Category Archives: Politics

Earth Day

One of my coworkers, whom I occasional refer to as the SuperRepublican, has some very dramatic viewpoints. And while I only rarely agree with his sometimes radical political exaggerations, he is a pretty hilarious guy and I consider him a close friend.

Knowing that he would most certainly scoff at our recent Earth Day, I asked the SuperRepublican how he celebrated the holiday.

His response: “I threw some dead batteries into the regular trash.”

Parking Ticket.

Man, I’m miffed.

I parked my car in New Haven today. The parking spot in question had a busted meter. Honestly, I didn’t think anything of it. In Boston you are allowed to park at broken meters without punishment. I presumed the same would be true of New Haven.

Turns out, this is not the case. I came back to find a ticket on my vehicle. I looked at said ticket and it said “parking violation. comments: broken meter” zwa?

Fun fact: In the City of New Haven, if a meter is broken that spot can no longer be used for parking.

Extra fun fact:
When it comes to parking in spots with broken meters…
Los Angeles, Houston, Denver, and Seattle = Tickets.
NY, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Pittsburgh, and D.C = No Tickets.

source 1, source 2, source 3

Unfortunately, I must concede that for New Haven, this is a decent rule. Parking meter vandalism to avoid fees is very likely a significant problem that any city has to deal with. In general I can see how this could warrant a rule like this one. Secondly, a single broken meter in an area of plenty of parking could result in a decrease in revenue if people purposefully parked in these spots – in my case, there were other spots available that I could have used. I think that’s what differentiates Boston from New Haven. In Boston, a lost space is a very big deal. In New Haven… eh. If the law is implemented correctly, one might be able to use this rule as a test for general availability of parking in a particular city.

Despite the admitted guilt and earned respect for an unknown law, I’m still bummed that I have to fork over $20.

Can Opener.

I suspect that the collapse of the United States (or humanity as we know it!) may very well have been predicted by my can opener. Or perhaps I should say can openers. We at the House of Rock have gone through 3 can openers in as many years. This seems ridiculous to me. It’s not that they are failing in sharpness and need to be sharpened, they are actually falling to pieces.

Means of failure:
1. Squeeze failure: The gears seem have migrated apart. To get the thing to cut you have to pull the handles to the left and right before scissoring them together – the success rate of this maneuver is low.
2. Gear failure: The gear separated from the cutting tool so the gear will spin but the cutting tool won’t.
3. Complete failure: The blade and gearing fell off in a catastrophic explosion of parts.

There are two alarming things here. The first is the failure of seemingly quality goods. That third can opener on the list was a kitchen aid – a reputable brand! Has the need for low cost goods undermined our ability to provide a sustainable product? I remember Schenk was telling me about a dude whose environmental argument is not focused around the materials or methods used in production as much as around the physical life of the end product. Three can openers in three years is pathetic.

The second alarming thing here is that I didn’t spend time to fix any of these can openers. Instead, I just tossed them and went out to buy a new one. The ease and cheapness of buying and discarding goods discourages fixing them. I can’t imagine that this is a good thing for our sustainability.

A Simple Political Quiz

Give it a shot.

It’s simple as evidenced by my score of 11/12. Though the results page reports the average as closer to 50%. Special thanks to Theresa for seeing my error there. Average result is between 8 and 9 correct.

Take the test! Report your results! I suspect readers are smarter than the average.

Check the comments to see which one I got wrong.

Ayn vs. Karl.

My two most recent literary conquests were Ayn Rand’s Anthem and Karl Marx’s The Communist Manifesto.

WARNING: Spoilers.

What a perfect book combination! Firstly, both are very short. Anthem is maybe 80 pages, The Communist Manifesto about 40-50* Secondly, both books predicted amazingly similar resulting oppressions despite completely opposite political views. Rand communicates her ideas via the story of Equality 7-2521. He’s a dude who has grown up in a complete collectivism environment. The population is imprisoned in bureaucracy and all aspects of individuality have been banned. The world is bleak, white, mundane, and scripted by ‘The Councils’. Equality 7-2521 has an awakening and finds an escape to the mundane through the development of himself and, essentially, capitalism. He develops an individuality and an ego with which he reinvents property and plans a capitalist revolution! (cue trumpet fanfare)

Karl Marx, on the other hand, conveys his point with a succinct presentation of his beliefs. He describes Capitalism not as a path to triumph but instead as a path to exploitation. He looks at capitalistic society and sees the few commanding bourgeoisie posed above the many victimized proletariat. Without exploitation, Marx argues that there can be no capitalism. He predicts that a purely capitalistic world will continue to widen the wealth gap until the vast majority of the world’s population will live in a bleak, mundane world scripted by the bourgeoisie. He ends by calling for a revolution.

If this were a fight, who would win?

Point goes to Ayn Rand. Marx is academic in his writing style and it can get boring. It took me longer to read Marx’s shorter essay than Ayn Rand’s longer essay. Ayn did a great job of keeping the storyline captivating and the plot moving.

hmm. Tie. Both predicted pretty miserable results if you were to choose their opponents path. I found it fascinating and awesome that both predicted such a similar outcome though.

Karl Marx does a better job with supporting his arguments. But… I guess that’s expected. Ayn is telling a story – there’s little room to really get into supporting historical facts and such. Marx on the other hand is arguing and does a good job in cranking the volume to 11 on his political amplifier.

Which would I recommend?
I would recommend that you read whichever book you disagree with more. For those hardcore Republicans amongst us, try to get through the Communist Manifesto. For the diehard Liberals, go for Ayn Rand. I would say that both of these books are important reads for anyone who deems themselves well-read.

Which do I agree with?
Had you asked me before reading these books, I would have guessed that I’d go with Ayn Rand. I’m a strong believer in the theory that hard work can help pull the most out of luck into a position of strength. My Dad is my example of the ultimate hard worker who brought a comfortable lifestyle to his family through incredible dedication to his work and schooling and a fortitude to stick with it no matter what. He is a man who won’t stop for his own convenience and I’m quite certain he’ll never stop working for the benefit of his family, friends, and community. If the world were full of people like my Dad, capitalism would work beautifully.

But there are a lot of people who get higher capitalistic stature by pulling those around them down. I see Marx’s argument as a clever way to prevent exploitation. Rand, I think, argues that the world will stop trying if you start spreading wealth. I’m not sure I agree. I remember reading in one of my organizational behavior classes that there were three sources of motivation: Power (doing something to gain Authority), Social (doing what you do for your family or friends), and Achievement (I do it so I can say I did it!). I think I’m a mix of achievement and social. I think my Dad is something similar. Perhaps Marx is right. Perhaps if we removed the financial benefits of doing work, the world would not grind to a halt… perhaps instead we’d find a new motivation. The kind of motivation that drives people to publish free online software or the kind of motivation that advances the whole populous not just the individual.

I strongly encourage you to read both of these books. Reading both gives a great representation of opposite views. Hopefully they can help you better understand both ends of the political scale. These books definitely helped me.

*it’s a little hard to tell length of books with the Kindle. Both of these books were completed within a 2-3 hour period (each).