Monday, July 24, 2006

"That SUV makes you look fat!" (or: other things to do with your gas money)

Yeah, you heard me flabby; that SUV you're driving makes your butt look big!

The title of today's post, in case you are wondering about my sudden cruel streak, came from some Graffiti by the river (for you Kentites, it's under the 59 bridge, near Brown's tannery.) I laughed when I first saw the phrase scrawled across the cement blocks in bright red, sloppy letters but now I am beginning to think about it. Of course it isn't true- not literally... fat people drive all kinds of cars! Ok, and I suppose skinny people drive SUV's as well. The point is (and isn't it always) gas prices. Driving to work today, I put gas in my car. $2.99.99 a gallon. Ok, a bit much but I expected it with the flare of conflict in Lebanon. I am glad I put something in my tank before work, because after work the signs were beginning to read $3.09.99. That's three dollars and ten cents, folks. What can I do with three dollars and ten cents??? Let's see:

Buy four snickers, make five phone calls on a public pay phone, rent two movies, eat eight packages of raman noodles, feed 22 children in asia for a day, buy a couple dozen worms and go fishing, buy .000081 acres of land (hey, you could put a chair on it or something!), give 30 people a smile by treating them to a dum dum sucker....

You get the point. Yeah yeah, I've heard all about inflation. Gas supposedly costs "the same" as it did ten years ago. I can agree with that, that our $3.10 is economically as valuable as 1997's $1.33 -it's not, by the way. when inflation is considered, gas in 1997 cost an average of $1.61.77 by today's economics; that's a bit less than half the cost of today's gasoline- but even if we agreed that it is, the average american has to work more now to get the same amount of gas he did in '97. (disclaimer: the following is based on FEDERAL wages; Thanks to Clinton, each state has the ability to raise and lower minimum wage as they please, but in states where the minimum wage is lower than the federal minimum, such as Kansas, the higher standard is followed- the majority of states have wage laws equal to the federal minimum. I am also assuming that the average worker earns minimum wage.) In 1997, the minimum wage was raised to $5.15 per hour. So for one hour's work, not considering taxes and social security because I don't like math, the average worker could earn 3.87 gallons of gas. Today, one hour of work gets us a whopping 1.66 gallons! If you consider that the average car holds 12 gallons, the average worker must spend 7.22 of his hours to fill his tank up once. That's an entire day's work. In '97, the same amount of gas could be earned in 3.1 hours.

Now before you go sending me tons of e-mail ranting about the flaws of my logic, let me point out that I realize that there are people in this country who make well above minimum wage. I realize that the upper and upper-middle classes will not feel the effect of these fuel economics as dramatically as I have presented here. The most dramatic effects, as is the case with any economic change, will first be seen in the population Rawls describes as "the least well off." Minimum wage income families already have difficulties affording the gas needed to drive to work. School districts are being forced to cut bus routes to save on fuel costs and the children are forced to walk in dangerous conditions (their parents can't afford to drive them). If families can't afford to get to work, they lose their job, when they lose their job they become dependent on government programs like welfare. They can't get another job because they can't make it to their appointment- why? because they can't afford gas in their car to get there. One has to ask if the government would lose less money by lowering the gas prices, or by creating a gas-aid program intended to keep people off of welfare. I see with the gas prices increasing about a nickel a week, the middle class is not far behind in feeling the pain as severely.

For my italian homework today, I am supposed to write a composition about what the world will be like in ten years. My projection is pretty grim in the ways of transportation if either gas prices don't level out, or minimum wage doesn't go up. If minimum wage goes up, however you have to keep in mind so does inflation (and so, therefore, do gas prices). Our government's greed (along with the greed of other governments) to keep their slimy tentacles wrapped around the power behind oil is going to drive us into a technological regression. The only way to prevent this is to support alternate fuel sources. Yes, I know that buying a hybrid car won't actually save you hundreds of dollars in gas,but it will support development of furthur technology that will turn our dependence away from oil. If people stop buying hybrids, they'll stop making them; simple as that. If they stop making them, there will be no need for improving them. There are engines out there that run on pure hydrogen.. and guess what: the only biproduct is H2O, which can be broken down to- you guessed it- oxygen and MORE hydrogen! A car that creates it's own fuel! Why hasn't the government put more into these types of energy? Because the power isn't in hydrogen; it's in oil. Why is there power in oil? because people depend on it. Remove the dependency, remove the power.

Yes, the key to overthrowing the government is to buy a hybrid.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Manic Monday

Today, something strange happened to me. I woke up, and went to class. Yes, this is a terribly strange thing for a college student to do in itself, so I'm told, but the the strange thing wasn't the class; it was the realization I had on the way there. Finally, and almost climactically, this is the last class of my undergraduate studies. Even harder to fathom: this is my last class at Kent State University. I've come to love the university that I so adamately rebelled against. Now that my time here is over, it's hard to imagine there was ever a period in my life that I didn't want to be a KSU student.

I also realized that I'm getting old. I know what I want to do with my life, and I know which paths I want to take to get there. Add to that the fact that I'm older than most of those graduating with me (in fact I'm older than the grad student who I answered to in the psych lab), and you have one bounafide old fart sitting at this keyboard. But... when did that happen? I don't remember growing up. Hell, last week I was getting a kick out of turning Jesus into a pirate.. ok, so maybe I'm getting old, but there's nothing that says I have to act mature until I'm good and ready. But seriously, I wonder where the first half of my twenty-somethings went.

As for the class, it was two hours of hell on earth. I long ago gave up my catholic religion, when my parents decided it was time for me to do so (I was only five or six when they relocated to a presbyterian church) however this class could very well restore my beliefs of purgatory, for therin I have seen it. It's just a stupid Italian class! Foreign languages have always been a strong point for me. President of the French club in high school, I also took latin and spanish, and picked up quite a bit of Japanese and ASL along the way. It always seemed to come naturally to me. So wtf is up with this class?? Why is it so hard?? One reason: The gatekeeper of purgatory- satan herself... Rosa Comisso. Professoressa Comisso scares the shit out of me. I get so nervous in class that when I speak, the French and Spanish come flying out of my mouth rather than the intended Italian. I mispronounce, I mix up tenses, I (gasp!) conjugate irregular verbs regularly! When she calls on me I just become a mess with anxiety. She has this way of making me feel stupid when everyone else gets it (even when I know, no one else understands). I wish I knew how to calm my stress levels when I'm around her, because I know that I'd do better in the class. Maybe I should try less caffienne. I'll have to think of something, because I have a quiz tomorrow that I need to get through without having a nervous breakdown.

C'est la vie... ummm I mean Che este la vita! (damn French, leave my brain!)

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


This is just a little disclaimer. I have to admit that I did not create all of the pirate pictures below. I have to give credit where credit is due. Indiana Jones and Contact were created by Elizabeth. The rest are the brainchild(ren?) of yours truly.

Thank you Elizabeth. You have made the world a better place,

Monday, July 10, 2006

Aaargh, mate! Me blog be getting too serious!

I was going to comment on the passage from Nietzche below, but I noticed this blog is getting too damned serious! So I thought I'd play around a bit. Thus, you have the following atrocities:

Most people are well aware of the scientology lifestyle fad that has taken Hollywood by rapture. What is slightly less recognized, but equally as bizzare, is the pirate lifestyle. In light of the release of Pirates of the Carribean 2: Dead Man's Chest, shocking photos have been released that reveal just how popular the way of the seaman is. These photos are evidence that the call to sailors has reached beyond hollywood, and touched intellectual and religious icons as well.

Harrison Ford, after having much success with the first two India Jones movies, tried to add a new sea-faring twist onto the final movie in the trilogy. Unfortunately, Sean Connery gets seasick and they had to resume filming on land. Ford was very displeased with the set back in the pirating community.

Jodie Foster and Matthew McConaughey tried to share their knowledge of knots and wenches with a world far more advanced than our own. They find, however, that the gaurdians of the universe are a land-loving folk and don't have much time to feel the wind at their helm.

George Lucas and Jim Henson both tried to talk Yoda out of his parrot-loving lifestyle. But Yoda claimed that he couldn't help his preferences for saltwater and burly men. He was born that way. "In short," Lucas commented in a closed press conference, "if Yoda wants to be a pirate, he's going to be a pirate."

Einstein was a pirate... it's the only explanation we have for why he had the abilities he had. Journalists are still working to uncover how he managed to hide his hook, however students report that he frequently brought the parrot to class. The parrot was very disruptive to his lectures, but is also believed to be the true source of the equation e=mC^2. "Everyone knows Einstein's bird did all the math." an anonymous student conceded. "If you've ever seen the Professor work on a blackboard, you'd believe it too."

It is believed that Da Vinci hid very elusive hints toward the ways of the pirates. If you view his work mindfully, you may be able to see traces of the Pirate Code.
I'm going to hell for this one, and that's all there is to it:

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

"Beehives of Our Knowedge"

Never fall asleep while reading Nietzche; not only will you have the strangest dreams of your life, but you'll also wake up with highlighter on your arm and face. This was my state this morning...

I was reading Genealogy of Morals last night (for the third time... I hated it the first time I read it, but it's really grown on me... Nietzche very quickly went from being my most hated philosopher to one of my favorites.. next to Kant, of course!) and the very first paragraph of the prologue jumped out at me in a way it's never done before. Maybe I've just never paid attention to the prologue before (it is, afterall, just the prologue.. who really looks at those anyway??) but this time through, this little gem caught my eye:

We don't know ourselves, we knowledgeable people—we are personally ignorant about ourselves. And there's good reason for that. We've never tried to find out who we are. How could it ever happen that one day we'd discover our own selves? With justice it's been said that "Where your treasure is, there shall your heart be also." Our treasure lies where the beehives of our knowledge stand. We are always busy with our knowledge, as if we were born winged creatures—collectors of intellectual honey. In our hearts we are basically concerned with only one thing, to "bring something home." As far as the rest of life is concerned, what people call "experience"—which of us is serious enough for that? Who has enough time? In these matters, I fear, we've been "missing the point."
Our hearts have not even been engaged—nor, for that matter, have our ears! We've been much more like someone divinely distracted and self-absorbed into whose ear the clock has just pealed the twelve strokes of noon with all its force and who all at once wakes up and asks himself "What exactly did that clock strike?"—so we rub ourselves behind the ears afterwards and ask, totally surprised and embarrassed "What have we really just experienced? And more: "Who are we really?" Then, as I've mentioned, we count—after the fact—all the twelve trembling strokes of the clock of our experience, our lives, our being—alas! in the process we keep losing the count. So we remain necessarily strangers to ourselves, we do not understand ourselves, we have to keep ourselves confused. For us this law holds for all eternity: "Each man is furthest from himself." Where we ourselves are concerned, we are not "knowledgeable people."

And that about sums it up! No seriously, it does... It's like dear old Friedrich was in my head, studying my current feelings of my 'self', when he wrote that. I'm going to get into the warm shower and ruminate over this for a while, and I'll be back some other time to expand on this. Something else I'd like to point out is that the translation I've posted is different than the one I've been reading. Not sure if the differences are important though.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Flags, Fireworks, and Watermelon

It's no secret that I run around with a bunch of anarchists. It's no secret that I believe that modern government is a corrupt monopoly of defense systems (ask me about that later if you want.... When you have time.. And preferably a chalk board hehe), and it's no secret that I see so-called "independence" as an ideological facade created by said government to hide the fact that they are violating our rights to keep that monopoly. The fireworks displays (paid for and regulated by-you guessed it- the government) are not only prime marketing, but also an extremely effective rouse. You see, while we cheer for the fireworks, and take in the elaborate spectacle seething with propaganda, we get that warm fuzzy feeling in the pit of our stomachs. This feeling has nothing to do with feeling independent, or proud of our country, or any of that... At least not initially. We get warm fuzzies because of the adrenaline from the lights and the noise; from memories of our childhood- eating watermelon on the hood of a car, or playing baseball, or that annual family picnic; and from the feeling of being with friends and family during such beauty (because let's face it, fireworks are pretty). Whatever the reason, we get these happy feelings, and then associate those feelings with the propaganda being pumped into our brains. That's how it hits us- the feeling of patriotism. Suddenly we're proud to be American.. And why wouldn't we be? afterall, Americanism is associated with so many good feelings! Just like Pavlov's dog slobbering at the sound of a bell, we have been conditioned to feel patriotic at the sight of a child waving a flag and singing America the beautiful (what could be more patriotic?)

Given that attitude toward the Fourth, it might surprise some people when I say, I rather enjoy the holiday. Yes, hypocrite that I am, I criticize fireworks displays and then happily pack up my picnic blanket with some watermelon and head out with my young niece and nephew to "get the best spot" for viewing. We spread our blanket, cut our melon, and catch lightning bugs until we hear the star spangled banner being piped through all the radios sitting on blankets nearby. We ooh and ahh and clap our hands and squeal with delight. We cover our ears with big smiles as the finale thunders so loudly that we can feel the noise vibrate in our chests. Why? Well, for Jake and Olivia, the answer is simple. It's fun. I think, however, that my reasons are a bit more complex.

One reason is that I don't use this holiday (or any day) to celebrate god and country, nor do I celebrate our government just because the calendar says it's the day to do so. For me, independence day has nothing to do with the present, and everything to do with the past and the future. For me, independence day is a day of remembrance. Once upon a history book, a group of men had a vision for a country in which natural rights were protected; they had dreams of revolution not very different from the revolution my friends are yelling for today. These men understood the evils of power held by the government and stood up to the system that exploited them through unfair taxation. For me, independence day is a celebration of this movement and remembrance of what the original vision was. It is also a reminder of how far astray we have gone, and how much we are in need of another revolution. This is why independence day is also about the future; it is hope that revolution can happen, and tyrannical governments will lose their grips on power.

Another reason is just that I think fireworks are plain cool.