Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Going Digital

For much of my life I've been an aggressive journal keeper - 11 volumes (of various size and shape) filled with meticulous scrawl, if the two words can be combined. There's typically a beautiful uniform slant and height set to my penmanship, but it doesn't score high for legibility.

Anywhoo - this practice has been for me a wonderfully meditative exercise, forcing me align my thoughts linearly. The slow pace of the output also forces me to prune that chain down to single, dominant, and focused thread. Stepping back and moving a little slower is a good thing, and has frequently deepened my resolve, refreshed my dedication, or provided personal insight that I doubt would otherwise have been available.

It has also been recently neglected, for the same reason that all my non-work endeavors have been dying: time. Even blogging - averaging 3 weeks to a month between posts, which take about 10 or 15 minutes to put together if I'm doing concerned self-editing (all the posts here are still pretty rough, but at least the grammar is consistent and I don't repeat common phrase construction across multiple sentences and paragraphs). In an effort to begin to resurrect the journaling, I'm going to break out of the current volume-bound format and finally plunge into the digital realm.

The reason I didn't do this years ago was the difficulty and sheer nerdliness of maintaining continual access to digital input mechanisms, and my commitment to the contiguous population of the current volume (whatever it was at the time). I'm now nearing the end of this 11th tome, and the time has come to reevaluate that position. I currently have 3 devices (2 literal, one virtual) which would allow me access to this intimate recording process without hesitation:

  • Palm Pilot (Sony Clie PEG-UX50 w/backlit keyboard)
  • Alphasmart 3000 (stand-alone portable word processor)
  • Any internet enabled computer
This means the maintenance of an un-broken record becomes a reality, and can now involve multiple media types (incorporating digital photos and artistry). I also have plans of adding the Acecad DigiMemo 692 (stand-alone hand-writing digitizer) to this collection over Christmas, allowing me to maintain the personal touch of the familiar script. All of this work in an easily replicated (and thus hopefully immortalized), indexed, and transmittable fashion. Such record will also include postings I've made here, providing an additional level of insight for the sanity hearings.

I'm excited to see how it will turn out - whether I can recapture the benefits when the painstaking labor detaches to an unbound, ethereal capability. If it is the though that counts, or something about the labor which I unwittingly leave behind. Whatever the case, I need it - I find myself less able to subverbalize to myself an understanding of the fluctuating emotions encountered throughout the day; and if I don't know me, I'm lost.

Lost indeed...

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Quixotic Activism

It's easy to get fed up with the current state of X. To laugh at, gripe about, and infuriate over.

Eventually, perhaps, to translate into action - when the desire for change outweighs the fear of involvement and an ideal takes hold.

To point, I despise American politics. The most recent mud-fights over the media inflated fears of the "Asian Bird Flu" really take the cake. Parties claiming that tremendous allocation of resources are required, and should have been done years ago (though they themselves at the time also shared no interest in the topic).

In all of industrialized China, where contact with livestock is far more common and the density of population makes for much easier potential transmission, there have been 2 confirmed cases and 1 suspected - and 2 deaths. Yes, this is a high mortality rate for illness - it also took place in a fairly rural environment where adequate medical care was not available. Weighing these facts against the literal hundreds of millions of potential victims (those in similar circumstances) makes the "outbreak" a laughable drop in a very empty bucket. More deaths occur by automobiles, homicide, suicide, freak accidents, lightning, etc.

None of which are currently high on the list of fear-mongering targets. So why does this factor garner so much of the attention? Why is "pandemic" the buzz word of the month?

Because (and this is my conjectured opinion) those currently in a position of influence fear it. As rich old white guys this is one of the few things in their "immediate environment" they feel they may be able to instill some measure of control over - and have grown accustomed to the other every day risk factors (if we assume congressmen and senators follow the national smoking rate of 20-30%, with an expected 60% mortality rate, we're already talking about more preventable deaths in a very small group than have been attributed to Avian Influenza in the past year in the global population).

This, I think, is disproportionate to the actual needs of the ever-lauded-during-election-year Constituent. I feel the situation rather poignantly highlights the self-serving motivations of a disconnected oligarchy. Other examples include self-proposed and self-approved pay raises, abuses of privilege of office (special treatment/gifts from lobbyists, market connections to inside information), lifelong retirement benefits, etc.

Not to dismiss the fact that some good does come out of the system, but it flounders in so many gross layers of bureaucratic fat that net performance is most probably negative.

Revisiting the topic of lobbyists: an entire industry dedicated to being on the take to those who can afford them, thus gaining informational access (and thus influence) to elected officials, comes across to me as a thinly veiled payola sleight-of-hand amplifying the voices of the rich and famous.

This top meager percentage fails to mobilize and motivate resources effectively (costing too much and taking too long), and has likely never known the challenges faced by those who elected them into office in the first place (I won't go into elections here).

It makes me want to run for office on a clean, low-budget, government reform campaign. Thoughts of the Presidency are even entertained, digging in with rolled-up sleeves to trim the aforementioned fat and make a difference for my fellow man.

Shortly afterward I usually recognize the difficulty of paddling upstream - I might move myself, but the water continues its course oblivious to my sacrificial effort. When can one person make a difference? When is the task too big? By what scope is caring rendered completely ineffectual and all action fruitless? AKA, should I even bother?

Similar perspectives (Man vs. Monolith) can be found in multiple environments: home & family, work, ecosystems, real diseases like HIV/AIDS (or Ebola for that matter), work, etc. Yes I said Work twice. Maybe in trying to push against the boulder one decides to move oneself instead - and quit, divorce, defect, or hermitize.

It is entirely possible that I am an emotional wimp simply looking to conform the world around me to an unrealistic ideal offered up by my own deluded fantasies. It is equally possible that I am responding to a negative impulse delivered by my brain's limbic system to bring my circumstance back in line with a real and recognized status-quo; perhaps even unselfishly.

I'd like to think I can make that distinction, but it hardly matters - the math works out the same.

Maybe I'll stick it to The Man and just move to Canada.