I quit smoking more than six months ago. I smoked for twenty years. I finished smoking on a combination of American Spirits and Winstons. I smoked electronic cigarettes for one month after I smoked my last real cigarette. Prior to smoking Winston, I smoked Camel. Before Camel it was Marlboro Reds. I had a long stint with Camel Wide Menthol, for some reason. I smoked Lucky Strike unfiltered and Pall Mall unfiltered when I was totally young, like sixteen. I started with Kool Mild, the brand my dad smoked. My dad quit smoking when I was eighteen, which put him at around 48 years old at that time. Smoking has somehow become a hallmark of the lower class, so I’m glad I quit. I can feel myself becoming the guy who smoked for 20 years and becomes a self-righteous ass six months after he quit. There never really was any choice for me. All my life has been pointed in one direction…I have finally unified all the title belts of hypocrisy.
All the world is a stage, but especially the city. I sit in a place that is comfortable and familiar to me. If I were blindfolded, I’d know every sound and every voice and I’d hear the buses rumble past me and whine as they Doppler away. I hear them on Carson, suddenly way louder if someone pulls open one of the jangling old nicked-up purple doors. I am in a public place, and yet I am more habituated to this place than I am to my own little divorce apartment. By far.
The man in the window has begun his sex change transition in the way I believe is mandated by the doctors; he is dressing like a woman. His taste in clothing is conservative and he looks like Hillary from the neck down. Actually, let’s just say from the chin down, because he has Hillary neck.
There is a man behind me who I believe to be acutely mentally ill. Scratch that-I KNOW he is mentally ill because I’ve seen him for the last 100 days and he makes me uncomfortable. I don’t think he is going to “do” something, I just feel his suffering. The gentleman’s condition is untreated, and I often think I should try to talk to him and guide him to the help he critically needs. But I know how hard it is to “make” a person get treatment. It is a job for close family or professional, not strangers with their own delusions. My inner conflict over this matter falls squarely within the Urban Drama.
Some of my classmates are understandably critical of Mr. Lynch’s apparent urban favoritism, but the suburbs do not provide as many opportunities to be in close quarters with strangers. There is also a lack of compelling architecture.
(This restroom is periodically painted over with a dark color. It is said to look like this in less than a month.)
There is an historic precedent in play when the city is the stage. Women’s Suffragists Conveyed their message in town. If your dad wanted a loan, he put on a suit and went to town. The serious court cases take place downtown.
(This photograph depicts a confrontation between a police officer and an Occupy protestor. the occupy protestor was my friend. He is gone.)
There is a saying that “justice unseen is justice undone.” It points out that whatever the magnitude of a given event, it must be witnessed by people in order to be admitted to the record. It is the Cartesian disconnect. The city is where the action is.
I love pickles! I have always loved pickles, but only kosher dills. Well, now that’s not true. I like Deli Style pickles, or are they considered kosher as well? I guess I should say instead that I dislike sweet pickles. I like all pickled cucumbers except for the sweet kind. I specify cucumbers because I know some bastard will remind me about all the other things one can pickle. To me, and everyone I know for that matter, a pickle is a pickled cucumber. People who would point out other kinds of “pickles” are the type who must say, “not ALL politicians lie” when a person is making a point. That type of petty, self-indulgent devils’ advocacy should be punished by 6 years in prison. I’d say 666 years in prison, but I’m better than that. Please view the photo below.
I feel, if this photo has not been shopped, that these pickles are rather too green. Perhaps it is an indicator of my being brought up wrong, but pickles ought not be quite so verdant. Aside from the aesthetic divergence, I have some empirical issues with such pickles. A pickle this green is usually very crunchy, which, I’ll admit, is a desirable characteristic. But it is not desirable crunchiness when it can be correlated with lack of flavor. I believe pickles this green are so because they are under-pickled. I can start my own pickle company to make my fortune, and I shall call it the Wet Cucumber Co. That way, the consumer will not be in the dark about the product they have chosen.
It is my belief that a pickle should look about like the picture below, apart from size.
Any serious visual departure from what this photograph illustrates will fling me into a pit of lamentation.
So, I am a gentleman who is guilty of the Seven Deadly Sins every day. meaning, I commit all of them every day. I am also guilty of beginning a sentence with the word “so.” While I’m at it, I’ll point out I unnecessarily capitalized “seven deadly sins.” I am not going to google the seven deadly sins right now, before I list them. They are: Pride, Wrath, Lust, Envy, Sloth, Gluttony, and Greed. the Latin Mnemonic SALIGIA covers the originals: superbia, avarita, luxuria, invidious, gula, ira, acedia. Okay, that’s not the point here, although the Latin terms give insight into the original connotations of the sins.
Gandhi, a man ostensibly personally acquainted with his share of deadly sins, came up with some interesting derivatives, or expansions on the theme. Gandhi said the following were the deadly sins: Wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, science without humanity, knowledge without character, politics without principle, commerce without morality, and worship without sacrifice. All right, pretty deep. I am slothful.
I was playing chess against a gentleman from Turkey. He had a low rating, but I knew better than to expect poor play. When playing chess on line, the things a player relies upon vanish. A person could have a 1400 rating and annihilate me, which used to drive me over the edge into deep, deep psychosis, until I realized the score. People use computer programs, or engines, to win. When they employ such a device, it is as though they are a 2600 level-player. That makes me sad, but there is at least one other possibility: You’ll look at their profile and their recent games, and notice they’ve lost the last 30 matches. That is a red flag, too. For some reason, people like to deflate their rating and beat higher rated players in some sadistic trap. I hate those people.
This Turkish gentleman beat me a few times in a row with, at first, reckless play that kept finishing with inhuman accuracy. I lost my mind repeatedly. I realized something at this point, however. It is not unheard-of to be in a position where the obvious moves are also the best moves. Suffice it to say, anyone can look good in a won position. I learned long ago never to accuse your opponent of using an engine, not because you don’t want to offend him, but because you don’t want to compliment his play in case he was not sing an engine. I have been the beneficiary of such attacks, as many people have accused me of using a program when I was not, and it had the two-pronged effect of boosting my ego and diminishing him. I laughed many times like an evil king at these accusations, flung at me from all corners of the world including the Vatican.
It is important to identify the possibility that you are playing like a patzer bum, and lack of vision vaults the opponent to a place of esteem in your teeny mind. when I was routinely drunk, that was comically recurrent. I shall stand now.
The United States possesses the world’s largest single national economy. The US nominal GDP was estimated to be $16.6 trillion in June of 2013, which is roughly one quarter of the nominal global GDP. The nominal GDP is the market value of all final goods and services from a nation in a year. When a PPP comparison is made adjusting for differences in cost of living, USA comes in first place, a fifth of the world sum. PPP stands for purchasing power parity, and is described as a better indicator of a country’s economic status. The US economy is shaped both by the private sector and the state, but is mainly considered to be a market economy with strong oversight concerning regulation. Markets are the dominant influence in the US economy, where accumulation of capital is the central motive in economic exchanges and interactions. The United States is rich in natural resources, including oil and natural gas. The USA is the world’s third largest producer of oil and is the largest manufacturer on Earth. A majority of global currency reserves are invested in the US dollar (60%,) and foreign direct investments (FDI) are twice higher in the US than any other nation except for China. Foreign direct investment means another country builds new facilities on US soil, as the US is an ” open economy” which is not overly restrictive of such arrangements. Roughly 13% of the US workforce is dependent upon such investments. FDI is one of many paths to a country’s prosperity and economic health. The labor market in America continues to attract immigrants from every country on the planet, and the US has the world’s highest rate of migration. The epic list of superlatives goes on and on, and yet the US economy faces many serious problems.
Many of the economic troubles the US faces are components of the economic cycle, which is not to say they are to be taken lightly, but that they are natural effects of fluctuation over time. The US may suffer minimally from the development of a supercollider such as the Hadron collider in Switzerland instead of the collider that was discontinued in Texas is 1993, but is a small albeit dramatic example of a technology shock which places the US at a disadvantage in a particular category of scientific funding and development. On the other hand, the disaster in Fukushima, Japan in 2011 balances the short term, negative economic impact the European supercollider may have had on the US. The point is not to give a play-by-play of a global tit for tat, but to illustrate uncontrollable economic fluctuation; events the US can do nothing to avoid, and often cannot plan for.
There are economic ills in the US which are within the government and markets’ control. The United States economy is slowly recovering from the 2007 recession; what factors can be mitigated to strengthen the US? What political determinations can fix some of the fiscal woes which are within our reach?
As the number three global producer of oil, it seems to defy reason that the US economy suffers as a result of dependency upon foreign oil. The US consumed 18.6 million barrels of oil per day in 2012 for gasoline, heating oil, jet fuel, and other purposes. Over half of the “foreign oil” imported by the US comes from the western hemisphere, which defies popular wisdom. The consumption of foreign oil has been reduced in the US by factors such as better engine efficiency and changes in consumer behavior. The increased use of domestic biofuels and strong gains in the domestic production of crude oil has loosened the Persian yoke. Continuing the domestic development of electric and biofuel consuming private vehicles must be paired with private marketing and government regulation that will pave the way for their widespread use. Technologies in automobile
navigation will help to wean the American motorist from the prevailing image of the heavy American gas guzzler, and transition to the electric cars that do the driving for you. The US government must ramp up the regulations more sharply to expedite this transition. A second important facet to the issue of American dependence on foreign oil concerns diplomatic relations with Mid East governments. The current administration of the US has made unprecedented
inroads with Iran, which holds the third most proved oil wells on earth, and second most if Canada is excluded for unconventional oil reserves. If the US continues to expand overseas crude oil options while proactively diminishing domestic demand, Americans will achieve exporter status on the dying fossil fuel, and gain the global upper hand.
Another dimension of the economic storm cloud lies in the shrinking middle class, or the growing concentration of wealth at the top of the economic pyramid. The mean household net worth of 1% of Americans is more than $16,000,000, the mean household wealth of the bottom 40% of Americans is less than$-10,000. That means that after credit card, mortgages and other debts are subtracted from a household’s wealth, 40% of Americans are more than $10,000 in debt; their net-worth is less than zero. This economic trend is deepening, so how can the US middle class avoid becoming modern day serfs? Are there political and economic resources that can be used to keep America out of the middle ages?