Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Cutting through the Email
I have over 10k unread email (stuff that isn't in my spam box). Some of it is from listservs I couldn't get to, some is from causes I signed up for that seem to send stuff my way weekly. Some is actually valuable. And each time I open my email inbox, I have a little trepidation because I know there will be more there than I can get to, and I'll need to triage.
Gmail is quite helpful in many respects. I have come to rely on the search features, the tags, and wish I had the time to set up real distribution lists in my contacts. I'll make time for that at some point (but then I have several hundred contacts to weed through...).
Anyway, here is a blog post by the folks at Google with some great advice for managing email.
lyrics: "And every day the paper boy brings more..."
agape to all,
Monday, June 29, 2009
Some day, I hope to have one of these posters from Syracuse Cultural Workers around in my life as a helpful reminder, for all those times that I forget. When I saw this poster last week at GA, somehow it just resonated.
lyrics: R.I.P MJ
agape to all,
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Nighttime Train in the Mountains
The soft sound of the train horn,
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Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Stapled to the Wall in my Hostel in Salt Lake City
Here is the Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints document "A Proclamation to the World." It pretty much has their definition of one-man, one-woman marriage, along with some stuff about our Pre-mortal, Mortal, and Eternal states of existence. It was written in 1995, and seems to be a strong antecedent for the Mormons' push for Prop 8 in California, and other anti-gay-marriage efforts elsewhere.
For me, this quote is the one that nullifies the whole document because it stands so strongly against reason, and even stands out as causing a visceral reaction: "We declare that God's commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force." Overpopulate much?
It's stapled to the wall of the common room in this hostel. They also have a cardboard cutout of Aragorn, a cutout of Obi Wan Kenobi, and a knight's suit made out of thin tin, that looks like it would fit somebody about 5' 8".
I am here in SLC with 5000+ Unitarian Universalists for UU General Assembly. Perhaps more comments later on that. For now, just know that I have Obi Wan and Aragorn for housemates.
agape to all,
Sunday, June 14, 2009
New Biggest Yacht in the World, Complete with Missile Defense System
Here is a yacht costing 300 million pounds. It's owned by Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, and an intentional display of wealth.
Go ahead, read about it.
I am keeping my eye on the world's largest private boats, because there's definitely a distributive justice issue here.
This is not to simply finger-point. This single example of a 40 year-old man throwing down hundreds of millions, probably billions, on boats for private use is just the superlative stereotype. In my previous post about the iGoogle photo themes, as I was writing how it would be nice to accommodate those with 1920 pixel wide screen resolutions, I realized that was indicative of my own luxury. I could perhaps get by with a smaller screen, and most people do, but at least I am using it. I have more guitars than I need, and we have a high-quality stroller for our baby, when many do just fine with a $50 umbrella stroller. For everything except the guitars, and even arguably the guitars, there is a rational reason:
- The guitars: each of them has a little different sound, different playability, and different personality. I also like to keep some of them in different tunings.
- The stroller: those cheap ones are not designed for tall people, and I'd have to stoop down almost a foot to push it, which is heck on my chest and back.
- The monitor: I can have two documents open at once, and can be more productive, plus I really enjoy being able to have a fuller view, instead of a cramped little keyhole.
- The boats: I won't assume to answer for them, but they probably have a reason that works for them.
agape to all,
That's very good, and I have two issues, or things that would make it better.
1. This should be entirely open format, so that, for example, if I had 4 pictures cropped to the correct resolution, I could post them on, say, Picasa, as a set. Then others could just click it and use it without it having to be formally *on* the iGoogle themes page. Integration is a good thing.
2. The resolution on these is kind of limited. On a 1920 x 1200 monitor, the right and left ends are just empty black boxes. It would be great if these images were wider, so that those with wider screens could see more edge. Not a huge deal, but just a refinement.
agape to all,
Thursday, June 11, 2009
So, regardless of what the highest tax brackets pay (currently, in the US, it's 35%), the total amount of money brought in for the government to use has been consistently around 20% of Gross Domestic Product. While I don't agree with some of the conclusions of this article, I think this quote speaks volumes:
Putting it a different way, capital migrates away from regimes in which it is treated harshly, and toward regimes in which it is free to be invested profitably and safely. In this regard, the capital controlled by our richest citizens is especially tax-intolerant.In this global economy, the people with the most money (or in a sense, the pools of money themselves) will find ways to port it to a country or state where it gets taxed the least. Note that the poor do not have that same privilege. And what a privilege it is to be able to choose your own tax rate!
[edit: I just came across this gem on HowStuffWorks.com from George W Bush in 2004 agreeing with this: "The really rich people figure out how to dodge taxes anyway."]
If you lower the highest tax bracket, you'll be effectively raising the lower tax brackets, to bring it all to an average of 19.5%. If you raise the highest tax bracket, you're lowering the tax burden on the poor, but you're also hurting the economy because the jobs and the pools of money flow away. If we can put up walls between the US and Mexico, and we have minutemen ready to self-police the border, can't we have some real oversight of where the US money is going, especially if its in the form of easily-accessible (by the government) digitized bank records?
Where the government's money is going to is a major concern. And where the government's money is coming from should also be a major concern. Is our government's ability to levy taxes on the wealthy really that compromised?
lyrics: "Declare the pennies on your eyes."
from Taxman, by the Beatles.
colors: green of dollars, silver of the coins, and transparent of the digitized bits.
chant/prayer/mantra: the budget is very much a moral concern.
agape to all,
At the library where I work, there is a series displayed by Eva Bovenzi, an artist I had never heard of before. I really like her work. The name of the series is MESSENGER.
Here are a couple excerpts from her artist's description of the series:
Conceptually, they were born of my fascination with humanity's need to create a narrative that explains our presence in this unexplainable universe. "Who are we? Where do we come from? Where are we going?" are questions that can never be fully answered, yet we fight to the death over our constructions. Human beings insist upon meaning, and the stories we've told ourselves are both dazzling and poignant.
Angels have been particularly interesting to me, both visually and conceptually, and this work was made with the idea of angels in the back of my mind. Beautiful, powerful messengers, intermediaries between Heaven and Earth - human beings with wings: what a lovely, odd idea. Gabriel, the Annunciating Angel, is the most often depicted, and I have always found the story of the Annunciation resonant. A description of matter being charged by spirit, it speaks beautifully of our desire to unify our dual nature and of our longing to be touched by the divine - to "talk to God".
The diptych structure of this work obviously derives from the idea of two wings, but the inequality of the halves and their misalignment allude to the continuing imperfection of our knowledge. We see things askew, our answers don't add up, our efforts to improve the world often make things worse. And in these times, just whose God is or isn't talking to us? Human beings without wings: what a funny scary idea.
"Give it to me, please
I said to god.
It's only fair.
Instead, he sent three angels
To move the river,
So now it flows by my house,
So now it goes by my house."
From Angel, by Belly
agape to all,
Sunday, June 7, 2009
The Latest on Nuclear Fusion
While I still remain skeptical about the actual likelihood of success for this iteration of the process of creating contained nuclear fusion at Lawrence Livermore's National Ignition Facility (NIF), I am also hopeful that this will help guide our research.
Lasers, lasers, and more lasers. And amazing amounts of instantaneous energy. Wow. Maybe a little scary too.
I'm just thinking of all the good we could do with all the energy nuclear fusion could provide us. We wouldn't have to bat an eye about the high energy costs of desalinization. We could power an energy grid that could mean we have clean trains running from every city on each continent, and we could even power boats and individual transit eventually once we get the battery technology up and running. Of course, sadly, there's probably also a lot of bad we could do with that energy, and I'm not going to devote my own energy toward considering it. But what awesome/awful wars we could have with that much energy! But all sardonic attitude aside, with all that energy, we'd have a surplus of it, and energy wouldn't be a scarce resource. Without scarce resources, the reasons for going to war are greatly diminished.
chant/prayer/mantra: Let there be light.
agape to all,