really different

here's one thing i've been thinking about: separation.

separateness, like separation of church and state or separation of curds and whey is a conceptual divider that serves to define both entities that it stands between and establish their boundaries.

sometimes the difference between two things is visual, like the separation of sea and shore seen here:

photo: @shazwan
other times, however, things may not be so clean-cut. sometimes differences boil down to words; the separation between to a simple linguistic splitoftentimes the only difference between things is their purpose, as indicated by the linguistic designators by which we refer to them:

trash (photo: stevendepolo)
recycling (photo: stevendepolo)

i guess this second kind of separation leaves room for a lot of shifting when it comes to talking about objects in the world. one man's trash is another man's treasure is another man's recycling. how do we decide who's right?

maybe the way that we talk about things really depends on what we want to see in the world. some people want to recycle bottles, and others don't really see the point. but the way we describe things definitely has a serious effect on what we do in the world.

what about the united states? what kind of separations can we talk about here?

i guess the popular ones are separation of church and state, separation of business and pleasure and separation of texas from everything else (funny story about that)...

but i don't hear much about the separation between government and people. and this might be because, in america, we are supposed to have "government of the people, by the people, for the people." (lincoln)

the lack of separation between government and people is what a lot of people (me included) idealize. but is that what's really happening? it depends on how you look at it.

the u.s. government is comprised of a group of offices that uses $3,830,000,000,000 per year to build things, buy things, sell things and in some cases take over entire countries. sometimes governmental departments take their orders from a group of wealthy elected officials and sometimes they simply act on their own.

sure, we make decisions through our senators and representatives, but doesn't the u.s. government answer to us? doesn't it represent us, the people born within the borders of the u.s.? aren't we the real u.s.?

maybe not. a lot of things are really out o the hands of the people living here. for instance, take a look at this proposed discretionary budget for 2011:

proposed u.s. discretionary budget 2011 (source: costofwar.com)

though almost everyone i've talked to (liberal and conservative and otherwise) wants to rein in government spending and end the wars abroad, congress and the president saw increases in military spending as the top priority for last year's budget. they want more spent on it than everything else combined.

what this says to me is that the government of the u.s. is not the same thing as the people of the u.s. if it were, maybe people everywhere would start seeing the money that we pay in taxes go to things they support instead of things they oppose. that would be nice, wouldn't it?

as ever,


you may want to read about trapwire, an "anti-terrorism" system the u.s. government set up that uses use facial recognition software to track people in public places. here's a recent article about it that appeared in russia today: http://bit.ly/NPkL8k