Thursday, November 20, 2008

Sorry, I'm busy compiling

You can only use this excuse so often, but luckily google has made it easier to e-mail and gchat without guilt by using the terminal theme. Probably not actually, but I think the theme thing is pretty awesome, but that's google for you I guess, always having to be the most awesomest... Sorry about the lack of substance for you, but the fact that I got to link one of my favorite xkcd's makes it worth it I guess.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

I love Heidi Swanson

In honor of high quality photographs and cameras, Thanksgiving, pretty women, love of cooking, and the fact that 80% of this blog is or was at some point a vegetarian, i provide you with my favorite website at the moment:

Long Live Quinoa

Friday, November 14, 2008

Rampant Immaturity and the Enabling Thereof

Looking for a way to piss someone off? Say "Fail" when they've made a mistake or otherwise achieved an undesirable outcome. This little word, although increasingly frequently being used facetiously, carries with it a lifetime of baggage. Throughout the twentieth century and now proceeding to the twenty first, is overarching and rampant de-maturation of society, observable in how we react to failure and unfortunate situations. The ability to put one's self in Fail's way and to cope with the results is a pinnacle of maturity.

A recent Psychology Today article put forth an examination of the "social experiment" of the notion of adolescence. This article references the creation of a new demographic in the twentieth century. These teenagers, who would have enjoyed adult independence and responsibilities just 150 years ago are now confined to a school system until they are passed their peak. The chief impetus for legislation stunting the growth of young adults was to reduce child labor and increase education. While these laws effectively met their goals, they also stunt the emotional growth of our youth. Nearly doubling the incubation period of children has served to instill a fear of failure and reactive societal enabling attempting to prevent failure.

Among individuals, enabling failure has taken the form of our social security system, programs similar to MIT's pass/fail system, and the time honored tradition of keeping people's retirement investments from tanking. I'm in favor of both social security (retirement, unemployed, welfare, and disability benefits) and MIT's pass/fail system. It is a social responsibility to take care of those who cannot take care of themselves. It is also mutually beneficial, as caring for them reduces homelessness and crime everywhere. However, one must acknowledge that they are enabling failure by providing a safety net for these people.

Lately, we have been seeing far more insidious activity occurring when it comes to the prospect of failure. When the banks started slipping into worse and worse financial straits, the government acted first with inaction (denial) and then with its bailout (enabling). This bailout seems rational--the banks provide such central and fundamental services to the economy that if they were to fold, the economic fallout would be extreme. Liquidity would dry up, 401ks would be devalued, and the stock market might have crawled to a halt. Now that the electorate has been desensitized to the concept of multi-billion dollar bailouts, however, the proposition of bailing out the Detroit auto companies seems somehow legitimate. It is not. This bailout would be a reward for those who have failed. The profound losses shown by Ford, GM, and Chrysler are not entirely dependent on the recession. These are companies that have been showing declines in profit for years, that have been devastatingly mismanaged and have clearly erroneously misjudged their consumer base. Any bailout of Detroit would be enabling their failure. It would set a dangerous precedent for other large corporations.

Failure is harsh. When large companies fail, real people are faced with unemployment and everybody feels the pain. When individuals fail, they have to come to terms with their own shortcomings and inadequacies. Failure is necessary though. The best way to learn is to try and fail. The best way to make money is to risk failure. The best way to grow up is to learn how to deal with failure and to fail constantly, but succeed the majority of the time.

Universal Healthcare

Lately, there's been a lot of buzz about Obama instituting universal health care within a year or two (even the first 100 days). Whenever this topic comes up, an endless list of comparisons between American and European/Canadian health care ensues. One of the counterarguments I find most annoying is the assertion that universal health care is bad because of wait times. Apparently the average wait time for an MRI in the U.S. is 2 days and in Canada is greater than 100. There are three scenarios I can come up with:
1. Under a system of universal health care people go in all willynilly for MRIs because they're fun. These crazy patients just sign themselves up for MRIs; they don't have to be referred by a doctor.
2. Doctors in universal health care systems don't know how to perform tests other than MRIs that doctors in America know how to do, so instead of simpler in-office tests, they send all of their patients into the 100 day line for an MRI.
3. In America everyone who needs an MRI doesn't get one because they can't afford it or are too lazy to get an appointment. This scenario implies that the richest country in the world doesn't see it as a moral issue that everyone is given the health care they need, or they do see it as a moral issue, but don't really give two shits.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

really, would it be that hard?

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or some crap like that.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

get it while it's hot

The internet strikes again.

And this time, it took me an entire day to figure out what a DRGBL was. If you can get it before this giveaway, I salute you.

So how long before an internet meme becomes just another internet annoyance? I'll keep you posted, this one might be a 24 hour flu. Either way, I've subscribed to the RSS.

Excuse my vegetarian ranting, but seriously...

I didn't really put much thought into this post, but it's articles like this that really get to me.

So much is wrong with the American food industry, and the worst part is that we know it too. There has been so much press recently, including great articles and books (notably "In Defense of Food" by Michael Pollan.) However nothing seems to change. As cited in this article, "in the case of beef, 150 out of 162 samples came from animals that ate nothing but corn." Doesn't anybody else find it disturbing that animals that have been raised to eat grass are now fed corn, fueled by cheap oil, simply because it is so cheap? This article notes how this corn fed "meat" is being served in our nations fast food restaurants, but the real scary part is that at purportedly "fancy" steakhouses, they tout the fact that their steaks are all "corn-fed", um, excuse me? The fact that it is served in fast food restaurants is obviously a larger issue to the general public, but the reality that it is praised in a place where your meal costs more than a flight to Europe, that to me is just ignorance. Another scary fact is that while so many people are struggling with starvation, the corn that is produced to make corn syrup and to feed livestock is inedible to humans such as ourselves, what sense does that make! Not only is it inedible, but animals require 12x the amount of sustenance as humans do to survive . 80% of the corn and 90% of the soybeans in America are eaten by animals. To me it seems that we could be much more efficient in the way we are farming, and for what reasons.

My only hope is that people will become more informed, and that eventually a change will take place, a change that I seriously believe in.

I'm happy to see that the president elect has in fact taken some initiative to respond to this epidemic. In a recent interview, Barack Obama said the following;

“I was just reading an article in the New York Times by Michael
Pollan about food and the fact that our entire agricultural system is
built on cheap oil. As a consequence, our agriculture sector actually is
contributing more greenhouse gases than our transportation sector. And
in the mean time, it’s creating monocultures that are vulnerable to
national security threats, are now vulnerable to sky-high food prices
or crashes in food prices, huge swings in commodity prices, and are
partly responsible for the explosion in our healthcare costs because
they’re contributing to type 2 diabetes, stroke and heart disease,
obesity, all the things that are driving our huge explosion in
healthcare costs. That’s just one sector of the economy. You think
about the same thing is true on transportation. The same thing is true
on how we construct our buildings. The same is true across the board.
For us to say we are just going to completely revamp how we use energy
in a way that deals with climate change, deals with national security
and drives our economy, that’s going to be my number one priority when
I get into office, assuming, obviously, that we have done enough to
just stabilize the immediate economic situation.”

Thank you Mr. Obama. It definitely is the kind of attitude we need if we are to someday, hopefully soon, make a change that our nations population, especially it's children, are in dire need of.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Gender Blogging

Our blog appears to be gender neutral (with a slight preference for male)

As an experiment in gender, I've decided to write you a blog post about blog duties based on the fifteen words most frequently used by blogboys and bloggirls.

Remembering to update your blog can be as hard as remembering your Mom on Mommy's day. We should get Google to promote a "National Blog Day," where every Blogger user gets reminded to update their blog's programming. Gosh, sometimes I think we should outsource our blogging duties to India, even though it might benefit our economic situation to husband our blogs locally. Also, tip your server when you settle the tab.

It's time we cried of our duties to the democracy of the blogosphere instead of idly gaming away the day. Members of all digital nations get to have their own data, from Microsoft users to Linux users. Don't be freaked out by this opportunity, be tickled pink!

We all understand, it be hard to maintain a boyfriend, a hubby, and a blog, no matter how adorable they are. No matter how many 'GBs' your 'software' is, you can't give everyone your kisses. Not to be graphic, but sometimes you've just got to take off your shopping skirt and bare your cute, yummy blog ass to the world.

Why Barack Obama? Why George Bush?

It is no secret that the presidential elections in the US are not based solely on the issues. There is the common saying that the most electable candidate is the one with whom you can see yourself going out for a beer. Richard Nixon lost the campaign in 1960 during his first debate with Kennedy, because he was old and sweaty. Is this reason a legitimate basis for a vote? What exactly is it that makes you want to get a beer with one candidate over another?

My proposed answer is a reading of integrity. I don't want to get a beer and have a conversation with someone who just blabbers about what he thinks I want to hear. I'd rather talk to someone who is honest and upfront about their opinions, doesn't seek validation, and conducts the conversation with transparency. Throughout the whole campaign, Obama didn't lie about his past; he didn't obfuscate his policies; and he didn't tell people what he thought they wanted to hear. The McCain campaign floundered from topic to topic, trying to figure out what people wanted to hear. They tried to tell people that they wouldn't be safe under Obama. They tried to attack Obama's experience. They tried to make the campaign all about low taxes. The Obama campaign presented a clear, simple message: if you want change, vote for Obama. The McCain campaign realized the efficacy of that message, and tried to cram the ticket's "maverickness" down people's throats, saying "ooooh we're change candidates too!!" People don't like being told what they want to hear; they like being told the truth.

McCain's style of campaigning is certainly not new. John Kerry fell victim to it in 2004. He was constantly accused of being a "flip-flopper." As much as I detested those accusations and acknowledge that the issues were more complicated than "flip-flopping" gives them credit for, Kerry was guilty of pandering to the crowd. He compromised his morals to fit his perceived impression of what the electorate was looking for. Going back historically, you can examine which campaigns contained the most authenticity; these are usually the candidates who won.

Obama's style of authenticity and truthfulness was astounding. He did what most candidates are afraid to do, because having every decision you've made in your life examined is utterly terrifying. Obama understands that integrity is not just about telling the truth when asked. It's always telling "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth." He didn't need someone to interview everyone who knew him finally to find out that he had done cocaine or marijuana. His character was virtually un-attackable, because there were no dirty little secrets to uncover.

People know instinctively when they're being lied to, misled, or having details omitted or obfuscated. If you want someone's trust, transparency is a must. If you want someone's vote, trust is a must.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Problem Number One

I'm unsure now how to handle going for a drink with a girl. It sort of doesn't work does it? Which does one sacrafice in this situation?

After thinking long and hard about this, my decision would be to not look awkward and to have a drink. I mean, I am an adult, participating in an abstinence of alcohol to improve my current situation in a way right? However, it seems that if the decision to abstain got in the way of another area of life (of more importance) than the more important area should take precedence.

I would hope that this decision is one that would be shared among my fellow bloggers.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Abstinence Only

Chris and I have begun No-Bev-Ember (it looks better with caps) heard it here first. At first I was planning to refrain from a public announcement, as failure would then mean public disgrace. With the cat out of the bag, there is now more pressure which will hopefully equate to more success. In case you are lagging behind the topic, the wonderfully titled Nobevember is a joint effort by Chris and myself to avoid alcoholic beverages for an entire month (with the exception of one day of our choosing). This endeavor shall serve many purposes: saving money, decreasing our tolerances, saving calories, and proving that "we can stop whenever we want."

At the time of writing, we have been at it for about 42 hours. I remember my last drink quite fondly. It was a shallow glass of champagne at about 11:30 on the evening of November 4th. We raised our glasses and threw back a gulp in celebration of Obama's victory. That is a fitting time to take a hiatus. I don't know what I'll miss more...Pinot Noirs? or maybe Brown Ale? In any case, reducing alcohol consumption is the most sure-fire way to reduce cigarette smoking.

Nobevember will also be an interesting foray into my roots. I didn't have a full drink of alcohol until the June after my senior year of high school. I opted for healthy living housing at Tufts and didn't drink heavily until the end of my first year (with the exception of a few night during Orientation week, but those are stories for a different day). Now I consume alcohol almost every day, to the point of drunkeness around three times a week. While I do not believe, for the most part, that I behave like an alcoholic, I do meet the consumption requisites. I am not converting to a lifestyle of teetotalism, just experimenting with living a dry life.

It's beginning to feel a... bit too early?

I've heard Christmas music twice today, once while getting breakfast, and the other at Sebastian's when I went to get my salad at lunch.

Is this going to be the trend, that until December 26th I will hear Christmas music at every meal? I will by no means be playing Christmas music while cooking at home until at least Thanksgiving (well fine, maybe Charlie Brown's Christmas once or twice, but it will only be because the genius made me.) Perhaps this is a sign that I should in fact be cooking more at home, but then again, I doubt it.

When is the appropriate time to start playing Christmas music in a public place? I always figured the benchmark was Thanksgiving, but after today's events transpired, I'm beginning to think I might be wrong.

(I'm definitely not hating on Christmas music. In fact I'm all about it.)

Harsha gets things done

Nice job Harsh, it's way more important to start doing what we're going to do. If we regularly contribute, we'll see a theme and we'll give it a name. If it goes the way of every blog I've ever started, we won't get past five posts, and it won't be a problem. Cheers to win-wins.

I'm foreseeing "coffee drinking" and "desk sitting" as major trends in blogging, if not content. The eternal struggle of T-Rex is way up there for me too. I feel his pain, he might even feel mine.

And then there was a blog

So, I thought it would be nice to get a beta version of the blog started just because there are so many interesting things coming up! Robby and Chris begin their "No-Bev-ember," and need a venue that will host their inevitably touching cessation piece. Pete meets people on a daily basis at Toad. Nate's gearing up for a big Christmas. Alex, well Alex needs a "candidate on the road" blog just because he travels so much.

As for me, I've always been looking for a place to place my observations on people watching, fun things I walk by, girls, work, the high life, and the like.

Some of us have had experience with group blogs before (may fofoohfohever rest in piece) and know how much fun it can be when everyone's involved. So let's get blogging!