then can it be responsibly left in the hands of the marketplace. How can this pivotal and fundamental part of our lives be allowed to be manipulated by foreign corporate interests with no concern over whether our middle-class can afford to drive to work, or whether a single mom can afford to pay for rising food prices due to increased overhead for distributers? How can we even think that this is a reasonable course of action? We are facing an energy crisis that could very well bring this nation to it's knees. We can ignore it and keep sucking at the teat of foreign oil interests, or we can stand up as adults and work to see this country free and energy independent. Is it going to be cheap? No. Is it going to be easy? No. Is it going to happen tomorrow? Of course not. Do we need to start today? Yes, we need to start as soon as possible.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The World as we Know it

The very simple and inescapable fact of US politics is that it's both a roller-coaster and a shell game at the same time. Candidates play three-card Monty by gauging public opinion and voter response and working to appeal to the majority, whatever that majority happens to be at the time. The effect of this is the roller-coaster ride we see between ruling majorities of partisan politics. At any given point in any country there will be challenges that need to be faced, and there will be people that feel that their needs are not being met or that they are not being represented. Politicians play the role of the conciliatory negotiator. They take on the mantle of martyr as an image and march to Washington on the backs of people that believe in them.

The problem that we are facing right now is that once they get there, there is no true accountability. There can be no accountability without transparency. Therefore, the single most important thing to me, and many others, in this election season is transparency of government, and personal accountability of it's officials.

We are not discussing electability, we are not discussing the amount to which one candidate or another appeals to our moral or personal ideals. We are discussing the direction in which our government must turn in order for it to responsibly address the issues that our country faces.

In this election year have been offered many choices, and have been left with only three. Of these three there are two that are representative of standard political fare of the last three decades. John McCain, for all of his appeals to honesty and forthrightness has been shown time and again to stand on, and for nothing. Hillary will refute any notion that she is a standard candidate by simple virtue of the fact that she is a woman. Last I checked, a vagina doesn't in any way afford you any special insight or level of political, economic, or social acumen needed to properly address the real problems that our nation faces. Neither does her 'experience' as an arm decoration for the POTUS for eight years provide an argument for precedent of validity. Barrack Obama has, however, repeatedly shown himself able to rise to challenging occasions with stunning alacrity. Many would question his experience, as if political experience actually qualified someone to be a leader, or the lack of it could be defined as a disqualification. Yet others would question his sincerity. It is the realm of the cynic to be automatically skeptical of any unknown quantity, and rightly so. But that leaves us with the option of 'the devil you know.'

Then there are those that somehow still manage to define themselves as 'conservatives' that tow the Republican party line year after year, and would define Barrack Obama as a 'tax and spend' liberal. For my money, I would vastly prefer someone that intended to spend the money that they have, not the money that they can borrow from someone else. I would prefer someone that approaches tax dollars as income to spent on the people that pay it, not on paying off special interests. I would prefer someone like Obama that has endorsed the paygo system. These are the same people that would have you believe that his plans are too expensive, and that he would ruin the economy with new taxes. With absolutely no evidence forthcoming regarding how responsible fiscal policy, and investing money in the future of technology business and education could endanger the economy, they fall back on the 'they want to steal your money and give it to poor people!' line. The sad truth of the matter, is that this is a democracy. Guess what, poor people vastly outnumber the rich, they have more votes they get what they want, that's they way it's meant to be.

For all of the above reasons I feel confident that Barrack Obama is the only rational choice left for President of the United States this upcoming election year. He has repeatedly shown the courage and the forthrightness to challenge the willful oppression of progress, both in social matters, and in economic matters.

If he's elected he may well not accomplish anything. We could easily see another shift that puts the Republicans back in charge of Congress which would lead to further gridlock and maintenance of the status quo. But at the very least, he wouldn't actively pursue known flawed policies and attempt to defend failed ideas for the sake of politics or blind, stubborn arrogance and ignorance. If Barrack Obama gets elected, it's also possible that we will see an end to the world as we know it. And I can't wait.