Struck by Cain

…there are some guys who can return good for evil

Every brave man will think so. He will not want to live by passing on the wrath. A hit B? B hit C?—we have not enough alphabet to cover the condition. A brave man will try to make the evil stop with him. He shall keep the blow. No man shall get it from him, and that is a sublime ambition. So, a fellow throws himself in the sea of blows saying he do not believe it is infinite. In this way many courageous people have died. But an even larger number who had more of impatience than bravery. Who have said, ‘Enough of the burden of wrath. I cannot bear my neck should be unfree. I cannot eat more of this mess of fear-pottage.’

From page 214 (Penguin Classic Paperback) of Henderson the Rain King by Saul Bellow. That line seems to be often quoted, despite the preceding paragraph stating the hubris of it.

Preceding that is the statement of the human condition of continuity (not violence in and of itself):

Brother raises hand against brother and son against father (how terrible!) and the father also against son. And moreover it is a continuity-matter, for if the father did not strike the son, they would not be alike. It is done to perpetuate similarity.

King Corn

I saw the movie King Corn last night at Harvard. It was ok. The best part I thought was when they interviewed Earl Butz, a Secretary of Agriculture in the 1970s that instigated a major food production policy shift.

Earl said that his change in policy led to a decrease in the amount of money people spent on food (from ~40% to 15-20%) which led to the economic prosperity of today. (eg more disposable income, more consumption, expanded economy).

Clever. Though after reading his wikipedia entry, apparently he wasn’t so clever in other respects. Definitely didn’t mention that in the movie.

Cribbed Apple Salsa

One of my favorite haunts in Boston is Delux in the South End—mostly because a successive series of my friends have worked there.

One of their best dishes is the Quesadillas, which are made so in part by the fruit salsa. I’ve been working to deconstruct it, so this is what I think is in it:

(this isn’t proportional)

  • Apple (seems like something red, maybe a macintosh)
  • Red Pepper
  • Yellow Pepper
  • Red onion
  • Yellow Onion (maybe)
  • Jalapeno
  • Pineapple juice (like a tiny splash, maybe)

It’s all chopped up into maybe 1/4 chunks and amazing

vis-a-vis viz. vis-a-vis, viz.

viz. - namely, as follows, that is to say; introduces and element or list… an abbreviation for “videlicet”

vis-a-vis - (1) face to face with another (2) In relation to or compared with: Canada’s role vis-a-vis the United States in Afghanistan (3) as opposed to

Fat facts

At this point, 30% of the American population is obese, up from just 13% of the population 20 years ago. That number will be 41% by 2015. On the other hand, only about .6% of the American population is anorexic, a number that’s stayed fairly constant over the years. Yet the mortality rate of people with anorexia is only slightly higher (.56%) than that of people that qualify as obese (.43%).

From The Anorexia Scare: How Too-Thin Models May Save Your Child’s Life on Interesting stats that result in a somewhat ridiculous premise: “We need thin and healthy role models, and - failing that - simply thin role models” and use of fear “We need to make people more afraid of carrying around too much weight, not less.”

The author hits it on the head with diet and lifestyle, but doesn’t seem to fit that into the solution. Also like this quote: “obesity is the unhealthy side effect of successful anti-anorexia campaigns, and anorexia is the unhealthy success of anti-obesity campaigns”.

Maybe it’s just me, but any health campaign should be built on being healthy (physically, emotionally and mentally), not the polar opposite of the “bad” state—though I guess abstinence and drug education shows that people don’t think like me.

Consumption and deregulation

Deregulation in the utilities industry results in higher costs whenever those costs are not expected to greatly affect consumption (also in the oil industry), contrary to the consequentialist arguments of deregulation proponents. The same thing is happening in the communications sector.

From a BoingBoing comment on a broadband penetration related post. I have no clue if that’s a standard economic opinion.

Volunteer logic

Last April, the Corporation reported in its Volunteering in America study that while America’s overall volunteer rate remains at historically high levels, nearly 21 million of the over 61.2 million Americans who volunteered for nonprofit organizations in 2005 didn’t volunteer the following year. This represents an estimated annual loss to nonprofits of approximately $30 billion dollars worth of volunteer labor. From a Press Release by Sandy Scott at the Corporation for National and Community Service entitled “National Service Agency Awards Funds for Innovation In Volunteer Management” .

Creating meaning through interaction

[Bakhtin explores] the idea that language is indeed ambiguous, but whereas deconstruction would highlight this ambiguity as the inability of words to convey precise meaning, Bakhtin welcomes this vagueness of language as a means by which to create meaning dialogically. Indeed, in describing the nature of the polyphonic novel, Bakhtin sees the entire scope of human life as a dialogic process whereby we find meaning only through our interactions with others. From a thesis entitled “What Hath Bakhtin Wrought? Toward a Unified Theory of Literature and Composition” by Lee Honeycut