synthetic zero

April 23rd, 2011

Why aren’t people more up in arms about the Ryan plan? Because it is obviously pure political theater. It isn’t a bold, “transformative” plan, it’s simply an opening salvo in a political game, where the Republicans are throwing out an initial, crazy proposal in order to, in their minds, hopefully find something somewhere in the “middle” which is still, nevertheless, far to the right of where we are, today. There’s nothing at all serious about the plan in that neither Ryan nor anyone else actually expects the plan he put forward to become law. It’s an extreme, almost cartoonish caricature simply dolled up in the rhetoric of “reasonable” but which, if implemented, would have catastrophic effects on both the economy and on the health and well-being of senior citizens and the poor.

Ryan’s plan saves money simply by slashing benefits. Out of pocket spending would go from a minimum of $6,000 to $12,000, right off the bat. And then, after that, there’s no limit to how much seniors would be expected to pay, because it is *payments* which are capped, rather than expeditures by seniors. Furthermore, he uses the money “saved” by forcing seniors to pay much more for medical care by slashing taxes even further on the wealthy.

It’s a laughable plan which is simultaneously draconian in its impact on seniors and politically absurd. Americans don’t want massive cuts to Medicare, they don’t want to cut taxes for the wealthy even more than they are now.

Even more absurd is the fact that the Ryan plan does nothing to address cost increases in health care, except by capping payments. We already spend, in this country, due to our extremely inefficient, private insurance system, almost twice per capita what every other industrialized nation spends, and contrary to rumor many other nations have vastly MORE choice when it comes to choosing doctors and hospitals (try to get your HMO to pay a doctor outside of its plan, for instance: in France, you’re free to go to ANY doctor, and wait times are less, on average, than in the US).

We are reaching and exceeding Banana Republic levels of income disparity, and Republicans want to slash taxes for the wealthy? It makes no sense at all, the entire thing isn’t serious, in the least. Ryan himself would not have proposed this “plan” if he actually thought it had a chance of really becoming law. Yet “seriousness” is the rhetoric Republicans are using, a strange Orwellian doublespeak.

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April 23rd, 2011

Update: My loft has been sublet for the summer, thanks for the interest, those people who contacted me. I may be looking for someone to take it on longer-term, however, as well, depending on how things go, so… leaving the below blog post up for now.

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April 18th, 2011

Hey everyone. I’m relocating to San Francisco, temporarily, for the summer (possibly a little longer), so I’m looking for someone to sublet my loft. It’s a large, 1200sf loft condo with huge south-facing windows, solar power (reduces power bills), free laundry room in basement, bathroom with clawfoot tub, and convenient access to the 4/5/6 and 2 trains. It’s an open plan loft with two walk-in closets and a bedroom and a huge open living room and kitchen area in a brand new, converted industrial loft building in the Mott Haven neighborhood of the Bronx, the closest part of the Bronx to Manhattan, an area where artists and others have been moving. Our building itself has artists and musicians along with other folks. It’s a very warm, friendly building, with easy access to the city, about 15 minutes by 4/5/6 to Grand Central and 20 minutes to Union Square (basically anywhere on the east side of Manhattan is easy to get to — the west side is another 10 minutes, typically, to get cross town on the L or 7, or 9 blocks from the 2 which goes to the Upper West Side).

I’m looking for someone to sublet from June through August for $1850/month, the exact end date is negotiable (can be a little earlier or later), or alternately someone who would swap their San Francisco apartment (of any size) for those same dates. I have two cats who would either stay here (to be taken care of by you) or come with me to San Francisco.

The building is dog and cat friendly. The neighborhood is mostly low income and not super gentrified yet but it has plenty of local shopping and restaurants. There are a few restaurants catering to the local artist/professional crowd, however. There’s an art gallery on the first floor of our building. It’s pretty safe, crime rates are down to about the national average, even though in the past it was a fairly dangerous neighborhood, 15 years ago: major crime is down 90% from the early 90’s.

The rent includes heat and gas, but not electric (however electric bills are lowered somewhat by the solar panels, typically $60 or less even at the peak of summer). It’s wired for cable internet and satellite TV; if you’d like to take over those for the duration of your stay, internet is $50/month, and DishNetwork is about $85/month. I can also suspend one or both of those during your stay, if you don’t need one or both.

The apartment is furnished with flat screen TV, couch, bed, dining table, kitchen, dishwasher, fridge, pots, pans, microwave, toaster oven, etc.

Email me if interested!

Read the rest of this entry »

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April 3rd, 2011

In a post on the IDP blog, Nancy Thompson quotes John Welwood’s Towards a Psychology of Awakening:

If the absolute side of our nature – undifferentiated being – is like clear light, then the relative side – differentiated being – is like a rainbow spectrum of colors contained within that light. While realizing undifferentiated being is the path of liberation, embodying qualities of differentiated being is the path of individuation in its deepest sense: the unfolding of our intrinsic human resources , which exist as seed potentials within us, but which are often blocked by psychological concepts.

….How fully the suchness of you shines through – in your face, your speech, your actions, your particular quality of presence – is partly grace but also partly a result of how much you have worked on polishing your vessel so that it becomes transparent.

There’s another twist to this story, however. One way of thinking of things is this:

ABSOLUTE / (relative)

I.e., sort of two “levels”, with the absolute the big container of everything, which differentiates itself into the relative, where all the “stuff” is and where “things happen”. This picture has its value, but it’s also very misleading, because it makes it seem as though these are two different levels of reality which are somewhat independent of each other, or where you have to kind of reach out from the relative world to pull in something from the absolute. The absolute reality starts to seem sort of far off, a bit detached from ordinary concerns. But there’s another picture which I think is a bit more accurate, or includes more features of what is actually the case, which is captured in the Buddhist Heart Sutra:

form is none other than emptiness, emptiness is none other than form

The way I imagine it is something like this: ordinary things are like an iceberg, where you see the top of the iceberg but it’s of a piece with this larger and larger ice but in fact the iceberg itself ends up being connected with the entire universe if you really fully appreciate its full substance. This is not just a theoretical idea but something that is concretely present at all times. It’s something we can actually rely on. The way “spring cleaning” is usually presented is: in order to work with relative “things” (the self, our concerns, things, other people, etc.) we have to use other relative “things” (psychological ideas, moving stuff around, arranging our lives). And there’s nothing wrong with that as far as it goes. But there are alternatives: that is, to participate more fully in this vastness of even ordinary “things”, to follow those out and allow them to become more what they actually are. From a psychological perspective this could just be something along the lines of appreciating the unconscious, all of that which we’re not ordinarily aware. But the point is, that which we’re not aware of can be directly relied upon (like an athlete going into the “zone”, not attempting to control every element of what they’re doing consciously, but relying on processes and forces far outside their conscious control, which tends to improve, rather than degrade, performance.) Problems which seem very intractable in ordinary space become much less so when you have a larger dimensionality to work with (which is where we all really live: we don’t live in just the apparent conscious reality, we live in the whole enchilada.) That allows us to live in both the relative and absolute worlds at the same time, to appreciate them as the same world. There’s a spaciousness present in each ordinary moment which is always available, but we don’t ordinarily appreciate. We aren’t limited to the confines of Flatland; we exist in a much larger dimensionality, even if you consider the “much larger” to just be that which is beyond conscious awareness. It’s a different sort of approach to spring cleaning.

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