Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Information design, federal budget and politics

So, if you're not in the mood for political talk, feel free to skip this blog post. I recently came across this chart showing the percentages of discretionary spending here.

It's a really well-designed graphic. Simple, easy to read. There is power in information design. On this site, they say: the military eats up a lion’s share of the spending, while social priorities fall by the wayside. Looking at this graphic, it is obvious where it'd be easiest to trim from the budget. And indeed, one of the things they hope to accomplish is to have more of the federal budget allocated for social priorities.

But wait. Let's look a little closer. Let's examine the truth.

Funny how MOST of the federal budget spent on welfare, unemployment, health insurance programs, social security, medicaid and medicaid AREN'T EVEN INCLUDED in this graphic. Aren't those considered social priorities? I think they are. But this chart shows only discretionary spending, NOT ALL SPENDING.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if the American population strived to know whole truth, to look at as much of the picture as they can? This reminds me of someone going through a book with a highlighter, marking swear words, and then starting a campaign to ban the book because it has a BAD WORD in it. Never mind that the book is THE BOOK THEIF and perhaps one of the most beautiful books ever written with a message of peace and hope. They just see the bad word and they don't read those words in CONTEXT to the entire written work.

It's possible this image was created in ignorance, but I'm thinking more likely it was done with the intent to deceive and to hide the entire truth.

Rachel to the rescue.

I decided to take 10 minutes and create a complete picture of the entire budget. Here's what President Obama's budget looks like until December 16, 2011. A few more bills need to be voted for by Congress, but this is what the 2012 budget looks like as of now:

Looking at the complete picture, I'd say the lion's share of spending IS being spent on social priorities. How has that been working? Is that helping to create jobs? To foster self-reliance? To bolster American health care? To eliminate poverty?

Things to think about when you vote for your political leaders.

ETA: Please know that I believe ALL political parties and ALL news stations are guilty of putting forth incomplete pictures to prove their points and some time or another. I just happened upon this example today. And I'm not saying I agree or disagree with the way the money is being spent on the federal budget. I'd definitely like to see more spent on education, but If I had to cut a program, it would be really hard to choose where to cut. Just like it's hard to say "no" to a new pair of pants for your child or to a meal out when our family doesn't have the money in our budget to spend on those kind of things. Do you cut veterans' health benefits? Do you cut disability for the sweet lady who had a stroke in her late 40's? I don't know.

I don't know everything about all the issues either. Probably no one does. I just wanted to make a point about how lots of information we're being given is misleading but it doesn't take long to do a little research and find the whole story, or at least MORE of the story.

Monday, November 28, 2011

fantasy christmas wish list

as i prepare for the start of christmas season, these words keep running through my head:

Why do ye adorn yourselves with that which hath no life, and yet suffer the hungry, and the needy, and the naked, and the sick and the afflicted to pass by you, and notice them not?
(Mormon 8:39)

and so, i am trying to keep this christmas as simple as possible, to not ask for too many things, buy too many things, nor do too many things.

but what kind of fun is that? kidding! i'm working on a 12 days of christmas thing that i hope to share here in a few days. that will be fun. but i thought just for fun i'd do a fantasy christmas wish list.

fantasy as in the noun [fan-tuh-see, -zee]

1. imagination, especially when extravagant and unrestrained.
2. the forming of mental images, especially wondrous or strange fancies; imaginative conceptualizing.

so with that definition in mind, here is what i'd like for christmas:

1. brown ankle boots from brown's boots

2. vintage polk-a-dot blouse from amprisloves etsy shop

3. "every knee shall bow" painting by j. kirk richards. only $4900 for 48 x 147.5 on canvas(!)

4. mikado dishtowel from anthropologie

5. vintage industrial wall clock like this one from zinnia cottage. our $5 ikea one is broken, and even when it was working, i was the only one who could tell time on it.

6. hour glass from cb2. wouldn't this be more fun than setting the timer on the microwave?

7. a pair of petrie leather sofas from crate and barrel. this is the most fantastical of all, seeing as how younger son cut a 5-inch slit into our new ottomans the day after i bought them. i can't imagine how i'd feel if he'd done that on a $4,000 sofa.

8. week-long vacation rental in benyac, france. only 850 euros a week.

9. "ex libris" embosser to mark all the books in our family library. i've been wanting one of these for years. why i haven't just broken down and bought it i have no idea.

10. equilibrium necklace from palomarie.

11. clip-in hair extensions. seems weird, unless you know that my hair is falling out and not really growing. despite a healthy diet and lifestyle. wouldn't that be funny to have super short hair one day and then super long the next? have any of you tried this? i can't quite see myself spending the money, which is why i'll probably just keep my hair short and fantasize about having fairy-tale-length hair.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

the blog post of many, many things (a.k.a. procrastinating writing my novel)

1. i am doing NaNoWriMo this month. i've added a word count progress bar on the right side of my blog. hoping to type 50,000 words by the end of the month. wish me luck.

2. how to host a spooky spa party for younger daughter's 8th birthday: when elder daughter asks if her friends can come over, say do they want to help with a party? also, invite your brother and his girlfriend. then have everyone else do ALL THE WORK.

3. daylight saving time unfolds a bit like the FORTUNATELY, UNFORTUNATELY children's book. fortunately, all my kids were in bed by 7pm the last two nights. unfortunately, they all woke up at 6am. fortunately, it's light outside when elder daughter walks to the bus stop. unfortunately, it's dark before dinner. fortunately, we got an extra hour of sleep on saturday night. unfortunately church still starts at 9am. i think the practice should be abolished along with the incorrect use of the apostrophe.

4. will someone please buy the man who runs at 5am at the american fork rec center track some new pants? he's worn the same ones everyday for the past five years—which wouldn't be so bad except they're about 4 sizes too small, and pulled up at least 4 inches too high, showing an unsightly chunk of hairy white ankle and not leaving anything to the imagination in his nether regions. maybe he wouldn't breathe so loudly if he had a pair that fit better. no one should have to deal with this at 5am.

5. younger daughter's baptism day was one of the happiest of my life for many, many reasons. i might have taken more pictures had i not been deathly ill. i think when my head cold clears, i'd like to blog more coherently and deeply about it.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

if you ever wanted to know what it's like

[images from the fantastic hyperbole and a half]

depression is hard to understand (for loved ones of the depressed, and the depressed themselves), hard to treat (at least in my experience) without feeling like a cold, dead, reptilian devoid-of-feelings person, and impossible to not blame myself for.

over the years, i have developed a few tricks to keep the sad wolves at bay: excercise, limit refined sugars, prayer, healthy relationships. but this fall has been HARD. and for no particular reason, which makes me feel even worse when i stop and think about it.

i have a great, wonderful, easy life with millions of blessings and tender mercies. children! prosperity! friends! health! freedom! clean water! maroon skinny jeans!

and yet.

if you ever wanted to know what it's like to have depression, you should read this.

meanwhile i'll keep waking up at 5am to fit in my exercising. cuz as crazy as that seems, it's helping.