Friday, March 27, 2015

This "conservative" loves his hometown(s) ... and wishes others loved their's

It will not be an exaggeration by any means when I assert that I am emotionally invested in, tied to, very, very specific places.
My grandmas' villages.
The town where I grew up.
The city where I earned my doctorate, and then the city where I worked and lived.
And, for thirteen years now, this wonderful place by the Willamette in a gloriously green state.

Growing up in Neyveli, there was a distinct sense of home being there, while grandmas' villages were the "native places"--the places from where our people were from.  In contrast, the city where I went to for my undergraduate degree was not "home."  I always knew it was only a transit stop.

I write and talk with fondness for very few places in the old country and those places were home to me.  In my adopted land, I love Los Angeles even when I know I don't ever want to go there again to live--the fondness from it being my first home away from home.

All these are more than mere fondness for the place though.  It is good to have such a geographic rootedness, I would argue.  A belonging to a place.  A place that is home.   Maybe this wannabe philosopher thinks like this because, as a quote that I recently came across said, “philosophy is really nostalgia, the desire to be at home.”

It is not without reason we have idioms that even refer to the geography.  Like, "down to earth" or "well grounded" or "both feet on the ground."

I love staying put, knowing that I belong to a place.
Staying put—fully inhabiting, loving, and stewarding the place in which you live—is a conservative idea in many respects. It’s interwoven with the idea of civic care and involvement, the importance of commitment to the political, economic, and cultural wellbeing of a community.
It is that sense of commitment to the community that drives me to write op-eds.  Not op-eds for newspapers in the Timbuktus of the world, but for papers in the community where my life is.  Thus, after moving out of California, I never cared to send an op-ed there, as much as I did not submit an op-ed to the three Oregon papers where I have been published, more regularly in one compared to the other two.  In fact, in one op-ed, I noted that writing is my civic responsibility.  Such a civic sense would not be there if I didn't have any geographic rootedness in the first place.

However, we live in a world where people move from rural to urban areas, from city to city, from state to state, and even from country to country.  I have always wondered if that meant that some of these moves are always in transition.  I am sure this guy knows plenty about these feelings from his own experience.  In those transitions, is there ever a commitment to a place and its wellbeing?  Or will it be a mere shrug about a senior center that might need help, or a school that might be shutting down, or the whatever it is ...?

These days, with the (un)employment crisis here in America,
Many people have realized that mobility takes a long-term toll on their family and community life. Not only that, moving to a place for recreational or consumeristic purposes is a sapping and exorbitant lifestyle choice, in a time when employment opportunities are still tenuous, especially for younger Americans. Staying “close to home” is more attractive when you know that there will be a safety net, a support group, and a community in that place—to help you even through times of financial difficulty.
A mighty toll.  Understandable--there is no free lunch in life, and there are costs associated with this mobility.

May you always be at home wherever you are!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

So, your reusable grocery bags will kill you in the long run?

If you live in the USA, then there is one more hazard that you need to worry about if you are one of the conscientious who takes reusable bags to the grocery stores.

First, why one more hazard?  Because, I already blogged about this one, and that was more than two years ago!

Second, why in the US and not elsewhere?  Because, ahem, we are all being very fashionable about it, as if we care more for the environment than others, when the reality is that in most countries, people almost always take their own bags.  Now, thanks to us, others are also picking up this bad plastic bag habit.

Come on, you know where this is from!

So, after those clarifications, may I bring to your attention that latest hazard if you take reusable bags to grocery stores?
It was clear that shoppers who brought their own bags were more likely to replace nonorganic versions of goods like milk with organic versions. So one green action led to another. But those same people were also more likely to buy foods like ice cream, chips, candy bars, and cookies. They weren’t replacing other items with junk food, as they did with organic food. They were just adding it to their carts.
Yep, that's right. You take those bags and you end up buying more junk food.  How about that!
In consumer psychology the word “licensing” is the key. If I behave well in one situation, I give myself license to misbehave in another, unrelated situation. Similar research has also been done on health decisions. I get a Diet Coke; I treat myself to a hamburger. In this case bringing a bag makes you think you’re environmentally friendly, so you get some ice cream. You feel you’ve earned it.
Apparently we have decided that we either litter the world with plastic bags, or litter our digestive systems with junk food.  We litter, therefore we are!
I suspect that as bringing reusable bags becomes a widespread practice, it’s likely these effects will change. Look at bottle recycling. It used to be that you felt as if you were doing a good thing by recycling bottles. Now it’s to the point where you don’t get a cookie for recycling them; you just get penalized if you don’t. You get nasty stares.
Oh, ok, we just need to ride out the temporary issues then.  There is hope?  Not so fast, because:
The dollar value of the indulgence relative to the entire basket’s value tends to be low. But the nature of the food—high calorie, high fat—may be the more important factor, not how much it costs. The effect does dissipate as indulgences get more expensive. Then there’s a whole other, nonfood aspect to it. Is lavender-scented laundry soap an indulgence? Maybe. We limited our focus to food.
In this research, they looked only at food items purchased.  So, who knows how much we truly indulge ourselves just because we feel awesome at having been environmentally responsible enough to take reusable bags!

We humans are one interesting bunch of animals, yes.  An orangutan wouldn't be this fascinating.  Wait, are we being manipulated by Dr. Zaius?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Why the Rockefeller and Bush boys don't play pro football

Of course, it takes skill to play sports; I know it all too well.  But, there is more than mere skill:
[college athletes] who don’t come from dire poverty will in greater and greater numbers choose to do something else with their minds and bodies. Many NFL players began their lives in destitute situations defined by hardship, but many others come to the league from stable, middle-class backgrounds as well. That middle-class player, especially those like Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick who played multiple sports, will become scarce. Meanwhile, as ticket prices rise, we are facing a sport ready to go “full gladiator” as poor people, disproportionately black, damage one another’s brains for wealthy, disproportionately white crowds.
Yep, when I blog like this, you can see that the old commie, leftist, me is very much alive and well.  Tell you what, I am always glad that part of me is alive and well.  If I didn't think about the race and class and gender implications, then I will worry about me.  It is just that I don't like the idea of always, always, viewing the world through a race or class or gender issue.

Anyway, that excerpt is from that old commie rag, for which I always have a soft spot--The Nation.  It is in the context of San Francisco 49er linebacker Chris Borland walking away from gazillions of dollars.
He is only 24, and has some years left banging his helmeted head against other plays.  But, that is exactly why he called it quits.
Untold legions suffer from CTE, a brain ailment that affects motor skills, memory and impulse control. Early onset dementia and ALS can result from the kinds of repeated blows to the head that happen on every play of every game. The ignominious history of head injury casualties includes high-profile suicides of Hall of Famers Mike Webster and Junior Seau. It includes Dave Duerson who like Seau put a bullet in his chest instead of his head so his CTE-wracked brain could be studied. It also includes icons of the 1980s like Jim McMahon and Tony Dorsett struggling with basic life-functions. History shows that playing NFL-level-football is like playing Russian Roulette with your future, and Chris Borland decided to do what so few have done and put the gun down. “I just honestly want to do what’s best for my health,” Borland told ESPN’s Outside the Lines. “From what I’ve researched and what I’ve experienced, I don’t think it’s worth the risk.”
When the NFL fights a very good fight downplaying the long-term health issues of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE,) Borland makes this compelling point even when talking about "his passion for the “visceral” violence of the sport":
That doesn’t mean football players are pieces of meat. I think the most important people to convey that message to is the football player himself. You’re not a commodity, you’re a person.
I hope that this madness that is called a "sport" is sent to a dark corner as was that other brain-damaging sport of the past--boxing.  The sooner the better.