Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas Excuses

Christmas is drawing closer with every passing hour, and the stresses of presents and cards and family have seen their welcomes worn. It's been a busy month, and I intend to apologize for the lack of content, but I'll be on a plane late this afternoon, so it will have to wait.

Below are a couple of photographs from this past summer. Keep your eyes out for a full album containing these photos in early January.



These photographs were taken during my time spent last summer on the road from Florida to Maine. The first photograph was taken in Newport, Rhode Island along the cliff walk there. The second two photos were taken in Hampden, Maine and Richmond, Virginia, respectively. The last picture was taken at a shiplock in Richmond. The photograph at the top was taken in Tavernier, FL, and features a Monroe County Police Officer and a man with conviction.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

December 5th is Repeal Day!

December 5, 1933 was the day that state conventions ratified the Twenty-First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The amendment repealed the Eighteenth Amendment, effectively ending prohibition and becoming the first and only amendment to constitutionalize a pleasurable activity. Jeffrey Morgenthaler has long been an advocate of officializing the celebration of Repeal Day, and it seems that Dewar's Scotch Whiskey has taken a shining to the idea as well.

video
Celebrate Repeal Day!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Fiscal Year '0X - The Brain Drain

Poor spending seems to be one of the many recurring themes of the Bush Administration, and striking a balance between the departments of Defense and Education is precisely what many critics suggest. But how many Americans actually know where their taxes are going? What exactly is this great disparity that has so severely burdened Bush's budget?

I took the time to peruse through some of our nation's spending habits and found some interesting information. The gap between the cost of war and our investment in knowledge isn't just large, it's unnerving. In 2006, the United States government spent nearly $500 billion in national defense, while only $93.4 billion was invested in education; and that was high. In 2005, $72 billion was spent on education, and the 2007 budget granted the Department of Education only $68 billion. Between 2004 and today, the US has spent over $1.95 trillion on defense. Comparitively, the Department of Education has recieved less than $300 billion.

In all fairness, the Department of Defense is not quite the fattest agency on the books. By year's end, the 2007 budget will encompass expenditures of over $671 billion on health and human services alone, a substantial increase from the $581 billion spent in 2005; impressive figures for a worthy cause. It seems odd, then, that nearly 47 million Americans (16%) were without health insurance in 2005. Odd, too, that this number was about 1.3 million higher than the year before it, despite a $40 billion budget increase.

In 2004, despite a record voter turnout, only 58% of Americans aged 18-24 were registered to vote. In the same category, only 47% actually voted, the lowest category by far. Based on these numbers, it would seem that young Americans are uncaring, uneducated, or otherwised discouraged from taking part in arguably the most important aspect of American Government.

What does all this mean? My guess is as good as anyone's, but it seems that the correlation between the ignorance of politics in American schools and an ailing education budget may be more than coincidental. If anything will help politicians desperately cling to a conservative platform, a collective brain drain will do it.

Poem - Needles

Despite my love of literature, English has never been one of my favorite subjects in school. No matter what level of education, I can never come to terms with the cavalcade of trivial exercises. The worst of these exercises have always involved poetry.

It was just such an exercise, oddly enough, which sparked the inspiration for the piece below. "Needles," as it is appropriately titled, was written in response to a poetry assignment in my Sophomore english class. What inspired me, I can't say, but the image of the ghastly flame haunted me for days.

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In the darkness a lighter flares,
a golden flame for vacant stares,
a friendly beacon for leaves and paper.
There are needles on the floor.

And in this darkness a figure stands.
His eyes are glazed. With shaking hands
the paper’s lit, the flame is gone,
there’s darkness and a scarlet glow,

A gentle light contorts the figure’s face beneath the muted glow.

Pale skin and sunken eyes,
a stubbled chin whose story cries
of clear-cut forests miles wide,
of a bushman’s pilfered home.

Now the embers are softly stoked
and, for a moment, marred by smoke.
Alone, a darkened figure stands
amongst the needles on the floor.

About Me

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Nick Woll grew up in the Florida Keys, and is furthering himself in the fields of writing, software development, and web design. You can contact him at nwoll27 at gmail dot com.