I feel a little nervous about what I’m going to admit, but this little ounce of shame has given me a little perspective and empathy for a people I spent most of my life looking down upon. Yesterday, I voted in the California primary as a registered Republican.
Walking into my Hollywood polling place I felt like I had been harmfully exposed as some sort of enemy of the state each time the poll workers loudly announced to each other a Republican had arrived to vote, and the Republican needed a Republican ballot, as well as a Republican voting booth. After I was finished making my selections I had trouble inserting my ballot into the counting machine. When I finally got it, one poll worker told me that the sound the machine was making was my ballot being shredded. Maybe he makes that joke for everyone, but paranoia and shame both swirled around my head, feelings I assumed would be absent from voting. That being said, the poll workers were very courteous and helpful… all 15 of them… being paid by taxpayer dollars… to manage a near empty polling place.. and they probably had a paid day of training too… (oh boy, maybe labels do influence opinions).
Why did I register as a Republican? I wanted to vote for one of the primary candidates because I liked what he had bring to the discussion about our wars and the country’s drug policy. OK, I’ll stop beating around the bush, I registered as a Republican so I could vote for Ron Paul.
Already I feel like apologizing, but let me just say A) what am I really worried about? No one reads this blog and B) I have no love for either party. But now I kind of think of it this way, this November when I vote for some unknown oddball pro-peace, pro-environment, anti-consumerism third party kook the Republicans will be whining about my costing them 1 vote as opposed to the Democrats.
However, I think this shame I feel just because I have given myself a certain (if incorrect) political label is a sad state of affairs. In a democracy, problems should be solved by an open discussion of ideas instead of arguments that start off with a “What the Hell is wrong with you?” What do we assume of each other when we’ve boiled down a whole country of ideas into two political teams?
Note 1: Mentioning Alex P. Keaton reminds me of this 2008 article by one of the creators of Family Ties, What Would Alex Keaton Do? which ends with this gem:
For what it’s worth Michael J. Fox and I have differing opinions about just where Alex Keaton is today. I believe he does pro bono legal work for the Children’s Defense Fund.
Mike thinks he’s just now getting out of prison.
Note 2: I voted to raise CA cigarrette taxes just to balance everything out.
A friend gave me the above link which discusses an episode of an old radio show, UFOs Tonight with Don Decker which interviews Vito Saccheri (mp3 files are linked on the site) . Mr. Saccheri claims to have seen some very bizarre photos containing artificial structures on the Moon. Tricks of the eye? Alien bases? Evidence of prehistoric advanced human lunar civilization?
If anything, the show is entertaining. I particularly enjoyed the bit where Saccheri and his associate sneak into a NASA building and try to blend in.
Do I believe there are these structures on the moon? I find Mr. Saccheri compelling but wouldn’t amateur astronomers be able catch some of these things?
The book, Somebody Else is On The Moon by George Leonard, referenced throughout the show, is a little hard to find but you can get a used copy on Amazon to the tune of a day’s pay: http://www.amazon.com/Somebody-Else-Moon-George-leonard/dp/0671812912
If you’re into to kooky moon stories, then may I recommend Frank Todaro’s Invisible World, episode 85 where his guest Phil Ristaino discusses Jay Weidner’s documentary “Kubrick’s Odyssey.” The documentary builds the case that Kubrick filmed the moon landing. I don’t think Weidner claims that we never made it just that what everyone saw on TV was a film production. Apparently The Shining is full of subtle clues that Kubrick left us to unravel this mystery.
I embedded the Invisible World show below. I haven’t seen the documentary Kubrick’s Odyssey, but it can be purchased here: http://jayweidner.com/. There’s copies online that aren’t to hard to find, but I don’t think the filmmaker is too happy about those, so I won’t post them.
I think President Obama says a lot of good things here about taking a look at energy companies, but he doesn’t say much on reducing car use, carpooling, and public transportation, three obvious solutions to help with the current energy crisis. A lot of people just use cars because of laziness or snobbery of the bus. If more of us used our two good feet, bicycles hanging in the garage, or bus passes we might not need to hop in a car as much. “Convenience,” as Eddie McOwskey says, “breeds negligences.”
And the President mentions a goal of 55 MPG for a car in the middle of the next decade, while impressive compared to the current average mileage, I think we might be low-balling it when people like Tom Ogle (in the 1970s!) have claimed engine modifications yielding 100mpg. To me, engine modifications on existing cars seem a much better route than simply focussing on producing newer, better cars since we already have so many cars on the road wasting gas.
I recommend the documentary Gas Hole, (not for those with allergic reactions to conspiracy videos) here’s a clip:
Just the other day I was remarking how silly it is that I insist on pooping into clean water. What a luxury! If there’s a finite amount of clean water in the world why do I reserve a special amount in my toilet just to poop in? Why can’t we recycle waste dishwater or something to fill our toilets? I guess part of the answer is no one wants a little splash of dirty water in case something goes awry. But this got me thinking about how people use the world’s resources and how difficult it seems to shift away from our crappy status quo (pun intended). The way I buy and use things from electronics to plastic spoons seems like I ignore the fact that world only has a certain amount of stuff to to make all the stuff that I buy, use, then throw away. It’s like pooping in clean water: It’s something I do every day but I when I think about it doesn’t make sense.
While searching for new conspiracies, I came across this interesting documentary which ties in nicely with my concerns (yet doesn’t once mention poop): The Light Bulb Conspiracy.
This 52 minute program deals with planned obsolescence, the business strategy that dictates more money is made by products that stop working and need replacement than strong, durable products that last a lifetime. It begins with light bulbs and goes if into a few other directions touching on electronics, waste, consumerism, and more!
Some things that I found interesting:
- There was an actual light bulb cartel. And it fined companies that made light bulbs that lasted too long.
- Labor as well as big business favors planned obsolescence because if products break, new ones need to be made, and this means jobs. This makes me wonder how we can break away from the idea that having jobs for jobs’ sake will make everything better. Just making up more jobs just seems like a band aid on our bigger problem of depleting resources. Can we have more jobs and have less needless consumerism? Is there any appeal for the capitalist to make things that don’t require frequent replacements and new purchases?
- The documentary shows a dump in Ghana where electronic waste from all over the world is shipped. It’s illegal to ship electronic waste to third world countries but shipping companies dodge this rule by labeling everything as second hand goods. The hills of old electronics is gross and illustrates the growing scarcity of places to dump our shit (pun intended). But the documentary also talks about how young boys go to the dump and collect scrap metal to be salvaged by burning junk so all the plastic bits are burned away from the metal. Not the most healthy thing to do, but some money is being made. What would happen if that was taken away from the local economy? I don’t know if its a large chunk of money but if there wasn’t the waste would poor people lose money? I think the amount of money made from such enterprises isn’t worth the environmental degradaton/health hazards/psychological effects of being the planet’s dump but still I wonder how a change would effect poverty.
The Light Bulb Conspiracy!
Videos cited in the Light Bulb Conspiracy:
- The movie The Man in the White Suit about a chemist who discovers a thread that will last a lifetime is available on Netflix Instant Watch: http://movies.netflix.com/WiMovie/The_Man_in_the_White_Suit/60029976?trkid=2361637
- iPod’s Dirty Secret