Alaskan Artist - Elise Tomlinson
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06/15/2005: "Not to be a buz kill but..."

Do you ever think that being an artist is a frivolous and self-indulgent pursuit? Last night I was working on the painting of the woman with the musical saw and listened to the Nova episode called World in the Balance: The People Paradox: ĒNOVA investigates the impact of forces that are radically changing populations in both rich and poor nationsĒ.

This is code for ďThe world is doomed Elise, and you are partly to blame!Ē It touched on every depressing topic you can name, one in particular that Iíve been aware of for years is the Bush Administrationís decision to ban aid to those "who perform or advocate abortion" but what it has really done is cause the closure of reproductive health clinics (that were often seconding as aids clinics) all over the developing world. This policy has contributed to far more deaths than the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq combined!

Iíve been feeling so happy lately. I had given myself permission to charge purchases related to getting fit but now I feel like this horrible over-consumer..., for example a child born in the US will consume 30x more resources than one born in India. Itís a daunting problem, on one hand, people need to consume to create jobs to reduce poverty etc. but it seems like such a vicious cycle that is rapidly becoming unsustainable. And the whole time Iím listening to all this, Iím painting away my pretty pinks and blues thinking to myselfÖĒwhat the hell am I doing with my life?Ē

Replies: 10 Comments

on Wednesday, June 15th, Howard said

It seems it's the job of the media to make people feel guilty and afriad all the time.
As a Canadian watching US news it can be a strange experience. Watching news stories designed to scare people which have no credabilty at all. Canadian news is not all that much better, but it seldom sinks to the level of what I see coming out of the US. I'd recomended renting a documentry call " OutFoxed". It's a look at The Fox News Network. That's a real eye opener.
It's amazing how much better one feels about life when you stop watching the news.
I don't think people have to apologize for things that bring them happiness in life.

on Wednesday, June 15th, Elise said

It's funny you say that about the news Howard because I just had lunch with my friend Julie who refuses to watch the news (doesn't own a TV in fact) and just reads online newspapers to find out what's going on in a non-sensationalized way. She said that sheís much better since she kicked her CNN habit (as I recall, she used to watch as much news as I do now)Öbut Nova isnít really the news, itís a PBS program that explores different scientific principles and their impact on the world (String theory, the case of Typhoid Mary, the life on Mars debate, etc.) itís one of my favorite shows and they do in depth analysis and talk to level headed experts who take varying sides of an issueÖitís really good.

But, after my lunch with my friend I feel much better. She said it doesnít do the world any good to be depressed and isolated from itÖor to be stressed out all the time about not doing more. She says that doing small things everyday to make a difference can add up (weíre going to join the league of women voters together).

Also, she told me about a program similar to the Peace Corps called the Geek Corps, which "promotes economic growth in the developing world by sending highly skilled technology volunteers to teach communities how use innovative and affordable information and communication technologies to solve development problems."

I studied systems analysis and systems administration in graduate school, I know programing, some networking etc. and I'm sure I could be of help in a program like that. Maybe after I get tenure I could qualify for a sabaticle.

Anyway, thanks for the documentary recommendation, I've wanted to watch that for awhile but I've never taken Fox News seriously.

Anyway, I'm going to try and remain positive...thanks!

on Wednesday, June 15th, greg said

Well, we humans have probably been on the tenuous edge of DOOM for millenia.

It's good to be aware, its good to be angry, and its good to not sweat he small stuff.

Hey, think about all that debt getting erased for the poor countries! Geldof is again out to save Africa! And we all doing what we can is important ya know! :)

Hey check out this blog:

on Wednesday, June 15th, Elise said

I think you forgot the link.

on Wednesday, June 15th, greg said

Yeh Sorry!! I pasted it there and it didnt show up! I tried reposting and the message box was acting weird - the cursor wouldnt work, so I bailed.

Try this again ...

I know Becky in RL and she has a good attitude about the cares of the world, and does what she can

on Thursday, June 16th, Elise said

Thanks Greg, I'll check it out when I have more time.

on Thursday, June 16th,">Jackie said

E: I quit watching the news, because it's just so depressing, and there's very little or nothing one can do about all the horrors of the world. Besides, there are plenty of things in our own back yards we CAN do something about. I read the ARts/Life section of the paper, and the headlines - but not always. I just literally read the Headlines - not the articles! Some of those tv documentaries are even worse. I like to be informed about things I can do something about, but the overpopulation of INdia or China...? The poverty of the THird WOrld and Developing Nations... I have a hard time just paying my own bills. But if I walked down the street and saw someone starving, or having a medical emergency, then I'd stop to help.
How can you keep doing that to yourself? You are such a TV addict!

on Thursday, June 16th, Elise said

You know Jackie, there are things I can understand on an intellectual level but not on an emotional level. Things just affect me too much, I get depressed too easily, but I donít feel like I just stick my head in the sand so I donít have to be bothered by all the horrors going on in the world.

I agree with you that Iím a TV addictÖIím trying to do something about that. Iíve limited the number of programs I can TIVO, Iím not watching news in the morning, Iím trying to give up the evening news but thatís a tough one.

The main thing is that Iím getting physically in shape so Iím out more, walking, taking classes at the gym, visiting friends, sailing, etc. So there arenít as many hours to watch TVÖI mostly listen to it while Iím painting, and I have to finish the show Iím working on now. Maybe Iíll just listen to music instead.

on Friday, June 17th,">Jackie said

E: I hope it didn't sound like I was advising you to just stick your head in the sand. It's just that I don't like to see people spend their time and energy on things they can do little to change. But listening to music while you paint sounds good. That's what I do - only I don't paint, I carve/construct. You were amassing a large collection of tunes from your readers when I first tuned in to your blog. I borrow CDs from the library so I can decide if I want to buy an album or not. Plus, that way I get to have an endless choice of new music to listen to, without investing all that money - especially if I end up not liking the artist or the album. I'm saving up to buy an MP3 player.
Oh - and I do listen to the news - on NPR. Maybe it's too liberal/namby-pamby for some folk - but I enjoy it. :rolleyes:

on Friday, June 17th, Elise said

No, I didn't think you were saying I should bury my head, but that's what I feel like doing a lot of the time because the more I learn about the realities of what's going on in the world, whether by mainstream or alternative media, the more upset and cynical I feel.

I listen to a lot of NPR at work as well...I'm kind of a new junkie.

I want an ipod in the worst way but it's not in the budget. There's always internet radio...I listen to stations from Sevilla Spain where I used to live.

Great music too and free!