Category: Unfinished Thoughts Page 2 of 6

These were some posts I wrote at gohlkus.wordpress.com and then imported over here, just for the heck of it.

Lebbeus Woods

“Design is change without risk.”

I occupy Oakland every day

Upon reflection, I find it wonderful that a movement of people is growing around the concept that the rich don’t pay their fair share (they don’t) and that corporations have too much power (they do). The Occupy Wall Street movement in some ways is exactly what I think is necessary.

From my perspective, though, here’s the sad thing about today’s “general strike” in Oakland: I have over 150 hours of vacation time, over 100 hours of sick time, and a floating holiday available to me. And I agree with the reasons Occupy Oakland is doing it. However, I don’t feel comfortable taking a day off in what is invariably the busiest month of my job.

This is my dilemma with the Occupy movement right now: The vast majority of the 99%, like me, are living paycheck to paycheck. I don’t feel comfortable taking the day off — much less spending weeks protesting in Frank Ogawa Plaza. And there are many people in far worse situations than I who are going to be displaced today here in Oakland.

It’s not as if I’m sitting on the sidelines. The reason I’m going to work today is that I want to help ensure the California Environmental Scorecard is produced on time, containing as few errors as humanly possible. The Scorecard helps keep California legislators accountable to the public for their votes on environmental bills.

I’m not a fan of politics, especially as it’s practiced in this country right now. One day is not going to jeopardize my job, nor is it likely to significantly delay the Scorecard. But considering everything I have to do for basically the right reasons this month, I can’t afford to take a day off to occupy my own city.

RIP Steve Jobs

Not much to say but that a visionary man is gone, and that I wrote and published this blog entry on my iPhone.

Just now

Ten minutes ago, I woke up from a doze slipped into while reading and taking off my shoes. Both legs stretched out in front of me, I awoke with my right foot entirely asleep, as both feet rested on the seat of a folding chair. When I gingerly started lowering my feet to finish removing my shoes — I had gotten as far as untying the right one — I imagined with a mixture of horror and detached fascination (as I have numerous times in the past) that if I had put all my weight on my foot while it was in that state, I could have easily (if unintentionally) snapped my ankle in half.

I’m fine — actually, pretty great at the moment. Not much to share here, but thought I’d stop by after not having done so in more than three months. With only four blog entries in more than seven months this calendar year, it seems this site is headed for a slow extinction (the whimper kind, not the bang kind, apparently). But, we’ll see.

My thoughts on economic issues

[This is a draft I saved on 12/12/10 that I was going to add evidence to, but I’m fine standing behind it as is. Others have done the work that supports my glib conclusions. This is the Internet, after all.]

Okay, so here are the things that are indisputable:

The gap between the rich and the poor is greater than ever. The difference in real pay between the McDonald’s clerk and the CEO is larger than it’s ever been.

My generation is the first in this country to be worse off than the one before.

So I laugh when people say taxing the rich isn’t necessary, or is punishing them, or is hurting the economy. How is taxing people with incomes of $250,000 hurting the economy? THEY ALREADY HAVE MONEY. They will continue to spend money and make money on the money they already have. They can absorb a much bigger tax hit, but apparently they’re rich enough to matter. Meanwhile, a huge number of working people living paycheck to paycheck (if lucky enough to get one) continue to suffer.

[Edit five years later: that particular cutoff strikes me as a bit simplistic, since the cost of living for even upper middle class people has gone up; I guess the solution would be, you know, move out of San Francisco or Manhattan.]

The rich are not being “punished” by having to pay higher rates of income taxes. They’re participating in the social contract our forefathers agreed to. They have been “punished” at much higher rates in the past but they’ve sold so many of us Americans on how tough it is to be rich.

The “government” is us — the people — or at least it’s supposed to be. Unfortunately the ones with money have bought and paid for it, so it’s US who don’t enjoy the same privileges our parents did. I know it’s not that simple. But it almost is.

I guess civilization ain’t quite as civilized as it used to be. I wish there were more guys like Bernie Sanders and Russ Feingold and Paul Wellstone (RIP).

A blog entry and an EP that are all over the place

It frequently occurs to me to react to something I read online. That is not that interesting.

The interesting thing (at least to me) is that I almost always choose to submit a comment on the site that I’m reading, rather than linking to and reacting to the content on this blog. It might behoove me to reverse that. (I also tackled this topic two and a half years ago, to no avail.) Why should I add value to someone else’s site with my cogent, incisive, entertaining analysis? Why not promote myself right here? Why not express my thoughts here?

Speaking of which, it’s pretty obvious that I’m just thinking out loud here, so to speak (so to speak).

I was listening to “All Delighted People” from the EP of the same name by Sufjan Stevens, and I recognized the lyric he used: “…and the people bowed and prayed / to the neon gods they’d made.” I couldn’t immediately place it. Instead of making an attempt to recall what it was from, I took the lazy way out via the oracle Google. Of course, it’s from The Sound of Silence. When I looked up the song titles together, I found (on some random site) someone’s review of the EP, which was not all that complimentary but was at least (I thought) fair. Basically he said he wasn’t a huge fan and that he couldn’t really find a “through line” on the album.

My insight into the EP is this: When Sufjan played Oakland a month or two ago, he gave a really long monologue about what was going on in his head. The sense I got was that he was in a pretty bad place for a while, and these were songs he needed to record and be done with in order to move on to his next thing (The Age of Adz, a sprawling and ambitious project).

Music is an aesthetic pursuit and, as they say, “there’s no accounting for taste.” I used to think that that statement implied that the subject had bad taste. But now I realize it means that there’s no right or wrong when it comes to this stuff. A beancounter can’t quantify how good an album is. There are no audits in art. So we are all free to have our own opinions, and I like that we can talk about it.

As far as the EP itself, yes, it’s all over the place (much like this blog entry), but I love the way he’s defying conventions. As someone else said in the comments on the review, that’s the way new and original work is created. I am happy to be along for the ride.

Our brains reject facts, and misinformation makes us confident. Ah, well.

This tab has been open in my browser at work since July 11th, because I’ve been meaning to finish reading this article and posting it, but I just haven’t gotten to it.

From “How facts backfire” in The Boston Globe:

[W]e often base our opinions on our beliefs, which can have an uneasy relationship with facts. And rather than facts driving beliefs, our beliefs can dictate the facts we chose to accept. They can cause us to twist facts so they fit better with our preconceived notions. Worst of all, they can lead us to uncritically accept bad information just because it reinforces our beliefs. This reinforcement makes us more confident we’re right, and even less likely to listen to any new information. And then we vote.

This dovetails with what Drew Westen was saying when I first saw him at Netroots Nation in 2007, and — going back a few years — George Lakoff’s work on frames.

This being an unfinished thought, I guess I shouldn’t feel too much pressure to come up with some kind of pithy conclusion (beyond this pointless sentence).

402 posts in 10 1/2 years…

or about 3.2 posts per month. That seems right.

(And this is after importing my NaNoWriMo blog entries and my “Unfinished Thoughts” from my abortive tumblelog at gohlkus.wordpress.com.)

how david beat goliath

Malcolm Gladwell column about how David beat Goliath. (I’m a fan of the little guy.)

[Note: this is the last entry in a series of entries, categorized “Unfinished Thoughts”, which were originally posted to gohlkus.wordpress.com ostensibly to blog about later. But, the vast majority never saw gohlkusmaximus.com until July 2010.]

Recent links

I have to close a few tabs on my browser, so:

How the Government Dealt With Past Recessions, NYT, 1/26/09 (nice infographic)

The Daily Me, Nicholas Kristof, NYT, 3/18/09 (“[T]he public is increasingly seeking its news not from mainstream television networks or ink-on-dead-trees but from grazing online.”)

What LinkedIn’s Reorganization and OFA 2.0 Means for Politech Online, Fred Gooltz, hat tip to Matt Lockshin

Grist: Toward a less efficient and more robust food system

Thomas Friedman’s Latest Column Is an Outright Disaster, David Roberts of Grist. Topic: climate change legislation. Hilarious, angry, and yet right on.

Eight Characteristics of Leadership

EPIC 2014 – a future history thing about the death of the print media from a few years ago, by Robin Sloan currently of Current TV

“Honesty breeds interest”, about designer Stefan Sagmeister — from a Belfast designer who seems really talented, David Airey.

I haven’t necessarily read this stuff, or if I have I haven’t formulated many thoughts about it, but I’d like to.

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