Jess A.

Dear FCC

If you haven’t yet left a comment during the FCC’s open comment period on net neutrality, please take the moment to do so. It’s super important and the folks over at EFF have made a handy form that will do most of the hard work for you.

If you aren’t convinced that net-neutrality is important then please review the following links.

College Humor: Why Net Neutrality Matters

EFF: Net Neutrality

My Mom’s Motorcycle

I just thought I’d share this in case anyone hadn’t seen it yet.

Your Food Is Poisoning You

From Outside Online:

Introduced by Monsanto in the early 1970s under the trade name Roundup (and used primarily back then as a weed killer), glyphosate is now used throughout the world on wheat and soy crops and since 2007 it has been the most widely used herbicide in the U.S.—and the growing target of research linking it to a variety of illnesses.

There haven’t been many studies on the long-term effects of ingesting glyphosate and other pesticides or bio-chemicals used within agricultural production. It’s almost impossible to get scientists to conduct this research because they receive funding from companies that produce these chemicals.

“Some of our scientists are the ones who are the most difficult—and the biggest impediment to better research—because they’re funding is dependent on the very same agrichemical companies like Monsanto that are producing Roundup,” says Dr. Don Huber, professor emeritus of plant pathology at Purdue University (who for years consulted with Monsanto scientists). “They’re not about to go in a different direction from the people who’ve been funding them.”

But that doesn’t mean these chemicals are any less dangerous. Scientists, while reluctant to conduct studies, basically agree that these chemicals, like Roundup, are incredibly dangerous.

“There is indeed an enormous amount of published data showing that Roundup is very nasty stuff, particularly at the levels currently being used (ten times more than before genetically modified, herbicide-resistant crops) and the extent of human exposure in food—a greatly allowed increase by the EPA to reflect increased use.”

The Importance of Kindness

The commencement address is becoming its own genre. Most commencement speeches are nothing special, but some stand out more than others. “The Importance of Kindness” was adapted from one of the more memorable commencement speeches; George Saunder’s 2013 commencement address at Syracuse University, “Becoming Kinder.”

If your commencement address sucked this year, apparently Chuck Schumer is famous for giving the same commencement speech every year, take a look at some of the better ones here.

Life Is Impermanent

The world constantly offers up reminders of our impermanence. Everything, including people, change. The seasons roll into one another. Spring brings us life, summer brings us revitilization, fall brings us a slow decay, winter brings death. Nothing is ever the same because we are always in a process of transition. Families grow and shrink.

Our bodies remind us that we’re not mortal. I wake up daily with a back ache or a pinched nerve. My asthma reminds me that I probably won’t complete a marathon anytime soon. My bladder reminds me in the middle of the night that I am not a child and can no longer sleep through a whole night without dispensing what I put into it before bed.

Two years ago I met my partner. We’re about to start on an epic journey of life together. Our two distinct lives will converge to follow the same path and our journey through life will continue together.

This weekend my grandfather died.

Families contract and expand. Always transitioning.

We are part of something bigger than ourselves, a chain of events that began before us and will not end with our death. It will continue on without us. This tapestry of being has no end, even if our own lives begin and end in the middle of it. Our actions, and their effects, will reverberate throughout time and history. We are all star dust, our children will be star dust, our children’s children will be star dust. Each of us is part of the universe and the universe is part of us.

This fact, this reminder, that we are all subject to a beginning and an end should help guide our actions. We all need reminders that we should focus on using our life and time, our impermanence, wisely. Our time is limited. The choices and actions we make and do have repercussions not only within our own lives but in the lives of others and, beyond that, the tapestry that we are all a part of.

Longreads: March 7th

Here are a few of the most interesting longreads I’ve read this week. If you feel like consuming even more longreads, check out TheLongRead, a subbreddit dedicated to sharing interesting longreads on the Internet.

Inside the Iron Closet: What It’s Like to Be Gay in Putin’s Russia: The Sochi Olympics have been over for awhile now but leading up to the Games were a number of news stories about what would happen to LGBT athletes. Russia’s new anti-LGBT law that bans “homosexualism” and gay propaganda because they don’t want their children to have to see love between two people of the same sex. But no one is talking about the anti-LGBT law anymore. All eyes are on Crimea. Meanwhile, other countries have passed, or are considering the passage of, anti-LGBT laws. Even states in the US are trying to push through laws that would allow discrimination of the LGBT community.  - http://www.gq.com/news-politics/big-issues/201402/being-gay-in-russia

The Man Who Built Catan: I’ve been trying to find local people to play Catan with but apparently everyone else in town isn’t as nerdy as I am. Maybe a small profile of the creator will get you all interested? – http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/currency/2014/02/klaus-teuber-the-settlers-of-catan.html

Ghosts of the Tsunami: The 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and the resulting tsunami in Japan sent a shock (pun?) throughout the world. Many of us watched in horror as entire towns were obliterated. Almost three years later, the tsunami revisited. – http://www.lrb.co.uk/v36/n03/richard-lloydparry/ghosts-of-the-tsunami

Grief Has No Deadline: After two decades reporting on crime for the Los Angeles Times, a reporter experiences grief much closer to home. - http://narrative.ly/unsolved-mysteries/grief-has-no-deadline/

The Real Poverty Trap

So the whole poverty trap line is a falsehood wrapped in a fallacy; the alleged facts about incentive effects are mostly wrong, and in any case the entire premise that work effort = social mobility is wrong.

Paul Krugman on Paul Ryan’s poverty report.

Tyler Cowen also has some thoughts on the poverty report:

Overall this needed to be a lot better than it was. The document has almost no vision, only a marginal command of the scholarly literature, and it is a good example of how the conservative movement is still allowing the poverty issue to defeat it and tie it up in knots.

Weekend Food Intake

Roasted Veggie recipe

Toasted Oats recipe found here

Butternut Squash Baked Risotto

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Happy Birthday, Kurt Cobain

Programming note: This was originally published at Music Mind Zone on Feb. 20th, 2011. I’m re-posting it here to preserve it and to collect the various writings I have around the web.

Today would have marked the 44th birthday of Kurt Cobain if he had lived. If you have extra reading time, I highly recommend checking out Kurt Cobain’s journals for insight into what Cobain was thinking and feeling as he broke Grunge ground with Nirvana. An excerpt:

If we were going to be ghettoized, I’d rather be in the same slum as bands that are good like Mudhoney, Jesus Lizard, the Melvins and Beat Happening rather than being a tenant of the corporate landlords regime … There are a lot of bands who claim to be alternative and they’re nothing but stripped down, ex sunset strip hair farming bands of a few years ago. I would love to be erased from our association with Pearl Jam or the Nymphs and other first time offenders.

Cobain not only talks about music, but also about his thoughts on authority, life, love, fame.

It’s good to question authority and to fight it just to make things a bit less boring, but I’ve always reverted back to the conclusion that man is not redeemable and words that don’t necessarily have their expected meanings can be used descriptively in a sentence as art. True english is so fucking boring. And this little pit-stop we call life, that we so seriously worry about is nothing but a small, over the weekend jail sentence, compared to what will come with death. LIFE ISN’T NEARLY AS SACRED AS THE APPRECIATION OF PASSION.

The music that Cobain wrote for Nirvana remain some of my favorite songs, ever. Living on the East Coast, in a small town that lived outside of any music scene, it was a miracle that I heard of Nirvana before MTV picked them up and turned them into a household name. I had a friend who had a cousin from the West Coast. She was much older than my friend and I, but she humored us for the two weeks she was in town visiting and let us hang out with her. She carried around her Walkman everywhere and we had to constantly shout her name in order to get her attention. At one point, she was so fed up with our shouting that she just handed us her headphones and let us listen. It was a bootleg tape of Bleach and it changed my life. Even listening back on it now I’m transported back to 1990 and I can see all the ways that Bleach changed me. What would have happened if I hadn’t heard Bleach when I did?

I was an angsty little kid, much too old for my age. Bleach opened my eyes to the world in a way that other music hadn’t. Back then, I was still digging through my dad’s record collection, listening to The Beatles, Boston, Journey, Bob Dylan, The Band, The Who, Fleetwood Mac. I didn’t know music could sound like Bleach, let alone be released. Listen to “About a Girl” from Bleach, released in 1989.

When Nevermind was released in 1991, it was a huge deal in the town I grew up in. Stores refused to stock Nevermind because of the cover so I had to settle for videos on MTV until, by chance and luck, I ended up at a chain store while visiting family, something like Wal-Mart, and I was able to sneak off and buy a copy. I hid that from my family for a long time, listening to the music but hiding the case under my mattress. “Lithium” was on repeat for three months straight.

Two years later, I was in pre-adolescent angst mode, and In Utero was released. On the verge of becoming a teenager, my depression had already set in. Nirvana’s previous albums all served as fuel for my emotions, and In Utero was no exception. At the time, my friends were listening to Pop music on MTV, we finally had a decent radio station that played something other than Country and 80s music, but they still weren’t playing stuff like Nirvana. Here is “Heart-Shaped Box” from In Utero, a song that I didn’t really understand until I was older, but was listened to at least once an hour that year.

Nirvana, especially Kurt Cobain, opened my mind and world in ways that would have taken years if I hadn’t been exposed to them. While they’ve sort of dropped off my listening radar in the past few years, I still consider them one of the many bands that influenced me throughout my life, and I thank them for it.

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