Archive Page 2

26
Aug
08

Never in step

Stagnant mediocrity at present; a likely side-effect of runaway ambition… Sundry avenues for tomorrow, seldom a worthwhile replacement for meaningful existence…

I am currently visiting the place I recently called home. A sensory overload of mixed emotions; some thankfully forgotten, others regretfully abandoned – has me irrevocably stuck in my own head. I realize with rare clarity the extent to which I’ve allowed my reverence for here/now to become a fault – to reverse itself into something of a situational lapse.  I cannot visit without wondering what life would be, could be if I hadn’t left. Or if I returned as though nothing had changed, foolishly forgetting the roots presently establishing themselves in that chosen “elsewhere”.

The vast majority of my friends and acquaintances have gathered in a house long-established as a landmark gathering point. Adjacent to a sawmill and cow pasture, altitudinally below a horse pasture and in the heart of breathtaking Appalachia, this house of wood and stone encompasses much of what I love and despise there. Housing brilliant minds, unbound excitement and yet untold adventure. But also dreams lost, the basement a physical manifestation of its transience, a reminder of friends once had, projects abandoned, the wreckage of more dramatic fallings out. Piles of garbage represent past roommates, respectively – containing snippets of once-integral members of the group, remaining as a reminder that integrality is but an illusion. Constituency consists of existing members, pushing on with little regard for those past.

Some new drama has materialized since last I visited. Some new members have filled the gaps left by those of us who’ve gone AWOL. But fundamentally, for better or worse, it remains. New relationships have emerged, adding little to the group save a dizzying timeline of intimate associations amongst its members.

There are two extremes, not dichotomous, but easily organized as such. At one extreme is the complete resignation of ones’ mental capacity to the infinite “what-ifs”. On the other sits the state of total forfeit of ties to time or place. The latter amounts to traveling in the time and space immediately before oneself, the smallest and simplest conceptual “now” – around 3 seconds. Between the two exists the spectrum that is life. Each tiny point representing a unique, hierarchical aggregation of “now” and “later”.

More often do we eternally look to the future, allowing a list of “to-do’s” to remain indefinitely. That plane ticket that needs to be bought, that garden planted, those books read. “But what if I move?” “What about my job?” “What else could I, should I be doing?”  This is what I have historically plagued myself with. But here, now, I am struck with throbbing nostalgia thrust upon me by my very presence – (should I have stayed?). I’ve shifted closer to the other end of that spectrum. Only upon reflection do I recall the circumstances within which I exist, outside of this weekend that is.

It is increasingly easy for me to drop recollection of the intricacies of daily life here in the mountains, the more tedious or quotidian of tasks receding in favor of tranquil, peaceful moments cherished. I can grudgingly recall the undesirables, at times lending themselves to a vehement unwillingness to consider moving back; this ability to forever rationalize itself becoming somethign of a schizophrenic internal discourse. I too can similarly consider my ordinary life now – my physical and mental separation forgetting what it is I love and hate. For this moment, home has become a muddled memory, falling lower on the hierarchy of prudent thoughts.

They way in which we (subconsciously) choose to approach and react to life certainly cannot be deciphered in full by the simple spectrum and hierarchy described. But in some way, they are helpful in realizing a hint of pattern in more emotional moments.

As the August sun falls beneath those Blue Ridge mountains, the crisp air makes it hard to rationalize ever leaving. But the dust never settles…

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26
Aug
08

Plastic, Aluminum, or Glass?

An interesting perspective – in favor of plastic packaging.

Environmental Leader Article

22
Aug
08

Oil Geopolitics – Metrics

EIA recently released their short term outlook on global oil. I know, I know, this means that the current administration does have the capacity to understand the geopolitical climate, the ability to generate meaningful information that could be very useful in, say, governing the country…. Anyways, given my rant on the worth of quantified data, I thought it appropriate to share some stats:

Continue reading ‘Oil Geopolitics – Metrics’

22
Aug
08

Bike

What the hell was this guy doing?

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/22/world/americas/22canada.html?pagewanted=2&em

22
Aug
08

Taxation

The most interesting find is that, according to Treasury’s recent report, those benefiting from the “middle-class” benefits under Bush not only would not lose those benefits under Obama, but also would fall under the bracket to incur increased taxation. Thus, the vast majority of Republican blows to the Obama camp lose merit. Without these numbers, the gray area in which these discussions necessarily exist become meaningless jargon housed not in constructive diaologue but constructed blabbering… The simple metrics, those earning over $x per year are in x class, should be widely understood. I fear that the majority of voting Americans do so not based on a founation of facts, but of muddled rhetoric created as ammo for the opponent, not information for the citizen. The capacity for citizens to uphold our civic duty is becoming less a function of apathy as well-intentioned prospective voters are delivered “information” that must be extensively checked for accuracy…

Continue reading ‘Taxation’

22
Aug
08

“dudes, okay i am totally calling you out on this”

Well, Cronheim’s been putting me to shame on the posting.  Time to fix that.

Robin Hanson has an interesting post over at Overcoming Bias about how UFO beliefs sometimes demonstrate the inconsistency with which social-scientific reasoning is alternately employed and valued by individuals.  Robin’s insight is that the same people who declare themselves suspicious of the ability of the social sciences (in general) to describe human behavior will nonetheless use an essentially social-scientific argument to defend the belief that UFOs are not aliens.  He says we “can’t have it both ways.”

Check it out, and pay attention to the comments thread.  As this just happens to be my area of expertise, I’ll post later on how close Robin comes to being right.

On a note related to the social sciences, here’s a NYTimes piece calling for more attention (and funding) to be given to the social sciences as part of climate change research.  The argument is that the social sciences are necessary to understand how best to implement the kinds of changes in society that the physical sciences are telling us are necessary to combat global warming.

21
Aug
08

Pickens

Pretty comprehensive article on Pickens at Newsweek

Despite his rampant capitalist self-interest, the man is not too far removed. His refusal to put turbines on his 100,000+ acre ranch because they are ugly is bit disturbing. And his intention to create a huge Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) automobile market is very convenient considering he owns the most LNG filling stations in the country, via Clean Energy Fuels Corp. And better yet, his (failed) water pipeline plan, which successfully fought for eminent domain and included gerrymandering a district in the Texas panhandle to include only two of his employees, on his land, is about as bad as it gets.

But I can look past that – if it means that he will provide the necessary jumpstart for alternative energy to reach necessary scale. What is frightening about such ambitions as the water plan is not the strong-arming of government, but the  fact that the plan failed. The man has SO MUCH MONEY that he can afford to invest heavily without second thought. That wasn’t his only failure; he was driven out of the CEO position at Mesa Petroleum.

While I can’t outrightly oppose his plan, I do fear that if it does fail it could have catastrophic repercussions to the alternative energy industry.  I hope Mr. Pickens considers this, though his old age and $4 Billion makes  me wonder…