The Morning Grumpy – 5/23/12

23 May

All the news, views, and filtered excellence that’s fit to consume during your morning grumpy.

1. This is a cool local Kickstarter project that was brought to my attention by local photographer and technologist, Clark Dever.

The Woodworker’s Clubhouse, as the name implies it is an open access community woodshop that members can use the fully equipped woodshop for their woodworking projects.  It is a place where people with a common interest in woodworking can meet, socialize and/or collaborate on their projects…a place to share resources and knowledge in a social/educational venue.  It provides a place where they can use expensive tools and equipment they would not otherwise have access to.

Buffalo needs more of these makerspaces as we slowly rebuild our culture of innovation, entrepreneurship, and appreciation for crafts and trades. I kicked in a few bucks and I think you should as well.

2. Seven years ago at Kenyon College, David Foster Wallace gave what is (in my estimation) the greatest commencement speech ever given. In 2009, after his suicide in the manner referenced below, the speech was adapted into a short book titled This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life.

It is extremely difficult to stay alert and attentive, instead of getting hypnotized by the constant monologue inside your own head (may be happening right now). Twenty years after my own graduation, I have come gradually to understand that the liberal arts cliché about teaching you how to think is actually shorthand for a much deeper, more serious idea: learning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think. It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience. Because if you cannot exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed. Think of the old cliché about “the mind being an excellent servant but a terrible master.”

This, like many clichés, so lame and unexciting on the surface, actually expresses a great and terrible truth. It is not the least bit coincidental that adults who commit suicide with firearms almost always shoot themselves in: the head. They shoot the terrible master. And the truth is that most of these suicides are actually dead long before they pull the trigger.

And I submit that this is what the real, no bullshit value of your liberal arts education is supposed to be about: how to keep from going through your comfortable, prosperous, respectable adult life dead, unconscious, a slave to your head and to your natural default setting of being uniquely, completely, imperially alone day in and day out.

An incredible speech from one of America’s greatest and most misunderstood thinkers. If you’re averse to lengthy reading, you can listen to this speech here and here.

3. Is Facebook ruining marriage? Survey says…YES!

More than a third of divorce filings last year contained the word Facebook, according to a U.K. survey by Divorce Online, a  legal services firm. And over 80% of U.S. divorce attorneys say they’ve seen a rise in the number of cases using social networking, according to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.

It’s not simply due to affairs and re-connections with old flames. In other studies, the social networking tool has proven to create profound feelings of loneliness and envy. So, you might want to rethink how often you check that news feed.

4. 2012 is the last best chance for the Republicans to assert control over the government. Expect the most radical, partisan, and heated campaign in history. Why? Because “their voters are white, aging, and dying off

Over the next several generations, the wave of minority voters — who, according to U.S. Census figures released this week, now represent more than half of the nation’s population born in the past year — will become more of a power base in places like Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia. That hold will extend across the Southwest all the way to California, experts say.

The coming political revolution could result in a massive changing of the guard on nearly every level of government, potential cultural clashes, and the type of political alliances that are now considered rare.

Republicans have staked their hopes for 2012 on motivating their shrinking base of white, religious, and angry voters to turn out in record numbers against the Kenyan socialist avatar they’ve constructed to represent Barack Obama. The rhetoric necessary to generate that turnout will make the acidic and horrifying tone of the 2008 general election seem like a dance around the maypole.

Luckily for Democrats, the GOP establishment picked the one candidate who inspired the least amount of fervent support amongst the base. No one is excited to vote for Mitt Romney, except for people in magic underwear and rich white men who get semi-erections while reading about massive union layoffs.

5. A reporter was writing a story about the environmental dangers of tar sand oil mining. He wanted to get into the facility to take pictures, but the oil company wouldn’t let him in. So, he rented a plane and took photos from overhead.

When I see pictures like this, I’m reminded that we can be described as parasitoids on this planet. That we will go to these lengths to mine for fossil fuels rather than invest in alternative and renewable means of energy is simply beyond my comprehension.

Fact Of The Day: The land for Arlington National Cemetery was seized from the family of Confederate General Robert E Lee so that the Union dead could be laid at his doorstep.

Quote Of The Day:  “Maybe this world is another planet’s hell.” ― Aldous Huxley

Laugh Of The Day: “Animal Abuse” – Patrice O’Neal

Video Of The Day: How a smartphone knows up from down.

Song Of The Day: “Rock Me On The Water” – Jackson Browne

Follow me on Twitter for the “incremental grumpy” @ChrisSmithAV

Email me links, tips, story ideas:

4 Responses to “The Morning Grumpy – 5/23/12”

  1. Max Planck May 23, 2012 at 7:44 am #

    Chris – your  #5 – bravo to the reporter who had the cojones to pursue his objective; that picture should be front page stuff. It reminded me of the devastation wreaked throughout Appalachia by the coal companies in their strip mining actions.  

  2. Jesse Griffis May 23, 2012 at 8:53 am #

    Wait, we aren’t pursuing alternative energies? There’s no research going into alt-fuel, nuclear tech, blah blah blee blah?

    What do we do in the meantime? Sit at home and wait for that research to be done?

    • Chris Smith May 23, 2012 at 10:29 am #

      Sure, we’re “pursuing” alternative energy research, but the investment and urgency do not reflect the need and opportunity. We need a massive federally led investment program that is cooperative with industry and academia. Energy independence is incredibly crucial to national security, yet our approach doesn’t match the urgency. I’m looking for a similar scale to what we saw in the 1960’s space race. Unfortunately, we have a Republican Party which refuses to buy into the urgency and considers “clean coal” and hydrofracturing as legitimate alternative fuels. We need renewables.

  3. Ethan Cox May 23, 2012 at 11:09 am #

    I suspect there is a relationship between the sentiments of #2 and the observed facts of #3.  Certainly, if you’re not the master of your mind, you’re more likely to believe Facebook mirrors reality instead of being a highly selectively edited reality which it clearly is.  Nobody ever seems to update their status as “I just laid some serious cable,” but I am pretty sure all my friends go to the bathroom once a day or more…

    As well, w/r/t #3, correlation is not causation.  I haven’t read the Methods section of the study, but the direction of the causal arrow would be one potential concern with that conclusion (maybe unhappy couples just use Facebook more, as opposed to Facebook causing unhappy couples). 

Contribute To The Conversation

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: