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Signs I Like Passing While Looking for a Place to Write

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Self-explainatory.

Conservative Birth Control

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It totally works, and the stork just brings the baby somewhere else. I hear this is the central handout in Texas Sex Ed classes.

Who Draws the Line?

I’m am continually flummoxed by the general reactions of “teh internet” when it comes to “sensitivity”.

The latest moral outrage comes by way of a design blogger, Steven Heller, who decided to compare the design schematics of old slave ships with those of modern airliners. Of course, just like the guy who decided to break with the masses and suggest that not everything about the internet is sunshine and ponies, Mr. Heller has received a response that seems heavy on the accusation and light on any actual brain activity.

Perhaps it’s simply easier to be angry and upset, pointing toward socially-agreed upon scapegoats in order to avoid making an argument or engaging in actual thought.

I’m confused, mainly, because from a design standpoint there is absolutely a visual similarity. Heller points out the absurdity of this, and is greeted by charges of racism. I’m still uncertain why racism would be the charge. In breezing through the comments for substance, I was able to find a few references which partially explain the outrage. It was the usual “demeaning the suffering of African slaves” and the insensitivity of daring to compare a modern airline with something as despised and hated as the slave trade.

And yet, my initial thoughts in reading the short, picture-laden post were not the immediate, visceral charge of seeing it through the eyes of “us vs. them”, they were observations on the consistency of humanity throughout the ages. Unless I missed the point completely, Heller was getting across that the economic factor of packing as many human slaves into a slave ship is visually and spatially similar to the means by which airlines pack as many individuals into an airliner as possible. Again, the internet forgets that this isn’t a zero-sum game.

Business hasn’t changed, and only a moron would insist that any comparison, whatsoever, of slavery with anything other than slavery is somehow a racist, horrid action. The effect of this internet-led censorship isn’t to better conditions of the oppressed or to demonstrate the way in which systemic bias is still a huge problem in our society. No, the effect was to punish an individual for the gall to use his brain to identify a rather fascinating visual similarity. Heller wrote few words in the original post, but his line of reasoning was

Ever notice how similar the seating plans of airplanes resemble the more horrific layout (yet efficient design of those slave ships)? Could airplane designers be unconsciously influenced by them?

And that’s the point: that economics and the organizational necessity of fitting the most number of people in a finite space is still alive and well; that airlines follow an updated design philosophy which one can see the fine push and pull between maximizing persons as profit vs providing the least amount of personal space and comfort.

Again, I found the comparison fascinating, and I dearly hope that we’ll continue to talk more and more about the atrocities we, as humans, have committed since the beginning of time. In fact, it’s the act of squashing speech by which we repeat the mistakes of history.

Five Non-Exhaustive Tips to Living Frugally

So, for the last year I’ve been in the position where pretty much every dollar I make goes toward one of my necessities: food, gas, rent, utilities and cigarettes. At the end of the month I’m able to just squeak by, but the bite has certainly been felt. This isn’t how I’ve been used to living, either. In order to make sure that I can meet my bills as well as indulge my interests in technology, furnishings and other “luxuries”, I have adopted a few habits which, while far from exhaustive (or even the most effective ways to save money), have allowed me to indulge my desire for new toys and entertainment while also spending as little money as possible.

1. Learn to Sew

This first one isn’t too big a deal, overall, but clothing is expensive. I’m finding myself, at this point, wearing sneakers to work every day due to the fact that I have worn through my most recent pair of boots after the nasty winter. I don’t have much extra cash to spend on updating my wardrobe as it begins to show small rips and tears and, frankly, the material simply wears out after awhile. Even if it isn’t perfect (and practice will always make it better) I have been able to stave off the necessity of pouring a lot of cash into new clothing by simply repairing the smaller, fixable damage to my wardrobe. Pants, in particular, tend to rip after awhile around the pocket seams, so a half-inch’s worth of sewing buys me plenty more time (and I love some of these pieces of clothing, too).

2. Learn Your Way Around Your Technology

I can give you a singular example for this one. I bought a Moto Droid two years ago. I was an early adopter to Android, and, I came to find out, the phone that I used quickly became obsolete when placed against the newer and newer models. My 550Mhz processor was quickly eclipsed by, first, 1.0Ghz and then later the dual-core processors of many of the newest phones. Not be to outdone, and to scratch my itch for new technology, I embarked on a quest to tinker with my phone in order to keep it up to date as best I could. Since I knew I wasn’t going to be dropping cash on a new phone for awhile, I learned how to get my phone to do what I wanted it to. After many small steps, I have finally been able to understand the workings of the machine enough to boost my processor to an overclocked 1.0Ghz as well as getting the most up-to-date version of Android available to me (2.3.3) running like a charm. My phone is now on par with the mid-line releases, now, two years later.

3. DIY is Both Entertainment and Utility

I like projects. Not everyone sees a problem (I don’t have enough shelf space to store all my books!) and immidiately moves to creatively solve it, but everyone finds a way around it. I have learned to relish little projects like updating my phone or installing a proper mirror in my strangely laid-out bathroom. Continually I find small things and make projects out of them. I currently need to, create more shelving in my apartment for cheap; overclock and cool my PC, and make myself a standing desk. Since I can’t go out and spend a lot of money on either entertainment or furnishings, I tend to try to combine the two. You get both the joy of creating something and the utility of a finished product (and pride!) for little out of pocket expense.

4. Torrent

I can’t stress this enough. You don’t have cash for media, torrent.

5. Always Set a Small Budget for Small (Unnecessary) Things

One of the most fulfilling times I spent a little bit of cash on myself was when I bought a cheap, open-box HDMI cord to connect my PC to my television. For fifteen dollars I was able to open a whole new way for me to effortlessly experience my programs and media on my television. A nice dinner or a small social purchase can sometimes be the difference between feeling depressingly spartan and fiscally responsible. Whatever it may be, just a little can sometimes go a long way.

We Were All Left Behind

Pointing to the large clock on the wall:

“The second hand does not regress,” he said, bumbling
over his words. “We cannot march back time
as much as we can flood the sea because the sea
is always the sea.”

The hands on the clock just stopped.

It is difficult to await rapture when you can’t see
the time. I step back from my conversation, spread
my eyes across the cheerfully fearful room. Most
of those here are speaking in hushed tones

as if the words they utter are both important
and useless. In a way, they are both: the small
reminder that this world will end, eventually.

That we are judged and we judge others.
That we are finite.
That we are infinite.

That the clock stops.
That the heart stops.
That the heart longs and twists.
That peace of heart is never impossible.

That peace of heart is never possible.
That we are finite.
That time is our making.
That time is our unmaking.
That we no longer wear wristwatches.
That we no longer stare into sundials.

That here there is something physical. A presence between
the spaces between us. I am a guest, they
are here because they are here. It is that simple.

The time came and went, but no one knew. As the sun set
over this old New England farmhouse I wonder
at the audacity of claiming anything as true.

Because at the end of the day we are here.
And this world is ending each moment.
And we are always saved and damned forever
and forever. We need no map. No rule of encounter.
We are, and ever will be, forward.