Tuesday, January 27, 2009

What If I Never Find Another Job?

One distinct disadvantage of having an overactive imagination is a tendency to dwell on "worst case scenarios".

Now, don't get me wrong - there are some REALLY ugly worst case scenarios out there - for instance the Yellowstone caldera blowing it's stack and pretty much completely destroying the human race as we know it.

But, no, with SO many people getting laid off the last few months I am beginning to wonder just exactly what "end-stage economic disease" might look like for someone who exhausts all his resources.

People keep telling me that there are safety nets in place out there and no one need be homeless who doesn't want to be, but sometimes I find myself wondering.

There is unemployment insurance to be sure - if I understand it the better part of a year of at least some money coming in to attempt to pay rent and keep some modest food on the table, but once that, savings, and the generousity of friends and neighbors is exhausted, what then?

I've heard that the next stop is a place in Over-The-Rhine called The Drop Inn. I find myself wondering what one's first trip down there might be like. Does the last friend or relative to throw you out take you down there? Do you have to hike miles there yourself? Are there other facilities like it in the area?

And then - what do they do with you there? I understand all the shelters are pretty much intended to be temporary. With absolutely nothing but the clothes on your back how do you climb back towards independence? I've heard a great many stories that it can be done, but sometimes I find myself wondering intensely about the details.

Perhaps it's all ultimately just a bad dream. Perhaps in most cases long before one loses one's last shelter the economy will turn around and some sort of employment and continuation as an independent member of society can be arranged.

One can only hope ...

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Thursday, January 1, 2009

Lifestyle Downsizing

There's a fascinating article running on CNN talking about the various folks who have taken huge pay decreases in the recent economic downturn.

Being a long-time computer hobbyist I tend to look at things in terms of breaking them down to discrete components and asking myself, "How does this work?"

Of course if one has had a certain salary, particularly for a couple of years, I would tend to think that many aspects of their lifestyle would be based upon that salary. For instance, if you're making $200,000/yr you could handle - what? - a $300,000 house and maybe a $400/mo. car payment?

Now suppose you lose this $200,000 job and can only get one that pays $50,000. How in the WORLD do you "unwind" the "positions" you had in housing and transportation that was more appropriate for the $200,000/yr salary.

Well, this article isn't painting a very rosy picture on that topic. They are talking about people getting their houses foreclosed on and vehicles repossessed - and these are people with children.

However, this article makes mention that this one particular family was able to find rental property.

I suppose that is a good sign because I've always been under the impression that landlords really didn't want to work with you if you had a recent foreclosure or eviction.

Of course I guess times have changed.

But, I suppose the theme that is coming through this article and other similar ones is that life goes on - not in the way you were used to at higher salary levels, but life does indeed go on.

Of course I suppose it begs the next question though - suppose you were starting out at $35,000/yr. or some such and can only find a job that pays $10/hr or so? Where do you end up THEN?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

12 Indian Days Of Christmas

As it is that time of year again ...


Friday, December 19, 2008

Who Moved My Channels?

John Matarese got me all psyched up at the bottom of an article talking about recent changed to the Time Warner lineup.

Yes ... a couple of days ago I noticed static on Channel 55 on the one TV that I have hooked up to analog service. Apparently this is due to CNN Headline News being moved to Channel 10 so that "basic" cable subscribers can now pick it up.

However, what got me all excited is that WCPO's actual over-the-air HD signal is supposed to be on cable now on "Channel 9.1".

Uh ... well "9.1" is just the "marketing name" on HD. WCPO actually transmits on the old VHF channel 10, making it very difficult to pick up at Camp Axinar over rabbit ears.

Cable usually does carry channels on the same frequency as their over-the-air versions due to the possibility of interference and, guess what, they just moved CNN Headline to the Channel 10 frequency.

I cross-connected my analog cable lines into my converter box and - guess what? - nothing.

Nada, zip, zero.

Although I suppose as some point cable will start carrying over-the-air HDTV channels as more and more people get HD tuners, but there sure doesn't seem to be anything there now.

Bummer - I was looking forward to seeing some HD channels on cable without the need for a converter box at some point ...


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Obama: Black? White? Both? Neither?

Well, believe it or not, the Dean of Cincinnati's issue about whether or not it is appropriate to call Obama "Black" or "African-American" has made the mainstream media. An AP story made it to the Axinar news desk via AOL of all places asking Is Obama Black, White, Both, or Neither?

Now probably the most pertinent fact on the subject is Obama's own opinion of his identity - he has been quoted as saying, "I identify as African-American — that's how I'm treated and that's how I'm viewed. I'm proud of it."

That should probably be the end of the story.

However, the AP story goes on to say, "The entire issue balances precariously on the 'one-drop' rule ..." referring to a time when a person with any African ancestry at all could never be a full citizen.

The "one-drop" rule has nothing to do, IMHO, with the ethnic identity of Barack Obama or the Haap boys.

Now the Dean himself chimes in with "Of course it's not offensive to be called 'black' But is it accurate?". But of course it's quite impossible to discuss whether or not someone is "accurately" designated as Black because the designation itself, at least in early 21st century Cincinnati, is utterly subjective.

Of course we have Dr. Henry Louis "Skip" Gates of Harvard who discovered that one actually can discover a quite accurate analysis of one's ancestry through something as simple as a cheek swab. Among a considerable A-list of African-American celebrities, Gates himself is probably the most surprising - both sex-linked genetic markers are European, and his nuclear DNA is 50% African, 50% European. And yet, quite clearly by upbringing and cultural association Skip Gates is a "garden variety Black dude".

As he tested celebrity after celebrity, each that would be culturally associated as a "garden variety Black person", a similar story was told. For instance Oprah Winfrey had considerable Native American ancestry, Mae Jemison had considerable far east Asian ancestry, but most had something on the order of 25 - 35% European ancestry.

In particular there was a conversation that Gates had with Maya Angelou when he revealed to her the percentage of European blood coursing through her veins and he asked her if she found this disturbing in any way. She said, "Why? It's who I am. Why should I have a problem with it?"

And from the Malaysian contingent, the one place we might have some hope of objectivity we have "Why call him Black when he isn't fully Black, but half-White and half-Black?".

Again, we have a problem from the "Gates Gang" - every single one of these individuals who clearly have a Black identity and area often considered leaders of the African-American community have CONSIDERABLE European ancestry and often considerable Asian ancestry.

In fact, IMHO, having heard some of the discussions of the interactions between the American African-American community and recent African immigrants, I'd almost have to say in order to comfortably BE "African-American" you almost have to have some considerable non-African ancestry.

This whole thing should NOT be that big of an issue. Of course the Dean if perfectly welcome to raise his children any way he wants, but that we have a Black man moving into the White House January 20th just doesn't seem to me to be that much subject to debate.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Catch The Frak Up - What's Happened On Battlestar Galactica Up Until Now


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Dean Of Cincinnati Makes Mainstream Media With "Multiracial" Rant

The Dean of Cincinnati, as mere mortal "Jason Haap", had an op-ed piece run in The Cincinnati Enquirer about Obama and his own children being "multiracial" rather than "Black" or "African-American".

First of all, his writing cleans up pretty well for something serious I've noticed, and I certainly understand where he's coming from.

On Friday night at Mensa I saw the fascinating one-woman performance of Non-Vertical Girl by Renee Alper. It starts out with a review of all the terms used over the last couple of centuries to refer to someone with limited use of their limbs. These terms have tended to change over time because each and every one of them eventually came to have a distinctly negative connotation - crippled, invalid, and even "handicapped" and "disabled".

Of course the terms used to refer to the descendants of African slaves (and those who physically and culturally identify with them) have a remarkably similar history.

Two that now tend to cause offense are "Negro" and "colored" - despite the fact that the one is merely the Latin name for the color black, and another version of the other can be a term of considerable pride - "of color".

The two terms that tend not to be offensive currently are "Black" and "African-American" - despite the fact that my grandmother (God rest her soul) used to tell me that in the early 20th century "Black" was sufficiently offensive to start a fist fight.

Now why in the world would someone go to such effort to make sure such terms would not be applied to one's children and one's President?

The only explanation I can figure out is that to The Dean, the terms "Black" and "African-American" must somehow be offensive.

As I've tried to explain to my poor, misguided friend over and over again, the topic is HIDEOUSLY complicated. How complicated I had no idea until I showed a photograph of my wife to a friend of mine from Puerto Rico and my Puerto Rican friend said, "Oh, no ... she's not Black ... she's Cuban."

Then of course when I found out my wife's family on her father's side actually WAS from Cuba I almost fell over.

But it brings up an interesting illustration. Same person - in Cincinnati, she's Black; in Puerto Rico, she's Cuban; and I have a strong suspicion in Cuba - she's White. Go figure that one out.

Same with Obama. In Chicago, he's "Black". In Kenya, I have a strong suspicion he's "Arab".

In any event, I think the whole thing boils down to the "charming negress" line from Star Trek when Uhura says, "But why should I object to that term, sir? In our century, we've learned not to fear words. We've each learned to be delighted with what we are."

But I think what we could really used here is The Dean doing the cheek swab bit on his older boy and sending it off to FamilyTreeDNA for mitochondrial and Y-chromosome analysis and AncestryByDNA for nuclear DNA analysis. It's my guess The Dean would get the shock of his life off that set of data.


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