Designer God

It’s been some time since I said anything on this blog about God, or religion, or any of the more spiritual things that interest me.  And then I read this post, and I was caught again in that whirlwind, at least for a moment.  I am steady in my own faith at the moment, and as a result, am consistently fascinated by the beliefs of others.  Shape + colour mentions the way the site design has attracted her despite her initial lack of interest in the subject matter.  And there’s something very interesting in that draw, as typical attempts by religion to ‘reach out’ to a certain demographic end up feeling slightly sleazy.  What makes this site different?  Is it only the design?  Is it the attempted broadness of appeal to all faiths and belief systems?  Is it the idea of a truly universal and sympathetic community?

But the story continues.  While the graphics and site design may be one thing, the prayer postings and comments themselves are another.  They driven things, forced out by our own worries, self-doubts, or frustrations.  They are full of questions as well as calls for aid and support, or affirmations of life and knowledge and faith.  And that’s a beautiful thing, no matter what you feel or believe personally.  It has a bit of the flavor of what I most like about the world: truth.  Truth expressed in a multiplicity of ways and embellished and shown more fully and completely by all kinds of art.  I want to write it all down and capture the truest moments of my life and the lives of others.  I want truth so powerful it slaps you around a little before sucking you in completely.  Maybe this website will promote a little of that.  Even though I was not able to find out much about who was responsible for backing it, I hope it does.

Florida Tax laws and Bio-diesel

Students at the University of Central Florida are using their own small experimental bio-diesel reactor to avoid the growing costs of gasoline.  This fuel, made from fryer grease and chemicals, costs about 1/5 of the price of regular gas, and burns cleaner than petroleum-based diesel and produces less CO2 than diesel or gas (anyone know how to put subscripts into WordPress?).  They are also donating some of their fuel to their school. earning a tax break from the donation.

What was most interesting to me about the article however, was not the non-disclosure of the bio-diesel recipe or equipment.  It was not the implications of possible widespread use of this fuel.  It was not even the potential benefit to the environment through better, cleaner fuels.  It was the tax implications for the production of such a fuel.  Florida state, like many other US states, has a substantial excise tax fuel.  Excise tax is a tax for the production of goods – you make it, you pay it.  I would guess that in a typical situation, this sort of tax would not affect individuals.  Excise tax is only commonly imposed on certain goods like tobacco and alcohol.  So if you ferment your own cider, you might owe something to your state government.

However, I would think it’s likely that most small producers who don’t sell the goods wouldn’t suffer for not paying the tax.  Such small production has a minuscule impact on the local economy and tax revenue – usually.  However, with the shortage of gas and rising prices, this could mean big money that local governments aren’t getting, especially as more and more people turn to homemade bio fuels.  It may mean more money and certainly more annoyance for the consumers/producers.  The question is how much it will hamper local efforts for the production of a cleaner fuel, despite savings even with the tax paid out of pocket.

Back around, around again.

When it comes to the things we want, it seems we move in endless circles.  There’s always something – a promotion, a better place to live, higher achievements – worth striving for, that seems just out of reach.  Even our causes seem to move in general historical trends.  We all want freedom.  We all want to right to choose our own lives.  We all want the ability to support and give good things to our children. We see these same desires around the world: in Ireland, the Middle east, Eastern Europe, Burma, and elsewhere.  We see them reflected in the eyes of others, perhaps even those we do not share language or understanding with otherwise.

If you’re an oldie ( I will not comment on the potential ‘goodie’ aspect of your nature), or if you just like old movies, you may have seen one called Donovan’s Reef, starring the Duke.  I don’t really remember much of it, since I saw it under the coercion of superior parental force when I was young.  What I do remember most vividly is the haunting beauty of the Hawaiian children of Doc Dedham.  I can see them laying flowers in front of the Dedham house where their half-sister, Amelia (from Boston, where I am.  Freaky), is staying.  I can see the procession in which the eldest daughter sits regally, as daughter to an island princess.  I can see the windswept headland where the fate of the island’s royalty is described by a small plaque.  True, the movie is a romantic comedy in the true form of its time, but these are the moments that have stuck in my memory.  I am doubly unsure how much of this movie can be linked to fact.  Gasp-Hollywood portraying social issues realistically?  In the 60s?

That half-regret, half-beauty still exists in Hawaii.  What could have been in Hawaii, without the US?  What are we to do, besides apologizing for the past as Clinton and Congress did in 1993?  Do native Hawaiians still have some right to their own monarchy?  Some of them feel they do.  They want that freedom, that they feel has been stolen from them.  But what of those who feel most comfortable as a State of the United States?  What of their voices?  And would such a break, at this point, even be possible?  Perhaps this is a case of no right – or even good – answers.  But there is a sense of striving, of longing, that remains, perhaps more poignant for its impossibility.