First blog post

Over the web, over the last many years, I have written under different pseudonyms. This is the first time I have tried to attribute something to myself without a false name. I have not quite yet figured out how to manage time of editing, subjects, or what is really appropriate or a good fit for WordPress.

I hope to take some time now that I am done with school to write some poems. I often like to review and critique things. I hope that I can spread the breadth of what I write about more thoroughly as time progresses.

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High-Speed Rail in the United States


Are we so consumed with cars, automobiles, airplanes, bikes, coal and industry, that we cannot grasp the importance of high-speed rail? Every time I have to travel on an airplane and then arrive at my destination, I wonder to myself: couldn’t I have taken a super-fast train to get here? Every time I touch down, I think, ‘wow, I hate airplanes’. I hate the seats, the packed flights, the delays, the mid-flight meals or lack thereof, the complimentary water, the peanuts, waiting for the plane, the stress of getting to the airport and being at my gate on time, rushing into the sky in a metal cylinder, I am done with all of that. I always think to myself, “Why couldn’t it have been high speed rail?”

I get that people are obsessed with convenience. If you run a business, then probably a train is not for you. Moreover, if you have ever had the inconvenience and misery of riding an Amtrak between cities in the Midwest, let me tell you, it makes one long for an airplane. But there are such things as high speed rail and super-fast trains, like in Europe or Japan, that take you from Paris to Amsterdam, London to Munich at hundreds of miles an hour. They are luxurious, and spacious. I want this, for my country and myself.

The problem, you see, is the way we have let industry rule our country. We are polluted by oil, coal, and the muck it drives into the air: high-speed rail would be cleaner. High-speed rail would connect the flyover states to the bigger coastal cities, allowing the freedom to take a vacation throughout the lands that America has to offer. I would combine this with a European style vacation for upwards of a month and 2 weeks regulated per year for all American workers. The American worker needs a break, and breaks would increase productivity throughout the year for industry as well as make our lives better and more fulfilling, we could spread the wealth from work on the coasts and ports around the country through vacation.

Perhaps vacationing for all Americans through this great country is just a dream, but it is a good dream to have. Screw airplanes! I want to see this country without having to navigate flying everywhere for bundles of cash and the stress involved. I just want to mosey anywhere my feet land, for an adventure. In addition, when you arrive at your destination, you could rent a small, green car.

Imagine taking a train through the east coast, the south, Montana, Dakota, Washington. We are a wide-open country with space, so why not make it viewable? We have the room for the infrastructure required by high-speed rail, the lines could fit practically anywhere in the wide-open spaces available. We have room for an oil pipeline, so why not a train? A plane is expedient but painful for most, a car is tiring and an exhausting investment of time, a train allows you to check things out on the way. It is a good dream.

I see videos of people getting from one city to another on a train in Europe or Japan, isolated countries and islands where people live short distances of each other and the convenience of high-speed rail makes sense. Recently there has been talk of a high-speed rail train in Austin, TX, and I think this could be the start of something special here. Texas is a wide-open land, a kind of prairie. It would be wonderful to get from Austin, to Dallas, to Houston, San Antonio, New Mexico, in the blink of an eye–without flying. Of course, the reason this train is probably being made is business, but I wonder if anyone has considered the tourist side of it? Being able to see another city without worrying about hotels, plane tickets and everything involved in trip planning infrastructure, or with planes especially, would be a great idea.

I am excited to see it all happen, and the effect this could have on people seeing more of America’s cities would be beneficial. If one could combine this new, intracontinental high-speed rail with easily rentable small electric green cars for greater touring and extension of tours after arriving in a city, American tourism would hit a home run. Of course, there is always bikes, for one, but a small rentable, convenient, green car would solve many issues, at least when electric infrastructure advances. Try taking time away from your own home city for a while, visit a beach, a different area, a different locale, and see new people, a different social scene. It sounds wonderful to me.

Of course, people would need the free time to make the dream come true. If we expanded the week or two week break to a European month and a half break or month at the least, touring might become a part of American lore. How much less stressed would the American worker be with more time to travel and vacation, and high-speed rail to do so? How much less crime, violence and altercations would we deal with? How might society become more harmonious?

Then again, there is always the threat of people staying home on their break from work. I am not quite sure yet how we would motivate people out of their homes but I think that with the time would come easier options, expectations, especially for young families, for the young. With national touring would come greater expectations that would evolve from it. There is the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone national park, Rocky Mountain National Park for example, but what I would not give to travel to Vancouver, a different country, through Washington or Oregon, from my home state of Colorado. People already want to visit places like San Francisco, and I would travel to Hollywood, Los Angeles, North up the Rocky Mountains into Canada, Chicago once in a while (probably once a year), New York, Boston (how I love it so), Florida, Alabama, New Orleans, heck I’d even go to Arkansas because I’ve never been. I would travel to Kentucky for the whisky distilleries, but most of all, I would see the ocean once a year, just to remind myself what it is like every year.

The greater expectations more travel would initiate would require counties and cities ramping up their tourism spots, maps and destinations. More jobs and more money for all of these places would ensue from being interconnected by high-speed rail. Greater interest in the history of America, perhaps? Think of what this new spread of money could do, if you were to clean up the corruption in the Mexican government and make tourism there more accessible, and baiting their local governments to get in on the deal? How much more useful would fluency in Spanish be worth then? How much more interested would Americans be in Latino culture, food, its lands and even South America?

Not to mention the pollution we would save ourselves from with high-speed rail versus cars. The taxi service would likely expand in these areas, or Uber. These newly interconnected tourist cities would save gas, hotel and other expenditures from long car trips. The headaches it would save people would be tremendous. Overall, high-speed rail cross-country in America would be a coup for everyone except the car industry until it adapted. It is time to start thinking of the future that includes greater efficient travel. We should think ahead for the sake of our children, but also the flyover states. A high-speed rail industry combined with greater vacation time could improve moods, patriotism, impact on the world–with reduction of greenhouse gases and accessibility to locales and geography. People would know what America really was, rather than learning about it in a classroom. If high-speed rail were affordable enough, it would let the poor vacation too. There could even be vouchers by the government. I think it would increase love of country, our fellow man, as well as community respect and tenderness.

I would for one travel to Gettysburg, Shiloh, places from the civil war. If only you could take a train to Hawaii, but alas… I have recently been watching Ken Burns’ Civil War documentary from 1990, and in it, Shelby Foote, an author who I truly adore in the series, makes a point. He remarked that these men, these veterans coming back from the war ‘knew they had a country’, ‘they had seen it, they had been all over, they had walked the terrain’ in 1865. Foote points out that the civil war made our country an ‘is’ versus an ‘are’, one structured country, a nation together, rather than simply a mishmash of states’ rights. I think it is important for new generations to get out and see the whole country on their own. The United States is a large area, better to know it effectively than tiringly, with long, hot car trips in the summer and long navigation of infrastructure required, money saving, and little time to do it in.

I hope Washington DC and state governments can see the positive aspects of high-speed rail, not just for profit and building up coffers of state and local government treasuries from rails’ pure profits, but also for love of country. How can you love a country if you have never seen it? How can you understand a way of life if you do not know it? We should instill a love of country back into everyday Americans again, into the citizenry, and we should empower the rural states and backwaters of this nation to take pride in, their way of life, and their uniqueness. Take a load off, a speed trip up the Midwest, just for the heck of it one week.

It could all be accompanied by more efficient hotels in cities, travel routes, etc.

Older folks always want to say, ‘Millennials and such, they just play with their phones, they don’t care about anything’. I think if you build it, they will come. I believe in America, I believe in high-speed rail, I believe this country can be even better. We can make it happen for a broader American tourism.

The future is interconnected, like our economy, like the internet. With increased ease of travel, and the time provided or incentive to do so, we can even de-isolate the country, reducing the term ‘fly-over state’ or ignorance of our neighbors. Of course it is all a dream, perhaps I am reaching in some ways, but it is realistic–an insoluble vision, part of a better world. Who wants to live their life in an office? I want to see America. Our congress does nothing while big industry and Wall Street pick us over; this is a chance to give back.

I hope that over the next ten years, we can start thinking about going from Chicago to Cincinnati in the blink of an eye, without tiring planning, beyond budget and other constraints. Travel really should be as easy as getting on a train, wandering the country, booking a hotel on short notice, renting a car for sight-seeing, buying a map, bringing some good shoes and a change of clothes, and seeing what the city has to offer. The internet could even accommodate by introducing City Tourism Review Sites, easy guides and walk-throughs. In addition, the economy would benefit by the production of jobs in the construction of high-speed rail infrastructure as well as the resultant tourism.

The only drawback I can think of is ruining natural horizons with a super high-tech train line–but that is preposterous because we built a train line across the country in the 19th century. If you built the architecture of lines within the natural limits of the land in an artful way, it would likely only increase the value of wherever such a line was installed.

Therefore, here is to the future, let us hope it is a success and let us dream big. Thanks.


Sailor Moon versus Daria, and the Various Contexts of the Shows in Life and Conquest.

I have been watching anime for a while, and about a year ago, I watched Sailor Moon for the first time without changing the channel, three whole seasons worth. Long since, I had skimmed parts as a middle-schooler, detesting it for its girliness. It is a great series with strong, feminine characters, silly, and cartoonish animation and wonderful hijinks. In the same time span, I watched Daria, the American animated show produced by MTV back in the 1990s, about a lonesome girl who just moved into Lawndale and has to adjust to a new high school. Something about fall always brings me back to Daria: cool September days, where the wind gusts and you think winter is around the corner. You start thinking back on those long school months after the summer. These two series are connect in the act of growing up, those years spent in insular safety and nostalgia.

I find that the natural reason why I was so interested in Sailor Moon originally is my dreary persona. Usagi, the main character, is a middle school-aged girl all bubbles and cream, cavorting at the top of her lungs in joy or terror on her way to school every day, living her life to the fullest effortlessly. The shameful world of responsibility has not beaten her down, and she has not cashed a paycheck. Her thrillingly chaotic life is in overdrive, endlessly open to a road of a million possibilities.

Nothing in the known universe brings me back to high school days like Daria. It understands me so well from different points in my life, but it is better for the introvert’s psyche if not every show is Daria, too. If you had a tough time socializing in school or life, Daria makes it all the more apparent and obvious its challenge. Daria represents the inherent difficulty for those who do not feel comfortable among others. If you are not used to extending yourself to get what you want, or are not socially proactive, she is your social avatar. Daria is the symbol of the stay-in generation, those who favor a nice quiet night at home over parties and loud social gatherings.

These series mesh because of their striking contrast, an anime series about nervous junior-high schoolgirls and Daria, who is in high school and miserable about it. Daria dresses in dark fall tones, while her friend Jane dresses in blacks and reds, a classic femme fatale with pouting red lips. The sailor scouts dress in broad pastels, washed out oranges, reds and blues, all that makes youth marketing. The sailor scouts are yippy, yappy, yuppy things who are always visiting shops in Tokyo to fulfill their picky materialism. Daria says materialism sucks.

As to which world vision is correct, they are both different things, different sides of the ocean. It is worth noting however the contrasts, such as, is Sailor Moon mindless in comparison to Daria? The show is about friends and the bravery of choices one makes with friends. Daria on the other hand is about femininity combined with individuality. Usagi might grow to be as wise as Daria, world weary and cynical, but she has not yet had the chance. Usagi is forever arrested in that in between time of childhood and puberty. Daria captures the time when puberty strikes and the world is pure misery, the flowers of childhood begin to drop and turn brown. There are other anime shows where the magical girl sees the world for more of its realities, but none that I know of has the characters grow up in real time and change through puberty. It would be a fascinating experiment to witness.

We cannot know who Usagi becomes because she is forever gestating in Sailor Moon, never becoming much different or more mature in those first three seasons (Sailor Moon, Sailor Moon-R, and Sailor Moon-S). Daria however turns out to be a sophisticated individual going through growing pains in a four-year high school context, even through graduation. Daria shows her chagrin at the world, caught in a constant hibernation or molting of her younger, more naive self. She brings out of herself all that she can; straining what she is into what she could be. She also takes long views of the United States and its capitalism, continually prodding it to see how it will react. Overall, though, she is really just trying to get along, with her true self and core beliefs intact.

A modern example of going in between the narratives of the two shows might be Puella Magi Madoka Magica, a popular anime from 2011. Puella had a large cultural impact, as it tried to recreate the magical girl experience and its innocence and insert real life wisdom and reality into it in a stark way. It is not certain however, that anyone would think Puella is any more mature, with its dark retrospective on magical girl anime like Sailor Moon. Its sporadic, art-nouveau backgrounds and chaotic direction from Akiyuki Shinbo, and trademark Shaft Studios stylishness could be seen as skin deep. Puella is like a dark middle ground between what a magical girl anime was originally and what it could be in examination, in between Daria’s humor and Sailor Moon’s naiveté. Its short run of eleven episodes are possibly shallow compared to the longer take on world building and relationships in Daria and Sailor Moon. It does not quite achieve what it sets out to in a full way.

Many anime shows stay locked in a certain period of life, but spread among many different sensibilities and ages throughout the medium, whereas in western animation, the characters are under constant pressure to mature and become something more than silly and stupid as soon as possible. Even SpongeBob has a job as a fry-cook and a pineapple for which he must pay a mortgage. Only with the growing eminence of anime into western culture has western animation mutated, such as Adventure Time’s whimsy. Anime is an escape for its society whereas in America we never shake the shackles of capitalist duties to produce work and profit, always hamstrung by a nagging sense of responsibility and morbidity.

Usagi is a social butterfly with a core clique of friends, who share her troubles, and often fight for her, but they all become closer and learn more about each other as the series goes on. Daria needs her one true friend Jane, who is in ways like her addiction, her close friend in a sea of acquaintances, almost at time even too close. Jane is a rogue art student and Daria is a book nerd who is perhaps too intelligent for some of her classes because of her natural brilliance and extended knowledge of many subjects. One wonders if Sailor Moon might grow out of her popular sailor scout group, though the goal of most social ambitions throughout high and college, or even work for many people is developing a close networking group that begets more influence and power, and the show alludes to her always being protected by her friends, even in the future. Daria is stuck in a world where she has one friend, while Usagi has a kingdom, a boyfriend, a future daughter, and friends to hang out with and study with, a mom, dad, brother and pet. Daria has a sister who hates her and is popular like Usagi but with a very vain, immature personality.

The Sailor Moon anime is bright lights and pastels, watercolor backgrounds and fading definition of detail, that perfect time in anime when every background was ambient space of green trees and white sidewalks, casual background characters. The washed out animation style of the mid-90s lends itself to nostalgia, and the creators always make everything seem very romantic and picturesque. Daria has its own empty space, high school. It also has suburbs, the boredom of growing up isolated from everything cool in the city and cocooned in the security of large houses with wider lawns. Daria’s mother is a work-addict lawyer who barely has time to think about the family except during impromptu lasagna dinner, reheated five minutes before. Daria’s animation is opaque colors, especially in the later episodes, though it starts with a similar washed out look in its first season because of budget and the animation quality of the era. With better ratings and further seasons came better animation quality, and the more solid tones actually make Daria seem more alive as the show goes on.

Daria is about rock music, because it aired on MTV back when MTV stood for music television. The show often featured snippets of popular artists the network wanted to push on younger minds and as an artistic transition in between scenes. The cynical dictatorship of high school features befuddled teachers, manipulative principles, classless salespeople and marketers, high-strung parents and bratty, dumb teens. Sailor Moon on the other hand is about a beautiful Tokyo paradise where nothing goes wrong except for monsters. Anime often strays its characters in a world bereft of anything the show does not require, the unexpected extras in life. Anime is often animated to be convenient for the story and the budget. One also cannot help but notice the strange cultural differences, age differences, life stages, and maturity of characters in anime, which ranges from dumb innocence to children in a war zone, etc. Anime has quite a range, and Sailor Moon is no different with placing younger people in wacky situations. Fighting an evil empire or stopping a hostage situation while going to the mall to buy shoes.

Comparing two seismically different shows that chronologically seem to fit into each other from middle school to high school also gives us cultural differences.  From Sailor Moon you get a warm, nostalgic feeling, of being protected from the rest of the world. Daria gives a sense of despair, reality, satire, taking the world at face value but valorously fighting it every day. Daria makes one feel insecure but understood, sequestered and isolated but confronting her feelings about everything. Sailor Moon gives the sense of being very young again, in middle school. Daria goes through puberty and high school and tries to build relationships the best she can. Puella Magi Madoka Magika, the in between anime, alternately has people messing about with character archetypes, throwing magical girl tropes into a pot and hoping it makes a gumbo, then laughing about how cool it all was later.

Puella is a deconstructed magical girl anime, which does less in comparison to Sailor Moon and Daria, because it features much less world building and simply tries to shock its audience. Puella is generic moe anime characters who all look like they are eight years old, fighting brutal battles against magical heathens and sometimes even losing outright. If anything Puella covers the chronological age standpoint of elementary school while trying be much more ‘real’, without probably doing it successfully other than producing the most shocking, ratings grabbing show possible. Puella Magi Madoka Magika, being a 2011 anime, makes one appreciate the long view of 90s animation creators and writers, and the task they were put to building their characters, without being able to commercially resort to cheap gimmicks.

Another example of comparison might be Kimagure Orange Road, an anime from the late 80s, a series that never made a dent in America; it is lost in its own nostalgia, pastels and sunsets like Sailor Moon but in a way seriously trying to invent nostalgia all the time. The show is about a boy caught in a love triangle between a petite, happy blond and a tall tsundere girl who starts out cold and abusive but warms up to the main male character eventually. Kimagure was that other youth culture from the late 80s that had already transpired by 1992, with a movie and ova’s even as far as 1996. Kimagure is about a world that is much more innocent and economically secure, especially in Japan who was going through an economic bubble phase when Kimagure manga was originally written. Its main characters never have existential breakdowns or breakthroughs, opting instead for romance and fun, playful hijinks. This 80s anime is all about adventures to compare different parts of a love triangle against each other in different places and scenarios. Kimagure is about a romantic past; from a nostalgic viewpoint as if every day is summer. The only thing the characters have to worry about is what they might do after high school and if their romantic attentions are noble.

It is curious how Daria and Sailor Moon follow so close to each other, like Kimagure and Sailor Moon, or Puella, yet the worldview is always so different and changing. They all interpret such different things. In Sailor Moon a trust in materiality and in Daria a scowling at it. Trust in friends versus a lack of trust in peers and parents. Parties and cynicalness of the late 90s MTV generation, gen x and grunge in America, versus trust and warmth in Sailor Moon’s Japanese world in the early and mid-90s. Short skirts, magical powers and expensive hairdos, versus messy hair and highly personalized outfits made for the individual but always with a sense of gritty charm. Girl group verse serious psychological friendship, reliance vs acceptance of one’s friends, life and culture in Daria.

Both series are great in their own way. Inevitably, Usagi does go through some maturing in the end of season one when confronted with a battle that for once has consequences and lost lives. Usagi is often confronted with her ego and her beliefs, emotional intuitive situations that call for her most personal talents. Sailor Moon, when not confronting evil, is mostly about Usagi getting fat and happy or painfully sad and annoyed. Daria is about growing up and getting through life as boring and unsuitable as it may be. The shows represent two worldviews, extrovert and introvert, different things and phases in stages of one’s life.

Usagi is basic and simple, envy, love and desire are all hers whenever she wants, and her world is easily attainable and accessible. Daria only gets what she works hard for; hard work is a difference between the two series though one could say Daria works a little harder because she is older. Usagi is lazy and often late to class, terrible at doing homework, and often an irritable crybaby. Yet she fits the role she’s been given in Sailor Moon with tenacity, in the nick of time finding the strength in herself to confront her troubles. Daria cannot have anything but what she needs, she is an anti-social book-reading outsider who does not join clubs and barely participates in activities. The two different life stages of Usagi and Daria have different roles, such as acceptance by Daria that she will never become accepted because she is intellectually world weary and has different values than her peers. Usagi wants to be a carefree, loafing middle school student but has extra responsibility for being a sailor scout, which is now her extracurricular job.

The two shows have themes centered on work and responsibility in society, and could be extrapolated to describe the main characters’ roles in society. It is interesting to note that Usagi is training to be a moon princess. Daria training to do something someday, we just are not sure. Daria only does homework and projects occasionally. Usagi is a future mother, her daughter, Chibiusa, shows up in the second season with help from a time machine. She comes to Usagi’s time to ask her to help save the future moon kingdom. Usagi of course runs a whole kingdom and people with her moon powers. Daria is supposed to go to school, like Usagi. Daria’s main role is interacting with peers and her school, growing up as a person, and figuring out the meaning of life.

Daria does not have a lot to do, except have existential crises about her status in life.

What is truly interesting in comparing the two shows is Daria wasting so much time. What does she do? She reads. She has motivation, skill, intelligence, but to what end? Usagi is a lazy good for nothing who is now fighting monsters, raising her future daughter, dating Tuxedo Mask, saving Tokyo. She is constantly busy. Wouldn’t Daria like to have something to do, run something, run an election, write a column, and work on something? Instead, she goes through the same doldrums day after day, a dreary routine without hope or identity. Her future is to graduate high school, go to college, and then a job and that will be the definition of her dream. Daria wants to live out her individuality, she desperately wants agency. Usagi wants to get fat and relax while Daria is bored.

Usagi’s life is fighting monsters and getting everywhere, while complaining about no down time.

It is funny that the two characters want what the other does not have. What they are really looking for is balance, but Usagi actually has balance. Her predetermined life may seem boring to western individualism but it is actually great. Daria’s life alternately is full of hazards and problems; anything could happen to her in the future because capitalism runs her life. The feminist take would be Daria’s life, but I want Usagi’s. She will not be a doctor but she will be CEO of an entire people in her kingdom on the moon, and without medical school. Daria is brilliant and knowledgeable to the nth degree, but could still end up poor. Whatever happens in college, the health of the industry she wants to work in, the job market, friends, relationships, and any number of variables could change things. The minute Daria steps into the wide world after her high school graduation, any number of pitfalls awaits her.

You feel pity for Daria, though I imagine a feminist might say fate chose Usagi’s life for her, and what a sad existence it is not to enliven her individuality in a chosen career. Life gives Daria the freedom to choose, but to what end is her choice? She spends high school dreaming of anything but high school, a quiet life in the city as a writer, even as a wife to a Trent, a slacker musician. Daria’s future roles are long. Usagi’s existence is sheltered, protected. For a middle school student, future existence is too much to imagine or even desire. The role of princess is an escape from the endless societal process of sussing out talent. In terms of feminism and the entrance of women into the workplace since WWII, Usagi is a dream.

Society might look on at Usagi and say it is all too much to ask. It is too much to ask to have a defined role and life path at such a young age. Yet is Daria, in high school, truly asking too much? Is it possible for a young person to do so? Daria wants something to do, and this is the role of humanity, its highest aspiration, to achieve and help your fellow man. Daria’s aspirations are not too far to reach, not too high that we cannot possibly help her attain some parts of them.

I desire Sailor Moon’s life, which to westerners might seem sacrilegious. Her life is certain for the next one hundred years, and there are no consequences for her failure at school, or materially. Her relationship is secured with a brilliant person, Mamoru or Tuxedo Mask in the English dub, who is an engineer at an esteemed college and extremely handsome by the standards of animation. She will not want for anything except handling her kingdom with whatever is required of a monarch. Fighting off monsters who wish to invade the moon, such as in the second season, Sailor Moon-R, could be a mental strain but nothing she proves unable to handle in the show’s three seasons. She simply has to count on her own inner strength.

Daria’s future could possibly be filled with emotional fragility, as we see in the show. She has only one single serious friendship, which was strained at times, and a boyfriend who she splits up with shortly after dating. The show said that she would become whatever she wanted to be, based on future whims and how her mentality changes through the years. As a westerner, I am supposed to see an open future as the most enviable, the most free. Sometimes I wonder though if the United States is a country with too many choices.

For example, the end of the military draft by lottery, which was a good thing during the Vietnam War after the deaths of so many innocent Americans and Vietnamese. The end of the draft meant just as much to freedom of choice during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, but without state programs how can one ever learn to know or love their country or nationality? There is no pride in not working; there is no knowledge in structurelessness. Humans needs goals and ends, vicissitudes, they require inconsistency and chance. We are a people who require the sturm and drang, even though we hold off from it. A life of little effort is useless and fruitless. Endless luxury is the opposite of such.

High school does not serve a purpose other than caretaker of someone not of legal age. It is hard to compare economy and society of Japan and America. No one wants to be a wage slave without a vacation, such as in America, nor be a salary man like in Japan, who works until far into the night without ever getting to see one’s family. Capitalist economies are a dreadful means to the end of busying people, it seems like the state could do more. America gives people freedom but perhaps its kind or its structure is not always a great fit.

No one currently sees Daria’s life as a problem in America, but perhaps it is. It concerns me as an American who grew up like her, with too much choice and no narrowly directed path. Daria feels like vegetables left out to rot in the sun. The best productive use of human potential should be harvested, that it is efficient. Adult vocation should suit you, if spending four years of one’s life in an academic institution leaves people to waste then there is no purpose. Could a better system not take advantage of the time spent in high school?

Some in the west probably want Daria’s life, yet building the youth of America and other capitalist economies is a disorganized mess. The young could to do something more at that inefficient age. We all want freedom of choice, but choosing without knowledge is hard. A more direct path should be laid out, with some constrictions and boundaries. Capitalism is hard enough without the structure gained from learning effective hard skills early in one’s life.

The thing that always got to me, being a teenager in high school, was the insurmountable amount of choices. Neither are very great or totally desirable early in one’s life, and you receive no help choosing between them. You choose by doing, and it has affected my generation negatively to deprive them of the sophisticated means to choose one’s path correctly. More organization early on would go a long way in building structure for the future; then again, most people are probably just awkward enough in the teen and middle school years to want to be left alone, but that accounts for the sensitivity of puberty in general.

Daria’s life is incontrovertible freedom. Usagi’s is efficient organization of one’s sensibilities into a career for the future, becoming what you are good at and working towards it as early as possible. The Sailor Moon anime is far from reality in many ways, but its reality is by far the one I aspire to. To use one’s sensibilities effectively as soon as possible should always be the end goal in making a person successful and useful. If there is a good way to do so, utilize it, but this reality has not yet been realized realistically. No one is doing a great job of cropping the talent and potential of people in capitalist economies, as we should be; nevertheless handling general welfare of people after those, choices have been made. Instead of depending on the cruel whims of markets, general welfare and medicaid/medicare, more could be done.

An American would say that Daria’s life is essentially just fine, her life is difficult for a while as she gets used to puberty and the troubles of growing up, but she will go to college, have a career, and then everything will be solved. This broad capitalism paints lives with a supposedly even brush, but what about an in between stage before college, or a program afterwards to funnel Daria into a good career? What about taking care of all people and producing wealth for the many without counting on them to make every correct choice possible? We keep our hands off people to their detriment, even to catastrophe, doing little to guide them, letting the free market crush anyone who does not survive as the fittest in the name of innovation and economic freedom.

The different lives of Usagi and Daria could be rephrased as growing up with a fortune, like Usagi’s moon kingdom and narrowly defined future, versus a perfect talent for the market with unlimited capacity, like Daria’s. In reality however, anything else besides perfect, unbound potential with the correct skills is left to molder in the name of a great melting pot or the free market, and automatic stabilization of the economy.

You might brand Usagi as mindless and lazy, while Daria is a human being with an ever-changing heart, but to what end that heart? Is mindless such a catastrophe it cannot be led by the hand? Western economies are increasingly finding out they cannot trust the free market with every power they have endowed it with, capitalism is a casual, vapid lover, leaving us collectively alone when it wants to go away for the weekend for a fling, while we look after the kids. In an age of supposed internet productivity who really is watching the kids, how can we really monitor the markets truthfully?

Not to speak of the overall structure of money markets, or its care in general, which should always inevitably be free. Rather the point is people; those are the supports of such a system. The free market is cruel to people, unless they are everything it desires, and we cannot always be everything desired. The markets want the government to be hands off; they say it is good for growth and productivity. Government intervention should not be consigned to crowding out, a phenomenon where the state dominates the market. Yet when we speak of people’s lives, it is high time we separated the quality of life in a capitalist system from the self-determination of economic growth. If a system cannot make best use of its people, what use is the system?

America has great potential in reserve. In the west, Usagi would be seen as young and futureless: a failure at school, deterministic through emotions, an unthinking participant of monarchic moon conformity, and a symbol of Japanese salary man technocracy, foregoing innovation and creativity for what is easy. Usagi is rather an example of an individual who has been given help, she has help from friends, parents, Luna (a magical cat), her boyfriend Mamoru. Her moon powers give her the tools she needs to keep fighting the monsters of her life, a magical tiara and scepter for example. The providence of the moon gives her the power to transform into Sailor Moon, and gets help studying for her high school exams from sailor friends such as Mercury or Mars, both her age and both more scholastically able than her. Life only gives Daria the help she desires, which tending by her emotional stability is not clear. Without help Daria has accomplished nothing, Usagi in contrast, everything.

Capitalism needs to help people more; it should be the goal and tool of the system to support the people that support it. The world needs free markets, but it does not so much need billionaires. Like Usagi, people need gifts on occasion, love (even if we do not ask for it), to feel desired (even if we are emotionally cold that day). It cannot harm society to give it more than it asks for, or more than is currently required. It does not harm someone to give them a hug (usually), to tell them they are pretty, to tell them they are valuable, and boost their esteem. Where did society get the idea that everything has to be as difficult as possible? When did everyone decide we should all grow up in a civilization all stick and no carrot? Is remuneration the greatest reward, or a working, fluent, contingent society that works for all people? Who feels safe in a society that pushes the proverbial stick so far in that digesting a carrot brings no joy?

America and capitalism in general, as well as the gross domestic economy, could stand to give a little more than it gets to people. People aren’t born dumb, they each have their own talents and abilities which they add to the system, there’s more you can do than leaving people on the sidelines of life because of a recession. There should be roles for people outside of free market survival of the fittest. Innovation can happen in so many ways that it is impossible to predict. Society should be planting as many seeds as possible for the innovation of technology and growth in order to further the progress and living standards of all. If not, then it is not efficiently using all its resources and keeping up with its own economic possibilities curve.

When you peer inside the soul or spirit of Daria and Usagi, you may see someone who is lost and someone who is secure. In Usagi there is a warm soul guided by the invisible hands of fate. Daria meanwhile is left to her own instruments, to fiddle about. Society has a job, which it is not currently doing up to its profound capacity–to guide people into the proper channels of their own success. Some may thrive on structure, not all are initiative driven capitalist fiends. However, a passing direction could do more than all the money, investment and time government pumps into the free market system through welfare and bureaucracy. Leaving people alone in high school might be one of the worst trespasses America commits, since these years could be more productive and challenging for many.

In the shadow of a long recession at the end of the George Bush presidency in 2008, it is worth looking at better, newer options. Franklin Delano Roosevelt created work programs during the depression, and the end of WWII saw a great vision for how to reorganize returning vets, in the vein of marvels such as fast food, countrywide food infrastructure, national highways, and the GI bill. America got rid of many state sponsored programs for workers’ benefit over time, but perhaps the country ought to reorganize its people once more towards a better future and loftier goals? Rather than leave castoffs from the great pie of people society is gifted in population growth, it should be appetizing talents: like Usagi, a wide-open road of destiny finely designed and shaped for the greatest benefit of all, harvested securely and efficiently.

She may seem like a spoiled child, but Usagi is a gifted individual and society would do well to treat all people like magical girls. Daria takes her misshapen world head on, but should she really have to? Must things always be as hard as possible? Is inefficient society in the interest of the good? No. America is needlessly hard on itself and its most productive citizens; they could do with a break and more opportunities for innovation. Daria gives off a sense of despair, and society does little to ameliorate her common situation. This article was written in the interest of America’s future and success, its author wants such for its people and potential.

Let’s work together! Let’s make this great!

Why I’m Worried about Hillary’s Election Chances

HRC_in_Iowa_APR_2015It’s not that I come into an election year and try to pick sides anymore. I’ve been a Trump supporter, I’ve been a Hillary supporter, and rarely a Bernie supporter because I didn’t think he had the foreign policy chops for election this year, and he looks and acts like a 70 year old man caught in a windstorm warning about a dangerous yellow glow he can see over the waters of Nantucket like a crotchety prophet. With Isis, the Middle East, all of the attacks, we live in a climate of fear right now, one that will require a strong, stable voice that’s a bit more hopeful than it is castigating.

And perhaps my fears about Bernie’s lack of hawkishness (which seems to be a requirement this year) were unfounded, I emotionally felt his old-mannish incapacity and socialist scare tactics weren’t completely electable and I think the party did too. Of course Hillary has her share of Benghazi, her released emails which probably fell into the hands of hackers or foreign intelligence at some point. But I’ve never long strayed on Hillary’s small controversies which are the Republican party’s inept way of creating controversy and negative politics for Hillary.

Like the case of Bernie, I emotionally feel that these won’t be large issues in November. Everyone makes mistakes. Barack Obama pulled our troops out of Iraq and look what has happened since. We have gone from surge to Isis. And you don’t have to have an elephant’s memory to recall Democrats being fiercely against the surge and virulently for leaving Iraq.

Which is why in a year of attacks in Paris, San Bernadino, Germany, and Orlando, hawkishness is going to be the thing that gets the deal done. People are at least nervously afraid. Not necessarily of guns, but of radical Islam. People are going to want a tough, competent president (at least semi-competent) who will perhaps stand swagger to swagger against Putin, hold court over the European Union, unite us like the leaders in paranoiac England could not. A president who can admit the mistakes of US foreign policy in the middle-east but also continue to be resolute and resilient in the face of an unthinking, chaotic enemy who actually employs suicide attacks to destroy people (a tactic we’ve seen in Columbine perhaps, but one Western politics cannot comprehend).

I check Hillary off on these things. As the Democratic party obviously thought, based on their betting the house on Hillary’s campaign and Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s emails. Not only is Hillary built into the inside hierarchy and donor system of the Democratic party but she is hawkish enough with Secretary of State experience to pass in this year’s violence tinged election (which is why the Republican party has so vociferously attacked her tenure as Secretary of State for the past five years).

And as an electable candidate I think Hillary would make a good president. On economic affairs she has Bill Clinton on her side, who presided over GDP growth upwards of 3-4% annually. For comparison, Barack Obama has gotten scores of 2-2.5% GDP growth annually. He will be the first president in ages, including George W. Bush, not to have achieved a 3% growth year. Bill loomed over the boom-years of the 90s economy like a siphon. It is he who is seen as the symbol of those years and the producer of that economy, as any decent president should. He has received the large total of credit for the last best economy and surplus in budget.

Through the 2000s, the government has added to its debt through wars, recession stimulus and shutting down the government. Since 2000 we have seen a decent Bush economy turn into a recession caused by an under-regulated housing sector and housing push (beyond the capability of subprime mortgage buyers). We have seen Barack Obama become the first African-American elected to President of the United States and reign over one of the most humble recoveries from a recession we have ever witnessed. Americans have lived through boom times and great middle-class prosperity only to see it drained away in the blink of and eye after a financial crisis second only to the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Which leads us to the election for President of the United States 2016, in which Hillary Clinton will face off against Republican nominee Donald Trump (unless he drops out or some other really crazy thing). And as I look back on my short breadth with election history, perhaps 2004, when I still couldn’t vote and John Kerry was swiftboated, I realize I can never bet on a Presidential election in America.

In 2004 I all but predicted Kerry for President. George Bush won through presumably some dirty tactics in Ohio with help from Ken Blackwell in Ohio, or at least that’s all Rolling Stone Magazine talked about at the time. Apparently there was suppression of the poor, African-American vote in that state. But before you get up in a tizzy, I do recall the disenfranchisement of voters in the election campaign of 1960 between Richard Nixon and John Kennedy. I would have thought that after a great run by Dwight Eisenhower for eight years and an exceptional 50s economy and the cold war, Nixon would have been the obvious choice, but the TV debates happened. Kennedy wore a full tan and Nixon looked like a humbug, even if he won the radio debates according to the general public.

When it comes to elections now, I don’t put anyone away too early or too late. I still recall trying to see the logic in the swiftboat campaign against John Kerry, and trying to have a conversation with people who believed the ads, and the invisible wall that hung between me and them on passions for the election. Perhaps it was 9/11 neurosis, perhaps it was that one of ‘them’ was a veteran who had served in the airforce for thirty or more years as an aircraft engineer. I remember conversations at school with peers at the time and how unproductive they were. Bush successfully ran a culture war in 2004 (as is I think the right of any president, to use the bully pulpit of their position of power) that was more about a president at war and being safe against terrorism than anything else. An entitled feeling of ‘my president’, and confidence in his ability after the 9/11 bullhorn speech and perhaps factored by the multi-colored terrorism warnings and the strong congressional approval of bills like The Patriot Act, and the Iraq War.

But now we look at Trump and Hillary, and the reason I have major concerns about Hillary Clinton is Donald Trump’s media presence. For every New York Times byline about negative Trump press, there are even less positive ones about Hillary Clinton. This goes back to 2004. John Kerry received a lot of press with the liberal media, such as Rolling Stone Magazine, MSNBC, the major TV outlets such as NBC, the New York Times–but he had nothing to compare to that swiftboat ad. He did not successfully get his message heard or laid out with presumable avenues to the other side, conservative voters. There was also the element of his boringness, the style of his debate-like speaking presentation, his lack of spark or excitement, which Bush had in spades when it came to elections (everyone remembers the ‘I would drink a beer with him’ talk going around Bush after the party-like Will Ferrell imitation of him on Saturday Night Live).

I worry about a Hillary Clinton who checks all the things off the list but doesn’t have that spark, that excitement. A candidate who can’t stay in the media unless it is to bash or talk about Donald J Trump a little more. Democrats are playing into the old hand. Republicans have for seemingly years warned us of Hillary’s “incompetence”, her dangerous lack of ‘vision’ or ‘standing’ in terms of world affairs and the day-to-day business of running the United States. Benghazi and her emails hover over her campaign like a weary cloud. Whereas it doesn’t matter what Trump does or says, because there is always some new controversy or tweet for tomorrow.

Where are Hillary Clinton’s tweets, I ask? Where is her message? Trump comes out with a new, brandished message every day, or at least every 3-4 days. He stays fresh in the American mind, like a rotting fruit which sits in one’s driveway and hasn’t been thrown away since the frost four seasons ago. Every tweet, every verbal pow-wow. Every time, Trump seems to say, ‘remember me’. Whereas Clinton’s message seems to be ‘forget about me, I’ll be okay’. Hillary Clinton is the silent white ghost of this election, which has haunted far too many Democratic presidential candidates like Michael Dukakis, or Walter Mondale (both of whom no one remembers except for the funny names). Ronald Reagan had morning in America, tax cuts, and a successful economy. He had his pow-wow with the cold-war theater, Gorbachev. He had a 7%!–GDP growth year. Unprecedented economic growth throughout the mid to late 80s.

Barack Obama has a hole in his bucket. And Trump is the presumed man who can fix it. A man who ghost-published The Art of the Deal (written by another fellow, who has made the media rounds this year). A man who presided over some kind of real estate history (it’s hard to say what kind since he won’t release his tax records, but we assume hotels and office buildings or failed casinos). An East-coast con man, sure, a man who has presided over dropped businesses, a man who says whatever is on his mind. But nevertheless a man, or the orange-tinged impression of one. A man who every time he talks sounds like he’s shaking your hand–to what end, you don’t know.

Hillary Clinton seems and sounds nervous. She lacks quite a bit of confidence in her message and speeches. She has little spark, simply the remembrance of one behind her in Bill, her record as senator of New York. Some foreign policy experience, too. And then a lot of work on congressional bills which were apparently pro-children and pro-poor (which is good!), according to the Democratic Convention. A mother with a heart. An orange orangutan who spouts tweets. But does the mother spout her good message? Does Hillary Clinton have anything to say?

This is the mystery that led me to write this post. What does Hillary Clinton have to say? Where is her Rovian swiftboat ad against Trump? She has accumulated far more election funds than Trump yet I cannot recall a single ad that I have seen on TV or the internet. When will Democrats learn to have a message? A clear, concise ad that rings in your head, about how great you are or how bad your opponent is in a catchy way. The Republicans have Benghazi, emails, and Clinton has… Debbie Wasserman Schultz?

Leonard Bernstein’s Symphony No. 5 by Dmitri Shostakovich


Hi. I’m not one to usually post on these things but the market and employment being like it is these days, one has to try to get out there as much as possible. Usually I spend my time reviewing on, where I usually buy, or –other– sites where one can spend their time discussing music.

I’m not sure why I like music and reviewing it so much, I suppose I’ve always figured myself a critic since childhood. I at least have known that tearing into something always interested me. There’s something about diagnosing the quality of something that makes art even greater than it already is. When they say in the movie ‘Ratatoille’ in so many words that the work of one artist is always more than some dirtbag critic, I take slight offense but also realize they are 100% wrong. For it is not in the work itself that there is value, but in the response by the public. The response is why we have print media, the internet, electric phones, satellites. One must always know what one’s friends are thinking.

Indeed this is how it would have been for Dmitri Shostakovich when he wrote and released this composition and in all likelihood prepped an orchestra for its debut in Stalinist Russia. Dmitri was perhaps the chief classical artist of his time in Russia, and the critics, according to the liner notes, could be very tough. The notes are extremely interesting and integral to this release and one realizes the importance critical reception had to a Russian artist in this era.

So it’s a prewar recording. This was released and debuted November 21, 1937. One must know the era for classical pieces, especially the novice, and especially in the 20th century. This context makes one realize the immediacy of this recording and the profound effect that could be gotten at this time, for one recalls the brutality of the Nazi invasion of Russian; Lenin, Stalin, the Cold War, one thinks of the tzars, the history of the country, its geography, its natural beauty, its cold winters, the Black Sea, the Caspian Sea, cold waters. And especially the fascism going on at the time in Europe.

Here we have Leonard Bernstein directing this piece in 1959. Almost the height of the cold war. It is a canon recording and highly regarded by critics. But what I find fascinating about investigating a classic release like this, is coming upon something new with a good enough recommendation, and separate from the thousands of other classical releases that exist, that you can dive in without hesitation.

What I am looking for with classical, as a novice who is not learned enough in the genre yet to be accountable, is an immediate, distinct impression. That is all you want. Not to be confused among the weeds of poor conductors, lazy renditions, out of tune orchestras. One wants to immediately get a feel for the music and be able to relate it to something, an emotion perhaps, a pull of some past experience that tells you what you are supposed to be feeling and thinking. You want to immediately become a judge who can say: good, bad.

You want to relate so that you become more knowledgeable and can tell your friends about it, and not be confused by the heavy, cumbersome weight of all that classical musical history that has preceded you since Bach, Beethoven, people chanting in caves, druids murmuring to themselves in green pastures. And I will say that this piece absolutely delivers. In fact, it delivers in such a way that is unusual even for classical.

One can tell immediately from this album, even with a casual drive in summertime under thunderous blue cloudy skies as I did, the immense gravity and weight of the music. I suppose I feel that Bernstein carries with him a serious tone, as well. Like the planets were collapsing at each other. He is so serious, he hangs on and will not let go. His orchestra plays like the depth of the world is on his shoulders.

Or could it be the piece itself? Bernstein is usually so well polished in his interpretation, one really does get a clear sense of the intentions for Dmitri’s 5th Symphony. I feel here as if I have been sunk beneath the ocean, the emotions are so heavy. There is so much depth to these proceedings, as if I am a large blue whale swimming through the waters of Jupiter’s craze. Things are absolutely thick with excitement and tension. My favorite color has always been dark blue, so I find the cover rather lovely, and here it gives me a sense of connection about the music, an intangible thing where Dmitri Shostakovich looked into my soul and pulled out the truth. He dug under the earth to the soil of its depths and retrieved myself. Especially in the largo movement.

I felt a personal connection to this music. And I really think it is the conductor who brings out the greatness of the classical piece. He portrays Shostakovich’s work as something so profound. How to describe the music? Lilting heavily, with a sense of betrayal to one’s self, as if one will sway off kilter at any moment, a precipice, in which we wonder about the concluding finality of fate, of daily life. This piece IS life, it is feeling its emotions, swooning under the weight, and wondering where one will go from here.

The music really does feel titanic, like the rather sizable continent that is Russia. It feels like a big country caught, beheld in its multivarious directions, spread, motivations, a million souls in one choir. It really does feel immense, like the history of a country spread out–and this is something classical can only do in its abstract sense. It can attract the most basic emotions and honesties of people and tie them all together into a congruous whole. Classical is the music of the people, in my view. Its themes play on through history, referenced in every way and influencing the way we view the world. In Beethoven’s 5th there is a note of joy, in this piece by Shostakovich there is deep yearning. Almost obsession with life.

Shostakovich had been destroyed in the press before the release of this symphony for writing a simple piece for his third symphony, an unimportant, inconsequential thing. Shostakovich’s reply, in a culture so deep with expectation and before the internet, was to focus on something so intensely, the tiniest cricket could get his observation. I think this orchestra, this conductor, composer and time periods, are special. What Bernstein accomplished here is special, for he has made Shostakovich transcend through time to even a greater degree than he had already merited.

I don’t see how even in a casual spin one could not get at least an inkling of the emotion of this piece, for it lies deep and heavy in all of us. Shostakovich tore up his fourth symphony and started anew in order to win over critics, and his success echoes eighty years on.

–This album was recommended by Ted Libbey, NPR


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