Down the Ballot

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

'Merry Christmas...

'Shitter was full.'

Hope your next few nights are filled with family and friends. Don't get swindled by the big retailers into getting those credit cards to buy unneeded gifts. Shop local, second hand. DIY gifts and all that other stuff.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Philosophy of Photos

my great uncle and guy named Ted.
I have been in the process of scanning a vast family archive of personal photos since 2012. These photos date back to the late 1800s to as recently as 2002. It seems most people (in my family at least) made the jump to digital about 2004, as I have seen very few photos from 2004 to now. While out to lunch with a friend the topic came up as his parents are in their 70s and have a vast archive of their own that he has been trying to figure out how to one day make digital for easy sharing with family.

That was mostly my driving goal behind doing this project. There is a philosophical aspect to photos and photography, that as I open up photo albums full of people I have never met I start to drift away in thought about. Everything from the aesthetics to the practical nature of taking a photo is and can be debated.  (probably in some haphazardly managed Philosophy of Art class).

Why is it that we cling so close to that box of grandmas or grandpas photos? Memory is a great topic in epistemology and also cuts across several others. Probably one of my favorites. We rely so heavily on this thing called 'memory' that peoples lives are sometimes dependent on either a collective memory or an individuals memory. It has a great power over most cultures on Earth. When we talk about memory, we're not only talking about that box of photos but all sorts of things that we have experienced. There also seems to be great diversity in how much we remember. As well as something concerning intensity of the memory. I did a project on JFK in high school, where I went around to friends and family who were old enough to remember the JFK assassination.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Sherman Christmas Price Index 2014

I have done it two years now, time to make it a third year. The Sherman Christmas Price Index, for those of you in the know is the price index for all the items mentioned in the Allan Sherman 12 Days of Christmas parody. I saw PNC Wealth Managment's break down of the classic version this year. It has gone up 1% based on the current CPI. The cost for just the 12 individual items is: $27,673.21

 Again to warn you the SCPI has very sloppy methodology, probably hit a wrong number on the calculator somewhere too but oh well. Here is the song!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Christmas Bonanza

I was listening to an online radio station for some holiday music and a song from this album came up. I was very amazed to discover they made a Christmas album, let alone got all the cast to participate. I haven't even found a Wikipedia page for it yet, but on Lorne Greene's wiki page it is listed under his discography from 1963 and was produced by RCA.

Amazing. My parents watched Bonanza growing up and they introduced it to me it many years ago. Not exactly my kinda show but it does have its moments.


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Blackadder's Christmas Carol

Charles Dickens is regarded as one of the most well known writers to come from the Victorian era. His works are being read in classrooms across the world and his popular work A Christmas Carol was published in 1843. The book has NEVER been out of print since first publication. As with most creative endeavors it has spawned others to create and they have created many parodies of Christmas carol.

One of my favorites was written by Ben Elton and Richard Curtis of Blackadder fame. In Blackadder's Christmas Carol they tell the story of one Ebenezer Blackadder who was supposedly the nicest man in England. Rowan Atkinson and Tony Robinson run a Mustache Shop and are continually sent the cries of the 'unfortunate' and are forced to give up more and more of their Christmas cheer until a visit by one of the 'ghosts' played by Robbie Coltrane, shows Blackadder what his future would be like if he was as bad as his ancestors. This makes Blackadder change his mood and become evil to get back his Christmas.

All the regular Blackadder players make cameos as either future or past versions of themselves. What I think I like most about this re-telling of the Dickens classic is it flips the typical narrative of reforming Scrooge from a miser to a goodie-good. Scrooge becomes a Miser to match the terrible society around him and the people in his life.

You can find it on Netflix or most other pay to play services. It originally aired in 1988.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

My first Business Adventure

So I decided this last year to start a small business. I mean very small. So small, I still need my current job and paycheck to help finance it. An incredible opportunity came my way to purchase a similar business from someone retiring for health issues. Another ending tied to a new beginning. It wasn't so much the entrepreneurial spirit that motivated me into this endeavor as it was freedom from student loans. What small profits I hope to see, and that will not be used to pay down my start up costs will be put directly into paying off my student loans.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Taking What a Fool Believes to the Streets

No wise man has the power to reason away
What seems to be
Is always better than nothing
There's nothing at all
But what a fool believes he sees

-What a Fool Believes, Michael McDonald, Kenny Loggins 1978

When dealing with the events that have been taking place for the last few months in places like Ferguson, Missouri and elsewhere in the country it has hard to not and try and use our rational reasoning to explain such tragic events. Our reasons fails us. As your every day white person I can never fully appreciate what any minority experiences in every day struggles. We all will struggle differently in life and for different things.

What little compassion people have now for each other seems to be better than nothing. We could be doing so much more and doing much better.  Lyndon Johnson once famously said in the Daisy campaign ad 'we must either love each other or we must die'. We seem to be doing little loving of each other but still doing a fair amount of dying. Tragic.

Perhaps we are all fools believing that we will see a better world. I guess if you're going to be a fool, you might as well be a fool for a good reason. I have seen friends and strangers on facebook and other outlets try to rationalize and reason or search for greater meaning in these events. Some point to historical institutional discrimination in our power structures. Others point to the lack civic engagement in communities, and probably worse of the lot; those that don't see the problems at all. When we get too comfortable, too prideful we can become blinded to the problems of our brothers and sisters.

Most of us are not blind to the problems, we don't like what we are seeing and many are taking it to the streets to express our concern, outrage, despair, and hope. We are foolishly optimistic about the future, even if the present leaves us tired and distraught. We must be sure to take it to the streets not simply out of anger but for hope. We must be those agents of change we are demanding. It is more than simply voting, more than simply dishing up the same old rhetoric of change. Each of us must act with hope and love in our corner of humanity.

Take this message to my brother
You will find him everywhere
Wherever people live together
Tied in poverty's despair
You, telling me the things you're gonna do for me
I ain't blind and I don't like what I think I see
Takin' it to the streets
Takin' it to the streets
Takin' it to the streets

-Takin' it to the Streets, Micheal McDonald 1976

Friday, December 5, 2014

A Good Start to Merry Treksmas

For whatever reasons I have been buying up more of those Hallmark Star Trek ornaments this year than I have in the last five or six. I think it might possibly be that I let my Trek collection slip the last few years. I don't think I had purchased more than one or two of them in the last three years. It just hadn't been a priority for me. There are lots of better things I could be saving and spending my money on (rent, food, phone bill, healthcare...the list goes on). Still, I decided to double down. I have purchased about 12 of them (none of the new ones) all on ebay and second hand stores.

I was most thrilled to purchase this Q ornament.

It was issued in 2000 and had a Lt. Commander Worf counterpart. Hallmark never issued anymore glass blown ornaments. Perhaps they did not sell well? I was able to purchase this one for 5 dollars on ebay. The Worf one I got at a similar price of $8 dollars.