Updates! I’ve gone gold and worldwide

I’m an awful person, it’s been almost a week since I posted. But I can make up for it! First, lame excuse: I was camping, which is why I couldn’t blog. I normally get very twitchy when my cell phone reception drops to two bars, so being entirely out of reception for a full four days was almost too much for me. I did end up in a hospital, although for an ear infection, not for withdrawals.

I’ll add in here, I don’t like to camp. I have never liked to camp, and I possibly may never grow to like camping. Somehow, though, my entire family got the impression that I did like to camp, and yearly, when the moon is high, we sacrifice a virgin on the hood of our car, and leave for some god-forsaken campground. If I went camping and had electricity, running water, a nice bed, CELLPHONE RECEPTION and a relatively normal stockpile of food, I would like camping. Clearly, I went without any of these things.

But! There is good news here. When I returned home, after showering twice, I logged into this blog I run, and lo and behold! I don’t want to brag, but we (I say ‘we’ because you, reader, are involved) have hit fifty unique views, per day. If that weren’t enough, not only am I viewed in my beautiful country of Canada, I am being read in Mexico, Brazil, the Phillipines, the United Kingdom, and the United States. So, hello, hola, hoy, good-day, and howdy (I needed to be cheeky for that last one). I can’t even describe the feeling I get when I think that fifty people somewhere in the world are reading the nonsense that I unleash on the web. Thank you all, and here’s to another fifty.

Wait, there’s more! I made a promise to myself last year. Some people, they want to quit smoking, others want to lose weight. I wanted to get a gold card. What is a gold card, you ask? Starbucks allows its customers to register their gift cards online and continually reload those cards, and with every drink you buy, you get a star on your account. If you read 15 stars, you have green status, which I believe entitles you to free syrups and refills. Don’t quote me on that. HOWEVER. If you get 30 stars in one year, then you are awarded with gold status and something magical happens. In terms of perks, you get a free drink now and again, and some other stuff, blah blah blah, if you’re interested, please go see Starbucks. The best part of gold status is that Starbucks will create a personalized gold coloured gift card for you, with your name on it, and mail it to you. I decided last year that I wanted to have a gold card, so I bought drinks occasionally, and by December 15, I had 28 stars! However, in my foolishness, I didn’t know that the stars were wiped at the end of the year, and I didn’t make it to 30 on time. I swore to myself that I would do whatever it took to get a gold card, and this year, I accomplished that goal (it was entirely worth the 60$ I spent on coffee).

I have no intention of going to Starbucks as frequently now, because I have what I want, but I plan to whip out this card as often as possible, because loyalty has its rewards.

I will publish the next part of the rant tomorrow, but in the meantime, thank you to my readers, you’re the best.

(But you already knew that.)

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Devotion and Fidelity

I could support you, yes, but dear, listen to what I have to say. No, don’t interrupt.
Dear, how many times I have told you that I love you? How many things have I
Done to win your heart? I’ve flourished you with gifts, painted landscapes,
Fought valiant battles, supported your argument whenever possible,
Run your races, wept over your losses, carried your colours, and finally,
Held your heart. But dear, none of this is truly love. I can say that I love you, yes –
I said don’t interrupt – but how can I prove this to you? Actions can speak louder than
Words, and certainly you know that my flow of words is incessant, but consider this.
To love is to offer one’s complete devotion, much as I do for you. Yes dear, I
Realize that you don’t feel I offer you that, but listen. How many times have I
Ignored my friends, how often have I tended your wounds, how often have I kept
Your house? Those are material things, though, and I should focus on the emotional
Aspect of love, you’re right. Love, or at least the act of love, should provide you with
Someone who will stay at your side, even as you grow to despise them, and fall back
Into love. The point of love is to have someone to confide in, and tend for, completely.
You have long had my love, even though – I don’t do these? Consider this.

Don’t consider love in the same sense as it was introduced to you. No, this kind of love
Is completely impossible. Don’t imagine that I will constantly kiss every part of your body, Nor will I make love to you tenderly night in and night out. Love is not these physical acts
Of affection, no, love is a certain feeling. The feeling that you and the object of your heart
Are so tied together that you cannot even imagine being apart for very long. And I do not
Mean being constantly connected at all hours of the day – I know you appreciate that very
Much. By tied together, I mean part of one another’s life. You may be in the same house,
And not speaking, but still together. That is the point of love.

You still do not understand, dear? I have told you what love is; or at least, I have
Explained to you its ideal form. Understand now, what love means to me. Love to me,
Is the absolute devotion of ones self to someone (or something) other than yourself.
This unwavering, undying, unending devotion is the foundation on which love is
Constructed. In return for my infinite devotion, all I expect in return is faithfulness
On your part. I extend to you devotion, you extend fidelity.

You’ve gone silent, love, is there something you wish to say? Whenever you grow
Silent, it always appears that you have guarded some fact very close to your chest.
No? Perhaps let me explain further. Love, to me, has never been an egalitarian concept.
In any relationship, be it between lovers, mother and son, or elder and child, there will
Always be someone who gives their all, and someone who takes everything. This is the
Natural order of things. If both gave their all, then they would simply overwhelm each Other and the relationship would fail. If both simply took all the other had to offer, then
Each would drain the other of their happiness for their own gain. This is why there must Always be one who devotes, and another who receives.  It is not that either should feel
Guilty, no, dear, that is not the point. The ‘point’ of this kind of relationship is to
Allow for the absolute happiness of the partner. The person who gives, in the end,
Does so for the sake of his or her partner. The person who takes, conversely, is not
Pleased that they do so, but it simply is their natural role. Either can take the role
Of the other, but neither, in the end, will do so.

This kind of relationship is one I believe – or maybe should say believed – that we had.
To you, I gave, or thought I gave, everything, but I can see now that I am wrong. Oh, you
Believe me now? Well, here, see my understanding. If I gave you everything, you would
Not be unhappy. Are you unhappy? I thought so. So you see, then, that I have failed on
My part of the relationship. It doesn’t matter, really, that you were unfaithful – I cannot
Expect any less. If I were capable of giving you everything, then it wouldn’t matter.
So you see why I blame myself, now.

Yet, you still want to stay with me. That confuses me.

If you are entirely sure, then by all means, stay. I will continue to try my hardest to give
Absolutely everything to you. I just hope that, in the end, I don’t let you down again.

The Smart City

Traffic gridlock is the bane of modern society. Very few of us actually enjoy sitting in traffic, but every day, hundreds of millions of people do it. Gridlock is not only bothersome to commuters, but it can also put a city’s production in a stranglehold. Some of the more forward thinkers in our society are seeking ways to get around the gridlock, however. Traffic forecasts, news helicopters, historical toll booth records, and even calling friends who are stuck in gridlock are just some of the tools that fill up our arsenal, but increasingly, more and more people are making use of public transit. Whether a light rail system is utilized or even buses with priority lanes, public transit’s ability to avoid congestion is quickly becoming realized. Paradoxically, though, the principles of gridlock are starting to apply themselves to the aging models on which our public transit was created. With more users, these models will have to be reimagined, but this is very expensive. Imagine though, if a public transit system in any given city could monitor spikes in ridership, and adjust its volume accordingly. The implications would be wide spread, and the inhibiting effects of all traffic gridlock could be dispelled altogether. What we require is “smart transit.” A city transit system that can monitor and adapt to changing needs of its users will dramatically increase their quality of life. The principle is simple, in theory, but a complex three-point approach is absolutely necessary for its implementation. A city with smart transit would require: an extraordinary amount of sensors to analyze usage and volume; extensive infrastructure to support increased capacity during peak hours; and a means of communicating with its users. As each benefit is outlined, it begs the question as to why we haven’t put this smart transit system into effect in our own cities.

For each of the benefits, like most things in life, there is a cost. To implement sensors can be costly, but the benefits are not simply restricted to public transit. Some examples would be sensors that weigh a monorail car, to estimate how full the car is, or sensors in major intersections. The sensors track how many cars are waiting at each red light, and a central computer can trigger a “public transit only” lane – a lane that can only be used by buses, designed to move transit users around the city more quickly when the need arises. Sensors can be very diverse though, most obscurely, in air quality sensors around intersections – the poorer the quality, the more likely there is to be congestion there, and buses can be rerouted. This of course can lead to communication issues, but we will look at these further on. For those of us who are doubtful that such sensors can actually exist, look in everyday technology: the iPad has 6 sensors that detect countless user interactions. Aside from rerouting buses and determining light rail volume, these sensors can also be used by citizens for other purposes. The example of the air quality sensor can be applied to coordination of charity runs, health concerns for asthmatics, and even localized weather forecasts. Not only do these sensors, then, move people, goods, and ideas around a city more efficiently through public transit, they can help all citizens to interact with their city – their home. Both of these things can dramatically improve the quality of life of all citizens, transit users in particular. None of that information can really be applied though, with a lack of infrastructure.

How congested an intersection is can mean little to a bus system if there is no solution to that problem. A typical solution in solving traffic gridlock was to simply build more roads, but this does not always apply to public transit. Obviously, a bus can divert to a different road, but the same method does not always work with light rail systems. The volume may not increase immediately without the construction of more light rail lines, but a new method should be considered The focus shifts from having more ways to move trains to having a smarter method to move trains; in theory, it would really only require two tracks for each route. If sensors notice that a particularly high volume of people are getting on and leaving at certain points, a central computer can respond to that. For example if Station X and Y are the points, and each train is full between them, the computer can direct more trains to run routes only between stations X and Y. In a conventional system directed by someone without the aid of sensors, this kind of insight is impossible. The implications of this are profound. If more people can make regular trips between two defined stops more quickly, they have higher chances of seeing more of the city, and consuming a greater amount of products. Multiply that increase by every peak station in a system, and the benefits skyrocket. Once again, however, this is an expensive undertaking. To double the track (or to increase in other multiples) and to have a sufficient number of trains in operation that can service the system requires a great amount of capital, but this can easily be acquired by the increased production and consumption of “smarter” the city. The benefit multiples again, as more public transit is routed away from congestion, and private transit can move more efficiently. A problem arises, though, with this way of thinking. If one goes rerouting buses and light rail systems without telling its users, then the benefits are instantly negated. It becomes just as important, then, to have a method to communicate with the ridership of public transit.

The very nature of smart transit requires “on-the-go” decision making. To inform each and every customer, or at least provide a medium with which they can inform themselves can be complicated. It would almost be as if each rider of that transit system needed a small computer to carry with them, which would alert them to changes. Fortunately, this is not a fictitious concept. The advent of cellphones will continue to revolutionize our lives. Every day, more urban citizens purchase phones that rival computers. If there were a medium that each of these riders could connect to that could inform them what bus or train they would need to take to arrive at their destination, this problem is alleviated. Using GPS sensors, the Internet and user input, one could potentially enter their destination, and the system would automatically detect their location and inform them of the next bus (or train) they would catch. This effectively alleviates the concern that automatic rerouting can produce. If riders can be instantly informed of a route change as the decision is made, then not only are those on the bus able to move more quickly, but those who will be on that bus route will be able to as well. Like the other benefits, not only does this increase the potential of public transit, it also improves the lives of the citizens who use it. A citizen who spends a greatly reduced amount of time waiting for a certain bus, or one who is waiting on a route where service has been temporarily withdrawn  can arrive at their destination with much less effort. When people spend less time commuting or waiting for their mode of transportation, then they have more time to effectively consume. This means of communication, then, out of the three important requirements for smart transit is arguably the most important.

The possibilities for this kind of system are literally infinite, and one can only wait and see to see if a system like this gets implemented in their city. For it’s proponents, what can it do? For it’s detractors, what couldn’t it do? Time will tell.

the sheer girth

I am writing a mammoth essay for my history class. I keep referring to it as a thesis paper, but it really isn’t. It has a thesis, but it isn’t mine. It’s long, but it’s not as long as a thesis paper should be. This being said, I would like to share with you my introduction paragraph, before editing. I merely sat and typed what I thought about my thesis, and hopefully, you can pick out what the thesis is. That means I’ve done well.

Thanks for reading <3. Not just the following paragraph, but in general. Thanks for reading my spouts to the world.

“A nation is one of the most powerful bodies of people that we as a society have today. It is supposed to be able to provide us with a high standard of living; protect us; give us a place to be free from persecution, injustice, and immorality; and finally, a nation is a place for we as a ‘race’ to call home. To ensure that all of these ideals are maintained however, one must have a leader – someone to take charge…and the blame. As this leader is put into power, we have to ask ourselves certain questions: is he representing the needs of each of us, while maintaining a strong economy, so that his people can prosper? What were to happen if the economy, the backbone of a nation, were to crumble? Are the inhabitants of a nation satisfied with their lives now that they no longer can provide for their families or themselves? Without a stable source of income, what would happen if war came to our borders? It has become apparent, then, through these examples and many others that a nation cannot survive politically, without the support of a stable and prosperous economy. To be simply stable is not enough to keep a nation, and it’s government, afloat. A simple barter economy is relatively stable, and yet the standard of living of it’s residents is not improving or decreasing.  Therefore, it is easily concluded that without a stable and prospering economy, countries are doomed to political death. This has been shown time and time again throughout history during the French Revolution, the communist movement in Russia, the fascist movement in Italy, Germany’s Nazi movement, in Argentine revolutions, and most recently, in Egypt and the Arab states, determined to have their own version of the Prague Spring. All of these are prime examples of nations that have gone through tumultuous change, but the important distinguishing factor is the very purpose of the revolution. They were all economically based, as the reader will discover soon, but the form of government that takes power can be divided into three groups: a revolution for the people, like those from Russia in 1917 , and Argentina; a revolution against the people, like those in Italy and Germany ( for all intents and purposes); and revolutions that are simply a “change of the guard”, like those which occurred in Iran in 1979, and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989 – 1991. Naturally, there are countless scholars who would change the classification of each of these events, or entirely discredit the notion that these were at all economically based, but it is through this reading that the reader will soon begin to understand how essential a stable and prospering economy are to a nation’s political health. Through discussion, we will consider then, the revolutions of Argentina, Russia (1917), and the rise to power of the communists party in China; the fascist movement in Italy, the Nazi movement in Germany, and the leadership of Margaret Thatcher in Britain; finally, we will also discuss the Iranian revolution of 1979, the collapse of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s, and the Hungarian revolution of 1956. Each of these are prime examples of the power economics has over the lifeline of a nation.”

Much love.

 

1930

Rounding up our Fascism section, we turn our attention to one of those most destructive, powerful, and unmatched empires in history: Nazi Germany. I don’t think I have to explain to you why Nazi Germany is a perfect example of nationalism, and I certainly hope I don’t have to explain to you why Nazi Germany is a fundamental part of human history.

1920

Fascism has always had a strange place in my heart. When (and if) I get into heated conversations about economics (I know, strange right?), I always drift down the same path first. In truth, you can really only do two things when money runs out:

  1. Spend less (“Jesus saves, I spend.”)
  2. Earn more (“Get money, get paid.”)
For me, the most obvious choice here would be option 1. A good example? I wanted to save money, and my biggest variable expense was food. From a monthly budget of 150$ on food, I cut it down to 23.10$ a month. That’s an 85% reduction, in the course of a month. Considerable, but willpower is at the core of saving money. In addition, I increased income by an average of 250% a month, but still, my first option was to spend less (A.K.A. small government).
For those on the right side of the spectrum, the same applies. Small government, spend less (and consequentially take in less), and prosperity ensues. The same general idea applies to the Fasci of the 1920s, 30s, and 40s (although more or less in the last decades).
That brings us to the feature of the 1920s then, the first anti-workers movement, born in Italy, known as Fascism.
According to a dear friend of mine, this loosely translates into: “Today, Tomorrow, Yesterday; fight for the honor of Italy”. Along those lines :p I may have gotten my days mixed up, but you understand :P.

1910

I recently had to do an assignment for my history class that required me to show my view of why we are where we are based on ten events in the 20th century, and all of them needed to be tied in with one massive theme. (Maybe read that again, slowly :P). My theme was nationalism, and I wanted to share with you the picture I used for each decade (with the exception of the first ten years) and two very brief sentences about why. I want the image to stand out. If the sentences don’t explain why, try asking me through the comments.

Over the next few weeks though, I want to ask you, do you agree with my choices? Or do you think I should have picked something/someone else?

Vladimir Lenin. Think, Russian Revolutions of 1917 and the creation of the first Communist state in the world.