Thoughts

Winter 2010

Work Begins Anew

Site News / March 20th

I've decided to make some significant changes to XeoMage. As usual this involves a fair amount of new coding, which is already underway. I don't have an immediate forecast of how long this will take, but expect to see something new here in the not-too-distant future.

I've been floating around some vague ideas for a couple of years and a lot of it still needs to take shape. However, I have some broad strokes in mind, and given a little bit of work I think I can bring it about. Some of these changes may see older content fall off. I haven't found the time for some of the section of this site, and there's no use in convincing myself to keep them up if my heart isn't in it.

Instead I think I've come up with a way of making this site work for me instead of the other way around. It can still provide a forum for me to expound and share my thoughts, but it doesn't need to be presented in a way that makes parts of it seem abandoned. It doesn't need to ignore a lot of the things I do online that I'd like to share with everyone. Lastly, it doesn't need to be constrained in ways that prevent me from really using it.

Partisan Divide

Politics / February 10th

We all know that there are problems in Washington, DC. There's a fair amount of disagreement about what is wrong, though, and who is to blame, and what needs to be done to fix it. I think a lot of this confusion is due to the way that we get our information, through a stream of over-simplified sound bites that focus on people instead of issues, through passionate and melodramatic opinions that do little to explain the problems but much to inflame partisanship.

Intermingled in this is an effort by the media to appear unbiased, and effort by politicians to appear bipartisan, and to place all of the blame for a lack of progress on the other party. Despite these efforts, little is actually done to bridge the divides and overcome difficulties. The entrenched games mean that there is little to gain politically by cooperating with the ideas of the other side. Any kind of compromise is seen as risking a political future, any kind of common ground is forgotten by the margins.

Finally, if this were not hopeless enough, there are the hidden and not-so-hidden agendas of the media and politicians to help their own interests or the interests of a campaign donor, lobbyist, home state, district, etc. With this in play it becomes even more difficult to know which plays (if any) are actually meant to help people and which are intended merely slight of hand.

I think the most disingenuous outcome of all of this is the erosion of party values on both sides, and the pandering to baser problems in order to gain political base. Neither party can honestly claim anything resembling their core values motivate their actions, and neither party's proposals will ultimately help our country.

We have an unsustainable government. People bicker over a fraction of the budget when it is the most beneficial portion, while completely ignoring the other two-thirds of the budget that is where our problems truly lie. Our military spending is completely unfunded. Medicare does not collect enough money to pay for its inflating costs because health care costs are spiraling out of control. Our debt requires interest payments that are already terrible and going to get worse as long as the deficit continues.

Here's the thing: whether you agree with the government spending money to create jobs during a recession or not, the majority of our massive federal budget needs to be cut. We can fund huge infrastructure projects that will create jobs, improve the country, reduce dependence on foreign oil, even give corporations billions of dollars, and all of it would be hugely less than we are spending today.

Ultimately, we need a solution to our health care problem because it is so expensive. Medicare operates with low overhead, while private health insurance operates with twenty percent overhead. In spite of that, it is still unsustainable in the long term because the cost of health care is only partly insurance overhead. The rest of the cost is systemic, with every procedure, bandage, test, instrument, and drug costing more than it should. How do we address this? I'm not sure, but it isn't the health care bill in Congress right now. It won't be fixed by electronic records, though that would remove a lot of duplication and work if it were done right --which it likely won't.

Rather than focus on the things that separate us, politicians and the media need to focus on what most of us share in common. That's what representational government should do. Most of us want a balanced budget and effective governance. Right now we have neither, and arguing about whose fault it is or which administration started it, insisting that the agenda of one party is destroying America or leading us to some tyrannical state is worse than counter-productive, it's actively undermining our ability to function as a nation.

Even now I can hear the immediate reply of "well if so-and-so from the party I hate would just..." and it needs to stop. Rallying behind our guys will not help. What we need to do is hold our guy to the fire, insist that they play along, make compromises, and try to help us all. If there are no political points to be gained in obstructing or blaming, maybe they'll try a different tactic like getting to work.

Gorgeous Light Art

Cool Stuff / February 8th

I don't know that I have a lot to add to this, so I'll just link and run:

This is not Photoshop: 50 incredible examples of light painting.