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|Monday, July 13th, 2009|
|Ask Dr. LJ--advice on carbon offsets?
So I've done a good bit of traveling this summer. I put 2000 miles on my car since about the end of April, I've had a few round trips by air, and I'm planning some more flying soon. This is awesome, but I know that it does involve burning fossil fuels. I'd like to try to reduce or counter the negative impact of that.
So I know that there are all kinds of places that sell carbon offsets and credits. I'm honestly somewhat skeptical of the whole thing--it feels a bit like buying indulgences, like a conscience-salving luxury with questionable impact on the problem. But at the same time, if there are ways to buy offsets that reduce overall carbon emissions and/or contribute to carbon reduction (through reforestation, for instance), then that does seem positive.
I also know (or at least get the impression) that some offset-selling schemes are far more legit than others. So I'm wondering: have you purchased carbon offsets? Do you know much about the different options? Do you suggest any in particular?
|Friday, February 6th, 2009|
|Are you fucking KIDDING me?
So it sounds like there's a compromise stimulus bill
. And the Republicans, with the full cooperation of centrist Democrats and praise from Harry Reid, have stripped billions from it.
What have they cut, you ask? Perhaps some crazy pork-barrel bridge to nowhere? Or a lab studying the effect of constant exposure to Gilligan's Island
Well, almost. They've cut from that most wasteful area, schools
One Republican-proposed document that circulated earlier called for cuts of $60 billion from money Democrats want to send to the states. That money is targeted to avoid budget cuts for schools as well as law enforcement and other programs.
Sure, that makes a hell of a lot of sense! Municipalities are at risk of laying off teachers. So let's cut money to allow them to keep teachers in their jobs! After all, what does KEEPING PEOPLE IN THEIR JOBS have to do with stimulating the economy and getting people back to work?
And those kids who'll now be crammed into even more poorly-resourced schools? They'll still behave, right? And if they skip or drop out, there's no reason to worry that they'll get in trouble with the law, right? Especially since there are so many jobs available in the middle of a FUCKING RECESSION!...
Sorry...deep breaths. It honestly takes a lot to impress me with political stupidity these days. But this still does it. Congrats, Senators.
|Tuesday, December 30th, 2008|
|Hear the voices of homeless bloggers
The voices of poor and homeless people are almost always missing from public debates on the policies that impact them. One may hear that those voices are hard to find, or that homeless people aren't speaking for themselves. Trouble is, that's not true, and it silences people.
Michaelann Bewsee, amazing organizer and activist in Western MA, recently posted links to the work of 22 homeless bloggers. You can find the compilation at here
. Please check it out, and read some of the blogs. Even consider bookmarking them. As the economy gets worse, we could all probably benefit from what these folks have to say.
And a note on Michaelann--she's awesome. I've had the opportunity to work with her a bit, especially when I was at Working Massachusetts back between 2001 and 2004. Her blog
is worth reading too.
|Friday, December 19th, 2008|
|Looking East..looking at you? (Or, it's break and I would like to see you.)
Hey, everyone! It's mid-to-late December, and the semester is winding down. I'm just about done--would be finishing up right about now if I hadn't been hit by a stomach flu on Wednesday. I'd taken my last final, but had one more paper to do--and then I was miserably sick. Fortunately, the professor has been very flexible, and he seemed fine with it when I said that I would try to get him the paper by early next week.
And early next week, I should be on the east coast! I'm scheduled to fly to CT (where my parents live, and where I went to middle school and high school) on Sunday. I'm supposed to go back to Michigan two weeks later, on January 4th. I will probably spend the first few days I'm on the East Coast finishing this paper, but then my schedule should be pretty open.
And I'd love to see you! I'm planning to head to Boston, and may also do another trip somewhere--New York, or perhaps even Albany? I'd been thinking of DC, but given the distance, I'm not sure that's likely to happen on this trip. But I haven't ruled it out, either.
Let me know what your schedule is like if you'd like to meet up. Write here, or e-mail or call me. Or post it elsewhere on the interweb, though if you do that, you may have to give me some kind of a hint (i.e., "Check eggplant.com for a coded message on my whereabouts").
Happy holidays to those who are celebrating them around now!
|Tuesday, October 7th, 2008|
|Is it a device, or a garment?
Are you more likely to say "wear a condom" or "use a condom"? Or are you just as likely to say either? (Or do you use some other hip euphemistic phrase?)
Just to be clear, I am currently sans sex life. (But talking about sex is almost as fun as having it, right? Right?) I ask because someone used one of the two phrases in a conversation, and it sounded a bit weird to me. I won't say which, though, until I've heard from others.
Feel free to comment anonymously if it makes you more comfortable. I'd make this a poll, but I don't have a paid account, so I can't.
|Saturday, May 24th, 2008|
|A South African Saturday in late May
Okay, I think I needed that.
I wasn’t sure what I was going to do today. I’ve had this quandary on other weekends, as well; I’ve wanted to take advantage of the time and go some place exciting or generally explore, but my lack of a car (and the general lack of public transit here) makes it harder. I know and hang out with some folks who have cars, but they’ve been here for some time and have been to some of the places I want to go. And there’s the fear of crime, which makes me somewhat reluctant to go places in the city that I don’t know at all.
Today, I was hoping that there would be some kind of Africa Day events in town, but I couldn’t find any listings (Africa Day is actually tomorrow, but my impression is that there have been events here and there since Thursday). I did see something in the paper about a tour of City Hall, which sounded promising, though when I called the number listed and the person answered in Afrikaans, I wondered if I would even be able to understand it! (And I got the not-so-comfortable image of myself hanging out with a group of 60-something Afrikaners.)
But I decided to go out nonetheless. I knocked on a friend’s door (someone staying at the same guest house), and when she didn’t answer, I headed off alone. City Hall is near Church Square, which I’d visited once (but had gone by cab). Both are in the Central Business District, which I’d been warned was not the safest. But it was daytime, and when I’d been in Church Square I was fine. So I decided to head out on foot. Someone had told me that it would be about an hour’s walk, much of it a straight shot down Church Street, a major road here. I decided that if I could make it to City Hall in time for the tour, great, but if not, that would be fine too.
I didn’t make it to City Hall in time. In fact, I didn’t get all the way to City Hall, and that’s fine. On my way down Church Street, I found myself in Sammy Marks Square, where there was a big open-air market. Most of what was sold there was basic goods—clothes, backpacks, a few cell phones, one stand with vegetables, etc. So I didn’t buy much, but it was good both to find a place that I’d heard of but never been to, and simply to be able to stroll around an area where everyday folks gather. I also went to Church Square, where a youth dance troupe was performing. I watched them for a bit, and I also went to the Palace of Justice—this is the building where Nelson Mandela was tried for treason. I had hoped that they gave tours, but the security guards at the front desk said they didn’t. I’m planning to try a few more channels to see if there’s NO way to see a building with so much history, but even if not, there was something powerful about just being in the entryway.
On my way back, I stopped by the Union Buildings, where Parliament sits. Again, they don’t give tours (which I find really odd—even from a cynical perspective, isn’t it an ideal propaganda opportunity for any state to have citizens tour the seat of government and hear how great it is?). But I walked around the grounds which have lots of beautiful gardens (including beautiful orange birds of paradise and nice purple flowers whose names I’m not sure of), looked at war memorials, and admired both the architecture of the Union Building and the amazing view of the city (the Union Building is up on a hill). I also looked at some statues of former prime ministers who appear to have been lovely fellows: Louis Botha, shown on horseback likely subduing some rowdy natives, and JB Hertzog, who stepped down as prime minister when South Africa declared war on Nazi Germany. I suppose it speaks to the ANC’s commitment to reconciliation that they didn’t dynamite both in ’94. Or earlier.
And I also just walked around. I went down a side street to look at a mosque (a gorgeous building that was just in the midst of everything—I think it was next to a gas station). I bought some tchatchkes and an ice cream from vendors. In the end, I walked several miles through a city I’ve been told to be scared of, and I came away perfectly fine and glad for what I’d explored. I think I’ll be a lot more confident walking around unknown parts of town during the day now. Like I said, I think needed that.
|Sunday, May 18th, 2008|
|Photo sharing sites?
I want to post some photos! I know that there are several sites on which one can do so, like Flickr, Photobucket, and Picasa (and probably many more). Which, if any, do you use? Which do you recommend? is there some other technology to show people photos that all the hip kids are now using? Do tell!
|Saturday, May 10th, 2008|
Well, doesn't this article
just warm your heart? None other than Wal-Mart is donating $1.5 million to hunger relief programs. So nice that after pioneering a business model that breaks new ground in corporate greed, they're giving a little back. I wonder how many beneficiaries will be their employees and family members thereof? I wonder how many will be former employees of local businesses destroyed by Wal-Mart.
And they also "will encourage Americans who receive a government-issued economic stimulus check to contribute a portion of the check to help the nation's hungry." I have no problem with that, but I'd also suggest that people donate another part to a group that organizes for decent jobs and a non-Wal-Mart economy.
And I must ask, at risk of repetition--how many Wal-Mart workers made enough to get stimulus checks. (My student-debt-accumulating ass didn't.)
</ rant for the moment>
Hey, all. I need to post several updates, not least about the fact that I'm currently in South Africa! Like one update I posted a few minutes ago, most will probably be friends-locked for a variety of reasons. I'm not moving to a friends-locked journal, but again, much that I post here in the next however-long will probably be locked. So if you read this and I know you somehow and you'd like to get those posts, please drop me a line or comment here. Thanks! And in the meantime, bear with me as I try to catch up.
|Wednesday, April 9th, 2008|
|Could this be (gasp) good policy? Any thoughts?
This is particularly aimed at folks in MA and others who do community and economic development. The Boston Globe
that Governor Patrick is proposing to put people to work with a large infrastructure project aimed at repairing old bridges across the state. It's an issue that's gotten more attention since the Minneapolis bridge disaster last year, and it may be particularly relevant to Massachusetts, an old state with a good bit of older infrastructure, and where "approximately 10 percent of the 5,500 bridges...are classified under federal standards as 'structurally deficient," according to a Globe
report last August.
The biggest concern with it seems to be the funding mechanism, which would be a public bond that would increase the state's debt. I'm not an expert on that, though I know that some economic theory says that you need to act counter-cyclically
--i.e., when an economy is in an downturn, government should spend in order to get people working (and thus spending). Arguably, programs like this helped to end the Great Depression by getting people working and spending.While a liberal notion often associated with John Maynard Keynes
, it's had a lot of influence--the Bush administration's tax credits are an example of it (albeit a timid one that's careful not to redistribute wealth away from the rich!).
Of course, I also know that if a state is heavily in debt, that means that revenue is going to pay interest. And if a state gets a bad bond rating (not sure if that's a concern here), that can increase those interest payments. But it seems that the benefits may outweigh these costs if the proposal works.
|Wednesday, March 5th, 2008|
|I was a health educator--I need to post this
I'm reposting this from chilimuffin
; I hadn't heard it before. But it's important info. If anyone knows anything related (either backing it up or contradicting it!), please comment.
Public Service Announcement
Despite what the internet and many books say, even if they're otherwise reputable sources, YOU CANNOT USE SARAN WRAP AS A DENTAL DAM
[At least not a fully reliable one. From a harm reduction standpoint, it's probably better than nothing, no? -mg]
And you most certainly cannot use "Cling wrap" as stated in a book I (chilimuffin
) saw over the weekend (and whose author will be getting an e-mail from me soon).
"But, but," you sputter in over-educated confusion, "I know I can't use regular old PVC clingwrap because it's totally porous and lets all sorts of nasty things through, but Saran Wrap is supposed to be safe because it's PVdC (polyvinylidene chloride) and as impermeable as latex!"
Ah, but you see, in 2004, SC Johnson made a switch in their formulation of Saran Wrap, and it is now made from Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE), which is, in fact, as porous as every other kind of plastic wrap. It might block some bugs, but Herpes? HIV? HPV? I doubt it. Do I know for sure? No. Do I want my future patients finding out the hard way? Definitely not.
Moreover, no one ever did a randomized control study to show that Saran wrap actually kept viruses at bay. Why would they? It probably does, sure, because it's considered mostly gas-impermeable. But no one ever really examined it. We know all about viruses and latex. Why take the chance? Gloves are abundant, and scissors are cheap.
You've been PSA'd. Thank you for your attention.
And remember: Cling Wrap Saves your Vegetables not your Genitals.
|Wednesday, February 27th, 2008|
|Please say hi!
Hi, all. I don't look at my LJ profile too often, but I recently saw that a few people had friended me who I hadn't friended back. I looked up most of you and figured out who you were and added you, but there were a few of you who I don't know.
If you friended me and I haven't friended you back, could you send me a quick note to let me know who you are and how we know each other? Or if we don't know each other, could you tell me how you found my LJ?
Thanks a lot.
|Saturday, February 23rd, 2008|
|On board a Chicago coffeeship
Actually, I'm in a coffeeshop, not ship. But that was a typo I made a bit earlier, and I liked it. May even try to bring it into use.
The Chicago part, however, is not a typo! For the first time since she helped me move out to Ann Arbor in August 2006, I'm visitingtrinitysite
! The fact that we hadn't seen each other in the past year and a half, despite now living a 5-hour train ride from each other, was kind of ridiculous. When we made our plans, trinitysite
said that she wouldn't believe it until I woke up in her apartment the morning after arrival.
I got in yesterday, so I interpreted her comment to mean that last night would be some kind of liminal space in which the rules of realite wouldn't apply. I love this concept! I tried to walk on the ceiling, though I had a bit of trouble with that (clearly due to my own lack of upside-down training, not any reassertion of gravity).
Now that it's Saturday, and she appears to accept that I am indeed here, things are going well. At the moment, we're both working aboard this coffeeship, and then we should be seeing Too Much Light
tonight. Field museum tomorrow. And throughout, much hanging out and talking.
And on top of that, it is SO nice not to be at school right now. I was REALLY in need of a break--while writing a paper before leaving, I was really struggling to focus on it. I have plenty to do this weekend and next week (which is my quasi-Spring Break), but still--I'm hoping to get some rejuvenation in too. I may take a day to say that I will do NO work, besides maybe reading a book that's assigned but also very interesting.
Okay, now to do something work-related...
|Monday, January 14th, 2008|
|Meanwhile, back in Boston...
Boston.com is predicting 5 to 10 inches of snow. And so more than 600 schools and colleges have closed
Looking more closely, I see that there have been some power outages from downed trees, and that the roads are supposed to be slick. And the snow sounds like it's coming pretty fast. So yes, that's a real issue.
But still, as a Midwesterner who's back in the region where he was born, I have to say...Oh no! There's white stuff coming out of the sky in the winter--whatever can it be?! Lawsy, lawsy...Cancel school! Shut the roads! Load up on supplies and hide the children! The sky is falling! Snow in January--whatever shall we do?!
|Tuesday, January 1st, 2008|
Interested in the politics of information and knowledge? Wonder what on earth I mean by that? In either case, you should check out the Social Justice Librarian
blog. It's at http://sjlibrarian.wordpress.com
The bloggers are a small group of librarians and other information specialists in the US and Canada. In the interest of full disclosure, one of them is one of my best friends. I tend to think that most things this person writes are worth reading, and so I think you should check it out. :)
Oh, yeah--happy new year!
|Wednesday, December 26th, 2007|
|Coming to Boston
Hey there, folks! It’s a break from school, which makes it time for the semi-annual Matt-comes-to-Boston festival! This year, as part of our gala celebration, we’ll have dancing bears and flying penguins. And, of course, there’ll be all the nachos you can eat, and free shirts for the kids.
Well, actually, the last two sentences aren’t true. But I am planning on coming up to Boston. I’m thinking of heading up this Saturday (or maybe Friday—not sure) and returning on New Year’s Day. And I’d like to see you!
So tell me—are you around? When are you free? Do you have any desire to see me? Reply here or, if you have my e-mail address, write me!
Note to non-Boston folks: As you've probably read here, I've been sick and catching up on papers. This has limited my travel plans, so I don't think that I'll be able to make it to NYC or DC during this trip. It's a bummer--I do hope to se you some time soon! But if anyone's coming up to Boston this weekend--or out to the Midwest later on...
|Saturday, December 15th, 2007|
|A note to medical professionals
Y'know, Doctor, when I call you three days after seeing you to say that I've been following your advice and my symptoms are still there, I understand that you'll want me to list the symptoms and what I've been doing about them. But when you take the symptoms to be evidence that I haven't actaully been doing what you told me to do, when in fact I have, it's pretty obnoxious.
And when the reason I called is because MY SYMPTOMS AREN'T ANY BETTER and I've told you that I'm still spiking fevers as high as 103 despite tylenol and advil, it doesn't really help for you to end the call with, "You don't sound sick. Do you feel sick?" Yes, you asshole--do you think that I'm just calling because I so admire your listening skills?? Current Mood: sick
|Wednesday, December 12th, 2007|
This is great. I went to bed last night feeling kind of cold, and then I woke up at 6:40 am with a pounding headache, sweating. When I took my temperature, it was about 101. Yet it's finals time, and i have a major paper due by midnight tomorrow. And the professor to whom I owe said paper is in Australia.
I've e-mailed him asking if there's any way to have more time, but who knows when/if he'll reply. And I have several others due dates coming up on Sunday and Tuesday.
At the moment, I feel okay and my fever is gone, thanks to ibuprofen. But I don't want to push myself too much. And the fact that the fever is gone makes it harder, in some ways, to get documentation from Student Health that I'm sick.
So how the fuck do I proceed from here??
|Tuesday, December 11th, 2007|
|Quote of the day
"The basic elements of the Pennsylvania vagrancy statute merely repeat legislation enacted 400 years ago in the immediate aftermath of the Black Dealth." --Caleb Foote, 1956
That, I'm fairly certain, is the law review equivalent of calling out a policy as completely whack.
|Tuesday, November 20th, 2007|
L: I’m having an existential crisis. Can you talk for ten minutes?
Me: (concerned) Well, I probably have five, but what’s up?
L: Do human rights have to be based in a fundamentally liberal discourse, and what does that mean if I think the UDHR is a really important document in a lot of ways.
Thus began a 20-minute conversation that almost got me to class late. I love having friends who are big nerds too.