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Archive for the ‘Anxiety Neurosis’ Category

Prefabricated Dream Homes

July 24, 2009 2 comments

How do you provide housing for an onslaught of urban refugees? According to figures cited by a recent article in The Economist, India’s cities require 25 million homes to accommodate massive growth. A number of firms have begun to construct massive low-cost townships in the suburbs to replace the slums of cinematic infamy.

Real estate savings aside prices are kept stable by cheap construction. Bricks have given way to concrete blocks manufactured from recycled waste material. The structures are restricted to a couple of stories to prevent the need for massive projects or elevators. Lodgings are small, some designed as single rooms with a sink and toilet. Plans for these low-income planned communities offer an assortment of designs to appeal both to individuals and families. Read more…

Hearts and Minds and Tweets

July 22, 2009 2 comments

Propaganda has long been a staple for states in time of duress or war. Trying to convince people that they need to sacrifice their daily comforts or even their lives takes a lot of cunning manipulation that cannot be exposed as cunning manipulation. It should hardly be surprising that as communication has changed so has the nature of propaganda.

Israel probably has one of the worst international reputations due to the unresolved situation of Palestine. To cope with the growth of anti-Israeli sentiment permeating the annals of the internet the Foreign Ministry has begun to collect teams of students and demobilized soldiers to troll the chat forums, blogs, twitter accounts and comment threads of articles in search of criticism and to respond with positive Israeli sentiments.

According to an article published in Calcalist and translated into English on Occupation Magazine, recruits will be directed to hot topics and fed interesting arguing points. However it is pointed out that members of the “internet fighting team” will write in their own voices but will be employed by the ministry and will be towing the company line. They will not identify themselves as employed mouthpieces for any agency. Read more…

An Inadequate History of Canadian Healthcare

July 13, 2009 6 comments

I Got The Hook-Up

Rumors are swirling throughout the capital that President Obama will attempt to post-pone Senate’s August recess until legislation on national health care is hammered out. Medical associations are lobbying against any attempts to nationalize coverage and former PR flak cum Center for Media and Democracy pundit Wendell Potter is following the medical industry’s attempts to subvert change. Weak-willed representatives are hoping to establish a non-profit insurance company that will operate alongside private companies while millions of Americans continue to live their lives without any financial protection should they suddenly be stricken by disease or an errant bus.

A couple of years back my parents’ neighbor gave me a copy of Uncle John’s Curiously Compelling Bathroom Reader, a collection of short essays designed to occupy one’s quieter moments. Recently I read an entry on Thomas Douglas, the former Premier of Saskatchewan credited with creating Canada’s medicare system. Although there are many critics of what they’ve got going on up north, particularly in terms of waiting for procedures and tests, the country does manage to spend less while providing some form of basic coverage for every citizen of their country. How did it begin? Read more…

Will the Chinese Own Governor Gav?

April 25, 2009 5 comments

Hometown hero Gavin Newsom officially announced his candidacy for Governor of California on April 21st, flaunting his technical savvy by simultaneously championing his cause on Twitter, Facebook and Youtube. Not being as cybernetic as most of my peers I was forced to enjoy the video spectacle and was once again struck by how embarrassing it is when our supposed leaders pander to the people by utilizing shitty resolution for the sake of networking. Show a little class and stream your own videos.

There’s nothing particularly striking about his pep talk, aside from my being struck with uncontrollable laughter as soon as his well manicured mug appears. San Francisco is hailed as the nation’s leader in universal health care, ecological innovation and retaining teachers amidst grievous budget cuts. He repeatedly uses the term “we” instead of the political assertion of “I”, which has become something of a hallmark in all of his communiques. He is not running for governor so much as we are all being invited to run for governor. I guess this means I’ve been traveling the state with an SFPD escort all this time. The message is that San Francisco is doing better than California and the allusion is that it’s because we’ve had Gavin Newsom at the helm, single-handedly steering us into calmer waters as the rest of the world drowns in a fiscal tempest. The “green economy” is our guiding light, as evidenced by happy laborers installing solar paneling. Voters and the Board of Supervisors, advocates and PACs are not invited to share in the glory of our solar panels.

The elections won’t take place for another year but this never prevents pollsters from harassing the recluses and bored housewives who generate public opinion. If Jerry Brown and Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who are both assumed to be entering the race, run then Newsom places third. If Senator Dianne Feinstein throws her hat into the ring he drops to fourth, but he has commented that if she does he will bow out– as long as she announces her candidacy early enough. In an effort to court less slick Democrats Newsom has been spotted meeting with under-enlightened prospective voters in traditional hicktowns San Diego and Stockton where he plans to replace their images of gay marriage with his successful chain of yuppie eateries and wine bars.

So will the San Francisco model work the length and breadth of a state as large and diverse as California, and more importantly can Newsom convince skeptics he can handle the responsibilities given his track record? Are solar panels the key to economic solvency and can his experience managing lifestyle businesses trump the fact that China owns our collective asses? Perhaps we should examine a little bit of recent history wherein out intrepid leader laid down and allowed a foreign government full reign of policing the streets of San Francisco. Read more…

Throne of the Ecological Revolution

April 17, 2009 3 comments

This apartment building has four units which share one hot water heater. Each apartment has one shower and two sinks with an entire occupancy of around a dozen at any given time. As you can imagine this means that having your water become unpleasantly cool in the middle of your ablutions can be a frequent hazard of hygiene. Whenever this happens I remind myself, through chattering teeth, that millions of people throughout the world don’t even have running water.

We had a Beach Boys documentary on TV and everyone in the living room was dressed in summer attire despite the wintry weather outside.Orion, wearing a wetsuit, said, “I was just thinking about that today, how we shit in drinking water. Isn’t that fucked up?” The thought, in less eloquent terms, has occurred to me in the past, usually prompting some well-intentioned and never enacted plan to sink a couple weighted shampoo bottles in the toilet’s reservoir.

I’ve noticed growing attention paid to the concept of dry toilets throughout the third world. It seemed a curious focal point for humanitarian work, but I assumed that it’s a handy device to have in an arid climate where water is scarce; this is true but the merits of these and similar ecological sanitation devices run much deeper than water tables. Nicholas D. Kristof, during a recent trip to Haiti, high-lighted the efforts of the non-profit group SOIL (Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods) who strive to meet sanitation needs while replenishing the nutrient starved land of one of the world’s poorest countries.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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Impressions of Paris

April 14, 2009 2 comments

Nuit a le Marais

Calling myself a world traveler would be a lie, but I’ve been around and seen places, hating some and liking others. Big cities, small towns, rural backwaters and the highways, byways and skyways in between have all been graced by my presence, traversing the distances by car, bus, train and plane. I’ve taken ferries but never sailed and that’s not likely to change any time soon, unless they make the oceans stop bobbing up and down. The point is that I’ve wandered the streets of Manhattan suffering the brute force of a million people hurrying to somewhere under the silent sentinels towering above, I’ve roamed the grimy arcades of Osaka grappling with a culture both foreign and familiar to me, I’ve sweltered under the Caribbean sun swimming in a sea of voices I couldn’t understand and I’ve eaten poutine out of a paper bag purchased from some roadside Quebecois shack wishing for more napkins.

Philadelphia scared me the first time I visited because I didn’t understand the vigilance and tension of the older generation until I learned a little about the past. Olympia doesn’t have a lot going for it but I always appreciated the serenity, the feeling of being on a retreat, of allowing myself to slip into a slower stream of life. Portland has always hated me but we’re working on it; I didn’t get sick until the last day when I was last there and I didn’t sleep in a park. Minneapolis? It’s been ten years since I tried to live there, or kidded myself I could try to live there when I knew there were too many things I needed to do back home. I haven’t returned, although I think of it from time to time.

Macaroon. Macaroon. No, Macaroon.

Paris impressed the hell out of me, more than any place I’ve ever been. My head was filled with horror stories of rude, snobby xenophobes making life hell for no reason. I went with only a slight skeleton of French under my belt convinced I would find myself trapped on the Metro, completely turned around and unable to find my way, babbling English to a group of smug subway employees raising their eyebrows and insisting they couldn’t understand me. There would be no bespectacled school-girl to help me in Paris, I would wander the streets too shellshocked to stop in a cafe and use the bathroom. I would find my efforts to secure a simple baguette resisted until my stomach gnawed and growled. Parisian youth would prey upon me, spitting and kicking and calling me Yankee-Doodle while they rifled through my pockets and wore tight pants. Read more…

Pinche Gringo

March 20, 2009 1 comment

Pinche Gringo

There was a rule, once upon a time. I wouldn’t wear a band’s shirt if I didn’t like the band, and while that sounds like a pretty trivial thing I took it seriously. If you didn’t really like the band but wore their shirt because it looked cool you may as well be wearing a Nike swoosh. You’re representing something you believe in when you shell out the bucks and raise the banner, and that responsibility shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Over the years I stopped obsessing about the kindergarten politics of my pseudo-punk upbringing. An old co-worker of mine was unloading t-shirts given to him by bands and he handed me one for a group I never cared about. My instincts kicked in and I almost refused, but then my manners wrestled reaction to the ground and I graciously accepted the offering. The shirt was used to clean up some kitchen messes but I cleaned it and began to wear it whenever it came up in the rotation.

One day, standing outside of work, a stranger walked up to me and complimented me on the t-shirt. Immediately I was tongue-tied and embarrassed, but nodded enthusiastically when he told me how his old band had played with them and how great they were back in the day. What was I supposed to say? Oh, I kinda think they suck, so I guess your old band kinda sucked too. Read more…