Day 94: In Which Economics is Completed, and That Means I Get to Go To Bed

I’ve officially been here for more than 90 days, which is when most visas expire and they make you go home. For the record, 90 days is wildly long time to have free reign in another country. And it’s the strangest things remind me that I’m actually on foreign continent and not just weird part of Maine? Like, this is what the butter packages look like now:

A butter package, with Christmas trees and little red jingle bells on.

These people take their Christmas Very Seriously. I bought this last week, which keen eyed viewers will note, was the middle of November. If I hear Jingle Bells before the first of December I might have to riot. Though I don’t think anything will top, for sheer confusion, when I was in the bank and they were playing Blurred Lines. Which is Not a song I associate with the banking establishment.

We wrapped up Economics today, and I’m relieved. Somewhere around Thursday of last week I remembered how to deal with classes that make me frustrated, and it’s just a slightly distanced brainspace. So long as I know I’m going to be irritated, I’m less angry because I’m watching myself be angry instead. And then I go back to my tiny bedroom and eat some chocolate for being so calm in class. Positive reinforcement, it really works. Once I just embraced the fact I was going to be annoyed, I had a much better time.

This was helpful because we spent most of this Wednesday talking about population, agriculture, and water rights and how they effect the environment. Wednesday surprised me because the slides were actually not bad (barring a little Malthus and little fretting over GMOs), but the class discussion very rapidly turned to, well actually globalism is the real problem, people just need to go vegan and that’ll fix it. My primary climate change opinion, and has been for a while now has been: You have to tax the oil companies. Most everything else will take care of itself, but goddamn you need to tax the oil companies. To the point where I actually forget there are people who think we can individually consume our way of this.

(this often prompts some push back: tax at extraction? tax at refinement? tax at release? Yes. Tax the oil companies at every step, at every process. Make them bleed dollars until it is cheaper to keep the damn oil in the ground and use the tax money to put people in houses and subsidize wind & solar)

It also cracked me up when we were talking about water rights, because one of the kids was like water is a human right (true), so people can do whatever they want with water, but companies should have pay for it. Which I broadly sympathize with, but in the US we use more water and pesticides on lawn maintenance than we do on agriculture. And lawns are individual choices (mod HOAs and whatnot). So what then? Which isn’t even getting into what do you in drought conditions, when there genuinely isn’t enough water to go around. There are some obvious evils, like growing almonds, a notoriously water intensive crop, in California, a location doing its damnedest to be a desert. It’s complicated.

We spent a lot of today talking about debt, and oh boy if you already don’t believe money is real (me), thinking about debt will not dissuade you of that opinion. Most nations are in debt. Many have more debt that GDP. There is not enough money on the planet to pay off all the debt. Which makes it very tempting to me, personally, to just declare the whole system defunct and try something else. Money as: here is a standardized token that represents so much labor, that can be exchanged for goods you didn’t personally make and you don’t have to haggle for it; this makes sense to me. Debt as anything other than gifts just turns to gibberish real fast.

Also today, in Living-In-Cheap-Student-Housing Adventures, one of my roommates was messing with her light and manged to flip the electricity in the whole house off. The light was old and crumbling and one wire came out of its little box and very nearly touched another wire (very bad). Luckily, I travel everywhere with electrical tape these days, so me and the other roommate stabilized the wires and taped the light switch down. We’re calling an electrician and the landlord tomorrow (this happened at about 8pm, so too late to call anyone today). If I was very slightly more twitchy and slightly more confident in my understanding of electrical circuits, I’d travel with wire caps. And honestly, I’m nearly tempted to anyway. But we flipped the breakers back on and nothing bad happened, so hurrah for emergency electrical tape I guess.

I’m so happy to be out of economics and I’m really looking forward to the next class which is Physical Coastal Processes. I’m just relived to be thinking about stuff that’s real. (money isn’t real and you can’t convince me otherwise)

Some slightly bleary northern lights. And Mars

There have been more spectacular displays, but I find something really charming about the ones that just look a like a faintly green cirrus cloud.

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