Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Saturday, December 15, 2007
There are almost 50,000 already! The more people sign this, the stronger the message to the House Judiciary Committee (This is where the impeachment hearings would be held) will be! This is the first day this has been out, and we need to recruit everyone who will support this measure to sign the petition.
GO TO THEN SITE! SIGN THE PETITION! AND FORWARD THIS TO ANYONE WHO GIVES A DAMN ABOUT OUR GOVERNMENT!
This is an easy way to make a difference. It will take about 30 seconds.
Sunday, December 09, 2007
This picture is of Sehome Hill, which is a big park crisscrossed with trails that abuts campus on its east side. It's very cool. Last year there were cougar sightings in there.
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
I think its a little strange that they call it dead week...
Needless to say, I am a little worked. I just finished a project today for my Anthropology class (on Graffiti), and I have another project due tomorrow. The good news is that finals are going to be pretty easy. I'm excited for next quarter. I am also excited about staying in a cabin in Mazama with my family at the end of break for a few days. For those who don't know, Mazama is a tiny mountain town (pop. 100?) nestled at the foot of one of the most majestic parts of the north cascades. I got this picture from this site. I will have some of my own soon!
The other day me and otis went for a long wander around the I-90 lid in Seattle. This is a cool shot that he took of me on the way there.
Sunday, December 02, 2007
I'm ready for winter break. I signed up for classes the other day. I'm in Biology, Chemistry, Statistics, and World Issues next quarter. I think it is going to be rough, you're only supposed to take 1 lab science at a time. But I should be able to declare my major for the spring. Its going to be Environmental Science Journalism, in case you haven't heard.
Friday, November 23, 2007
This break has whipped by. Tomorrow I head back to Bellingham. This break was badly needed. Although I still have a bunch of work to do, it seems less pressing now than it was last week.
What did I spend my break doing? Researching what tripod I want to buy for myself. Surprisingly complex (and expensive).
The latest pictures.
Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.
Sunday, November 04, 2007
I am on the train right now, slowly winding northwards, following the edge of the Puget Sound. I went home this weekend, just to see the family. It had been too long, it was great to be home.
My mom and I went for a long walk in the arboredum today, what an incredible place to have in the middle of the city. It is gorgeous at this time of year, with the leaves piled deep. Although, that is probably true at most times...
I have started listening to a lot of hip-hop instrumentals recently. They are an interesting amalgam of different musical styles. Some of my favorites are mixed by Jedi Mind Tricks (questionable lyrics, but awesome beats), and The Alchemist.
Apparently GMK, Golden Mic King, is coming up in the local hip-hop scene. I just copped the album from www.onlygp.com, but I haven't got a chance to listen to it yet.
Movies that I want to see soon:
In The Valley of Elah
The Darjeeling Limited
Also, my grandma won her about 8 prizes in her chrysanthemum growing competition! She is so happy about it, and its only her first time... my mom is thinking about getting into it now too.
Friday, November 02, 2007
Sunday, October 21, 2007
I think bryans face is really funny. He's the blond guy. People who you might not know... josh is sitting between soren and mat. Julia has her back to us, and josephine is the other girl, they went to TOPS. Miles Kenney is the kid next to nick, he hangs out at our house all the time.
Friday, October 19, 2007
an innervision, an understanding
Becoming completely aware of my
mind and my body
The process will take years.
I know I have an infinity to learn,
and only a lifetime to learn it
I believe there is something
more, something pure and calm,
I wish to find what I believe in.
Movement is a part of my life, and
a part of my journey. I must train
my body. I must be strong.
I must develop my mind, my
thoughts, my thinking, my
I know what I must do, to become
who I want to be.
- Some guy named Brad Moss
This is the video, its pretty well done.
Monday, October 15, 2007
We live in a consumerism based society, and our cycle of consumption is almost impossible to break out of (in this country). However, it is also true that that vast social changes can be made in a short time. In World War II, the government put up posters, billboards, and radio ads encouraging people to conserve , recycle, and completely change their patterns of consumption. We need a similar drive now, and we each need to work to reduce our consumption. I like to think about every purchase before I make it. "Do I really need this object, or is it just a fashion statement, an impulse buy, or just plain wasteful?"
2. Reduce your driving, use alternative transportation.
Driving is the number 1 contributor to global warming around the world. Unfortunately, our cities were planned before the environmental crisis, so cars are often the only reliable means of getting to our destinations. However, many cities have excellent bus or subway systems, and many have car sharing programs as well. Check out the Metro Trip Planner which allows you to plan your bus ride very easily. Also look into flexcar, a car sharing system. Its a good deal, you don't pay for insurance, gas, or repairs. Other alternatives include ridesharing, vanpooling, or riding your bike (the best option in my opinion). Many employers offer showers at work for those who choose to ride their bikes.
3. Recycle and Reuse.
So many items pass into our possession momentarily, are used once or twice, and are then thrown away. Good examples of this are paper and plastic bags, rubber bands, and glass jars. Put these things to work, and eliminate wasteful items. Use a few cloth shopping bags, for example, instead of getting plastic ones at the store. Up to 1 trillion plastic bags are thrown away every year.
4. Get Outside.
Outdoor activites are one of the best things a person can do to protect the environment. When a park ranger can testify before Congress that 4,000 people per month visit this National Park, that is a powerful incentive to leave those lands alone. On the other side, being in wild, protected land has an extremely powerful impact on those who visit it. The beauty of our planet is apparent anytime one steps outside of the bursting urban centers, and many people have seen the environemental issues hit home when their favorite park or campground was threatened.
5. Green your food.
The food that we choose to eat has a huge effect on the environment. The agriculture, livestock, and poultry industries generate an amount of greenhouse gases as all cars. In general, products farmed organically (without antibiotics, pesticides, artificial fertilizers, or genetic modification) are vastly better for the environment, not to mention your own health. Meat and poultry farming requires about 100 times the energy input for the same nutritional output as agriculture. One of the best ways to reduce your environmental impact is to reduce, or eliminate, the amount of meat you consume. In general, the lower on the food chain you eat, the lower the environmental impact will be.
6. Be a smart consumer.
This is a general principle that is difficult to begin, but that becomes second nature with time. Try to be an educated consumer. Find out where the things that you want come from, what is inside them, who made them, the working situation, and as many other factors as you can. Knowledge is power, and this is never truer than in a consumer society.
7. Go local.
Transporting goods all over the planet takes a lot of energy. Energy in the form of oil, coal, and other dirty fuels almost exclusively. Apples from New Zealand, a table from China, knives from Germany; it all must be shipped. Instead of spreading your pollution all over the globe, buy as much as you can from local businesses, markets, and co-ops.
8. Spread the word.
Tell your friends. Tell your enemies. Everyone who changes the patterns of consumption of others is adding to weight of the environmental movement, and beginning to tip the scale more and more towards equilibrium with the land.
9. Go Slow.
This is going to be a long process. Our society has consumed more in the past 40 years than in the rest of our existence. A good resource for guides to greening particular areas of your life is the site Treehugger. Don't try to change your whole life at once. That will just make you frustrated. Make one step at a time, and devote a little part of your brain to thinking about the impact on the environment whenever you do anything.
10. Get Involved.
This is our planet, and the legacy that we pass on to our children should not be a tainted, sickened earth. This is the only planet we have, the only world known to support life. It is worth a few hours of your time per month to protect that land, the air, and the water on which we depend. So check out some organizations like the Rainforest Action Network, The Sierra Club, and Greenpeace, and explore volunteer or job opportunities around you.
11. This last one is a little touchy topic, but it will be a mainstream concern soon. Overpopulation. I am convinced that the only reasonable solution has been put forward by Alan Weisman. In an interview with Powell's books, he said:
"What would happen if instead of procreating at the rate that we are, which has taken us from 1.6 billion people at the end of the nineteenth century to nearly 6.6 billion people at the end of the twentieth century (and now headed to 9 billion people by the middle of our twenty-first century if we keep going the way we're going, which seems to me to be fatal), what if, as an entire human race, we did what the Chinese did once and limit every family to one child?
...Eventually, I found a distinguished demographic institute in Austria. They got back to me with an interesting answer. Within a century we'd be down to 1.6 billion people again. That's not by killing anybody off or doing anything brutal. It's just by attrition.
...Every species in the history of the planet has crashed when it's run out of resources. We're beyond the limits now. We keep stretching the limits by clearing more land for agriculture, which is only undermining us. That means clearing away more habitat. You wonder what happened to all the birds? Well, they have fewer and fewer trees to land on in their migratory flyways. And those birds don't just sing pretty. They pollinate for us. They do all kinds of functional things. They're some of the nuts that hold the environmental web together."
The only way to finish a post on the environment seems to be to quote Carl Sagan. In his book pale blue dot, sagan finished with this:
I am posting this as part of blog action day, a worldwide mobilization of bloggers which is focused on environmental issues this year. About 15,000 blogs, which reach over 12 million regular readers have participated so far!
Saturday, October 06, 2007
Saturday, September 22, 2007
A new home! Today is only the third day I have been here, and it has been fun already. We live on a dead end north of campus, and have spent our time playing ping-pong, watching movies, figuring out feeding ourselves, and exploring the neighborhood.
A cool picture, I didn't take it, but found it at Astronomy Picture of the Day.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
The Warriors are the Champions! My basketball team won their league final today, by a decisive 12 points. They looked like high school players, even though a few of the sixth graders don't reach much past my waist.
Tonight the car windows frosted a bit for the first time this year. Summer, come back!
I leave for Bellingham in... alright, 7 hours. Time for bed.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
So on Thursday I take off to move to my new home in Bellingham. Its been a long, and very fun summer, what with tons of bicycling,
the annual pilgrimage to cape alava,
two kayaking trips,
lots of hikes,
a new basketball season (championship game tommorow, 6pm, 19th and Alder),
a cool meteor shower,
my cousin Phoebe getting pregnant,
a few good games of hat toss and hot potato,
the usual golfing bliss and the Greenlake Pitch n' Putt,
stubbing the crap out of my left big toe 3 times in 3 weeks (bloody),
a good visit from Benjamin and Rachel, the NC contingent of the Smith family,
floating down the Yakima river, and flipping over the boat with Sophie,
a fantastic Vancouver Folk Music Festival,
Joseph's crib, billiards and pong,
Eagle vs. Shark and Superbad,
and much more that I forgot about already.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
I am sitting at home, feeling a little bit feverish and under the weather, so I decided to do a few updates.
I'm reading a book called "Small is Beautiful: Economics as If People Mattered" by E.F. Schumacher. It is very interesting, a perspective on economics influenced by Gandhi's Indian economic proposals. The main tenet that Schumacher espouses is permanance - sustainability and peace. It is a fascinating departure from the numerical, impersonal economic systems that are so familiar - capitalism, socialism, communism.
Its slow going, but I strongly recommend it.
Check out the most recent photos on my Flickr page
Most of the latest photos are from our annual Smith/Wilbert pilgrimage to a sandy beach on the peninsula.
Also, did anyone else catch the Perseid Meteor Shower last Sunday? Clouds foiled our plans to get away from Seattle's light pollution, but they miraculously cleared over our heads at around 11pm. A few friends and I found our way to Seward Park (the darkest close spot), and saw a good number of meteors. Hope for a new moon and clear skies next year.
Windows/Microsoft is a terrible corporate monopoly that uses its market position to pass an inferior product on to consumers at a premium price. A few months after I got my new computer for school, I grew tired of the constant virus scanning, spyware, software updates, expiring product licenses, defragmenting, slower and slower operation, and general headaches. "Why am I paying for this?" I thought to myself. I searched around on the net, and it didn't take me long to come up with an alternative.
Its called Ubuntu. It is a South-African founded operating system that completely replaced Windows for me. It is based on the Swahili concept of Ubuntu, which translates loosely as 'Humaninty to Others.' Its based on Linux, and it has a long, long list of advantages over Windows. First, and perhaps largest, it is 100% free (as in speech and beer). You will never pay a penny. On top of this large incentive, we have these:
1. Ubuntu has a large upgrade every 6 months. Security upgrades occur more than once a week.
2. It is very solid operating system. No more crashes, freezes, or lagging at inopportune times. Just use your computer.
3. Its is far easier to find and install the thousands (100% free) programs than in windows. It usually takes typing a keyword and two mouse clicks. Done. Uninstalling programs is as simple. After installed, programs are automatically kept updated to the latest version, behind the scenes.
4. Security. The fundamental nature of Linux is far more secure than Windows, and this is why there are actually no known viruses for Linux. Spyware is virtually nonexistant as well.
5. Fast and simple. Ubuntu provides exactly what you need. Nothing bogs down your computer, and it will run much more smoothly and quickly.
6. Easy install and simple, customizable interface. I could set this up so that my 87 year old grandma could use it.
7. Nelson Madela is a fan!
To try it is simple. Go to www.ubuntu.com, download the file, burn it onto a CD, and restart your computer with the CD inside and you can test it out with no obligation and no modification to your computer.
I'm just starting some photography using my Grandfathers TLR Rolleiflex made in Germany in 1934. The mechanical sophistication in it is amazing. 70 years old and in perfect condition. He used it to take a photo of Albert Einstein one day. Cool!
On a final note, I am usually not a campaigner for the Vegetarian eating habits that I follow, but after reading this article my opinion has changed somewhat. In brief, it states that dietary choices have as much of an impact on the environment as transportation and electricity use, and that vegan and vegetarian diets create incredibly low amounts of pollutants compared to meat and dairy heavy diets. Read it.
Sunday, July 22, 2007
Thursday, July 19, 2007
1. Cape Alava soon!
2. 4 weeks of physical therapy for my Osgood Schlatter begins Tuesday.
3. I'm going to coach basketball with Dustin again, practice starts next Tuesday for the summer league.
4. Le Tour De France is on! Hooray! If you watch it for a few days, you will be hooked. Its amazingly fun.
5. Summer, please come back, these clouds are raining on me.
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
This article is extremely interesting. It deals with the growing intersection of religion and science, and with the possible reasons behind the formation of the universe.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
I've been struggling with alot of questions recently, trying to analyze my life and understand fully everything around me in the context of the human species, of evolution and the human race. Inevitably, Parkour came under my microscope.
Parkour is an art defined by its utility. We have had long discussion on this site and others about that. Our very own History Thread says: "This emphasis on the utility of Parkour is a common theme amongst the French traceurs."
Parkour roots are found in the Natural Method of George Hebert, whose motto was "Be strong to be useful." (Etre fort pour être utile). Raymond Belle, David's father, was himself a firefighter, as was David for a time. They found meaning from their training by helping others. Keep this in mind.
Without a doubt, the techniques and strength learned in Parkour are very useful, in any number of emergency situations. They can save your life, and the lives of others. However, I think it is fair to say that Parkour has little usefulness in the everyday activities of your average person. It may appear to some outsiders to be a selfish activity. We know that this is not true. But we can do better.
I believe every experienced traceur has a responsibility to others. We spend huge amounts of time and money training our bodies, and most of the time we do nothing with them for the good of other people. We develop out minds, breaking down traditional ways of thinking with our movement., but we don't apply ourselves to improve the quality of life. We have alot of power. The community of traceurs is growing exponentially right now, but there is little real good being done by the larger Parkour community.
Many people don't have the time and motivation to volunteer, organize, and otherwise change society. However, one thing we all do have, and in abundance, is physical fitness. This is a resource.
We should use it. Specifically, bicycles. By riding bicycles instead of hopping in the car, you:
1. Foster the traceur mentality. A big hill is a daunting obstacle, and topping out on it is one of the best feelings.
2. Get stronger.
3. Reduce dependance on fossil fuels. This is huge.
4. Fatten your wallet. 3/4 of car trips are less than 5 miles. Operating a car for one year costs, on average, $5000 (AAA). One year of bike maintenance costs an average of $120!
5. Reduce your environmental impact. This is fundamentally aligned with the Parkour mentality of helping others! Cars account for nearly 80 percent of carbon monoxide and 50 percent of nitrogen oxide emissions in the U.S. Air pollution contributes to the deaths of 60,000 people nationwide. In urban areas with poor air quality, asthma is becoming a more significant health concern. (Harvard University School of Public Health).
6. Reduce traffic jams and parking troubles! No more scrounging for quarters or sitting on I-5!
7. Get some fresh air! Cyclists breathe in less gross, sooty, carcinogenic exhaust then the people in the cars! (source: Rank J, Folke J, Jespersen PH. Differences in cyclists and car drivers exposure to air pollution from traffic in the city of Copenhagen. Sci Total Environ 2001; 279: 131-6.)
8. Reduce noise pollution. Cycles are quiet and pedestrian friendly.
9. Change your mentality, foster a positive attitude. Bicycling allows you much more freedom that cars. In urban environments, short trips are probably faster by bike than they are by car! Being on a bike puts you in touch with your environment and makes you use all your senses. You have to be completely aware of your surrounding on a bike. Sound familiar?
10. Cycling is fun!
Bicycling is a method of transportation that is, in my opinion, perfectly suited to the traceur. Try it!
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Thursday, May 31, 2007
conception of my own place in the world. The final project was to write a paper. The prompt was, what is good and meaningful work for you? I put alot of effort into this paper, so I thought I would post it here so others could share it with me. Tell me what you think!
Happiness is the most important goal in my life. Everything I do is driven by a desire to be happy, to be fulfilled. But do not take that to mean that I am a hedonist - many things have value to me that do not make me happy directly, but I try to find meaning in them anyway. Work, at least a common contemporary version of work, is somewhat at odds with my values. In millions of jobs across the world, people mindlessly jab at keyboards, roll cigarette after cigarette, cut the loose threads on jeans, and toil at even more demeaning jobs in return for a pale imitation of well-being. They are policed in their jobs by restrictive managers, watched by police with inflated egos on the street, and are so degraded by the time they get home that their close relationships are shallow and few. How do I find a meaningful life in a world that is full of suffering? What is my place on this earth, one human among the uncounted multitude? Why am I here? These are the questions that everyone must ask themself at some point. Some turn to religion, others commit themselves to some other path. In my opinion, my duties as a human being are two: be a steward of the earth, the only home we have ever known, and be a steward of my people, human beings.
There is no doubt that there are problems beyond measure in today's world. No one has trouble listing what some of these problems are, but each person's list will be different. Let me try to list off some of the biggest problems, that, in my eyes, hold back our species from its full potential. This is a short list of the things that I take as my duty to help change, for the good of our species. I realize that I will miss many problems here, but I believe the vast majority stem from a few of these basic inequities.
Poverty is perhaps the biggest inequity in the world, and affects the most. The vast majority of all people in the world are poor. From the projects of Coney island and Queensbridge, the 9th ward of New Orleans, the post-industrial wasteland of Detroit, to Oakland and Compton in California, to the south end of Seattle, poverty is a reality for millions in the United States today. The state of the poor in the richest country in the world is small compared to the uncounted hundreds of millions living in extreme poverty, forgotten and outcast, in Sao Paulo, Rio De Janeiro, Mexico City, China, India, Senegal, Darfur, Congo, and all across the world. Wherever you go, the poor are not far away. Why are people poor? I will address this later.
The vast difference in the quality of life between the rich and the poor accounts for the majority of crime. According to the US Department of Justice, more than 2 million people were incarcerated in 2002 in the United States. Prisons are one of the fastest growing industries in this country, and a San Fransisco Chronicle article recently stated that within five years, California will be spending more money on prisons than on higher education (Sterngold). The US jails
600,000 more people than China, the second leading country, and 1,200,000 more than Russia, in distant third place (Straw). Jails are not a solution, they are a temporary fix that does nothing to address the direct causes of crime. They serve no good purpose in society, only creating a culture of imprisonment among the most impoverished people and a black hole of resources and lives.
Racism, sexism, and classism are bigger problems in this country than most people admit. The fact that these prejudices exist is evidence of a deep sickness in our culture. They are a major source of war, social conflict, and violence, and serve to alienate people around the world from one another.
War is going strong today, flourishing around the world as a means of solving a conflict. Why do people kill each other around the world, especially under the guise of nationalism? What are the primary motivations, and what justifies war? This is a rather complex, often confusing issue, but I believe that all war is fundamentally flawed, and only hurts all the involved peoples. As Gandhi once said, "I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent."
War and the psychology of violence are ingrained in out culture. Society, relationships, and the health among people in the U.S. are strained, and the principles that lead us to war also lead us to internal conflict. Abuse, fights, divorce, suicide, murder, hate crimes, and other extreme behaviors are widespread. People spend less time raising their children, with their families, with their elders, their friends, in their communities, and speaking to strangers. Overall, less time is spent with neighbors and other humans, and more time is spent watching TV, surfing the Internet, and at work. I believe that the increasing technological innovations have combined with the individualist spirit of our culture to cripple the social skills and compassion that are innate in humans.
This same technology and individualism have lead to a dangerous irresponsibility among most all people with respect of the Earth. Environmental destruction and climate changes are occurring at unprecedented rates. From the rain forests of Columbia, the strip mines of the Australian outback, the coral reefs across the oceans, the Uranium mines on First Nation land in New Mexico, to carbon emissions around the globe, contamination of groundwater with agricultural chemicals, and depletion of oil reserves, the earth is in somewhat dire shape. This destruction inevitably leads to hard questions. What is the benefit of this destruction? Why is it occurring? What are the motivations of the people and the bodies who are fostering this destruction?
These are all frustrating, persistent, and extremely destructive problems, but I believe that all of them are completely solvable, albeit on a long timescale. One of the most effective ways to understand and solve any problem is to deconstruct its causes. All of the problems I have outlined stem from only a one root causes, namely, the economic and resulting cultural system of capitalism. Capitalism is an unsound social construction that has profoundly negative consequences on every corner of the globe and every corner of your life. This may sound somewhat radical - I can assure you that it probably does - but the reality is, we live in a world of such wealth that every human being on earth should have a home, access to pure water, uncontaminated air, fresh organic food, clothes on their back, and a community of people to live with. Each person should have a loving environment to learn in, teachers to help them along their way, special consideration for any unusual needs, and the freedom to express themselves in almost any way they want. Each person should have a supporting environment, clean land to live on, and a strong family. And all this should, and can be achieved while respecting our stewardship of the Earth, continuing the advance of science to benefit the race, and cementing the future of our global family. These things are not dreams, beyond the current abilities of technology. This could be the reality. If it does not become reality, in some form, than human beings as a species are in danger of destroying ourselves.
Capitalism is based on the precepts of individualism. Individuals who work harder, get more. If an individual chooses not to work, or cannot work, then that person has no inherent worth in the system of capitalism. Capitalism alienates people from their jobs by dividing labor into ever smaller pieces, keeping workers always in danger of being fired, downsizing and outsourcing, and separating the worker from the final product, which allows them no sense of accomplishment. When the skill and the challenge is removed from an activity and replaced with mindless repetition, boredom and anxiety set in, and this is a problem seen in many jobs today. The extremes of capitalism, the very rich and the very poor, are very secure in their positions. Wealth begets wealth, and poverty spawns greater poverty. At the same time, consumerism entices poor people to buy into the very system that holds them down. Advertisers spend millions to create a need for a new product among an entire population. These new products and technologies foster the spirit of capitalism. Television, computers, iPods, video games, second life, cell phones, microwaves, online shopping, they all serve the core principle of individualism by reducing encounters the extent of relations among people. Where for most of history a person would have conversations during their free time, walk to the store to buy some food or clothes from a real person, go to the pub to see a band or maybe even play and sing themselves, and cook dinners with family, friends, and neighbors, now these things are done in relative isolation.
This system is dehumanizing to all of its participants. Consumers in our society are separated from the food we eat, the cars we drive, and everything we consume by a price tag. While this may seem trivial, it separates us, the consumer, from the consequences of the things we consume, which is very dangerous. Factory farming, while it produces cheap eggs and big profits for the owners, comes at a price. Chickens, cattle, and pigs are often squashed into tiny cages, unable to turn around or lie down, force-fed antibiotics, and most will never see the light of day or smell fresh air. We pay for a car with our labor, never seeing the results of global climate change on our scale, the earth ripped apart for raw materials, or the worn down workers on the assembly line. We browse merrily on our computers and talk on our cell phones, but almost never hear mention of the devastating civil wars in the Congo that are financed by Tantalum mines, ripping apart the jungle and resulting in more than 3 million killed since 1994, all for the sake of transistors and circuits. The irony is that we have the buying power in this system, which is the power to control what we consume. In a traditional economy, the consequences of unethical, harmful, and destructive practices was immediate and present, and this self-protecting system flourished for hundreds of thousands of years., while our system hurtles us towards our own destruction faster and faster.
Capitalism fosters a disconnect between all people. New material goods separate us from the earth, which is the ultimate source of all of our livelihood. Ancient cultures around the world, strong in their traditions and deeply rooted in their respect for the land, are exploited by globalization, free trade agreements, and outsourcing. Columbian farmers, who have grown and sold crops locally for thousands of years, are now competing with massive agri-businesses from the United States for customers. Many of these farmers, forced out of their traditional, sustainable agricultural practices, turn to Coca fields as their only means of feeding their family, only to be set upon by the forces of the War on Drugs. All of this is justified in the minds of many people by the notion of progress in the global economy, and growth in the price of their stocks.
The question that must be asked is, progression towards what? Is there some light at the end of the tunnel for capitalists? What is the point of all this work, all this labor that goes beyond providing what we need? Corporations amass wealth, vast production lines crank out millions of doo-dads per day, and dump trucks build mountains of trash upon the earth. Why do we uphold a system that necessitates a poor, underprivileged class alongside an extremely wealthy and powerful one? What is the benefit of such a system to any one person, and to humanity and the earth as a whole?
In February of 1990, the Voyager I spacecraft, launched in 1977, began to leave the solar system. As it left, NASA commanded the Voyager to turn around and photograph the solar system from 4 billion miles away. The photo, immortalized as "the pale blue dot," is the furthest picture of the earth ever taken. Carl Sagan, the famous author, philosopher, and astronomer, wrote about the photo in his book of the same title.
"We succeeded in taking that picture [from deep space], and, if you look at it, you see a dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you've ever heard of, every human being who ever was lived out their lives. The aggregate of all our joys and sufferings, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilizations, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every hopeful child, every mother and father, every inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species, lived there - on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of the dot on scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner of the dot. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light.
Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity -- in all this vastness -- there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us. It's been said that astronomy is a humbling, and I might add, a character-building experience. To my mind, there is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly and compassionately with one another and to preserve and cherish this pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known." (Sagan)
No one holds the solution in their hands. I have no medicine, no miracle plan to save ourselves from this position we have backed ourselves into. I'm only one man, one among billions. So what do I do to change the world? What is my good and meaningful work? I choose to structure my life around compassion. Wealth and property are enticing goals, but when I consider my place as a human being, alone with my people on a tiny pale blue dot, most of the things that are considered important in our capitalist society begin to fall to the wayside. When the potential for good change in the world is so enormous, I must take some of it as my responsibility, as my work.
The first way that I seek to change the world is to live simply, and live well. The guidelines that I set here are few and simple, but it is nonetheless work to follow them. Such changes do not come easily. I try to reduce my consumption as much as possible, and to encourage others to do the same. Our power as consumers is total, but it is only as educated consumers that we can make the right choices. I try to be compassionate, and to live with an appreciation for every other being. Fundamental in this endeavor is self respect. It is often said that you cannot love another without first loving yourself, and I believe this is truth. By spreading standards of beauty and bias based on appearance and manner, our culture has seriously damaged the ability of most people to truly love themselves without compunction, and this in turn has led to a population that often sees compassion as weakness.
Perhaps the biggest victim of our modern way of life has been our relationships. Humans are inherently among the most social creatures on the planet, and the individualism preached on the pulpits of Wall Street is antithetical to our nature. I believe that the best way to build change in the world is the forge strong relationships among people. The only way to forge lasting, meaningful relationships is to spend time on them, which is why I choose to spend time with my family, with all of my relatives, with my friends, and even with strangers. You can never tell who will be a new friend. The time spent with friends and family is the primary building block of culture, and culture is among the strongest forces for change in the world.
Another aspect of my work is storytelling. My favorite methods of telling stories use writing and photography, two mediums which have a fundamental power to influence people. The disconnect between consumers and the consequences of their consumption is a fragile barrier, and the written word and printed image have the ability to pierce that wall. Both photography and writing have an intrinsic value to me as well. Both formats have the ability to capture beauty in a form that is usually unseen and unheard. With a camera in my hands, I have the power to capture and share some small parts of the beauty that, for the most part, goes unappreciated in the everyday world.
Although traditionally my leisure activity of choice has been rock climbing, it has been supplanted in the past year by a french discipline called Parkour, which was born in a suburb of Paris in the 1980's. A highly physical training discipline, Parkour is about the perfection of movement from one point to another, learning to bypass any obstacle in the path. Although it is most often practiced in urban environments, the discipline is formulated around fast, efficient, and graceful movement across any terrain. This commonly involves running, jumping, climbing, hanging, swinging, quadrupedal movement, swimming, balancing, dropping, and vaulting. However, the spirit of Parkour is much more than this. Founded by David Belle, the son of a national hero fireman of France, Parkour is a complete path toward "strong body, strong mind." As a Traceur (practitioner of Parkour) begins to develop, the world becomes a much different place. The profound self discipline required in Parkour training has a fundamental effect on my mindset at all times. One of the principle tenets of Parkour is that there is always a path, always a way to move forwards. I would even say that this is the most basic component of the discipline - the art of moving forwards. This is not something that comes easy, which is why a Traceur trains, trains, trains. The skills, mental and physical, that are taught by living the life of a Traceur have real applications in every aspect of life.
Parkour has unlimited potential. Far from the anarchic successor to skateboarding, it is a way of life that has the ability to change the practitioner and everyone in touches. It is the logical successor of the games that every child plays, jumping around, climbing on anything and simply moving in their environment for the pure joy of movement. It can be a spark of creativity in an otherwise drab urban environment, a splash of excitement and health in an unhealthy world. It causes spaces to be used in ways that were never anticipated or designed for, and bucks the constraints of traditional sport. It is often said in the community that anyone can do Parkour, at any time, anywhere in the world. This to me is power beyond imagining, a resource for humans that is just beginning to be tapped.
I have tried to give a portrait of what I consider to be my work, my path as far as it is illuminated to me now. I want to live a simple life as far as possible, rejecting consumerism, capitalism, and all the ills that come from it. I want to build strong relationships with all the people around me, and build a strong culture. I want to tell stories to people, through words and pictures, that teach them a little bit more about the world that we live in and our place in it. I want to practice and spread Parkour as a strong remedy to the monotony of our increasingly urban and digital lifestyle. In William Gibson's award winning novel Neuromancer, a grim post-information age landscape is portrayed. In this future world, "Power... meant corporate power... the multinationals that shaped the course of human history, had transcended national boundaries. Viewed as organisms, they had achieved a kind of immortality" (Gibson 203). If our current path continues, it seems that our future looks depressingly similar to Gibson's vision. I am only one person among billions, but I believe in my ability to make change. Gandhi said "You must be the change you wish to see in the world." It is my job to be it.
Sunday, May 20, 2007
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Hmmm.... I never thought about that word orgin.
By the by, I have decided I would like to major in Environmental Science Journalism, so I can do three of the things I love: Photography, writing, and making some change. Hopefully it will also involve alot of travel and fresh air. My dream job would be to work for National Geographic, but that is in the future.
I've got a new camera in the mail, it should be here in five days. Look for a ton of new picures on my Flickr account in the next few weeks and months.
The Blue Scholars have a new album out, entitled 'Bayani,' which is... beyond words. In my opinion, it is the best album out of the northwest in my lifetime. A fantastic affirmation of life and questioning of the injustice in the world, and a musical gem. Sabzi spins the tables with the best and Geologics rhymes are light years ahead of the previous albums. I think anyone, no matter their age, can enjoy this album. The best songs are Joe Metro, about the bus system in seattle, 50 Thousand Deep, about the 1999 WTO protests, North By Northwest, about the left coast, and Bayani, which is just phenomenal.
Buy this album. Play it. Enjoy. Repeat.
a purple friend in Larrabee State Park
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
Saturday, April 28, 2007
on a entirely different note, check out my flickr, I've been doing tons of photography lately.
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
Monday, March 19, 2007
They host a whole set of mostly unpublished authors' audiobooks, and allows you to subscribe to the book as an RSS feed; you can recieve a new chapter every day, week, or month to allow slow consumption.
There are some great books on there, I've been exploring it for the last few days.
It combines very well with netvibes.com, which is a personalized homepage that I have been using. It lets you set up RSS feeds and many other things to show everytime you open your browser. Mine is set up to get my email, about 10 blogs from my friends, weather, news, and also has a notes and to-do-list feature.
Thursday, March 15, 2007
Random fact for the readers. I picked up the Hiking Guide to Whatcom County earlier, should make for interesting tramps. I am considering making a foray out to Olympic National Park over spring break, we shall see. Contingent on the sky not falling down in a thuderous wet splash, as has been known to happen around here in March. Here are a few pictures from up here.
The remnants of the latest snow Soren drifting off in class
spring or winter? Fog is thick and common
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
So I met up with some people and did some parkour/hiking on Oyster Dome, just south of Bellinghman on Chuckanut Drive. It was fun,
a long day at 7 hours and many miles. There is a 200 or so ft. escarpment up there, which looks to have 5 or 6 climbs up to three pitches on it. Gotta check those out asap. Here are a few pics, I didn't take many.
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Sunday, January 21, 2007
Well, I'm still in Bellingham since the last time i posted, things have been good up here.
the snow has melted out over the last couple days, and yesterday was actually sunny! The first
nice weather since i have been up here. Me and some friends threw a frisbee around on the field,
soaking in the sunlight. I think we all had the rickets.
Last night we all went to the Basketball game, Western vs. our rival Central Washington. We won
the game in overtime, there were probably 25 lead changes through the course of the game. Fun!
here are some random photos ; a sandstorm in iraq, marshall and megan cruisin in thailand, and tokyo in HDR.
Friday, January 12, 2007
snowfall blanketed bellingham on wednesday, leaving a 4-inch blanket across the entire region. The skies cleared thursday morning,
but continued low temperatures in the teens and twenties have made many of the sidewalks and road into treacherous slides. A deer was spotted off my front porch yesterday, munching on the carefully manicured brush.
Monday, January 08, 2007
So I am at college. WWU. Bellingham is windy and has clean air. My roomate is from alaska and is named Dylan, he is cool. I just signed up for Psychology, Medievel History, and Philosophy. Cool. Played some B-ball today, and set up the dorm room. Its gonna be fun, I can already tell.