jrising: (Default)
2017-06-20 05:56 pm

Wedding Weekend Memories

A year of planning, and many thousands of dollars later, the wedding is over. I am thoroughly (and happily) married. With 4 days, 18 activities, 133 guests, about 20 speeches (most short), 11 vendors, there is an awful lot to remember. I am putting together a collection of photographs (and see Toh's more extensive set), but I wanted to also record some memories for perhaps the biggest event of my life to date.

Friday Night:
Friday was set aside for “Bachelor activities” (read: “activities Johanna does not endorse”), which turned into a BBQ-sushi for the wedding party, karaoke, and midnight prophesies. Some of the karaoke highlights for me were Mary F.’s enthusiasm during “We are family”, Amir and my “A whole new world” (I got to be Aladdin this time), and all the Flight of the Conchords lovers getting into “Most beautiful girl in the room”.

Saturday:
The day started slow, but when a dozen people showed up for Flame's aunt's yoga class, I knew it was going to be good. Friends and relatives helped us put on a day of "ad hoc" activities, including a bike ride, a hike, a walk around Provincetown, and a dance class. I stayed at the wedding party house, instigating games: I taught people Rythmomachy and orchestrated a new game I call "The Ephemera Game", for people go guess where I got maps and pamphlets.

The wedding rehearsal was were it finally became real. Some 40 people showed up to play their parts or offer moral support, and proceeded to mill around. I don't know how these things are supposed to go, but someone needed to take charge, so I started directing people. The questions started rolling in: where should we put the chairs, the blessing givers, the grandmas. We had put together a 4-page step-by-step document for the ceremony, and yet there was still so much to decide.

The highlights of the day was definitely "Welcome Event", organized by my parents. The puttanesca flowed like wine, and the wine gushed like our reconnections with so many people. My step-father began his speech apologizing for not writing one, and then spoke for 20 surprisingly riveting minutes on how Flame and I got together, our travel and take on life, and something about crashing through waves. Then 9 more people came up, with tributes, roasts, and one number for us (the golden ratio, since J^2 = J + 1).

Sunday:
As Sunday began, Flame and I split up for our separate preparations. I drove the groomsmen to the top men’s barbershop in the area for a straight-razor shave: what better way to start my wedding day then a knife at my throat. Flame and I reunited around the bend of a Doane Rock trail, for a clichéd “first look”. Nonetheless, Flame was absolutely beautiful in her wedding gown, and we alternated lovey and silly until I think the photographers had all they could handle.

Our first scare came while doing relatives photos back at the ceremony location. We realized that the ceremony programs, which we had spent hours printing and folding, were nowhere to be found. I was about to derail the photos and send people racing back to the parents’ house, when one of my groomsmen, Amir, said he would take care of it, and then did so.

The other scare for me came as I was waiting at the front of the ceremony and Flame was walking down the aisle. I suddenly remembered Heidi’s admonition that, whatever else happens, I remember to bring my vows; and I remembered that my vows were in my backpack, far out of reach. Then I remembered that Flame had told me to give a copy of my vows to my best man, Toh, the day before, and I wondered if he happened to remember them. I turned and asked him, and he said not to worry, he would hand them to us at the proper time.

The only other ceremony event I only heard about two weeks later. As my sister’s children did their blessing, a commotion of squawks arose in the tree behind us. A hawk had alighted, and dozens of crows and other birds had began mobbing around it. After a couple minutes of this, the hawk picked itself up and flew directly over the assembled people. This must have been some kind of omen (the word auspices actual means to look at birds), with the hawk being a Native American symbol of a guardian, my late father being a zoologist, and my diverse community being all about mobbing. But the interpretation is still unclear to me.

After that came the reception, the hora, the dinner, the speeches, the tosses, the first dance, the dessert, the dancing, and the afterparty. During dinner, we had our special wedding puzzle at everyone's place (individual pieces and solution), and though no one solved it, two groups made some great progress. Flame threw a bouquet to the tune of Put a Ring on It, and I did a thesis toss to Weird Science. For our first dance, I had taken the choreography from the Ed Sheeran video Thinking Out Loud and adapted it to Flame’s song of choice, Crazy Love by Van Morrison. I had swapped the man and woman parts, and we got plenty of appreciation and laughing. Dessert consisted of the best pies in town and an organic chocolatier, Chequesette Chocolates, which crafted a sea-scape of sugar sand with chocolate turtles and oysters. Even the afterparty was a blast, with 30ish people coming out to hear some live music (we had bribed the band to stay an extra hour) and snacks (including grilled cheeses).

Monday:
After a perfect weather weekend, Monday finally succumbed to the rain, and Linda and Ron’s house became filled with people, love, and brunch. We were saying goodbye until it was time for the hackathon. The Hackathon turned into a brainstorming session, worth its own post.

Finally, here are the acknowledgements for a weekend that was really a labor of love:
Acknowledgements

As Amir said, the whole event went really smoothly: it went off with just one hitch!
jrising: (Default)
2017-05-06 11:54 pm

Laser-cutting Rythmomachy Board

This wedding is going to be the culmination of a dream I have had for almost 2 decades: Finally, I will have a professional-grade set for playing Rythmomachy, the Philosopher's Game!

I have been having so much fun laser-cutting for the wedding, and putting together activities like a massively distributed crossword puzzle. Last week's inspiration was to laser cut a board and pieces for Rythmomachy, and I want to share them with all of you.

What is Rythmomachy, you ask? I call it "Chess on steroids", and one medieval scholar said,

Pythagoras did first invent,
this play as it is thought:
And thereby after studies great,
his recreation sought.


Here I just want to share my design for a board and pieces. You too can have this for your very own:


It took about 1 hour on the Berkeley laser cutter I was using. The design is in two files:

Download the boardDownload the pieces


I thought to put etchings on the board to tell you how to set it up, since this has always been one of the greatest barriers to starting a new game.

Also note that every piece has a version colored dark and light. These need to be glued back-to-back. Each piece starts out as one color, according to the etchings on the board. If it is captured, it's flipped over and becomes the other player's piece.

I put some foot pads on the back and set it up to be flipped closed:


Enjoy!
jrising: (Default)
2017-04-25 07:05 pm

A thought or two

A friend: "The big story in the world this week is... the inevitable passing of the torch. We will witness the beginning of a new era this week, I feel."

Naturally, he was only using the French election (NYT: "The result was a full-throated rebuke of France’s traditional mainstream parties, setting the country on an uncertain path") in jest to refer to something completely unrelated, but it gave me a thought. Much as I love some parts of globalization and the Post-WWII international institution, this is a passing of the torch. And that uncertain recipient of the torch-- maybe populist, maybe bigoted, maybe urban, technophilic, and progressive-- that recipient is us.

Every generation seems surprised when the torch is passed in their lifetime, but it cannot be otherwise.

LJ blasted about its 18th birthday, of which I had apparently been part 13.55 years, and posted 473 times. I guess it was time to move on.
jrising: (zen)
2017-03-16 11:26 pm

Next stop: London

My time at UC Berkeley is drawing shut, and for the past 4 months I have been pursuing my own eclectic version of the academic job market. I find myself squarely between economics, geophysics, and data science, with disconnected bits to show from a tough-to-articulate whole. But I have also been fortunate to have strong supporters, who appreciate whatever it is that I do. With their help, the job search has treated me well, and forced me to decide between excellent and incomparable alternatives. So, this is a post of victory!

Each of my five fly-out interviews required distinct presentations, across them covering papers on fisheries, coffee, and climate, a teaching talk on thermoeconomics, and a pitch for a new sustainability program. I interviewed at science, economics, and interdiscplinary departments, and got the support of the faculty at every one. Flame and I just finished a revisitation of the top US options, to decide on our new home.

But across professional fit, cultural metabolism, Flame's opportunities, and the politrumpal climate, we realized that the best choice was none of them: I am taking a 100% research assistant professorship at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics! LSE is in the heart of London, which is also home to Flame's nonprofit.

There I can look forward to a huge pool of potential collaborators, including two from my PhD program. LSE straddles the divide between the US academic world, where I will be able to keep my collaborations alive, and the European world of modeling and proaction that I have always been drawn to. The advertised position was for "Growth and the Environment", which I'm all about. And connecting science with policy is part of the job, with a team at hand specifically for this purpose.

I move there at the beginning of 2018. Between now and then, I have 4 more months at Berkeley, and in July I start a mini-postdoc-#2 at the University of Chicago.

I can't wait to set up in a new continent, and hope you all come to visit!
jrising: (zen)
2016-11-09 08:49 am

A New World Order

The rise of Trump can only be understood in a global context. It isn't just Citizen's United or the Voting Rights Act-- or rather, these are symptoms of wider trends. Trump's election parallels the shock of Brexit, the rise of extremism and anti-semitism in Europe, and the rise of religious extremism in the United States and Middle East.

This is a movement against much we hold dear: humanism, pluralism, progressivism. This is a rejection of the institutions upon which society has functioned since World War II.

The progressive movement believed that what people wanted was a good job, health care, stability and peace. And surely people do want that, and Clinton won the popular vote because of it. But there is another group in society that is anything but fringe. Apparently they form a third of California, Massachusetts, and New York voters. What they want is entirely different, but I do not know what.

Is this the end of a pluralistic world? Is this a new rise of global fascism? Is it a lead up to world war?

Extreme inequality and technological disruption are certainly partly to blame. But what role does our most treasured innovations have to play: the Internet, the capacity of data science, and the guilty benefits of vertically integrated corporations, in particular?

And finally, what do we do? This was never a problem just with the presidential election. If we are going to understand Trump, and ultimately eliminate him and reverse his damage, it is going to be by taking a hard look at the foundations of our own society, because ultimately, that is where his support has come from.
jrising: (zen)
2016-07-04 11:48 am

The end of history

They say that history repeats itself. The strictest form of the claim is like the world view of the aboriginal Yir Yoront, for whom every generation is a repetition of the one before. Even if our Western world view cannot admit such stasis, many people would say that the rise and fall of civilizations is a story that has repeated itself many times, and many future civilizations will walk on the ashes of this one.

However, when it comes to the history of human civilizations, history will never repeat itself again. Our species is on a one-way road, and if our global society collapses, no future Homo sapiens will enjoy the benefits of industrialized society.

Empires may rise and fall, but the modern world is intrinsically interconnected, and as a civilization we rise and fall as a globe. We are interdependent: were it not for international trade, most regions could not feed themselves, much less build and support their own industries. The stories of future history are confined to a single narrative.

So what happens if the global economy collapses and trade ceases, and each region is left to pick up the pieces on its own? These enclaves would not have the benefits of readily available resources that our ancestors enjoyed when they started our journey in industrialization. We have exhausted readily-available high energy sources: new sources of energy, like shale gas and tar sands oil, require immense technology to access. They would be trapped in perpetual pre-industrialization.

Add to this the harsher climate, destabilizated ecosystems, and exhausted ores that we are bequeathing to them, and their lives will be mean indeed. The planet will recover, given 50 million years or so, but far too late for our species.

What if we colonize other stars, with virgin resources and the room to collapse at our leisure? Those planets will have their own stories, and maybe there we can avoid becoming to big to fail, but colonization is a one-way process. Without a way to travel or communicate faster than light, our futures will be disconnected.

By the way, this also limits our use of any Prime Directive on Earth. Non-industrialized cultures cannot achieve development on their own-- not that any culture ever did. We are in this story together, taking it forward because there is no way back.

So, let's celebrate our dependence. Our lives and the lives of all our descendents depend upon it.
jrising: (zen)
2016-06-24 10:32 am

A USexit next?

The Brexit is happening. I'm starting to wonder which US state will be the first to leave the union. Oklahoma, maybe when Clinton becomes president, as mounting budget deficits and poor populations make printing money look really good? Or a richer state like New Hampshire, a closer analog to England, citing the decay of the US?

We are in a time of changes. Old institutions will fall. But it all might be happening too late for a further Fourth Turning-style crisis. The Baby Boomers are starting to die, Millennials are insatiably hopeful, and Gen Xers won't give a fuck so they'll broker a peace just to be left alone.
jrising: (zen)
2016-04-17 08:37 am

Pattern-ovore

I've been wanting a simple way to visualize the artificial-life ecosystem I'm building. I made a little text world, where each cell is occupied by a pattern-loving proto-intelligence. Then I feed in a Gutenberg short story called "Death's Wisher" by Jim Wannamaker, and here's the result.

jrising: (zen)
2016-03-16 11:48 pm

Balkan Ballad

I've dropped off the net with looming deadlines at the end of this month. But, before the deadlines were scheduled, Flame and I planned a trip to the Balkans, where we are now! Well, we didn't exactly "plan" it. But we bought tickets, and are figuring it out as we go.

You can follow our journeys as she blogs them at http://johanna.existencia.org/! There is also a steady stream of Instagram photos (featuring food, scenery, and art, in that order).
jrising: (zen)
2016-01-18 11:34 pm

Travel plans

It's going to be a busy six months for travel! I returned to Berkeley after a week in NYC, and in just a month I will be there again. And again in March and May. Between now and June, I will also touch New Orleans, DC, Boston, multiple Balkan countries, and Iceland! (Both of the last have had great sales recently-- you might still be able to get $99 tickets to Iceland if you don't mind being encased in ice.)

In the spirit of Mystery Hunt (except that I'll give you the month names, so you don't have to infer them from the month pictures of my shiny new Worlds of Fiction wall calendar), I give you my travels:

Travels planned for 2016
jrising: (zen)
2016-01-03 11:40 pm

Homemaking

Flame is in Berkeley for the week, celebrating the new year with me and helping me make this house a home! After a whirlwind of IKEA, World Market, and the Alameda Antique Faire, she has transformed the space completely.

Before:



After:



A few items to note in particular:
  • The wall art is from the Antique Faire, a beautiful canvas for $60. We had to strap it to the car with an ATM sign.

  • The bookcase is a really hip wood and metal mix, and I definitely need more books to fill it up.

  • The Willow lunchbox is from my families most recent White Elephant, labeled "Jim Rising", so it must have been my dad's...

  • The cabinet next to it is built into the apartment, one of many beautiful original fixtures.

  • Hanging on the knob of the cabinet is a MIT-Columbia-SusDev pendant which my mom made (Johanna has a Wes-Columbia-SusDev one to match).

jrising: (zen)
2015-11-22 10:41 pm

A life history in phases

I've been struggling to recover my childhood over the past few years. See, my memory contains a profound gap. I recall almost nothing of my life before I was about 12. Since then, my memory and sense of self seems like a continuous thread; before it, I know what others have told me, but it never resonates the same way.

At least, that is how things stood a few years ago. Since my summer quest to better understand my father, I have been chipping away at that wall (or, to keep my metaphors consistent, chipping away at the ledge to give me a stairway across the gap). I have been grabbing onto fleeting images, cataloging together floating pieces, and generally disbelieving that these memories are not mine to share.

Here is the product of my most recent tact. I thought to dissect who I am today as the extension of ribbons that have evolved over my life. Every couple of years, these ribbons take on a new turn-- an every 7 they twist into a new core (something I'm due again for soon). The roadmap I have figured out is incomplete, but it goes something like this:

YearsSelfCommunityInspirationPractice
2013-5World modelerCollaborationscomplexitycoupled models
2010-2Dev. at largeSusDevworldchangingsusdev. classes
2008-9Traveling Dev.Flamesocial justiceTN startup
2006-7Contract Dev.Rockytravelingsignal processing
2004-5Olin superninjaOlin Collegebig ideaseducation
2002-3Growing JimmySCAhuman modelsdance
2000-1MIT studentESG & Randomphilo. & learningstudy groups
1998-9STEM geekComputer labcollegewebpages
1996-7Smart aleckLowell homeself-directed edu.math
1994-5SlowpokeLunch gangself-disciplineprogramming
1992-3BasementeerMoving schoolscollectingBBSes
1990-1Sleep-lessRedwood Valley Elem.fantasytaking apart
1988-9James FriendsCapella Elem.inventionreading
1986-7Mama's boyLutheran schoolsister problemsno naps


There are connections between all of these, which I can't represent in the table: features that disappear and reappear for reasons complex and unknown. But for all it's abstruseness, that is my life.
jrising: (zen)
2015-10-26 10:37 pm

Making your own duct tape wallet

Duct Tape wallets are cool, thin and light, and personalizable. The instructions below describe my design, which I think is elegant, and you can modify to your heart's content.

Step 1.

Measure out the length of the two longest strips of duct tape:

Line four bills up, just touching along their long edges. Rip two
small strips of duct tape to measure an additional width to the left
and right of the four bills, or use credit cards, as shown below.

How to measure the backboneMeasuring the backbone

Step 2.

Measure out one strips of duct tape this length and lay it sticky-side-up.
Then measure a second strip and lay it stick-side-up with just
enough overlap to form a secure connection.

The backbone diagramThe backbone

Step 3.

Fold the strips into the basic wallet frame, by first folding them
in half, with the sticky-side out. Then continue folding in an
accordian fashion, only allowing the faces with the same letter
shown below to stick together. Make sure that these adhering faces
are smooth an even.

Folding faces
Folding result


First fold
Second fold
The first fold, bill to measure second.After the second fold.
Flip overFinal backbone
After the third fold and flipping over.After the rest of the backbone folds.

Step 4.

Measure out a length of duct tape a little larger than twice the
width of the wallet and wrap it around the outside, with the
sticky-side covering the remaining stick-side of the wallet frame.

The wrapper diagram The wrapper

That's it!  Enjoy your new wallet!

Final wallet
jrising: (zen)
2015-10-20 07:23 pm

Axial Age: Sessions 0.5 - 1.5

Session 0.5:

Zaidu (Paul), a Mesopotamian army cleric, recently arrived in town looking for an escape from army life.
Vishnaya (Cat), a wandering Persian bard, was doing some entertainment by the new Zoroaster temple.

They both got knocked out and captured near a bottle merchant, accused of abducting a local prince (and generally making trouble in many places), and eventually released to be accompanied by a thug named Zoloft.

After getting plastered at a Haoma bar, they're on their way to a job interview with the Babylonian deputy secretary for finance.

Session 1.5:

The session started with Vishnaya and Zaidu visiting the Minister of Coffer's Deputy for Security (Parusiyati) at the palace. He asked them to travel to Cunaxa to figure out why tax requests had gone unanswered, and to take with them an overly curious traveler named Wu Tian. They were told they must leave the city now, and report to the guard when they return. They got a tablet to identify themselves in Cunaxa and another for the guard upon return.

On the way out of the palace, they were accosted by an certain Contrax, offering help and asking them to take a tablet to a noble in Cunaxa.

The group decided to take the overland route to Cunaxa, camping near a forest edge. During first watch, wolves attacked and began running off with bags. The group pursued until a rag-covered man arrived to help the wolves, leaving his last target, a trade wagon. The trade wagon had two passengers, one nearly dead and one injured and hiding. The injured one heard the commotion and went to help, promptly getting killed by the wolf-man. The group killed the rest of the wolves, but did not pursue the wolf-man.

After the battle, they found Karam, an African woman, covered in blood, completely looted, but conscious by the wagon.
jrising: (zen)
2015-10-18 11:55 pm

Milan Expo 2015

I am now back in Berkeley, enjoying the sun as New York State slowly covers in snow. So to remember my brief time in Italy, I give you some photos.

Coffee Forum finale Milan Expo 2015
Coffee Forum finaleMilan Expo 2015


Above is the last event of the World Coffee Forum, with a ceremony of countries around the world symbolically pouring coffee beans into a mixed bag (which we all got a small sachet of). After the event, we were left free to wander the Milan Expo, 12 million square feet of exhibits designed to make a person hungry.

Malaysian Expo site Another Expo pavilion
Malaysian Expo siteAnother Expo pavilion


Every country had a "pavilion"-- or part of one, or multiple ones-- consisting of a building constructed solely for the Expo. The pavilions seemed to reflect the aspirations of each country, whether mosque-like Qatar, souring Russia, Poland-the-hashtag, or Korea's building of robots.

Train in the Milan Science and Tech museum Park Sempione
Milan Science museumPark Sempione


Having seen the Expo on the last day of the Forum, I wandered the city before heading to Nice, visiting the Museo della Scienza e della Tecnologia "Leonardo da Vinci", with its building of trains, and Park Sempione near the Castello Sforzesco (deserted, because of a little drizzle).

I went to Nice, France, before coming back, but I have no pictures of it because the rain followed me and drenched my phone. It took the phone a week to recover, but it did.
jrising: (zen)
2015-10-03 03:44 pm

World Future Day in Milan

Every trip is about something different. And no matter what you want it to be about, life seems to impose its own meaning and expose just what you need.

My trip to Italy has something to do with the future-- or maybe past visions of the future and their impossibility. Here are the pieces I'm trying to puzzle together.

For my recent birthday, my mom created a self-declared "box of old books of the month club", to give me some of my dad's old sci-fi paperbacks as she prepares to move. I brought with me "World's Best Science Fiction: 1965", which the introduction informs me is the first of its kind. The longest story, which I read on the plane, is called "Four Brands of Impossible."

Also on the plane, after a round of edits on my report, I watched Disney's Tomorrowland. The movie is meant to be an inspiring reinvigorating of our hope in the future in the face of global problems, but ends up making that vision seem even more ridiculous and inapplicable.

My reason for visiting Italy was to present a year's work on the future of coffee at the Global Coffee Forum. For many of my results, I had targeted the year 2050. Jeff Sachs, who did the actual talking, just came from securing global agreement on the "Sustainable Development Goals" as the successors to the MDGs until 2030-- an incredible achievement-- and used his allotted time mostly to discuss these. The Forum was set for the first World Coffee Day, ironically to discuss the eve of the industry's lean-times consolidation.

At the same time, Milan is hosting the EXPO 2015, a kind of World Fair. Like a 100x scaled-up Epcot Center, every country had its own pavilion, but the exhibits showed a bizarre juxtaposition of the desire to present their modernity of industry next to idealized representation of traditional agriculture. I went into a score or more buildings, but the most popular were clogged with wrapping waiting lines.

For my free day in Milan, yesterday, my top tourist visit was the Museo Nazionale Scienze e Tecnologia. When I couldn't find an obvious entrance, I went into the building with a 20-foot billboard announcing their temporary exhibit on Space. It turned out to only be the exit, and I would need to enter through their exhibit on the history of clocks (a clear allegory for time itself).

It's easy enough to distinguish objective reality from meaning, but impossible to distinguish the meaning I experience from my mood. Nonetheless, there is something ironic in this trip. Repeatedly, I see a connection between the future and our only approach to it through the past. The near future is in the process of being made, and it is hopeful: the SDGs, the likelihood of an agreement in Paris, the recognition that better knowledge can produce better action. The point is not that this isn't the future we envisioned; it was never going to be. The point, perhaps, is that the path to the future is more shoots than ladders.
jrising: (zen)
2015-09-26 12:15 am

One console to rule them all

I love text consoles. The more I can do without moving a mouse or opening a new window, the better. So, when I saw XKCD's command-line interface, I grabbed the code and started to build new features into it, as my kind of browser window to a cyber world of text.

I want to tell you about my console-based time-management system, the entertainment system, the LambdaMOO world, the integration with my fledgling single-stream analysis toolbox. But the first step was to clean out the password-protected stuff, and expose the console code for anyone who wants it.

So here it is! Feel free to play around on the public version, http://console.existencia.org/, or clone the repository for your own.

screenshot

Here are the major changes from the original XKCD code by Chromacode:

  • Multiple "shells": I currently just have the Javascript and XKCD-Shell ones exposed. Javascript gives you a developer-style javascript console (but buggy). You can switch between the two by typing x: and j:.

  • A bookmark system: ln URL NAME makes a new bookmark; ls lists the available bookmarks, and cd NAME opens a bookmark.

  • A login/registration system: Different users can have different bookmarks (and other stuff). Leave 'login:' blank the first time to create a new account.

  • Some new commands, but the only one I'm sure I left in is scholar [search terms] for a Google Scholar search.



Share, expand, and enjoy!
jrising: (zen)
2015-09-13 10:37 pm

Gnostic Doubts

A while back, I got very excited about Gnosticism and the Nag Hammadi Library. I'm stumbling upon more of that world, with a weird coincidence. The roleplaying game I'm making is set in the time of the rising of Zoroastrianism, and its crusade against untruth and error. Then, this morning, I attended my first (and last?) service of the local Christian Science branch, in a beautiful wooden cathedral on my corn. The rhetoric was strikingly similar: Truth is the only reality, and it is unchanging and godly. Matter and the world as we perceive it is unreal and can neither think nor feel.

With the huge caveat that I know very little of Christian Science or the other two, part of me loves this rationalist vision. It quickly leads to a new conception of the soul and God Itself. If the world does not exist as such, then neither do we as such; whatever it is that is not-matter in us is very close to God, and it is exactly that entity that finds Itself in (or at least surrounded by) error. But therein lies Gnosticism's central problem.

1. Why would God cause there to be error? The Gnostics blame the demiurge and Zoroaster blamed Angra Mainyu, setting a figurehead on the two sides of their dualistic universe. Christian Scientists have no such choice, so the blame falls to mere mortals. Even for the earlier Gnostics, God seems to have basically given Itself a split-personality disorder. Why would It do that, except that It liked it better that way?

2. It seems dreadful to treat all of nature like an abomination. In his writings, John Muir speaks endlessly of the divinity of nature, the wondrousness of its infinite complexity and the vibrance of its multitudinal spirits. To him, the trees are cathedrals, the clouds are cities; he writes that "many other beautiful winged people, numbered and known and loved only by the Lord, are waltzing together high over head, seemingly in pure play and hilarious enjoyment of their little sparks of life."

And while I'm sure that many kinds of disease are horrible and without mitigating benefits, those are not the one's I have been lucky enough to encounter. The diseases I know are wise and deep. As Ginsberg says, "Holy the sea holy the desert holy the railroad holy the locomotive holy the visions holy the hallucinations holy the miracles holy the eyeball holy the abyss!"

Perhaps there is only one reality, and error is all around us. But if so, it seems prudent to look for that reality in the infinite beauty that surrounds us.
jrising: (zen)
2015-09-09 07:16 pm

Labor Day 2015: More hours for everyone

In the spirit of Labor Day, I did a little research into Labor issues. I wanted to explore how much time people spent either at or in transit to work. Ever since the recession, it seems like we are asked to work longer and harder than ever before. I'm thinking particularly of my software colleagues who put in 60 hour weeks as a matter of course, and I wanted to know if it's true across sectors. Has the relentless drive for efficiency in the US economy taken us back to the limit of work-life balance?

I headed to the IPUMS USA database and collected everything I could find on the real cost of work.

When you look at average family working hours (that is, including averaged with spouses for couples), there's been a huge shift, from an average of 20-25 hours/week to 35-40. If those numbers seem low, note that this is divided across the entire year, including vacation days, and includes many people who are underemployed.

The graph below shows the shift, and that it's not driven by specifically employees or the self-employed. The grey bands show one standard deviation, with a huge range that is even larger for the self-employed.

klass


So who has been caught up in this shift? Everyone, but some industries and occupations have seen their relative quality of life-balance shift quite a bit. The graph below shows a point for every occupation-and-industry combination that represents more than .1% of my sample.

hours


In 1960, you were best off as a manager in mining or construction; and worst as a laborer in the financial sector. While that laborer position has gotten much worse, it has been superseded in hours by at least two jobs: working in the military, and the manager position in mining that once looked so good. My friends in software are under the star symbols, putting in a few more hours than the average. Some of the laboring classes are doing relatively well, but still have 5 more hours of work a week than they did 40 years ago.

We are, all of us, more laborers now than we were 60 years ago. We struggle in our few remaining hours to maintain our lives, our relationships, and our humanity. The Capital class is living large, because the rest of us have little left to live.
jrising: (zen)
2015-09-07 09:57 am

A Day for Labor

The meaning of Labor Day seems lost on much of my generation. Many take it to be intrinsically ironic: what a funny thing that we don't work on Labor Day. But of course it is not ironic at all.

The 1% and the 99% are new names for a newly harsh distinction between Capital and Labor. Even my knowledge-worker class is trapped in a cycle of laboring, with 60 hour weeks just to keep our jobs and housing prices chasing away the gains. We are, all of us, Labor.

99% of our days are spent serving capital, and yet we feel lost on the 1% reserved for ourselves.

So I want to live this day outside the cycle. To contemplate and read. To cook eggs and vegan sausage. To enjoy the sun out of doors. To clean a little, but not for maintenance sake. And yes, to work, but not ironically: I will do a little work for Labor that our day of liberty can come sooner.