Picture of the Day
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January 9, 2003

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Got this poster in the mail from Greg Lundgren. He is an inspiration. Positive and proactive, his credo is "100% all the time."

Cell Phones
Aside from the physiological effects on individual users, cell phones undermine community. Though their ostensible purpose is to connect people with each other, cell phones tend to exclude other humans not in one's programmed phonebook. Maniacs walk down the street yammering into their portable microwave transmitters, meanwhile ignoring the real present people around them. Cell phones are a screen, an excuse not to see.

Not only is TV viewing inherently antisocial (even when people watch together their attention is focused on the tube), but it is literally, physically bad for you. The one book which most affected my direction in life is Jerry Mander's Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television. Find it at your local library. If they don't have it, politely insist that they order it. The issue of television is not content (watching the news or documentaries is no better than watching soap operas or cartoons), but how the act of watching itself affects your body and cognitive abilities. A simple start to reducing TV viewing is by draping a decorative sheet over your TV. This barrier closes the all-seen eye and adds a deliberate step between you and the on-switch. Think before you get sucked in again. Make every week TV turn-off week. Other books on the subject.

SUV once stood for Sport Utility Vehicle, but since most owners use them for neither activity, those initials have come to stand for Selfish Urban Vanity. These "off-road" vehicles should be taken off the road, their seats removed and used in new public theaters and reading rooms, the shells shipped overseas to provide housing for refugees and those made homeless by military aggression designed to secure oil supply lines. The popularity of SUVs is the result of systemic manipulations. Still, there is hope as awareness builds and converts like Arianna Huffington and religious organizations come out swinging in defense of the environment and common sense.

Now, before I get too high up on my high horse, let me say that I sometimes borrow friends' cell phones (very convenient!), rent cars for roadtrips, and enjoy an occasional Simpsons episode outside the home. My point here and with other similar pages is that these technologies need to be viewed with great skepticism and used minimally. They are vices. Also, if you're going to buy something, anything, buy used (hygiene products excepted). "Won't that bring the global economy to a halt? Won't we all starve if we don't keep mass producing crap?" No. The transition will be gradual and we as a species will adapt. Change starts with you. Finally: Your new car is not cool. Your new phone is not cool. Your big screen TV belies the size of the hole in your soul.