Thursday, January 31, 2013

Our Greatest Asset?

What is our greatest asset? Is it our military?

Or is it something greater? America's greatest assets aren't the things we use to preserve our values. They are our values.

It seems simple but often such basic thoughts can be overlooked in our daily shuffle.

Democracy, freedom, openness to new ideas, acceptance, tolerance, adaptability, community. Those are the things we swear to defend. Sometimes the greatest defense isn't military might, sometimes it is capitulating to our values and including our rivals instead of bowing to what we think might get us what we want.

It's an intriguing realization that our great nation has limits. That what we do is hindered by reality.

I have been reading some commentary on Obama's inauguration. Most of it is a drivel of some sort or another, broad sweeps that try to create a trend out of his liberal speech. But I was struck by one assessment that called him a liberal and a conservative. Specifically it referred to his tepid approach to his policies. His idealism mixed with the grounded middle path he has taken. An apprehension for sweeping changes.

Don't believe me? Even Ronald Reagan had more ambitious tax plans, even Eisenhower had loftier public works goals, even Johnson had a more progovernment vision.

In Obama's first term, that approach got him little. Aside from ACA his term was one of the least productive, in terms of bills signed, ever.

But then you look to his foreign policy and see someone far less nebulous--unencumbered by domestic politics. Our popularity has soared abroad, international agreements are far more readily made, and we haven't occupied another country.

All of these things are results I think a reasonable person can get behind. Of course there is the matter of approach. Many find his approach off-putting, going so far as to say that our president has gone on an apology tour.

And, that's not true. Plenty of fact-checking sites verify Obama's failure to apologize--Washington Post did a pretty comprehensive one. What he has done, is take a softer stance on foreign policy than the previous administration. I mean soft as in favoring diplomacy (soft power) over military action (hard power). Even then that is a tenuous distinction.

Obama is a covert president. One much more accustomed to the JFK style of intervention as opposed to a Jeffersonian.

It's odd that there are so many comparisons to Reagan. In many ways he resembles Reagan's approach, but in many ways he does not. Notably Obama does not seem to subscribe to the Nixonian view of "just crazy enough to do it."

Reagan definitely did.

The point I'm making is that Obama, despite some pretty reprehensible actions such as drone strikes, has still managed to garner more respect in the world than our last president. Arguably that gives him the ability to do more. Although admittedly Iraq and Afghanistan both have democracies now, troubled as they may be.

And under Obama's watch, the Arab Spring happened, probably not due to any direct intervention on his part. Yet, our multi-faceted and tailored approaches to these distinct revolutions has garnered us lots of political capital with minimal expenditure. Let me put it another way--Bush was a bit one-dimensional in his foreign policy. Everything was a nail and our military was a giant hammer.

Obama is more of a Swiss army knife. Sometimes you need to uncork some wine and other times you need to stab something.

When this period of American history settles into the past, I think we'll look back at this period of American history as a turning point. Our post-9/11 presidents have not only taken an aggressive and unilateral approach to world politics through our military, but we have done it without a substantial existential threat, or even a legitimate rival.

The economy contracted in 4Q of 2012 by .1% largely due to cuts in military spending. And the cuts weren't that big. That's how big our military is. It's tempting to use our hammer for every screw loose when our hammer is so freakin' big (and it's got apps and a touchscreen to boot).

I've written too much and deviated far from my point.

I was trying to say that sometimes speaking softly is far preferable to wielding a big stick and gets us further.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Discourse Vomit

I have glasses now. What a weird thing. I haven't worn glasses for my entire life. So for two days I have worn glasses—against 23 years of eye freedom.

I like them. Got them from Warby Parker. They do the whole buy a pair, give a pair thing. I can't wait until the day that they do that for shoes too! Won't that be awesome? Or laptops.

Titanium rims; I'm a hipster bad-ass. And I look “moderately” Asian according to Ciera.

“In a hot way,” says Ciera. But I think that she'd say that as long as I wasn't in the midst of committing a felony.

I'll take it.

The cat mews at the door to go out these days. I got LED lights at Costco for $5. I also am seriously considering auto insurance through them.

I'm going to NYC in February.

We started hot yoga at nights. So we go work out and then relax and sleep. What a wonderful way to exercise. I work hard; meditate; shower; sleep. And when I wake I'm energized. Hot yoga is perfect for the winter, it shakes out the cold in my bones.

I went to the beach this weekend with Pete and O. We had a lot of fun. The sun broke in the afternoon on Sunday and made leaving one of the hardest things I could pretend to do.

Sometimes things swirl through my head—partial ideas that need breath and have their own poetry separate from the lengthy retreats I give most of my thoughts.

I think the severity of the decline that the American auto industry experienced during the 90s-00s is epitomized in the resurgence of their muscle cars. Not because the cars were bad, but rather that they indicated a lack of forward thinking; models that were more forgettable than riffs on a bygone era. It is tragic when the best car in your line is a 'modern' version of your old cars. Luckily, I really like the new stuff that has come out from the American auto industry of late—forward thinking, innovative, and novel.

I need to be nicer to people.

I haven't posted what I've been writing because I want to be comprehensive. When what I've written comes out, it will account for the missing entries. Suffice it to say I have been writing every day.

The Windows store needs more apps. Apps shouldn't be hard to port across “universes” they are all written in HTML5, if someone knows why they haven't all been ported over then please, let me know. Microsoft Windows 8 Pro 3UR-00001 (Google Affiliate Ad)

I think I value listening, time, and community more than anything else. I believe that if we listen to each other, give each other space, and remember that we are all part of a community then we can truly solve our problems. We are just layers of unnecessary bull-shit sometimes. Those three things give us the space to peel away our crap and just be ourselves.

It's hard to not think of that as new-age crap. It's hard not to think of it as wishy-washy. But none of it is. I have seen it work. And durable outcomes result from the basics of respect. The selfish, the childish, the untrusting, the cynical give way to the magnanimous, the mature, the trusting, and the empathetic.

Live life without enemies.

I want to be able to say what I believe and not hurt anybody else. I have been struggling with that. As someone whose career lies in being a neutral, we aren't allowed to have opinions sometimes. What a tragedy that we can't be opinionated and multi-partial. I want to contribute and I want to help people through their problems. My idea of enlightenment—maybe in some misguided way—is being someone with the determination to change the world with the tenets of conflict resolution while still being an active participant.

What a difficult, impossible position.

I want to start a band that plays whatever the hell it wants.

I guess I'm dating my thoughts but not married to them. Never marry your opinions—it will only be the most unhappy of divorces when you lose half of your stuff and still pay child support for your indiscretions.

Stay committed to your values.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Another reading list about Guns

These are a bit Atlantic heavy but I find their writing not only informative but introspective as well.

I don't agree with them all the time--maybe just a little past half the time.  The numbers, methodology, and comprehensiveness are what I admire.

The rest of the articles demonstrate a fairly wide range of views and the many facets of this evolving discussion.  Also, the comments on some of these are priceless--for maybe not the most noble of reasons; there are some seriously stupid and vitriolic people on the internet and they aren't getting paid to do it.  Says something about us as a nation doesn't it?

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323968304578246721614388346.html?mod=WSJ_hp_mostpop_read  -- The "broken windows" perspective

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/01/nra-board-newtown-bushmaster  -- Look less to the digs at the people on the board, and more at who is actually on the board.

http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2013/01/16/obama_gun_control_executive_orders_call_for_cdc_gun_violence_research_17.html -- the importance of science.

http://shanereactions.wordpress.com/2013/01/17/the-hysteria-over-obama-executive-orders/ -- A really well written piece about what the 23 "executive orders" really were and how they fit into traditional legal frameworks.

http://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/anson-kaye/2013/01/17/hannity-shapiro-and-the-politics-of-situational-patriotism?google_editors_picks=true -- The difficulty of listening to many (but not all) pundits.  With Hannity as the main fodder; which isn't to say there aren't plenty of Liberals who are guilty of the same.

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/01/alex-jones-pitches-government-by-boxing-match/266920/  -- Oh Alex Jones.  If only to understand the rage that is echoing in the chambers of some of our most conservative corners of this nation.

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/01/back-to-guns-kant-vs-saint-augustine/266855/ -- an intriguing discourse between two writers I admire greatly.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2012/12/gun-control-1 -- Why insurrection isn't much of an argument.  Also see Article I S8 of the Constitution and cross-reference with the 2nd Amendment.

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/01/the-strangest-conservative-priority-prepping-a-2nd-amendment-solution/266711/  more on above

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-bader-dmh/guns-mental-health_b_2367324.html -- the problem with overtures about mental health with the "Matt Taibbi" liberal pundit twist.  Ditch the rhetoric and look to the facts.

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2012/12/more-guns-less-crime-a-dialogue/266576/?google_editors_picks=true -- more dialogue.

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2012/12/the-surprisingly-tangled-politics-of-gun-safety-starring-wikipedia/266601/

O walks the kitty


Sunday, January 20, 2013

Ciera signs off.

Ciera's sign off.

January Sun at Vaughn

Went to Vaughn this weekend and got this awesome patch of light.  A little January sun in the NW; what a great day.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A couple thoughts: Debt and Guns

A quick couple of thoughts.

The debt ceiling debate is kind of ridiculous. Not that it can't be reasonable. Just that the debt ceiling is to pay for debt incurred. Not raising the debt ceiling doesn't result in cuts to government. It's equivalent to refusing to pay a bill after you've ordered and eaten your food.

Second, I'm really proud of the president. Not because his actions today were flawless or that he was even 100% on target. I'm proud because he took measured, controlled steps that can really help.

I'm most happy about research into gun violence by the CDC. If we want to talk about gun violence—mishaps, injuries, death—we have to have data. I think it's incumbent upon us as a nation to be fully prepared.

Also, Obama could very well have ordered much stricter and controlling measures. Instead, he went with measures that I believe are practical and commonsense. More than anything he gave us something to discuss as a nation. We now have specific policies we can work on together.

And of course I'm happy that he's welcomed everyone to the table with respect even though it is becoming clear his “opponents” do not respect him. That takes leadership and balls.

Anyways, I'm sure there's plenty to disagree on and debate, I'm happy we have a framework that could lead to real progress.

Seattle in Fog

Seattle in winter is a colder version of the summer. I mean it, there is little difference from one season to he next in the northwest. We may get snow but that is rarely more than a dusting.

So the winter here is mild, and so are the summers. It's been cold and rainy for weeks. Then it was cool and gray. Then cold and sunny for a few, now it is cold and foggy.

This weather may be why Washington drivers are so notoriously bad. Fairly constant depression and poor visibility contribute to a hostile attitude. Also all the coffee.

Kidding aside, it was a beautiful morning. I love fog, the sparse details and isolation make for a wonderfully macabre weather. It's the kind of weather that brings out the wry observations in a dull mind. By forcing an impressionistic myopia on us, a good fog can bring out the details of our environment that a bright sunny day cannot.

Eventually though, the coastal fog lifts. Today will be a brisk and bright day.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Ciera's Abcs

Ciera does know the lyrics to at least one song!

Sunday Morning French Toast

Why you should come visit me.

The Town does some strategic planning


Town does some strategic visioning.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

A bit of gun thought

Vice president Biden met with the nra today. Apparently it didn't go well. It makes me a bit sad that the nra, as powerful as it is, has taken to stamping its feet shutting its ears and shifting the blame. I want to emphasize a few points about gun violence in this country.

The first is that we all share some guilt in our complacency when dealing with our criminal justice system as a whole. We have the largest prisoner population in the world. Not because we have more criminals but because we have created a defunct system unable to fully address this country's difficulties. It is our responsibility as citizens of a democratic society to address our problems and not put them off.

And this is where I can't reconcile the stated position of the nra.

Their solution is to not take any measures to control the sale and distribution of guns. That is, all the problems we face are due to something else. As someone dedicated to open dialogue and solving problems collaboratively I take offense to attitudes that are so vehemently negative. The culture of no accomplishes nothing. Period.

There is a well known improv technique, yes and... That doesn't mean agreement and ovine behavior, it means taking a raw idea and building on it. It means, and I'm going to get mushy, believing someone else cares just as deeply as you about you. And this doesn't happen in an instant; we spend most of our lives putting others on a lower level than ourselves. This takes time. Of course it does.

What I have heard from the nra is not an attitude that even opens the door for time and a real conversation. I am deeply saddened that our vocal gun rights champions have tended to fall in the us against them mentality. The belief that gun control is a precursor to the destruction of liberty.

 As someone who cares deeply about my freedoms I would never sacrifice them to feel a bit safer.

So let's talk about some things that are inarguable.

One: the constitution is a living document.  That means the entire text is open to public debate at all times.  It means that, while rare, the people of the nation can peacefully modify the document to suit our needs better.  In fact, our founders were pretty unanimous that the constitution had to be malleable to some degree.  The fear of course was a wave of Progressive Era style reforms that led to things like prohibition.  I'd like to remind everyone that we survived that time though; women can vote and people can drink.  Some things are good--others not so much.  It's the radical experiment that is this nation.

Two: rights have limits.  Can't yell fire in a burning building, and that is not an infringement on the first amendment.  Similarly, there are on most of the other amendments that have been ruled on by the Supreme Court.  It is not unreasonable to suggest that by further fleshing out the meaning of the second amendment in the three branches of government, we could conceivably bring into focus the full extent of the second amendment.  A process we have started but are far from completing.

Three: the rule of law in this country precludes any revolution style arguments.  The constitution cannot protect anyone from rising up against their government.  Under no scenarios could it be realistic to use the constitution to defend what is otherwise an act of treason.

Four: The constitution prevents tyrannical government in many non-treasonous ways. All of the other articles of the constitution have created for us a system of government whereby we the people govern.  Remember that.  We the people govern.  That means a system--often slow and conservative--of government that keeps any one man from carving out enough power to be a jerk.  Things like the separation of powers, the Federal system of government, government agencies, and frequent direct elections keep us reasonably safe from traditional forms of tyranny.  When those means fail, so too does our right to bear arms.  To fight for one's causes at that level is to ignore the far more robust rights we have been guaranteed, and regularly exercise to prevent oppression.

Five: This needs to be a conversation.  Failure to talk is failure to participate in government--democratic government, and that includes listening.

So yeah, that about gets it for me for right now.

Kitty Cat Pop Art

Too much time with the cat.  And my new gizmo.  Seriously.  There is nothing notable about this except the fact that it points out how little I have been doing with my life.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

blog from the bus

Ok this is a test of mobile blogging. I know that it's no substitute for a real computer but given how easy this generally is I would say that this could work. I suppose it is perfect for tweeting. I am still pretty resistant to micro blogging. Somehow that format seems, off to me. Simultaneously limited in scope and draining in time and resources. To me, it doesn't have the measured thought or freedom that simply blocking out a chunk of time to write does. Not that I put a lot of foresight into my writing. Also, that doesn't mean I will never tweet or twitter or micro blog. It means I'm not ready. Not much of an excuse but I did hold out for years against a smartphone so... Who knows, I may love it as much as any other tech thing in my life. Which is to say cautiously and with purpose. Hopefully.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

I'm blogging from my htc 8x

I'm blogging from my fancy new phone. It's a pretty cool device but it suffers the problem. Of all touch screens, no feedback. I can't feel anything I am doing and I cannot type like a regular human being
And punctuation is a bitch. Anyways I spent about an hour speaking with the att salesman figuring out what would work best for me. I pretty much knew right away when I saw this phone.
Let me be clear,it is the only one that actually fits in a pocket. And this fits quite comfortably in my pocket.
Why did I get a touch screen despite my vocal opposition? Because I like windows 8. I don't mean to be a walking advertisement but I truly feel that windows8 is a solid product and makes a solid platform for all devices. I have already synced my stiff between computer and phone. And with all the crap I do, taking only an hour of my time is amazing.
Solid product, hopefully Microsoft doesn't vista me in my data port. Sorry for the language and the geekness.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Fire in the Belly



Old one from my last trip to the beach
Posted by Picasa

8 on the 7

So I got myself some Windows 8 and I am pumped to get this thing working.

It took a while to get all of the drivers installed right but once they were, this computer runs ultra-fast now! I was worried this would be a Vista redux but instead it is XP. Not that I'm calling it a resounding success.

There are still plenty of glitches and I feel that the colors will look outdated soon. But so what? This has actually made me want to get a touchscreen just so I can use the laptop easier. And also a 3D screen.

Because my graphics card is capable of it. I am so pumped.

Also, today I got to write a budget proposal for a small marketing project. It was cool.

And the cat woke me up at 4:30am this morning. I was not as amused as she was. She has gotten particularly adept at knocking over things to get attention.

I don't have a particularly large amount to say about life; suffice it to say I have been following the news and people suck. I don't know why we are manufacturing so many controversies in our political world. It's absurd.

Sack up.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Mush-rooms


Natalie took this.  She's got a great eye.

I'll get to you in a moment sir

I can save lives now that I'm CPR Certified.

I like to fancy myself as a superhero. Mostly I'm this (At 4:20):


And since I'm CPR certified now I can run up to people and say, “Are you ok? I'm CPR and First Aid Certified! Do you need assistance?”

And they can be all like, “yes, I'm choking and can't breathe!”


Well, I guess I can help people in need is the point. And what's really important to me is that I feel prepared to help in the majority of emergencies as a first responder. I know that now I am equipped to help save a lot of lives.

There are a huge number of unknowns in this world, things we know are probable but rare. When the big one hits the west coast, 911 will be tied up, and it stands to reason that we should all have at least the most basic ability to help ourselves and those we love while the infrastructure is put back on-line. Emergency services are 4 to 10 minutes away at any given time, and the brain dies in 3-5 minutes without air. Knowing CPR and the steps to take to get proper treatment for a citizen in need is essential for all of us.

I don't know how to actually save lives. I do know how to respond and assess a situation with the hope of prolonging or increasing the chance of survival so that actual medical professionals can take over.

I'm not good at it. I hope to never have to use it. But I do feel confident to take charge and stop being a bystander in medical emergencies. Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the US and diabetes and obesity related deaths are the second. At the moment where those diseases become life-threatening I have been trained to respond swiftly and with great efficacy.

At least that's the hope. At least that's the hope.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Third day Thursday

3rd day Thursday.

Saw Elles: SAM and Pompidou.  I thought it was a great array of art that has one common theme, the artists are women, and largely portraying women.

Went to dinner with Anwar, Alayne, Ciera and we ate at the dumpling place in Bellevue.

I am so freakin' pumped Anwar could get a job here possibly.
 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Seconds

2day.

I'm sick. I hate being sick. I woke up and could barely open my throat. I took the day off. But it wasn't fulfilling because I couldn't do anything. I feel awful.

Oh New Year's. What an odd holiday. The celebration of the passage of a distinct unit of time holds special significance to us Westerners. It is the day we pretend to have changed and progressed. It is for this facade—a non-denominational otherwise insignificant event—that I think we never experience the climax we search for. There is no catharsis in the ball dropping.

It is 364 days 23 hours 59 minutes and 49 seconds of waiting so we can all countdown from 10 with the entirety of the population in the same time zone—that hasn't fallen asleep yet.

So I slept in my head and wandered in my body. Our group—Ciera, Olivia, Micaela, Peter, and I—ended up at a bar. The upstairs had been rented out by Peter's friend. It was a quiet scene, full of singles milling about. Everyone dressed up and covered in sequins.

I felt disassociated from the scene. I hadn't drank anything yet I felt I was in between sobriety and another dimension. I was observing from the far away land of another life—I found no solace amongst my fellow bar attendees—i did not share in their sadness or their loneliness.

“I'm just going to be fun this year. I was such a prude, I'm going to change. I'm going to be fun.”

“I'm going to get motivated, I'm going to work out.”

“This year, when I eat, none of it will have calories.”

“And starting at midnight, I'm going to be free. That was the old me—tied to being boring and fat and lazy and stupid.”

I quietly made a resolution to myself while glasses slipped from the hands of patrons and shattered on the floor. A fizzy concoction spilled from the fragments of crystal and soaked into the bar that had seen too many of these celebrations.

Ciera and I idly hit billiards with cues, unselfconsciously missing the majority of our shots. Peter ran into his ex, Kellen. And Pete's friend Gordon was there. Gordon is in a band—Watertower. Great bluegrass band—support them.

Olivia was flammable. On our way out I found her sitting by a fire with a bunch of strangers, shooting the bull. Somehow she does that.

I stood at the top of the stairs while people passed between me, too many of them smiling through their drinks, and going home alone. No amount of sequins can hide the timid mind that spends the first ten seconds of the new year forgetting the resolutions made in the last ten seconds of the last year. Which is a long way of saying that resolutions function in just the opposite way during New Year's. There is no resolution, only the burst of light that signifies a new beginning.

Making a resolution is a way to open a can of worms and walk down the unlit path. It is the beginning of a story we want to hear. But far too often we turn tail and run because our candles are not bright enough and the end is a far off future; a distorted grayness we can't comprehend.

So we count down from ten and forget that we are lost for a moment. My 2013 began with a kiss—the first New Year's kiss I've ever had. And it wasn't awkward, though the kisses around me were. And being with Ciera made me feel oriented and grounded in a way I did not think I could be.

Perhaps it's just a delusion—a shared hallucination. In that moment, in that third second of the first day of the thirteenth year in the twenty first century, I felt lost. I disappeared into the world between worlds. I slipped into the alternate dimension where time's form is irrelevant, where space contracts into the moment of the big bang and where I exist as the soul I believe myself to be.

Which is just a fancy way of saying Ciera is a great kisser.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

1, Again

Today was the New Year.  I went to a bar with Pete, O, Micaela, and Ciera.  We saw desperate people in glitter try to make the most of an otherwise uneventful night.  We stayed up late and woke up early.  I ate my good luck noodles--too few because I was the last to serve myself.

I drove, I ate pho.  I am tired and want to go home.

I am home.  I have work.