Cloudy and wind-chilly this early Monday morning here on California’s northern coast, the first ‘real‘ day of the new year.
Although technically, last Tuesday was the first and Wednesday the first ‘free‘ new day of the year, today marks the start of no holidays or other nefarious shit from interfering with our quest for life, the beginning of the winter, work-week slough.
Time is not on our side, or our mind — President Obama’s inauguration is in a couple of weeks and the thrill is gone: “I think that a lot of folks feel that, `Well, he’s now president. He’s a little grayer. He’s a little older. It’s not quite as new as it was,'” the president often told supporters while campaigning for re-election.
(Illustration found here).
Of course, the absolute-big reason for the lack of ‘thrill‘ is Obama’s great disappointment. This time four years was a sense of real ‘change‘ in the very air we breathed — after eight years of George Jr.’s disaster, the US was primed and ready for a serious shift in life.
And of course, if you were paying attention, Obama’s selection of two nit-twits, Larry Summers, as chief economic adviser in the White House, and Tim Geithner as Treasury secretary, revealed an ugly underbelly and biz-as-usual approach to ‘change.’
My first less-than-attractive impression of Obama came via that famous three-point basketball shot in July 2008 while touring Kuwait — a warning light clicked in my brain, ‘This guy is more flash than substance.’
See the video here.
And for some reason, Obama seems to have this great desire not to offend Republicans — the very people who are offensive in their own right.
One of the first big moves way back in 2009 was the ‘Cash for Clunkers’ program, where Americans could trade old gas-guzzling autos for up to $4,500 cash back towards the purchase of a fuel-efficient new car.
At first, great applause — now not so much:
According to E Magazine, the â€œClunkersâ€ program, which is officially known as the Car Allowance Rebates System (CARS), produced tons of unnecessary waste while doing little to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
The program’s first mistake seems to have been its focus on car shredding, instead of car recycling.
With 690,000 vehicles traded in, that’s a pretty big mistake.
Shredding vehicles results in its own environmental nightmare.
For each ton of metal produced by a shredding facility, roughly 500 pounds of â€œshredding residueâ€ is also produced, which includes polyurethane foams, metal oxides, glass and dirt.
All totaled, about 4.5 million tons of that residue is already produced on average every year.
Where does it go?
Right into a landfill.
According to a recent TriCities op-ed from Mike Smith of Ralph Smith Motors in Virginia, CARS created a dearth of used cars, artificially driving up prices.
For those who needed an affordable car, but didnâ€™t qualify for the program, this increase in price meant affordable transportation was well out of reach.
It also meant used-car dealers, most of whom are independently owned, small-business owners, had little to no stock.
According to Smith, 122 Virginia dealers chose not to renew their licenses after that year.
What we think right now may not be what we thought tomorrow.
In my years, a lot of events/people/things I figured at first glance were horrific, turned out to be the best shit available, and like so, shit that I thought good, turned real bad.
How we view ourselves can be a rigged experience — how we picture the future for ourselves has no regard to our past.
In a piece in the New York Times last week, a study has shown that people understand the past and its changes, but haven’t a clue to the future.
We understand ourselves via the past and its ‘changes,’ but for the future, we think we’ll be just like we are now in 20 years:
They called this phenomenon the â€œend of history illusion,â€ in which people tend to â€œunderestimate how much they will change in the future.â€
According to their research, which involved more than 19,000 people ages 18 to 68, the illusion persists from teenage years into retirement.
â€œMiddle-aged people — like me — often look back on our teenage selves with some mixture of amusement and chagrin,â€ said one of the authors, Daniel T. Gilbert, a psychologist at Harvard.
â€œWhat we never seem to realize is that our future selves will look back and think the very same thing about us.
At every age we think weâ€™re having the last laugh, and at every age weâ€™re wrong.â€
When asked about their favorite band from a decade ago, respondents were typically willing to shell out $80 to attend a concert of the band today.
But when they were asked about their current favorite band and how much they would be willing to spend to see the bandâ€™s concert in 10 years, the price went up to $129.
Even though they realized that favorites from a decade ago like Creed or the Dixie Chicks have lost some of their luster, they apparently expect Coldplay and Rihanna to blaze on forever.
â€œThe end-of-history effect may represent a failure in personal imagination,â€ said Dan P. McAdams, a psychologist at Northwestern who has done separate research into the stories people construct about their past and future lives.
He has often heard people tell complex, dynamic stories about the past but then make vague, prosaic projections of a future in which things stay pretty much the same.
In this way-more turbulent world, the future is change is a way-big way.
Today is Monday, tomorrow, Tuesday, and so on, but the past is catching up and it ain’t pretty.