A description of wealth and forever, courtesy of Allegra Goodman in her excellent short story, “Closely Held”:
…He saw what wealth would mean: not just traveling the world and buying toys, but paying huge complicated taxes and living in a house with Molly forever – not forever in the romantic sense – forever like her parents, with a loud dog and yellowing houseplants. Molly would gain a hundred pounds, and Orion would have to start collecting humongous ugly paintings. They’d have a three-car garage and seven bathrooms, and they would sit around at night and debate whether it was better to time-share or buy planes.
Perhaps those wanting to go into finance and consulting for the money should contemplate this description of their future before they take the plunge.
A view from the foothills:
Two contrasting depictions of the Boulder mentality via graffiti:
Only in Boulder:
Caroline Kennedy finally decided to open up to the press in her bid for appointed office. So far, that’s not going too well. According to today’s New York Times:
With several weeks to go before Mr. Paterson makes his decision, she is doling out glimpses of her political beliefs and private life. But when asked Saturday morning to describe the moment she decided to seek the Senate seat, Ms. Kennedy seemed irritated by the question and said she couldn’t recall.
“Have you guys ever thought about writing for, like, a woman’s magazine or something?” she asked the reporters. “I thought you were the crack political team.”
After that burn, and an admission that she could not think of a single issue on which she would “depart from Democratic Party orthodoxy,” Kennedy ended the interview with grace:
As things wrapped up, a reporter tried to pose another question, but she interrupted him.
“I think we’re done,” she said.
Better luck next time?
Although I no longer should be, I’m often amazed at how statements made 30 or more years ago apply so readily to our society today. Hindsight is indeed 20/20, but I cannot help but reflect on how listening to some great minds of the past could have prevented many quagmires we face today.
In a speech given in December 1976 at Yale, Morris (Mo) Udall reflected upon energy, economics and the environment and came to many of the same conclusions that are being stated today as we face an impending climate crisis. Like today, America found itself in a recession at the time of his speech and there was a major need to decrease unemployment (from 8.5% then, from 6.1% now) and kick-start the economy. Mo pointed out that we should not and could not assess the economy with the mentality of the past – the mentality that unlimited resources were at our fingertips and could be utilized now and into the future. Today, it is even more clear that our resources – whether they be oil, water or clean air – are rapidly diminishing and will continue to do so until dramatic action is taken. Growth is important, but growth can no longer be created through increased use of resources.
Facing a hurting economy and environment, Mo laid out a plan that could be copied and pasted into a speech given today. First, he said, we must “make the most of what we have through a vigorous program of energy conservation.” This still rings true today – conservation can be one of the most powerful methods of reducing energy use because it saves the consumer money and asks the consumer to think about how his energy use connects to the global environment. Secondly, Mo tells us to give up “the phony hope of a magical technological fix that will … let us continue our old habits.” While technology continues to play an important role in sustainability (electric cars, concentrated solar power, etc.), it is also important for all humans to think about the importance of reducing their own impact not by buying some new and shiny and energy efficient but rather by biking to work, buying less, turning down the heat and lobbying their representatives for better environmental policy. Mo’s final point is that sustainability creates jobs, and can therefore help restart a failing economy. Once again, this idea could not apply more to today – green jobs offer opportunities in all sectors for all levels of education and expertise. Creating a new sustainable society and economy will take work, but this work can help decrease unemployment, increase investment and push us out of the recession.
Concluding his speech, Mo cites another Udall who provided similar wisdom nine years earlier: Stewart Udall stated that “… at this moment in history we need to realize that: bigger is not better, slower may be faster, less may well mean more.” Hear, hear to the wisdom of the past – let us finally apply it to today.
I just wandered into the bathroom in one of my favorite local coffee shops, The Cup, and saw the following sticker on the paper towel dispenser:
One of the reasons that people have trouble changing their behaviors from consuming indiscriminately to consuming intelligently is that it is hard to make the connection between the paper towel that you use in the bathroom and the forest from which it originally came. Only when humans realize our inextricable connection to the environment in which we live does it become clear that we must protect the environment if only for the reason that we depend on it for our very livelihood.
Even small reminders like the one above can help to change behavior by reminding the passer-by that the resources we use are not of infinite supply but rather involve the exploitation of nature. Much of this exploitation is necessary – although it should be done in the least harmful way possible – but it is important to remember that minimizing consumption minimizes environmental impact.
According to Henry David Thoreau:
Good poetry seems so simple and natural a thing that when we meet it we wonder that all men are not always poets. Poetry is nothing but healthy speech.
My ballet teacher often professes similar sentiments about ballet as we ugly ducklings of beginning adult ballet totter and fall while trying to simultaneously balance on one leg and bring the other foot up to our knee. “It’s just like walking,” she tells us as she performs a beautiful pirouette, “If you can walk, then you can dance ballet.”
According to ninjawords.com, a myriameter is a unit of measure equal to 10,000 meters. And saying “one myriameter” is infinitely better than saying “ten kilometers.”
Note that ninjawords is possibly the best way to look up the definition of words online, because determining the definition of a new word should always be compared to rapid ninja moves.