My Workspace

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My post-xmas desktop. Busy, yeah?

A babbling tower …

Branches of languages from the Indo-European Tree
Branches of languages from the Indo-European Tree

Just a post of interest. I like to look at this drawing to see how closely related all of us in the Northern Hemisphere really are. The development of languages, of course, happens right alongside the development of culture which lead to prejudices and all of that other wonderful stuff. When looking at all of these languages and cultures on one page, though, I’m inspired to think that perhaps we really can just get along.

When I was a kid, the only story in the Bible that ever really left an impact on me was the Tower of Babel. I never took it literally, of course, but as a reverse allegory. The story tells us that when we all speak a different language, or desire different goals, or fight against each other, we are doomed to simply stay on earth and not aspire for a higher state of being or discovery. If, however, we can come together then we may just be able to do something remarkable.

I still think there’s a chance for all of us to do something remarkable together. A man can dream, anyhow.

Factionalization is killing our country

The United States Congress has betrayed its purpose: the representation of the ideals of its constituents is no longer a primary motive. Rather, the concerns of corporate entities, personal gain, and political favor have corrupted the work our government does and the general population is left to ponder the outcome and live in the aftermath.

This has not happened just this year, nor in the last decade, nor indeed over the last 50 years. It has been a slow and inevitable process brought on by the one weakness in the armor of the United States Constitution: it’s ability to become beholden to factional influence. It is a process described in the Federalist Papers, as well as in George Washington’s farewell address to congress. It is the reason why Washington was against the idea of political parties, and the primary reason why Thomas Jefferson believed that every citizen should be educated: to protect the country from factionization. Their warnings have not been heeded, and our country is failing. It is not the fault of our elected officials, however.

We, the people, have allowed the factions to elect those unscrupulous men and women who pervert their calling in the halls of congress. We have allowed it to happen by not participating in our own government. Congressional elections since the 1960’s have had participation in the 20 – 30 percent range. An average turnout of around 35% has been seen during those elections over the last 40 or so years. After accounting for the non-voting population, that is approximately 17% of our citizenry who are determining who remains a representative.

By deciding to not participate in congressional elections, we have handed our country to the entities that most desired it. Those entities and their bank accounts are now controlling how laws are written and which ones pass.

The cynical amongst you will come forth with some kind of “well, it would have happened anyway” or “my vote doesn’t count” quote. To you I say shut up. The reason your vote is slowly counting less and the reason this is happening is because of that very thought process. Our government only works when everybody participates in its operation. It’s not just a right, but a civic duty to follow, analyze, decide, and act on the decisions your representatives make — in your towns, states, and otherwise.

Whether you voted or not, the people from your district will work to determine your quality of life.

This is not a country for cynical people, unfortunately — a fact I have had to come to terms with myself. Cynics will look at a system and see how it has failed them, see the utter futility of trying to correct what seems so obviously wrong. Our country is designed, however, to be fixable. To provide us the view into what is wrong and the means by which we can repair it. All we need do is act.

The massive turn-out in the 2008 elections and its historic result — while not my personal choice — is an example of the voters trying to fix a system. That election was easy, though.  Can you do it in 2010 when it matters more, but will be far less glamorous? Will you turn out and discard those representatives who have failed you, your families, your neighbors and your towns without the television telling you to do so? Will you become the moral compass for those who have none even if your favorite news station disagrees with your ultimate decision?

We are not lost yet. The factions are winning, yes, but they are no longer a concern when we override them with sheer participation.  We can still reclaim the US Congress and give it back to those who would do a better job of representing the people of this country over corporations. It is, after all, our congress to control. The people who sit in those aisles are merely stewards of our rights. And as stewards, they are beholden to our disgust, our wrath, our choices.

Education: Entry One

The system by which we “educate” our citizenry in this country must be eradicated. I say this not because the system is a failure. On the contrary, our public education system does exactly what it was meant to do: prepare people for an automaton-like life in a world of capitalistic industry.

Current cycle of education:

  1. Critical thinking citizens  are not easily employable in typical industrio-economy jobs: “why” and “how” do not fit into the workaday world
  2. Owners within the industrio-economy cry out that education is failing since students are not “employable”
  3. Government and “concerned” members of the business community develop national “standards” that ensure a student’s “success”, ie employability
  4. Students leave school with the ability to take tests, cram top-level knowledge into their heads, and follow the rules laid out by authorities but with very little ability to truly understand the “why” and “how” of what they do
  5. The industrio-economy is sustained with easily employable citizens

No matter how much money, time, thought, or positive energy we dump into it, what it will produce is a mass of children who are good at one thing: taking orders from their employer/masters. This is, of course, exactly what it supposed to happen.

The fix? Break out of this mode of thinking. Educate in order that critical thinking skills are preserved; in order that each student has a thorough understanding of civics, economics, art, literature; ensure that educational facilities are not tied down to business interests by refusing to accept finances from corporate interests.

Life of late

Having a new baby has certainly changed the pattern of life. Change for the positive, but things are really different. Not that I didn’t expect that difference, of course, but until it’s experienced it really can’t be understood.

With our first child, I lived much closer to where I worked. I could go home for lunch, head home in an emergency, and just go back to work right afterwards. My hours weren’t as static, either. Sometimes I had to work evenings in order to attend a city hall meeting and make my deadline. In short, the experience then hadn’t prepared me for what we’re going through now.

I live at least one and a quarter hour away from where I work, and that’s at the whim of public transit. My hours are more rigid, so I can’t stay up all night. My wife is somehow able to do so as needed, though, and for that I can’t do anything but praise her.

I was talking about life being different though, wasn’t I? There’s a lack of casualness about things. Every action takes on even more meaning than they had before. Decisions impact our family just that much more with the baby here.

My time with my son has become more important. To both show him that he’s still loved, as well as to be able to inspire and teach and guide him are now my charges. My time with my wife, as well. We are desperate for a few private moments, but they are nigh-impossible to come by since the birth.

Is it worth it? Hell yes. Do I have second thoughts? Of course not. Life has become, however, observably different, and because of that it’s all the more remarkable.