MonthMay 2009

Ripple interviews Nemo Boko of r6xx

Ray Carney, Joe Matheny, and Nemo in conversation, only at the GSpot.

See also: Technoccult TV interview with Nemo

Buckminster Fuller and the Homeless of New York

If Buckminster Fuller is known for any effort, it is the effort to provide shelter. But who did Fuller actually provide shelter for? The Lightful House and 4D House existed only on paper. The Dymaxion House existed only as a small scale model. The Dymaxion (Wichita) House existed as two full-scale models (one internal, one external, neither able to be connected to the other). The Dymaxion Deployment Unit did house US armed forces personnel – but the DDU was the invention of Victor C. Norquist, not Buckminster Fuller. The geodesic dome was invented by Walter Bauersfeld who made a number of dome shelters. Fuller never built a dome for sale as a shelter. Of the dozens of books by and about Fuller, of the thousands of articles on his life and work, most of them fail to give a single instance of when Fuller actually provided shelter to anyone. The Buckminster Fuller Bibliography by Trevor Blake is the first book to document that Fuller provided shelter for others with his own direct effort.

The New York Times for 10 September 1932 includes an uncredited article titled “Single Jobless Men to Get Lodging House / Social Worker and Engineer Obtain Use of Tenement for Those Ineligible for City Aid.” The buiding in question was a then-deserted seven-story building located at 145 Ridge Street in New York City, New York. The social worker was Ben Howe and the engineer was Buckminster Fuller. Fuller is described as “editor of the magazine Shelter and head of Structural Study Associates, an engineering firm.” According to the article, the men who were renovating the building were hoping to live in it afterward. They were otherwise ineligible for benefits because they were not the head of a family. The building was to house two hundred and fifty men at a time and serve several thousand during Winter. Lieutenant R. E. Johnson was also involved in this project. He is described as a “former army construction engineer and commander of the United States Ex-Service Men’s Association.” At the time of the article, the shelter was under construction. The building described in this article no longer exists.

Synchronofile: Buckminster Fuller and the Homeless of New York

Laid Off Traders Try to Get Jobs as High School Math Teachers

He happens to live in New Jersey, where state education authorities have long worried about a dearth of math teachers.

Last week he heard about a new program called “Traders to Teachers” being set up at Montclair State University to retrain people in the finance industry who have been laid off in the deepest crisis to hit Wall Street since the Great Depression. […]

The university’s 101-year-old College of Education received 146 applications for 25 spots in the first round of the program, which offers three months intensive training followed by a job at a high school in January. The first year on the job includes close mentoring, and after two years probation they can become fully certified math teachers. […]

“If we’re successful … we could change in a very significant way the quality of math instruction in the state of New Jersey,” said university President Susan Cole, noting that many schools rely on substitute teachers because there are not enough certified math teachers to fill the positions.

Reuters: New Jersey seeks laid-off traders to teach math

(via Cryptogon)

See also: Dean Baker: Wall Street Follows the Path of the Steel Industry in Pittsburgh (“By eliminating the Wall Street path, other relatively high-paying jobs will look much better”)

Smart drugs article from the New Yorker

This has been in my virtual “to read” pile for a long time. It’s more interesting than I expected.

If we eventually decide that neuroenhancers work, and are basically safe, will we one day enforce their use? Lawmakers might compel certain workers—emergency-room doctors, air-traffic controllers—to take them. (Indeed, the Air Force already makes modafinil available to pilots embarking on long missions.)

New Yorker: The underground world of “neuroenhancing” drugs.

I tried piracetam in college, but between the cost (I had to order it from Biogenesis Labs and the way it made my stomach feel, I didn’t think it was worth the slight boost.

I have found that Biotest Laboratory’s Spike is an effective “cognitive enhancer,” however. I used it during both Esozones to keep alert and productive on very little sleep under high pressure circumstances. You used to be able to buy it at GNC, but it seems they don’t carry it any more. You can still buy it online. I didn’t find the energy drink they market to be as effective as the pills.

Spike’s “secret sauce” is “thiamine di(2-methylpropionate) disulfide.” It sounds fancy, and they make an effort to make it appear they have something new and exclusive, but it’s really just a chemical name for sulbutiamine, which has been around since the classic Smart Drugs book and was reviewed in Mondo 2000.

Although it’s old, by no means do I consider this product “safe” – use at your own risk.

The art of Chen Fei

chen fei

The art of Chen Fei

(via Coilhouse)

The High Cost of Poverty

The poorer you are, the more things cost. More in money, time, hassle, exhaustion, menace. This is a fact of life that reality television and magazines don’t often explain.

So we’ll explain it here. Consider this a primer on the economics of poverty.

“The poor pay more for a gallon of milk; they pay more on a capital basis for inferior housing,” says Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.). “The poor and 100 million who are struggling for the middle class actually end up paying more for transportation, for housing, for health care, for mortgages. They get steered to subprime lending. . . . The poor pay more for things middle-class America takes for granted.”

Poverty 101: We’ll start with the basics.

Like food: You don’t have a car to get to a supermarket, much less to Costco or Trader Joe’s, where the middle class goes to save money. You don’t have three hours to take the bus. So you buy groceries at the corner store, where a gallon of milk costs an extra dollar.

A loaf of bread there costs you $2.99 for white. For wheat, it’s $3.79. The clerk behind the counter tells you the gallon of leaking milk in the bottom of the back cooler is $4.99. She holds up four fingers to clarify. The milk is beneath the shelf that holds beef bologna for $3.79. A pound of butter sells for $4.49. In the back of the store are fruits and vegetables. The green peppers are shriveled, the bananas are more brown than yellow, the oranges are picked over.

(At a Safeway on Bradley Boulevard in Bethesda, the wheat bread costs $1.19, and white bread is on sale for $1. A gallon of milk costs $3.49 — $2.99 if you buy two gallons. A pound of butter is $2.49. Beef bologna is on sale, two packages for $5.)

Washington Post: The High Cost of Poverty

(via OVO)

See also: Nickeled and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich.

A response to Trevor Blake’s post “Sustainability”

Trevor Blake, in his never ending contrarian quest to dismiss anything he deems “PC” (and therefore oppressive) has turned his attention toward sustainability. First, he cites Wikipedia’s definition:

The ability to maintain balance of a certain process or state in any system. It is now most frequently used in connection with biological and human systems. In an ecological context, sustainability can be defined as the ability of an ecosystem to maintain ecological processes, functions, biodiversity and productivity into the future.

He concludes: “It is prudent to make decisions today with a cautious eye toward the future. But sustainability has nothing to do with that.”

Uhh… has nothing to do with that says who? With nary a citation, could it be that the esteemed Mr. Blake is creating a straw man? Actually, “Making prudent decisions today with a cautious eye towards the future” is a pretty good English translation of the Wikipedia definition of sustainability.

“Many small corrections along the way will do more good than making One Right Choice now and forever.”

Trevor: what is the “One Right Choice” sustainability promotes? “Sustainability” is a problematic word. The Wikipedia article Trevor cites dedicates considerable space to the debate of the word itself.

As a concept “sustainability” and the related “green movement” is associated with people ranging from the marketing staff at BP to John Zerzan, and stops by Al Gore, Alex Steffen, and Rob Hopkins along the way. Hell, you can throw Bjørn Lomborg somewhere in there too.

So some “sustainability” advocates obviously have unified theories – megacorporations say we should just buy different products. Primitivists say we should go back to a bronze age way of life. But even here things get fuzzy. Which products, for instance? I’m sure the Kaczynski-Klub or whatever has plenty of internal disagreements.

As for the “mainstream” sustainability movement – those situated between Al Gore and Alex Steffen on the sustainability scale, let’s say – about the most you can say is that there’s an agreement that the use of carbon should be reduced. Other than that, there’s a pretty healthy debate going on everything from food miles to geoengineering.

I’d also like to unpack a couple other things in Trevor’s post. “Is science so advanced that the current knowledge of processes and systems is sufficient to freeze them into stasis without the possibility for great harm?”

This is a misunderstanding of sustainability writ large. If you can’t parse the definition of sustainability that you quoted in your opening, then I’m not sure I can help you.

“And nature is nothing if not change and indifference to that bit of nature that is humanity.” Change is the one unifying theme across the spectrum of sustainability. But there are a few fundamental human needs that have not changed (the need for food and water, etc). Is it foolish to try to preserve our sources for such needs? According to Trevor, our actions should only strive to “correct error in the very near future.” How very near? Tomorrow? Next week? A month?

So we should never worry ourselves with thoughts of the medium to long term? Certainly it’s harder to predict the medium and long term. Which is all the more reason to be more conservative about how we expend resources, and more proactive at finding new ones.

William S. Burroughs interviewed by Kathy Acker

(via The Breaking Time)

Richard Metzger’s Dangerous Minds web site

Dangerous Minds now has a web site, including a group blog.

Dangerous Minds

Lost and the Supercontext

There do seem to be different rules involved when it comes to death and the island. It reminds me of both Donnie Darko and The Invisibles. In Donnie Darko dying in the time loop allowed someone to step out of regular time as Frank the Bunny does. From this new position he is able to effect events. Similar effects are in play in The Invisibles comic series by Grant Morrison.

Hatch 23: Lost and the Supercontext

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