Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Twenty Goals for Twelve Resolutions

I'm infatuated with poetic justification, even if I'm not much of a poet myself.

The Twelve Root Resolutions:

  1. Eat Right and Exercise Better
  2. Use Less Power, Smarter
  3. Learn Canadian French - Living in the only bi-lingual province, it would be nice to know the other official language.
  4. Brush Up on My German
  5. Visit The Someone More
  6. Appear as Academic as I Am.
  7. Stick to a Budget
  8. Make a Name, Make it Relevant
  9. Treat People Better
  10. Be More Spiritual
  11. Make Better Use of My Brain
  12. Complete a Fencer draft.
These Resolutions can be measured against the following Twenty Goals:
  1. Achieve and maintain a healthy weight. (1)
  2. Correspond throughout the year with Ex-Boss in German (4)
  3. Reduce power consumption by at least 15% versus the same month in the previous calendar year (2)
  4. Correspond with various Francophone friends throughout the year in French (3)
  5. Make at least 12 trips to Fredricton over the next year. (5, 9)
  6. Achieve and maintain a GPA of at least 3.75(6, 11)
  7. Do not experience a deficit over the Winter, Spring, and Fall terms of 2012 (7)
  8. Return to service on the SRC (6, 8, 9)
  9. Exercise regularly according to the health plan developed by Alec Stanley of MP fame. (1)
  10. Get and hold a job for at least eight months. (7, 8, 9, 11)
  11. Reduce food waste by 80% by weight (1, 2, 7, 11)
  12. Complete a translation of a section of a Short Work (comprising at least 14, 000 words) and have translation confirmed for both languages. (3, 4).
  13. Complete the Introduction to Epistimology writing. (6, 10, 11)
  14. Complete the RCAC Fitness Test at at least a Silver level by August 2012 (1)
  15. Give better Gifts (7, 9)
  16. Complete a draft of Fencer by November 2012 and have proof-read by year end. (11, 12)
  17. Reduce computer baseline power use by 10% (as measured with a power meter), (2)
  18. Reduce water consumption by 45% as calculated. (2)
  19. Reduce household garbage output (by weight) by 25% (2)
  20. Increase non-spam readership of A&G by 15% (8)

New Year Resolutions and Human Social Responsibility

This is that time of year when a lot of us are thinking about New Year's Resolutions and how we want to change or improve our lives for the coming year (because when better than the arbitrary start of a new calendar year to make a commitment to change, right?). I've started tinkering around with a few ideas, having not gone much further than the usual first two: Eat Right, Exercise Better.

But as I sat down to start a proper list (because manic-spectra, obsessive-me LOVES lists) I realized that many of my resolutions are society-focused. "Treat People Better" would do wonders for the day-to-day stress level, but it would also, you know, remove one more jackass from the world stage. "Use less power" is great for my pocket book (and my brother's, since he shares the bills), but it's also great for the local arena, seeing as most of the power in Saint John comes from either the Colson Cove coal-fired plant or the Point Lepreau nuclear facility. I came to realize that New Years Resolutions can also be a form of social engineering, and that, if enough people adopted the same resolutions, they would have a profound effect locally.

So I went back up the list and I've picked out a few that I think a lot more people haven't considered (and probably should), or haven't realize the social consequences of.

  1. Treat People Better - This one's benefits are obvious. Being polite is a dwindling art in the modern North America, but politeness and eloquent handling are the surgeon's scalpel of affecting social relationships for the better. Be polite, speak reasonably, and study about logical fallacy like ad-hominem or ad-populum. Your interpersonal relationships will thank you for it.
  2. Eat Right, Exercise Better - Bad diet and poor exercise are some of the greatest health risks in our culture second only to sloppy driving and the use of drugs (including alchohol and tobacco). Staying in shape and eating "right" is both mentally and physically rewarding, and if you live in a country without a "socialized" health care system like us up here in the Soviet Republic of Canuckistan (I love sarcasm, I do), financially securing as well. Better, if the general trend across entire populations was toward a healthier lifestyle, such public health care systems would see a sudden decrease in both strain and cost. Examples include adopting high-plant diets, or going for a run every morning (particularly you lucky folks in sub-tropical climates.)
  3. Use Less Energy - I haven't done any real research lately into the amount of energy used by a single person in a North American country over the run of the year, but I know that the level is rather high, especially when you factor in the hidden energy costs that you don't see: telephone and internet use, the energy used to manufacture, farm, or fish everything that you wear, eat, drink, or use, and the energy use you represent at your place of employment. Every hour of the day, there is potential for you, as a single person, to use a little bit less energy-per-capita-per-activity. You could drive less, turn down the heat by a few degrees, keep the lights down, switch the lights over, or any of a hundred thousand other things. I believe I did a Green Wonk post or two about ways to save energy. They might be worth importing.
  4. Eat Local, Buy Local - If you're like me, you might be lucky enough to live near a grocery store that offers local produce, or even live close to a grocers that specializes in it. Transporting food is perhaps one of the biggest sources of the hidden carbon costs in our lives. You'd be surprised what's available locally, too: I was surprised to learn that New Brunswick actually does a thriving summer-time trade in hot-house bell peppers. It doesn't just stop with food, either. I've found local manufacturers of everything from soaps to glasswares.
  5. Learn how to "Do" - Growing up, I never really made much with my hands. I gardened a very little, and I learned a few recipes that I enjoyed, and even took a little metal-working in High School. It wasn't really until I was in college that I realized you can make just about anything with a little ingenuity and a willingness to clean up after yourself. A lot of the time, you can even make things out of things that would otherwise go to waste (in point of fact, all soup-making in this house is an exercise in waste food reduction), or make things that would otherwise bring significant waste, such as making two-dozen cookies and putting them in a tin as opposed to purchasing two-dozen cookies at the local grocery. Never mind waste reduction: it's good for the mind. I am particularly taken with people who can do what I consider "skilled crafts" in their own home. Cooking is something anyone can pick up, but I've seen people do everything from sewing entire wardrobes for their family (Cam) to my former boss's wife, who stretched her own canvases for painting, rather than buying high-priced ones at the store. Save money, save waste, make cool thing. Teach kids how to make cool thing. Society perpetuates.
  6. "Hack" your Transportation - I take public transit in a community where transit funding is constantly being cut back and routes and runs are disappearing. Very often, transit can't get me where I need to go at all, so it's either walking or bumming a ride from a friend who can drive. Fact of the matter is, though, that for 90% of whatever I need to do, the bus is perfectly adequate. It costs me less even to buy the most expensive of monthly bus passes than to maintain a car for a week, by a grand margin. Sure, being able to drive would be nice, but even if I could drive and had a car, most of the time the bus would be the more appropriate choice. People need to think of transportation as a net-net activity. Walk when you can, ride the bus when you must, and drive when there's no other option. Your heart, wallet, and our collective lungs will thank you for it.
Anyone have anything to add? Any thoughts?

Friday, December 23, 2011

In Defence of Christmas

No, this isn't another rant about Happy Holidays being used in place of Merry Christmas. I'm able to accept that I live in a pluralistic society, and in point of fact I agree with pluralism. I can't believe wishing someone an enjoyable end-of-December 'season' is causing so much grief.

When I was younger I used to read this comic called Oh My Gods!, which was written by a neo-pagan, for other neo-pagans, and I bring that up because of something that the author pointed out, and which I've heard fairly often this time of year.

You see, it doesn't take much to realize that Christmas and Yule (the Anglo-Pagan celebration of the Winter Solstice) coincide... in point of fact, for many people, the two terms are synonymous. In fact, when you look at it, the two celebrations are highly similar: the former celebrating the birth of the Son of God (who is known by the epithet "Light of the World"), and the latter celebrating the return of the Sun God (the literal light of the world).

So you hear it put about by atheist, agnostic, and general muckraker alike that Christmas is just Christianity co-opting yet another pagan holiday in order to ease conversion, and that therefore Christmas is invalid and there's no way to say precisely when Christ was born, so logically it couldn't have happened that way, and therefore Christmas is just one more way the Christians are mislead by the Church (which we all know is used by many to refer to the Universal Church rather than any one particular tradition). Let's take a look at that idea.

Christmas and Yule overlap, this much is true, and nobody can argue that point. Indeed, they are similar situations, and one could even argue that the choice to celebrate Christ's Birth in place of the return of the sun and the lengthening of days was made so that the pagan world would be that much more accepting of this new religion. The problem stems from taking that and assuming it somehow invalidates Christmas. For one thing, I've never heard it argued by anyone who makes a study of this sort of thing that Christmas is literally the day that Christ was born. This is the time of year that the world as a whole chooses to celebrate His birth. Much like how there's no real reason to argue that Easter is the precise weekend that Christ died at Cavalry, lay in a tomb for the weekend and returned to the living. In fact, there's no reason (that I know of) to even suggest that the three days he lie dead were the weekend at all.

The fact of the matter is that, much like much of the bible, the holy days of Christendom are symbolic and allegorical.

Thursday, December 22, 2011


So, if you're the first person to read this, you're the 500th visitor to A&G. Congratulations. This is also the 70th post, according to blogger, so yay for me.

There's been a sharp decline in the frequency of posts around here and it's not been because I'm busy. I wish I could even go so far as to say that I haven't been writing because I've been thinking, but it's not that (for the most part.)

Mostly, it's just some personal stuff, floating through the abyss, combined with a general lack of enthusiasm and  a loss of focus. This sort of thing is common for me, with the onset of winter. I lose energy and focus with the loss of sunlight. But like an elm that way. I mean, sure, I could get one of them fancy lights or start taking supplimental vitamin D, but... "whatever", as they say.

That's not to say I haven't been thinking. I have. I've been thinking of a lot of things. And sooner or later, I might be bothered to put pen to paper and explain to myself what I mean.

In the meantime, keep thinking, dear reader. You never know where it will take you.

Respectfully Bored,

Thursday, December 15, 2011

My Appologies

A few days ago now, I seem to remember posting a rather short post promising to deliver number of posts that have so far failed to materialize. My default behaviour in that case is generally to address the issue with citation of poor work-life (or I suppose school-life in my current situation) balance, prior commitments, or a lack of available information. In this case, the problem is more of a creative-energy lull combined with far too much information.

For example, the Attawapiskat crisis can be sliced about a hundred and thirty ways, and I can't even pick up the knife to do the slicing before I've decided where to come down on the issue, which was made more complex a few days ago when the chief/ranking member of the reservation asked the third-party managers to leave.

And as far as Epistimology goes, I could take a whole semester's worth of spare periods to study it and barely scratch the surface. Now, bear in mind that I probably will make a study of it, since epistemology and ontology are the two founding fields of what we call metaphysics, and without either I can't even begin to address the question of So who is this God person anyway?.

So in the meantime, I will be able to have something roughly legible appear around here some time today, but don't expect it to be any sort of grand, illustrious commentary.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Tomorrow, On A&G

Commentary on the ongoing Attawapiskat situation (and other current events) with The Auditor.

Also coming to you live from the brainpan of a self-important 20-something is Introduction to Epistemology and Ontology from The Gentleman.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Vision Statement, of Sorts

What is An Auditor and a Gentleman?
A&G is a general-interests blog produced in the spirit of a “commonplace book”, which were a common feature of intellectuals’ desk. The commonplace books were collections of the accumulated notes of the owner, on every subject of interest, from medical recipes to mathematic and chemical formulae to note-form dissertations on the parts of speech. No two were the same, and unless you found two people with identical interests, you’d be hard pressed to find one that was even similar.
Yeah, but why that name?
People who know me well have often commented that there are two of me, and whether they meant that in a nice way or not, the concept has always seemed appropriate. Often, people come up with two examples: the upbeat, whimsical and somewhat eccentric “bumpkin”, and the hot-headed, arrogant and cock-sure jerk. Experience has shown this idea to be more apt than not, and therefore, you have the Auditor and the Gentleman.
So, what’s the scope of A&G?
The scope of the blog is essentially whatever it wants to tackle and wherever it wants to go. Like many people I have a hard time defining a narrow band of my own interests, and it seems a tad overly impersonal to spend my time crunching the heck out of the traffic numbers Google provides Blogger users in order to determine what produces the greatest number of hits and write solely about that. Think of it as a sort of Commonplace Book, but instead of being my desk’s knowledge catch-all, it’s available for public pursuit. In general, though, expect to find a variety of material within a range of interest groups.
How much of this content is your idea?
There are any of a number of reasons why that question is hard to answer. If you’re asking how many of the ideas on the blog are totally original, it’s probably few. I mean, humans have been having ideas within varying definitions of complexity for about ten thousand years or so now, so there can’t be that many original ones left!
In terms of how much of this is fed to me, very little. Sure, I comment on other blogger’s work from time to time, or on news material, but for the most part, the process of finding that information is my own unguided whim. I’m not now, nor have I in the past, taken any sort of compensation from anyone for choosing what or what not gets discussed.
Which of “you” is which?
The Auditor’s the cranky one. To say he’s either from the manic or depressive end of aforementioned spectra would be dishonest, but he’s definitely from one extreme pole or another. If he was a night at the bar he’d be a double of Maker’s Mark and a cheap cigar. To put him in terms of a West Wing character, he’s the Toby Zeigler, best described as the “prickly, mumbling communications director”. That grumpy me is the one most likely to call someone to task, to drag out one social, economic, or political blunder or another, or to propose an actual, cited idea.
The Gentleman’s a bit more placid, from the middle of the spectra, certainly. He doesn’t go to bars that often, but when he does he’s the quiet guy with the beer in his hand making the… interesting choices of shot on the pool table. While we’re stealing Sorkin’s work, he’s your Jed Bartlet, your Sam Seabourn. The former is seasoned enough to know stupid when he sees it, the latter is young enough to stick to the ideal anyway. As it was once put on the show, “I know he screwed up, but I love the way he did it full speed… BAM… like there’s a Sam Seabourn-shaped hole in the wall somewhere”. The gentleman drags out the philosophy, the ideas unfettered by citations, and the brief moments of pique found in ideas like the perfect shave or the proper time for proper grammar.
And, where possible, I try to tag posts accordingly.
Well, what happened to all the old stuff… the Catholicism rants?
Well, rant was a good for it. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not necessarily recanting. The idea, now, has had time to mature. I don’t think the public stage is a good place for those rants, and I’m not sure I’m still agree with even three quarters of what was said, but they’re what I said and I’m letting them stand until I can either be bothered to address them otherwise or I see a demand for it.
Mostly though, I’d really rather talk about other things. As a free thinking person, I am more than the sum of the things I believe, and those things don’t always have useful labels. To be honest, I don’t remember half of what was said offhand anyway, which is a pretty good sign I’ll be recanting at some point in the future. In the meantime, I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for too much more of it. It’s a big world, after all. That doesn't mean no more religion and philosophy... just less soapbox.