Saturday, January 31, 2009

What cooked the World's Economy?

What Cooked the World's Economy? - page 1 - Village Voice
What Cooked the World's Economy?
It wasn't your overdue mortgage.
By James Lieber
Tuesday, January 27th 2009 at 2:46pm

It's 2009. You're laid off, furloughed, foreclosed on, or you know someone who is. You wonder where you'll fit into the grim new semi-socialistic post-post-industrial economy colloquially known as "this mess."

You're astonished and possibly ashamed that mutant financial instruments dreamed up in your great country have spawned worldwide misery. You can't comprehend, much less trim, the amount of bailout money parachuting into the laps of incompetents, hoarders, and miscreants. It's been a tough century so far: 9/11, Iraq, and now this. At least we have a bright new president. He'll give you a job painting a bridge. You may need it to keep body and soul together.

The basic story line so far is that we are all to blame, including homeowners who bit off more than they could chew, lenders who wrote absurd adjustable-rate mortgages, and greedy investment bankers.

(fantastic summary of what went wrong at the link)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Grab a box of tissues first, then watch this powerful film.

A straight actor's gay education: Scott Bailey on his "Prayers for Bobby" experience |
FROM REAL LIFE STORY TO BOOK TO FILM: Prayers for Bobby is based upon the true story and critically acclaimed book by Leroy Aarons about a young gay man, Bobby (played by a heartbreaking Ryan Kelley), who because of his religious beliefs and family pressure, sets out to cure himself of being gay. The attempted cure tragically ends with his suicide which instigates questioning by his mother, Mary Griffith (played powerfully by Sigourney Weaver), of her blind-faith regarding homosexuality. She eventually becomes a gay rights activist and attempts to break this cycle of needless tragedy by telling her story. Mr. Aarons read bout Mary's heartbreak in an article in his local paper, contacted her and she shared with him Bobby¹s journals which chronicled his struggle. From that moment on, Mr. Aarons knew he had to write this story.


It was admittedly a learning experience even for me, an actor, living in Hollywood, with many close gay friends. I learned that the suicide rate is 4 TIMES higher amongst gay teens than straight teens. I also learned that homosexuality is definitely not a "choice" or "preference" or even something that can be taught yet it is widely feared and viewed askance! Hopefully, films like this can reveal the ongoing discrimination for what it is, show examples of how life can be, and by doing so provide a beacon of hope to homosexuals and their families.
If you missed it last night, Lifetime is going to re-air the movie Sunday night at 8pm EST or Tuesday at 9pm.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

For those who miss the Far Side

An online group has gone on a mission to photoshop all the old Far Side comics from actual digital images. I miss that series.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

So Evan's off to Europe

and Kegan as well (but ze's going to school as opposed to simply wandering) and the rest are scattered from one end of the country to the other it seems. But the remarkable thing about Evan's trip is how unlike so many who take off after graduation to backpack around Europe before coming home to settle down into their careers.

He's not doing that and it's not that he's lazy or irresponsible - in fact, he's very much the opposite of both of those. But he's just going to go, as a part of life's experience rather than some postcard to send back to everyone with "see what I'm doing now" written on the back. It seems in his mind that there isn't a reason to come back and settle in to some career that is more like handcuffs than a ladder. And I have to say that I am coming more and more to agree with it.

None of the kids working here was ever properly "normalized" (and I say that in admiration and with the utmost respect). They never learned how to sit in a job they hate, possibly dwelling out their years in a cubicle - they're idea of a good job differs greatly from what the world has been teaching.

I've been reading a new blog alot lately - How Many Miles from Babylon - the author chronicles his life free from commercialism/consumerism (Babylon) with both practical, how to type knowledge along with a nice blend of philosophy and humor. As he puts it, "This blog is for my thoughts on distancing oneself from Babylon, living one's life on some other basis than job and career and what it will purchase."

As the year has been coming to a close, as the economy seems to be as well - there's been plenty of reflection and discussion lately about "what's next?" - what do we want to do, where and how. I've always been one who said to find what you love to do and then figure out how to make money from it vs. killing yourself for a job that simply gives you a paycheck. But now I'm wondering about the need for finding a way to make it pay - do we even need money?

I know that sounds really strange to a person living in this century - but think about it. All this growth in the financial sector - what was it exactly? Was there any real benefit, or was it really just another elaborate Ponzi scheme? A bunch of people got paid a bunch of electronic blips in their bank account for pushing around a bunch of other electronic blips from other people. But where is it now? And did it really make a difference to most of us?

People still go to bed hungry, plenty of them have no bed in the first place. And many millions more have no access to a doctor when they get sick. We seem to have set up all these rules about how things work and who gets what - but it was all done on some basis for individuals to gain, but only when other people lost. Some Wall St wizard steals over $50 Billion from folks over more than a decade and no one notices - but we'll give the third degree, fingerprints and background checks to a mother trying to get some help to buy food because her husband lost one of his minimum wage jobs. And nearly half our country would scorn her as a lowlife, call her lazy and worthless and then pat themselves on the back while bragging over how self made folks they are and also how religious they are.

There was an exercise we did in class about everyone having input into designing a system - any decision could be made about how things work in the world - the only catch was that you didn't know where you would be in the system once it was finished.

There's a part of me that's been almost craving to go build a house for us into the side of a hill (from discarded tires, super insulated with solar panels and a windmill, of course) but it keeps seeming very selfish. So my thoughts turn more to ecovillages, intentional communities and our ability to forge something sustainable for a larger number of people at one time, rather than just one or two. I know I'm ready for a change - I'm tired of being tired, I'm bored and not challenged. A new livelihood - potentially without a paycheck maybe - but one focused more on impact and long term improvement for people certainly.