Monday, October 13, 2008

Walk without rhythm; it won't attract the worm

I wanted to write a blog entry. To catch up, or something. The trouble is, I don't really know what to say. The muse isn't biting me. So I'll sit here in a dark apartment, listening to the Alan Parsons Project, and try to make sense of the Big Picture. As it stands right now, part of the Big Picture for me is whether or not a brand new bed would be a good investment. There is a mostly incomprehensible economic crisis on; additionally - and perhaps more relevant - I'll likely be spending fewer than half my nights in the old domicile. I recall that my older brother spent well over a year living in LA while sleeping on a futon and pretending that his suitcase was a dresser. I'm way ahead of him; my clothes are actually hanging up in a real-live closet. But I don't have a futon. Seems a little superfluous with this soft berber carpet. It's swanky.

Another Big Picture issue: US Refugee Policy. I'm going to throw out some rhetorical questions that I won't answer. But these are things I think about:
  • How does congress determine the priority groups of refugees that are allowed access to resettlement to the US? It must be extremely difficult to balance humanitarian needs with the political realities of allowing such a small fraction of the international community of refugees to live in the US.
  • What is the long-term impact of refugee resettlement on the countries of origin? Does resettlement promote stability by temporarily removing friction from ethnic crises?
  • What must it personally be like for a refugee to move from rural Sudan (or a refugee camp in East Africa) to an urban environment in Minneapolis? Aside from the dramatic change in climate, these are people who have never had to pay bills, obtain insurance, establish a credit rating, enroll in school, or any one of a hundred things that are a basic part of life in a developed country. Imagine how traumatic this is.
Another thing. Speaking of life in a developed country, when did our society become so media-driven? When I was trying to figure out something effective to do tonight, why did books to read or blogs to write figure so prominently on my list? Why is it that so much of my empty discretionary time is filled with the listening of trivial pop music?

Which leads me to another thought: The ratio of input to output in our lives is almost universally highly skewed. I'll explain myself. The general shape of people (actually, I'm talking to YOU, America) suggests that our food caloric intake is mostly skewed toward the input side of things. Household, corporate, and national budget deficits suggest that we consume significantly more goods than we in turn produce (at least in my Homeland). Furthermore, in more abstract terms, even the media we consume is also skewed toward the input side. I obviously have no statistics to back this up, but I'd guess that the producers of literature, music, the arts, etc., make up less than 1% (and I'm being generous) of the population of consumers of said media. It seems to me that the nature of reality is indeed such that it is easier to consume than to produce; to take rather than to give. I'm going to spend some time thinking about how to reverse this trend at least on a personal level, i.e. imposing a little balance in the system, or even, Heaven forbid, try to find a way to make some contribution that outweighs my leeching. This probably can't be done with all things, but wouldn't it be nice to tip the scales a little bit?

I'll write more when I feel like I know better what I'm talking about, there.

Speaking of not knowing what I'm talking about, I've decided to post a live journal of my thoughts during the final Presidential Debate this Wednesday. I've had so many thoughts during this presidential election cycle; I've felt pulled in so many different directions. I'd like to get them down in print. So there's that to wait for.

Yes, I think I'm finished for now. Talk about a weapon of choice.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Backward and homebound, the pigeon the dove

The road has had its twists and its turns, but here I am now sitting in Alexandria Virginia. I suppose it's home now, though I'm still trying to convince myself that it's "me". Those who were expecting to hear from me reporting in Azerbaijan, I'm afraid I've proved a disappointment. After a notably protracted and agonizing decision-making process, I opted out of the offer I had in the Microfinance industry.

My new position has taken me at least momentarily to the bustling streets of Washington DC. My new position will be, shockingly enough, working for the US Federal Government. This means that I'll be spending most of my time in far-flung refugee camps around the world. It also means that as much as I'd like to post running commentaries on my professional activities, I won't be able to. This isn't because the work is highly secretive per se; it just means that publicly posting all the details is not encouraged. I'll be happy to talk about what I'm doing in private conversations. I definitely can give you an earful.

On the other hand, I will make a conscious effort to keep this here blog updated with facts about places I'm working, including country conditions, political situations, and the various ruminations that seem to only have an outlet during the introspective moments when I have an internet connection in close proximity. For those of my friends and acquaintances who don't like long-winded, pendantic meanderings that don't really seem to go anywhere, please reroute yourself somewhere (anywhere) else.

In keeping with the spirit of nonsequitur blogging, I've decided to adopt a new tradition. Since I'm a rather unrepentant fan of quirky old-man music, and since I furthermore feel compelled to acquaint the world (or at least my small corner of it) with the joys of the likes of Neil Young and Van Morrison, I've determined to take occaision to entitle my blogs with lyrics from tunes that seem to reflect my mood when I'm penning said blog. If you click on the blog entry title, you may even be treated to a performance. Enjoy the musical happiness.