ARGHH!

    Today at work we were talking about New Orleans,
hurricanes, etc. and there was a lot of ignorent talk about the
economics of the situation. The thing that made me the most nuts was
the talk about the “bright side” of the disaster. “At least the
recovery will employ lots of people, it will really be a boon to the
economy of Louisiana and New Orleans.” Good God, what a load of crap. A
similar idea was publishe after 9/11 by an economics professor at
Harvard, Harvard! Let’s look at this reasonably. Yes, lots of money
will be spent on rebuilding. This will employ a lot of people in the
building industries and the the various support industries that go
along with them. There’s a big problem though, all of this money will
be spent to get back to where they were before. If there was no
hurricane, then the residents, businesses, governments of New Orleans
would have the city plus all of their money. Now since the hurricane
did come through, they will eventually have their city, but not the
money. All of the jobs and money that get spread around due to
reconstruction simply replace the jobs created by discretionary
spending. Think of it another way, if widespread dustruction is so good
for the economy, why wait for a disaster to happen? Why not have
scheduled destructions to keep the economy going? Put this way it is
obvious why not. Society would be continually getting back to where it
was, not progressing, certainly not growing. Money does a lot of work
when it is circulated in the economy, but that work usually leaves
behind things that are very useful. Once that “thing” has been built,
society receives the value of that thing and can then use money for
something else. Constantly rebuilding the same thing ties up money that
could be used for other things.
    Price “goughing” was another topic that made me grit
my teeth. The rapid rise in prices for various goods is usually
considered despicable by most people. But selling things for what they
are worth is a very good thing to do. First of all, it is the most
efficient way to get more goods and services to the afflicted area. We
would all like to think that people and businesses would be willing to
help in times of need. Many do, but you will get far more action when
there is money to be made. If regular things now bring in much more
money in New Orleans (lumber, flashlights, water, etc.) you can be sure
that every major seller of these things will send as much as they can
without batting an eyelash. It is the quickest, most reliable, and
least complicated way of providing massive amounts of needed supplies.
As supply grows, compitition will eventually reduce the price back down
to more normal levels. If you didn’t have this massive influx of
supplies, the value of these items would take far longer to drop in
price since the demand would not slack up. If artifical price limits
are placed on items (a la price goughing laws), a black market develops
along with widespread shortages of products. If water would sell on the
open market for $15 a gallon but the law requires stores to sell it for
a maximum of $1 a gallon, something very predictable happens. First of
all, all the stores would be sold out of water. Secondly, water will be
widely availible on the black market for $15 a gallon…

Isaac

Katrina

    What a mess… Rick and I watched the weather
channel the night before the hurricane hit. They interviewed some
people in Biloxi who were going to ride out the storm and we joked
about Katrina weeding out the gene pool in Mississippi. Sure was a lot
funnier when they were alive… I do hope that when people are rescued
from coastal devastation that the coast guard gives them a hearty “YOU
FUCKING MORON! You had 36 hours of notice that a category 5 hurricane
was headed towards you. Good thing you stuck around huh?” I realize
that some people along the coast had extenuating circumstances and
couldn’t leave, but most could have. Many of the residents of New
Orleans are just  too poor to go anywhere, but surely they could
have gone down to the Superdome, or at least higher ground. It’s
terrifying to think of the number of people that drowned in their
attics…
    The question that should come up is should New
Orleans be rebuilt? The result of this hurricane couldn’t have caught
anyone by surprise. A major metropolitan city that lies below sea level
and is surrounded by major bodies of water on three sides is never a
good idea. Not only was this completely predictable, but there is a
very real possibility of it happening any given year. Hell, it might
happen again next month. How many hundreds of billions of dollars will
it take to rebuild that city? I’m a little worried about the message
that it sends to people when they build in very dangerous places and
the federal government says, “Don’t worry, we’ll bail you out if
anything bad happens.” Don’t get me wrong, I think that if people want
to live and build in New Orleans they should, but they should also
insure against the inevitable in whatever way they can and not rely on
the rest of us to bail them out when they get flooded. Right now I think the government has a duty to rescue and get people out of harm’s way, but we gotta look at the future/
    Don’t worry, none of this will ever be mentioned.
Politicians are a spineless lot and none of them have the guts to even
voice this rather common sense question of whether or not this is a
good use of tax dollars. A great compromise would be subsidized loans,
make them responsible for paying for their own rebuilding. If they want
to live in an area that nature wants to be a swamp and/or a lake, have
at it, but you gotta pay for it yourself…

Isaac

Tshirts..

    This has been bugging me for a while, but an event
today has pushed me over the edge. There was once a time in which
fashion houses had their designs advertise for them. “Ohh, what are you
wearing, it’s sooo nice!” Before long, the reason people wore certain
clothes was because of he designers. The important thing was to be seen
wearing someone’s desins. Well, now it has morphed into simply
advertising what designers you like. How many Tommy Hilfiger tshirts
have you seen? Add to that all the Armani exchange, Donna Karen, Calvin
Klein, etc. and it is mind boggling. Not only are people advertising
for these companies, they are being charged to do it! OK, I can see
where they are coming from (not that I understand it), they are
identifying with a brand and what it represents even if they can’t
afford to wear the actual fashions. Ok, I think that wearing a brand is
questionable, but I guess it’s a marker of some sort of culture that
I’m not a part of.
    OK, here’s the thing that made me go crazy. I saw a
guy (who else) wearing a Heinz tshirt. Yes, the ketsup and steak sauce
company. It was a bright red shirt with the familiar Heintz logo on it.
What kind of culture is he tapping into? What is he trying to connect
with? Why on earth would you become a bilboard for Heintz? I really
can’t take it…

Isaac

A good day

    I went downtown today and took Giane to Perry’s for brunch. This is a restaurant in Adams Morgan that has a
brunch buffet. The food is pretty good, but the main attraction is the
drag queens that lip sync to various songs. They really are something
to behold, I don’t want to think about how much money they’ve spent to
look like that. They love to go around and embarrass the more “hetero”
looking men and generally make people laugh.
    I suggested that we go there because I thought she’d
get a kick out of it, plus I didn’t think she could afford to argue
over the check. She did get a kick out of it and predictably protested
me buying her food. I managed to appease her by claiming it as a
birthday present. Sheesh, she can be tough sometimes:-) She was as
yummy as usual, even if she did have a hangover. Anyway, we hung out
and chatted about things and stuff, it was a good time. I’m hoping that
since she’s settled we can get together a little more often (and
perhaps introduce me to some of her single friends…)
    What else… I will only have one student next
class. I have been trying to emphasize the photographer’s role in how a
picture looks and deemphasizing the impact of equipment. When I found
out that she was going to be the only student in that class, I asked
her what she’d like me to cover. “Can we talk about cameras? I’ve been
thinking about buying a Nikon D70…” GROAN! (shrug) OK, it’s her
money, but I really hope that she has gotten more out of the class than
that!

Isaac

New stuff on the site

    I have managed to put up a rather lame piece on
Black Sabbath and a short diatribe about my political beliefs. I’m sure
that the politics thing will manage to piss everyone off, but that’s
what discussions about politics are supposed to be about. I managed to
say what I wanted to about Black Sabbath, but upon further reflection,
it really isn’t much at all. Maybe I’ll take it down again some time
soon when I have something interesting to say…
    I do have some interesting things I’m working on,
but I can’t seem to make them work the way I want them to. I am still
wrestling with my composistion article, David Bowie (little more than a
fan piece), a critical Christian view of the New Testament(!), and even
some economics stuff too. I may not bother with any more econ stuff,
nobody seems to go to those pages anyway. I know it’s dull stuff, but
now I have proof!:-) My most popular pages are my pictures. I’d like to
put more up, but that means more scanning and that means I’ll have to
look into the feasability of buying my own scanner. We’ll see, the new
computer is the priority. I am most comfortable typing on my full sized
keyboard and using my large LCD monitor to work on my web site, but my
machine can’t handle the program, so I have to do everything on my
laptop! That’s gotta change soon.

Isaac

I know, I know….

    No, I still haven’t put anything up on the web site.
I do have several things going and I should have at least one of them
up by sunday night. Nothing much is going on, I did a lot of nothing
today and it felt good. I did write up my official withdrawl from the
Economics program at GMU. It’s funny, now it seems like the most
natural thing in the world, but at the time it was a rather momentous
decision. Now that that chapter has finially closed, I can look forward
to the next.
    The last class went really well. Now that they have
a basic idea of how to print, they really ate up the information about
printing. The last couple of classes will revolve around digital
photography and giving pointers to them via their own pictures. Should
be fun…
    I’m getting very close to having enough money for my
new computer. There are rumors of a real new Mac Mini. The last
revision was basicly a price drop. The current rumors have the mini
getting a G5 processor in september. I don’t really believe that, but
I’m going to wait for it just in case. Between the class money, the
money for my frankenmac, and some kickbacks from camera bag
manufacturers, I should have enough money by them. Can’t wait!

Isaac

Yet another discerning community…

    I’ve been thinking that I want to try wearing some
sort of cologne recently. I tried a sample of something or other the
other day and it was nice to smell good:-) The store has two walls of windows, and no matter what time of the year it is, the sun beams in and I end up sweating during at least part of the day. When I tried that sample the scent seemed to get reactivated when I heated up, and that’s a lot better than gold old fashioned sweat smell… Of course most guys that do
wear something don’t smell good at all, they either wear something
really nasty (Brut, Old Spice, Axe, etc.) and/or they just wear too
much. I’m going to try to avoid that.
    I’ve never done this before and I think it’s because I think that
just about everything smells like JC Penny’s or Macy’s fragrance
section. It always seemed so weird to smell like  “X”. It’s like
smelling like soap or laundry detergent except you put it on
intentionally. The very worst in my eyes are the easily identifiable
“designer” fragrances. The main appeal of them is that you have the
“good taste” to know who Calvin Klien, Tommy Hilfiger, or even Britney
Spears is. I started to look for some interesting stuff and happened
upon Basenotes.net. We’ve all heard of wine connoisseurs, audiophiles (cough cough), and gourmets, but these guys are fragrence connoiseurs!
    Like all the rest of the connisours, they have their
own ideas of what is “good”, but they all value complexity and the
combination of scents. It is interesting to hear of them talking about
“notes”. Perfumes have top notes, middle notes, and base notes. The top
is what you smell right when it is sprayed, the middle is what it turns
into, and the base is what the middle turns into over time. This
explains why I hate so many department store fragrances, they only have
one note, and not a very good one at that… So I’m intrigued, I’ve
ordered a few samples and I’ll see what I think. Don’t worry, I don’t
see myself becoming a cologne nerd. For one thing, I couldn’t afford it
and secondly, it just isn’t all that important to me. I get a lot of
pleasure from auditory stimulation, and to a lessor extent visual. Some
people get that sort of enjoyment from their olfactory senses. I think
that I’ll be the nasal equivalent of someone with a Sony receiver and
Bose speakers, I won’t buy the worst stuff, but I can’t appreciate or
afford the best stuff.

Isaac

    Got my passport today. Egypt feels like it’s one step
closer. Last night I dreamt that I was going to school overseas, in
Russia of all places. It was the typical excitement of going and the
adventure of going dream, but I never got there…
    Ooog, I restarted exercising again, and I feel like
shit. I know that it’ll start feeling good again, but starting back up
really sucks. I kind of let myself go because of my weird schedule and
vacation, but three weeks later I’ve run out of excuses and I had to go
back to the regular exercise routine. I knew I needed to start again
because of the way my legs and back felt at the end of standing up for
8 hours straight. If I don’t keep my lower body and back in shape, I
ache all over.
    What else, if things go well, I’ll go see Giane in
her new digs tomorrow. She sent some pictures and I’m amazed what she’s
been able t do in such a small place, it’ll be good to see her in such
a good mood again. There is a chance that she’ll fall behind on her
cooking and I won’t be able to come over. She’s making desserts for a
nearby restaurant. It’s decent extra money, but it does put a crimp in
her free time.
    I’m hoping that I can churn out a couple of small
things for the web site. I’ve got some ideas on David Bowie, Black
Sabbath, and Ronald Coase (Nobel laureate in economics). I’ve also
gotten stuck writing about “composition”. I started it as a primer for
my students, but it has grown in scope and it’s getting a little out of
control. I’d like to tame that soon, but I may have to let that simmer
a little so that I can get some perspective. I’ll let you know if any of
this is ever actually put up.

Isaac

Hmm Hmm Hmm, you know the tune

    A couple of songs with some some similar lyrics have
been running through my head recently. Who can name them? Here’s the
lyrics in question:

“When your world is full of strange arrangements
    and Gravity won’t pull you through…”

“When your gravity is down and negativity won’t pull you through.”

Bonus points if you can ID the albums too:-) No cheating!

Isaac

Done!

    We finished up our second night in the darkroom last
night. Everyone managed to get a decent print out of the experience and
I think that everyone was glad we went. One of my students had what I
consider the best accidentaly good picture I have ever seen. It is a
portrait of two boys against a wall and it has a definate Diane
Arbus/Richard Avedon feel to it. If she knew who those people were, I’d
be very impressed. As it is, she has a slightly creepy picture of her
sons, not quite what she had in mind…
    The vacation was wonderful. I didn’t do a damn thing
and it felt great. I was hoping to add some more stuff to the web site,
but I guess that’ll have to wait a bit. Why is it that every time I
want to write something serious, like a cursory look at the New
Testament, I end up thinking about things like David Bowie and
amplifier circuts? Maybe I need to get those things out of my system
before tackling anything too ambitious. In any case, I hope to have
more up by the end of the week.

Isaac