robertogreco + 2009   329

Founders Day Honoree John R. Rickford - YouTube
"One of the world's experts on African-American Vernacular English, Stanford linguistics professor John R. Rickford (Stevenson 71) was honored for his work studying language spoken by poor and marginalized communities and the application of that research to solve educational problems."
johnrickford  ucsc  language  sociolinguistics  2009  aave  ebonics  linguistics  english  creole 
january 2019 by robertogreco
Frankétienne and Rewriting: A Work in Progress | French Studies | Oxford Academic
"In Frankétienne and Rewriting Rachel Douglas presents an elegant overview of Haitian Spiralist writer Frankétienne's literary praxis, connecting the author's ‘near-obsessive’ (p. 1) revising to broader postcolonial Caribbean literary phenomena. Douglas's study offers a comparative analysis of five major works, emphasizing the ethical and the aesthetic perspectives implicit in Frankétienne's ‘predilection for the process of writing over what is written; for production over finished product; and for the dynamic over the stable’ (p. 160). Douglas rightly insists on the importance of fully contextualizing the works in question, considering them always with respect to the changing historical, socio-economic, and cultural realities of twentieth-century Haiti. Yet, while noting the profound political imperative visible in Frankétienne's writings and rewritings, she is careful always to privilege the works' ‘literariness’ and the material, arguing that literary characteristics in Frankétienne connect with changing political, social, economic, and cultural circumstances in the Haiti he rewrites."

[See also:
writing  howwewrite  process  frankétienne  2012  racheldouglas  kaiamaglover  2009  haiti  caribbean 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Invisible Learnings: A commentary on John Hattie's book visible learning: A synthesis of over 800 metaanalyses relating to achievement.
[via: ]

"This book by Professor John Hattie of Auckland University is the result of decades of careful research. He has synthesised some 800 meta-analyses comprising more than 50,000 studies and involving some 146,000 ‘effect sizes’. The announcement of the book has already led to a good deal of discussion both in New Zealand and overseas and seems to have captured the attention of policy makers. It is, therefore, important that members of the educational research community pay John Hattie the courtesy of subjecting his conclusions to critical scrutiny in a spirit of mutual truth seeking to ensure that: (1) discussions are based on a careful reading of the book, rather than on half-baked ‘reactions’ in the popular media; (2) the caveats which Hattie himself sets out are carefully noted so that decisions are not made in opposition to the message of this book and (3) the findings are not ‘appropriated’ by political and ideological interests and used in ways which the data do not substantiate."

"In conclusion, we want to repeat our belief that John Hattie’s book makes a significant contribution to understanding the variables surrounding successful teaching and think that it is a very useful resource for teacher education. We are concerned, however, that:

(i) despite his own frequent warnings, politicians may use his work to justify policies which he does not endorse and his research does not sanction;

(ii) teachers and teacher educators might try to use the findings in a simplistic way and not, as Hattie wants, as a source for “hypotheses for intelligent problem solving”;

(iii) the quantitative research on ‘school effects’ might be presented in isolation from the historical, cultural and social contexts, and their interaction with home and community backgrounds; and

(iv) there may be insufficient discussion about the aims of education and the purposes of schooling without which the studies have little point.

It is important that students preparing for teaching learn about the research process and how easily it leads to error rather than truth. They need to respect research but be acutely aware of its limitations. The research that they need to know about goes beyond what happens in schools and classrooms. As this review has shown, what students bring from their social class, family, culture, home background and prior experiences is more important than what happens in the school, even though what happens in the school (particularly what teachers are and do) is very important. The secret of school improvement lies in the recognition of these factors and their integration into a social, economic and educational programme."
johnhattie  visiblelearning  education  2009  learning  pedagogy  teaching  schools 
may 2018 by robertogreco
You are Brilliant, and the Earth is Hiring :: Paul Hawken's Commencement Address to the Class of 2009 — YES! Magazine
"When I was invited to give this speech, I was asked if I could give a simple short talk that was “direct, naked, taut, honest, passionate, lean, shivering, startling, and graceful.” No pressure there.

Let’s begin with the startling part. Class of 2009: you are going to have to figure out what it means to be a human being on earth at a time when every living system is declining, and the rate of decline is accelerating. Kind of a mind-boggling situation… but not one peer-reviewed paper published in the last thirty years can refute that statement. Basically, civilization needs a new operating system, you are the programmers, and we need it within a few decades.

This planet came with a set of instructions, but we seem to have misplaced them. Important rules like don’t poison the water, soil, or air, don’t let the earth get overcrowded, and don’t touch the thermostat have been broken. Buckminster Fuller said that spaceship earth was so ingeniously designed that no one has a clue that we are on one, flying through the universe at a million miles per hour, with no need for seat belts, lots of room in coach, and really good food—but all that is changing.

There is invisible writing on the back of the diploma you will receive, and in case you didn’t bring lemon juice to decode it, I can tell you what it says: You are Brilliant, and the Earth is Hiring. The earth couldn’t afford to send recruiters or limos to your school. It sent you rain, sunsets, ripe cherries, night blooming jasmine, and that unbelievably cute person you are dating. Take the hint. And here’s the deal: Forget that this task of planet-saving is not possible in the time required. Don’t be put off by people who know what is not possible. Do what needs to be done, and check to see ifit was impossible only after you are done.

When asked if I am pessimistic or optimistic about the future, my answer is always the same: If you look at the science about what is happening on earth and aren’t pessimistic, you don’t understand the data. But if you meet the people who are working to restore this earth and the lives of the poor, and you aren’t optimistic, you haven’t got a pulse. What I see everywhere in the world are ordinary people willing to confront despair, power, and incalculable odds in order to restore some semblance of grace, justice, and beauty to this world. The poet Adrienne Rich wrote, “So much has been destroyed I have cast my lot with those who, age after age, perversely, with no extraordinary power, reconstitute the world.” There could be no better description. Humanity is coalescing. It is reconstituting the world, and the action is taking place in schoolrooms, farms, jungles, villages,campuses, companies, refuge camps, deserts, fisheries, and slums.

You join a multitude of caring people. No one knows how many groups and organizations are working on the most salient issues of our day: climate change, poverty, deforestation, peace, water, hunger, conservation, human rights, and more. This is the largest movement the world has ever seen. Rather than control, it seeks connection. Rather than dominance, it strives to disperse concentrations of power. Like Mercy Corps, it works behind the scenes and gets the job done. Large as it is, no one knows the true size of this movement. It provides hope, support, and meaning to billions of people in the world. Its clout resides in idea, not in force. It is made up of teachers, children, peasants, businesspeople, rappers, organic farmers, nuns, artists, government workers, fisherfolk, engineers, students, incorrigible writers, weeping Muslims, concerned mothers, poets, doctors without borders, grieving Christians, street musicians, the President of the United States of America, and as the writer David James Duncan would say, the Creator, the One who loves us all in such a huge way.

There is a rabbinical teaching that says if the world is ending and the Messiah arrives, first plant a tree, and then see if the story is true. Inspiration is not garnered from the litanies of what may befall us; it resides in humanity’s willingness to restore, redress, reform, rebuild, recover, reimagine, and reconsider. “One day you finally knew what you had to do, and began, though the voices around you kept shouting their bad advice,” is Mary Oliver’s description of moving away from the profane toward a deep sense of connectedness to the living world.

Millions of people are working on behalf of strangers, even if the evening news is usually about the death of strangers. This kindness of strangers has religious, even mythic origins, and very specific eighteenth-century roots. Abolitionists were the first people to create a national and global movement to defend the rights of those they did not know. Until that time, no group had filed a grievance except on behalf of itself. The founders of this movement were largely unknown — Granville Clark, Thomas Clarkson, Josiah Wedgwood — and their goal was ridiculous on the face of it: at that time three out of four people in the world were enslaved. Enslaving each other was what human beings had done for ages. And the abolitionist movement was greeted with incredulity. Conservative spokesmen ridiculed the abolitionists as liberals, progressives, do-gooders, meddlers, and activists. They were told they would ruin the economy and drive England into poverty. But for the first time in history a group of people organized themselves to help people they would never know, from whom they would never receive direct or indirect benefit. And today tens of millions of people do this every day. It is called the world of non-profits, civil society, schools, social entrepreneurship, non-governmental organizations, and companies who place social and environmental justice at the top of their strategic goals. The scope and scale of this effort is unparalleled in history.

The living world is not “out there” somewhere, but in your heart. What do we know about life? In the words of biologist Janine Benyus, life creates the conditions that are conducive to life. I can think of no better motto for a future economy. We have tens of thousands of abandoned homes without people and tens of thousands of abandoned people without homes. We have failed bankers advising failed regulators on how to save failed assets. We are the only species on the planet without full employment. Brilliant. We have an economy that tells us that it is cheaper to destroy earth in real time rather than renew, restore, and sustain it. You can print money to bail out a bank but you can’t print life to bail out a planet. At present we are stealing the future, selling it in the present, and calling it gross domestic product. We can just as easily have an economy that is based on healing the future instead of stealing it. We can either create assets for the future or take the assets of the future. One is called restoration and the other exploitation. And whenever we exploit the earth we exploit people and cause untold suffering. Working for the earth is not a way to get rich, it is a way to be rich.

The first living cell came into being nearly 40 million centuries ago, and its direct descendants are in all of our bloodstreams. Literally you are breathing molecules this very second that were inhaled by Moses, Mother Teresa, and Bono. We are vastly interconnected. Our fates are inseparable. We are here because the dream of every cell is to become two cells. And dreams come true. In each of you are one quadrillion cells, 90 percent of which are not human cells. Your body is a community, and without those other microorganisms you would perish in hours. Each human cell has 400 billion molecules conducting millions of processes between trillions of atoms. The total cellular activity in one human body is staggering: one septillion actions at any one moment, a one with twenty-four zeros after it. In a millisecond, our body has undergone ten times more processes than there are stars in the universe, which is exactly what Charles Darwin foretold when he said science would discover that each living creature was a “little universe, formed of a host of self-propagating organisms, inconceivably minute and as numerous as the stars of heaven.”

So I have two questions for you all: First, can you feel your body? Stop for a moment. Feel your body. One septillion activities going on simultaneously, and your body does this so well you are free to ignore it, and wonder instead when this speech will end. You can feel it. It is called life. This is who you are. Second question: who is in charge of your body? Who is managing those molecules? Hopefully not a political party. Life is creating the conditions that are conducive to life inside you, just as in all of nature. Our innate nature is to create the conditions that are conducive to life. What I want you to imagine is that collectively humanity is evincing a deep innate wisdom in coming together to heal the wounds and insults of the past.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once asked what we would do if the stars only came out once every thousand years. No one would sleep that night, of course. The world would create new religions overnight. We would be ecstatic, delirious, made rapturous by the glory of God. Instead, the stars come out every night and we watch television.

This extraordinary time when we are globally aware of each other and the multiple dangers that threaten civilization has never happened, not in a thousand years, not in ten thousand years. Each of us is as complex and beautiful as all the stars in the universe. We have done great things and we have gone way off course in terms of honoring creation. You are graduating to the most amazing, stupefying challenge ever bequested to any generation. The generations before you failed. They didn’t stay up all night. They got distracted and lost sight of the fact that life is a miracle every moment of your existence. Nature beckons you to be on her side. You couldn’t ask for a … [more]
paulhawken  humanity  2009  commencementaddresses  environment  sustainability  earth  peace  deforestation  poverty  climatechange  refugees  activism  davidjamesduncan  mercycorps  strangers  abolitionists  grnvilleclark  thomasclarkson  josiahwedgewood  progressives  england  anthropocene  civilization  globalwarming  movement  bodies  humans  morethanhuman  multispecies  interconnected  interdependence  charlesdarwin  janinebanyus  life  science  renewal  restoration  exploitation  capitalism  gdp  economics  maryoliver  adriennerich  ecology  interconnectedness  body  interconnectivity 
november 2017 by robertogreco
The Butler and Bagman Chronicles: The Hermit of Panther Key (Part 1): "Fixing to Die"
[See also: ]

"He was also unable to hold a job, moved to Florida, bounced from drunk tank to drunk tank, detox to detox, hospital to hospital until he was finally diagnosed with incurable cirrhosis of the liver and given less than six months to live.

So he decided he was of no use to anyone, pawned what few possessions he had, bought a small open wooden boat with a broken-down motor, filled it with beer, and sputtered away from the little fishing town of Goodland, Florida into the maze of the Ten Thousand Islands. His plan was to disappear, get lost, get drunk, and die.

That was the day he met Foster in the middle of nowhere and began the next twenty-five years of his life."

[parts 2-4:

"When my Dad first went to live out his final few days in the wilderness, he didn’t actually know Panther Key existed. He first went out with an army-navy tent and made a rough campsite on Brush Key and cooked over an open fire. After a few days, Foster showed up scaring the hell out of him at first.

But after sharing life histories, they came to the conclusion that it was just possible that if it was only two hermits it might not constitute an overpopulation catastrophe in 10,000 islands. (Foster admitted that he had never actually counted them, so he was still a little leery at first).

A few months before that, there had been a third hermit – Roy Somebodyorother . But Roy had recently died which is why Foster now ranked and could have the big house on Dismal. (I’ll save a photo for the Houses shoot-out on Friday).

Foster showed my Dad some of the tricks. Like moving bucket and hole (known to us civilized folk as the bathroom) further from the tent and downwind. Which leaves didn’t causes rashes once you ran out of toilet paper. What plants were edible. (I can attest from some of my visits there that there is still a big difference between “edible” and “gourmet delicious.”

Foster warned him about some of the things to look out for. Rattlesnakes, sharks, mountain lions, the rare alligator that managed to stomach salt water, and worst of all the periodic seasonal turtle poachers that would show up drunk in the middle of the night to kill sea turtles for their shells and eggs."

"They were friends for many years although they often went weeks without seeing each other. From the beginning, Foster made it clear that hermits were hermits. They could help each other but he hadn’t come all this way in order to hang out with someone, spending every other night cooking marshmallows, singing campfire songs, and playing gin rummy. They lived 45 minutes away from each other by boat if you didn’t get lost. They checked in periodically if one or the other was going to town…or just to make sure the other was still alive."
"The guys who ran the fishing boats were shrewd about giving their rich charters a “unique” experience in order to get good tips. They would tell every group they took into the Gulf, “I don’t do this for everyone but you guys are special and, if you want, I might be able to introduce you to the Hermit of Panther Key. He doesn’t like company, but in this case, he might not mind.” They usually did this at the end of the charter, when these upper class, middle-aged, beer-bellied gentlemen were beginning to rehearse the lines they would use to get back into the good graces of the fishing widows they had left behind in the Big Apple. Their past peace offerings of bracelets, earrings, perfumes, and more earrings were losing value.

But my Dad could take a faded wallet photograph of a doctor’s wife and turn it into a primitive likeness in oils in about an hour. They sold like hotcakes. The New Yorkers left with a key to good graces, the charter captains were assured of a better tip, and my Dad would get a few bucks, some of the day’s catch, and usually a six-pack of beer or fifth of top shelf liquor.

After awhile, it was almost a daily occurrence for my father to have big old fishing boats pull up to Panther Key. .”

Foster, who had tucked himself further away from boat traffic, scoffed at him. But Dad was doing well. His health was good and he making a better living than ever before in his life. The Miami Herald came out and wrote a feature on him. He became friends with Don Shuler, Larry Csonka and several other members of the then-champion Miami Dolphins.

He even once showed me a large bound book of signatures and said, “I’m the only hermit in the world with a guest book!”"
"I hadn't known it, because we didn’t always write that often, but during the last several months, his eyesight had been failing. He could no longer see rattlesnakes and one time a large rattler crawled across his shoe before he noticed it. He finally had to give up hermiting and had moved back to a small camper in Goodland, Florida."

whole collection:]
2009  efosteratkinson  albertseely  hermits  florida 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Robert Coles — The Inner Lives of Children - | On Being
"DR. COLES: Which I think is what I’m trying to say here as I speak with you, as I go back to my parents and to my childhood and try to recapture some of that spirit that I knew as a boy.

MS. TIPPETT: It’s interesting to me that those words you used, “questioning spirit,” and not a conventional religious sense are also qualities that you found in children and even in children who came from homes in which the tradition was much more set.

DR. COLES: That’s a very good point you’ve just brought up. Children are by nature questioning. I mean, I know it as a pediatrician and a child psychiatrist. I know it as a parent. I think we all know that children are questioning. And I think there is no doubt that a lot of the religious side of childhood is a merger of the natural curiosity and interest the children have in the world with the natural interest and curiosity that religion has about the world, because that’s what religion is.


DR. COLES: It’s our effort in this planet as creatures who have a mind and use language to ask questions and answer them through speculation, through story-telling, to explore the universe and answer those fundamental questions: Where do we come from? What are we? And where, if any place, are we going? And those fundamental questions inform religious life and inform the lives of children as children, and that merger is a beautiful thing to behold when you’re with children.

MS. TIPPETT: You know what’s nice about what you just said to me too, is I suddenly realized that what you discovered in speaking with these children and listening to them is not only revealing about childhood but it’s revealing of an aspect of religion which we probably don’t pay as much attention to as we should.

DR. COLES: That’s the great tragedy, isn’t it?


DR. COLES: Because after all, if you stop and think about Judaism, the great figures in Judaism are those prophets of Israel, Jeremiah and Isaiah and Amos. They were prophetic figures who asked the deepest kinds of questions and were willing to stand outside the gates of power and privilege in order to keep asking those questions. And then came Jesus of Nazareth who was a teacher. You might call him the migrant teacher who walked about ancient Israel — now called Israel, Palestine, whatever, the Middle East — seeking and asking and wondering and reaching out to people and daring to ask questions that others had been taught not to ask or even forbidden to ask. And this kind of inquiring Jesus, this soulful Jesus, searching for comrades and, let’s call them in our vernacular, buddies. They were his buddies, and they were willing to link arms with him in this kind of spiritual quest that he found himself, shall we say, impelled toward or driven toward. I don’t want to use driven in any psychoanalytic way …


DR. COLES: … but just in a human way. And this was the rabbi, the teacher, the exalted figure, a descendant, really, of Jeremiah and Isaiah and Amos. It’s that prophetic tradition of Judaism which is so profound and important and which the Christian world is, at its best, the beneficiary of.


DR. COLES: Now, both in Judaism and Christianity, of course, there are rule setters, and at times they can be all too insistent, some would say even a bit tyrannical. But in any event, the spirit or religion, I think, is what children connect with.


DR. COLES: The questions, the inquiry, the enormous curiosity about this universe, and the hope that somehow those answers will come about, which is what we do when we kneel in a church and sit and pray in a synagogue or whatever.

[Sound bite of music]

MS. TIPPETT: Also what I think you’re getting at there and what is also in this compatibility between children and religion also has something to do with, I mean, there’s something mysterious in it as well, something about the mystery of those questions.

MR. COLES: Mystery is such an important part of it. And mystery invites curiosity and inquiry. You know, Flannery O’Connor — talk about a religious person, she was Catholic in background but she was beyond Catholicism; she was a deeply spiritual person. And she once was talking about the kind of person who becomes a good novelist, hoping that she would be included in that company but not daring to assume that that had happened. But once she said, beautifully — it’s in her letters if the listeners want to get one of her books. It’s called, The Habit of Being — but in one of those letters she says, “The task of the novelist is to deepen mystery.” And then she pauses and she says, “But mystery is a great embarrassment to the modern mind.” And there’s our tragedy, that we have to resolve all mystery. We can’t let it be. We can’t rejoice in it. We can’t celebrate it. We can’t affirm it as an aspect of our lives because, after all, mystery is an aspect of our lives.

We come out of nowhere, don’t we, in the sense that we’re a total accident. Our parents met. There’s the accident. And, you know, we’re born. Obviously, we come from someplace physiologically. And then comes the emergence of our being, which is the psychological and spiritual emergence of our being that takes time, experience, education of a certain kind with parents and neighbors and teachers and relatives and from one another humanly. And this slow emergence of our psychological being and our spiritual being is itself a great mystery. And mystery, you bet — mystery is a great challenge. It’s an invitation, and it’s a wonderful companion, actually."
robertcoles  kristatippett  children  religion  2009  mystery  curiosity  questioning  neoteny  questionasking  askingquestions  judaism  christianity  catholicism  flanneryo'connor  wonder  parenting  spirituality  inquiry  rules  teaching  teachers  howweteach  interestedness  interested  childhood 
february 2017 by robertogreco
Why Look at Animals? by John Berger | Book review | Books | The Guardian
"Part of Penguin's Great Ideas series, this slim book brings together seven of John Berger's essays from 1971-2001, a poem, a drawing and a new story. Apart from the final piece - a moving memoir on the death of Austrian intellectual Ernst Fischer - the theme is the marginalisation of animals. The title essay (1977) explores the ancient relationship between animals and humankind: an "unspeaking companionship". But today the caged creatures in zoos have become "the living monument to their own disappearance" from culture. In all these pieces, what concerns Berger is the loss of a meaningful connection to nature, a connection that can now only be rediscovered through the experience of beauty: "the aesthetic moment offers hope." Berger's writing is wonderfully physical, with a powerful sense of how things look, smell, feel. At his best he shows how everyday experiences - a swallow straying into a room, the performances of primates in a zoo, a peasant carving - hold the aesthetic key to unlock the true order of things."
pdsmith  johnberger  2009  animals  looking  seeing  noticing  multispecies  culture  companionship  humans  marginalization  ernstfischer  humankind  zoos  nature  beauty  aesthetics  hope  everyday 
january 2017 by robertogreco
TARP: A Love Story — The Billfold
"Regardless, even if I could explain my love of TARP, it was clear. Nobody else outside my banker friends liked it. They hated it.

They hated it with everything they had. Some hated it with rants. But most hated it with a knowing resignation. They had seen this shit before.

It was the extreme example of a rigged system. Truck driver: “It wasn’t the needle that broke the camel’s back. It was the anvil that broke it.”

I also saw first hand why it resonated so badly with them. They were right, the system was rigged. At every level.

There really were two Americas. Two opportunity sets. Two education systems. Two legal systems. Two sets of rules.

The elites (Sorry about that word) got the better of it all. Better opportunities. Better educations. Better laws. Better bailouts.

And TARP was just a continuation of that, regardless of the relative merits of it at the time.

It represented how shit plays out in America: If you have money, you get cut all the breaks. If you don’t, you suffer all the breaks.

Nobody wanted to hear, “You know TARP benefited you too…” They have heard that shit all their lives. Everything is spun that way.

Me: “Really, it was also the best policy for you.” Them: “Funny how the person telling us that is always sitting on a pile of gold while we stand in shit.”

So regardless of what I think about the past beauty of TARP. The reality is: TARP was all about maintaining two separate and unequal systems.

So I look back at that distant day on the trading floor, when I first fell in love with TARP. It was only a marriage of convenience. For me.

I look back at that young banker and think. Damn he had it good. Damn he had it so easy. Damn he was so naïve. Damn did he ever love that TARP.

And damn if that TARP didn’t ever love him back."
2009  tarp  bailouts  elites  elitism  chrisarnade  greatrecession  banking  finance  class  middleclass  financialcrisis  politics  policy  us  classism 
june 2016 by robertogreco
"Emilio Chapela, Digital Degradation, 2009"

"P.B. - We could conclude that your artistic practice is fuelled by the dichotomy “physicality-absence.” Your self-portrait Digital Degradation could be a perfect example of it.

E.C.P.- Yes, I agree. I didn’t think about that before. But it is definitely possible to establish the analogy you are a suggesting between my body of work and that specific piece. Digital Degradation is like a disappearing act. It’s a portrait that becomes a landscape, and it moves exactly in that direction: from the physical to the ethereal; from the concrete to the abstract; and from presence to absence."
emiliochapela  degradation  digital  2009  photography 
october 2015 by robertogreco
The ASC: White Elephant Art Vs. Termite Art — Manny Farber - John’s Bailiwick
"There is no one quite as anti-intellectual in America as a certain kind of intellectual. It is as if he sees certain tropes of taste and intelligence as being his own private provenance. Or maybe, it’s because he comes from a place like Douglas, Arizona and never feels like a press-fit in the art-ghettos of New York City. Once secure with a sinecure in the art capital of the world, is it necessary to flay what fellow-critic Dwight MacDonald called “Mid-cult” just because you now move in more rarefied circles? Lest you get the wrong idea here—even though I find many of Farber’s aesthetic circuits loaded with dialectic disconnects, it is partly this very mix that makes him so compulsively readable—that and the fact that he wrote with a vigor, rhythm and an informed perspective that no one else in film can touch. And his broad-based, richly informed allusiveness was like catnip to the next generation of film critics such as Kael and Sarris. Kael embraced Farber’s termite burrowing into the film image, the shot itself as ground zero exegesis; Sarris cast his net wider, creating circles of a “Pantheon” that starred many of the termite directors that Farber already had been praising for two decades."

"My own read is that as he discovered himself more and more in his paintings, he compulsively sought out the detailed “termite burrowings” hidden deeper inside complex films. The carefully considered qualities of detail that he strove for in painting also inhabit his approach to film analysis."

"Rosenblum concludes his essay with a story about a trip he made with Farber to Los Angeles when Farber was scheduled to give a lecture about painting at an art school. Farber discovered his socks didn’t match; he also had developed a bad case of stage fright in the parking lot before the event, and the much younger Rosenblum had to talk him down.

Of such seeming minor moments do the most imposing and irascible among us reveal the masks we create, when all we really want is to be understood."
mannyfarber  2009  understanding  humans  human  johnbailey  art 
august 2015 by robertogreco
Austerity in Greece caused more than 500 male suicides, say researchers | World news | The Guardian
"Study finds clear link between spending cuts and rise in number of men who killed themselves between 2009 and 2010"

See also Sarah Kendzior on “The men who set themselves on fire” (2013): ]
economics  2015  greece  2009  2010  austerity  policy  suicide 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Living Among Incompatibles | - Pico Iyer Journeys -
"Yet when the floats began to move through the busy streets, in the great summer festival of Gion Matsuri, I started to notice other things below the classic surfaces. Many of the men in white-and-blue yukata, chanting a traditional song in unison, had the dragon tattoos of gangsters across their bare chests. Many of the young women running after them were teetering on 8-inch platform heels, their hair bright yellow and their skins artificially tanned in the fashion of the moment. Even some of the tiniest little boys were calling their mothers on tiny cell phones. The ancient rites were observed solemnly, with dignity and elegance; but they were woven into and around and through the most garish of modern Western artifacts. As if (as often happens) a geisha were carrying a boom box into a traditional inn.

When first I came to Japan, more than 20 years ago, these contradictions—and the serenity with which the culture lived among them—startled me every day. If the test of a first-rate mind, as Scott Fitzgerald once wrote, is the ability to hold two opposed ideas at the same time, and still keep going, then Japan, I thought, had the best mind I’d encountered in a lifetime of traveling. And in the years that have followed, the extremes have in some ways intensified, as much of Japan streaks into a mongrel, high-tech, science fictive future, while the rest remains more firmly rooted in the old than any culture that I know, including China’s. There are TVs on the dashboards of taxis in Kyoto, but most Japanese people were slower to get onto the Internet than the people of Cambodia were.

As I’ve stayed longer in Japan, though, living here on and off for almost a decade, I’ve come to think that contradiction is in many ways in the eye of the beholder, and that part of the magic of this place is that it invites, and sometimes forces the foreigner to leave, his assumptions at home. We tend to think that cultures, and people, must be one thing or the other (modern or traditional, themselves or imitations, elegant or crude); the Japanese are happy to see them as both things simultaneously. They adhere, that is, to a belief in both/and more than in either/or. And this allows them to collect an almost indefinite number of selves and surfaces without remaining any less themselves within: at a typical wedding over here, the bride still changes costume three or four times in a day, shifting from classic Shinto maiden to white-dress Eastern Cinderella to typical Japanese young woman (with many traditions alive in her).

This is, of course, a skill prized in all ritualized old societies—it’s little different from the England where I was born—but nowhere is it managed so efficiently as in Japan. In countries like America, for example, the emphasis is on “being yourself”; in Japan, it’s often on the opposite. Being “not yourself,” but just a kind of impersonal actor playing the part the moment requires (to this day my Japanese wife doesn’t know the name of her immediate boss at work, because the boss is always and only known as “Tencho,” or “Department Head”). And this is all made easier, perhaps, by the fact that the Japanese tend, I believe, to think in images rather than in ideas, and where ideas need to be consistent, images can sit side by side, belonging to different worlds, like parallel lines in a haiku. It’s not uncommon, near where I live, to see a Zen abbot stepping out of a late-model Mercedes, on his way to his favorite bar in the red-light district. In Europe, such behavior might be seen as hypocritical; in pragmatic Japan, a Buddhist priest will perform every last rite demanded of him at funerals and ceremonies immaculately—like the Platonic image of a Buddhist priest; but when he is finished, he will go home to his wife and children, and pop open a beer in front of the baseball game on TV. He’s played his role, he’s allowed to slough off his robes.

The first thing to remember when coming to Japan, I therefore tell my friends who visit, is that everything is reversed here. The Japanese read their books from right to left and from back to front (as it seems to us), and they take their baths at night, before they go to sleep; even their baggage carousels move in the opposite direction. And so, naturally enough, what is exotic for them, and what is normal, is the opposite of the way it might be for us. Sometimes, here in Nara, where I live, I go out at dusk and walk along the great park that surrounds Todaiji Temple, home to the largest bronze Buddha in the world. As night falls, the only beings visible are deer, grazing under trees or pricking their ears at me, like ghosts come down from the hills. The place is largely deserted because most of the local Japanese are heading in the opposite direction, to the “Dreamland” amusement-park 10 minutes away.

The other thing to recall is that the Japanese keep their different selves perfectly organized (as everything else is here) by drawing strict lines between different worlds. There is one set of rules and expectations for men, another for women (and, indeed, one set for “normal” women, and a very different set for those who belong to the “mizu-shobai,” or water-world of the night district); in the same way, there are firm divisions between the office world and the play world. That is why the same Japanese businessman who is so flawlessly polite to you in a meeting will vomit in the street; and the one who fashions a delicate ikebana flower-arrangement will be incomparably ruthless when it comes to war."
picoiyer  2009  contradiction  and  yesand  boithand  eitheror  multiplicity  japan  tradition  culture  people  society  compatibility  incompatibility 
july 2015 by robertogreco
BOMB Magazine — Rebecca Solnit by Astra Taylor
"AT One of the most interesting ideas in the book is the concept of “elite panic”—the way that elites, during disasters and their aftermath, imagine that the public is not only in danger but also a source of danger. You show in case after case how elites respond in destructive ways, from withholding essential information, to blocking citizen relief efforts, to protecting property instead of people. As you write in the book, “there are grounds for fear of a coherent insurgent public, not just an overwrought, savage one.”

RS The term “elite panic” was coined by Caron Chess and Lee Clarke of Rutgers. From the beginning of the field in the 1950s to the present, the major sociologists of disaster—Charles Fritz, Enrico Quarantelli, Kathleen Tierney, and Lee Clarke—proceeding in the most cautious, methodical, and clearly attempting-to-be-politically-neutral way of social scientists, arrived via their research at this enormous confidence in human nature and deep critique of institutional authority. It’s quite remarkable.

Elites tend to believe in a venal, selfish, and essentially monstrous version of human nature, which I sometimes think is their own human nature. I mean, people don’t become incredibly wealthy and powerful by being angelic, necessarily. They believe that only their power keeps the rest of us in line and that when it somehow shrinks away, our seething violence will rise to the surface—that was very clear in Katrina. Timothy Garton Ash and Maureen Dowd and all these other people immediately jumped on the bandwagon and started writing commentaries based on the assumption that the rumors of mass violence during Katrina were true. A lot of people have never understood that the rumors were dispelled and that those things didn’t actually happen; it’s tragic.

But there’s also an elite fear—going back to the 19th century—that there will be urban insurrection. It’s a valid fear. I see these moments of crisis as moments of popular power and positive social change. The major example in my book is Mexico City, where the ’85 earthquake prompted public disaffection with the one-party system and, therefore, the rebirth of civil society.

AT So on the one hand there are people responding in these moments of crisis and organizing themselves, helping each other, and, on the other, there are power elites, who sometimes, though not always, sabotage grassroots efforts because, as you say at one point, the very existence of such efforts is taken to represent the failure of authorities to rise to the occasion—it’s better to quash such efforts than to appear incompetent. The way you explore the various motivations of the official power structure for sabotaging people’s attempts to self-organize was a very interesting element of the book.

RS You are an anarchist, aren’t you?

AT Maybe deep down. (laughter)

RS Not all authorities respond the same way. But you can see what you’re talking about happening right after the 1906 earthquake. San Franciscans formed these community street kitchens. You weren’t allowed to have a fire indoors because the risk of setting your house, and thereby your neighborhood, on fire was too great—if you had a house, that is. People responded with enormous humor and resourcefulness by creating these kitchens to feed the neighborhood. Butchers, dairymen, bakers, etcetera were giving away food for free. It was like a Paris Commune dream of a mutual-aid society. At a certain point, authorities decided that these kitchens would encourage freeloading and became obsessed with the fear that people would double dip. So they set up this kind of ration system and turned a horizontal model of mutual aid—where I’m helping you but you’re helping me—into a vertical model of charity where I have and you lack and I am giving to you. Common Ground, the radical organization for community rebuilding, 100 years later in New Orleans chooses as its motto: “Solidarity not charity.”

AT The charity model fits hand in hand with the “we need a paternal, powerful authority figure in a time of crisis” mindset that your book refutes. Do you think people need to be led?

RS Part of the stereotypical image is that we’re either wolves or we’re sheep. We’re either devouring babies raw and tearing up grandmothers with our bare hands, or we’re helpless and we panic and mill around like idiots in need of Charlton Heston men in uniforms with badges to lead us. I think we’re neither, and the evidence bears that out."

"RS I started that book when I was almost 30. The Nevada Test Site was the place that taught me how to write. Until then I had been writing in three different ways: I had been writing as an art critic, in a very objective, authoritative voice; I had been writing as an environmental journalist, also with objectivity; and then I had also been writing these very lapidary essays on the side. It felt like three different selves, three different voices, and explaining the test site and all the forces converging there demanded that I use all those voices at once. So as to include everything relevant, it also demanded I write in a way both meandering and inclusive. A linear narrative is often like a highway bulldozed through the landscape, and I wanted to create something more like a path that didn’t bulldoze and allowed for scenic detours.

My training as an art critic was a wonderful background because it taught me to think critically about representations and meanings, and that applied really well to national parks and atomic bombs and Indian Wars. It was great to realize that I didn’t have to keep these tools in museums and galleries—it was a tool kit that could go anywhere. Also, I was trained as a journalist. A journalist can become an adequate expert pretty quickly and handle the material, whereas a lot of scholars dedicate their life to one subject."
rebeccasolnit  atrataylor  elites  elitism  humans  humannature  power  2009  insurrection  resistance  caronchess  leeclarke  charlesfritz  enricoquarantelli  kathleentierney  timothygartonash  maureendowd  fear  neworleans  katrina  disasters  solidarity  grassroots  activism  charity  authoruty  patriarchy  control  writing  howwewrite  nola 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Forget Shorter Showers: Why Personal Change Does Not Equal Political Change
"Would any sane PERSON think dumpster diving would have stopped Hitler, or that composting would have ended slavery or brought about the eight-hour workday, or that chopping wood and carrying water would have gotten people out of Tsarist prisons, or that dancing naked around a fire would have helped put in place the Voting Rights Act of 1957 or the Civil Rights Act of 1964? Then why now, with all the world at stake, do so many people retreat into these entirely personal “solutions”?

Part of the problem is that we’ve been victims of a campaign of systematic misdirection. Consumer culture and the capitalist mindset have taught us to substitute acts of personal consumption (or enlightenment) for organized political resistance. An Inconvenient Truth helped raise consciousness about global warming. But did you notice that all of the solutions presented had to do with personal consumption — changing light bulbs, inflating tires, driving half as much — and had nothing to do with shifting power away from corporations, or stopping the growth economy that is destroying the planet? Even if every person in the United States did everything the movie suggested, U.S. carbon emissions would fall by only 22 percent. Scientific consensus is that emissions must be reduced by at least 75 percent worldwide.

Or let’s talk water. We so often hear that the world is running out of water. People are dying from lack of water. Rivers are dewatered from lack of water. Because of this we need to take shorter showers. See the disconnect?Because I take showers, I’m responsible for drawing down aquifers? Well, no. More than 90 percent of the water used by humans is used by agriculture and industry. The remaining 10 percent is split between municipalities and actual living breathing individual humans. Collectively, municipal golf courses use as much water as municipal human beings. People (both human people and fish people) aren’t dying because the world is running out of water. They’re dying because the water is being stolen.

Or let’s talk energy. Kirkpatrick Sale summarized it well: “For the past 15 years the story has been the same every year: individual consumption — residential, by private car, and so on — is never more than about a quarter of all consumption; the vast majority is commercial, industrial, corporate, by agribusiness and government [he forgot military]. So, even if we all took up cycling and wood stoves it would have a negligible impact on energy use, global warming and atmospheric pollution.”

Or let’s talk waste. In 2005, per-capita municipal waste production (basically everything that’s put out at the curb) in the U.S. was about 1,660 pounds. Let’s say you’re a die-hard simple-living activist, and you reduce this to zero. You recycle everything. You bring cloth bags shopping. You fix your toaster. Your toes poke out of old tennis shoes. You’re not done yet, though. Since municipal waste includes not just residential waste, but also waste from government offices and businesses, you march to those offices, waste reduction pamphlets in hand, and convince them to cut down on their waste enough to eliminate your share of it. Uh, I’ve got some bad news. Municipal waste accounts for only 3 percent of total waste production in the United States.

I want to be clear. I’m not saying we shouldn’t live simply. I live reasonably simply myself, but I don’t pretend that not buying much (or not driving much, or not having kids) is a powerful political act, or that it’s deeply revolutionary. It’s not. Personal change doesn’t equal social change.

So how, then, and especially with all the world at stake, have we come to accept these utterly insufficient responses? I think part of it is that we’re in a double bind. A double bind is where you’re given multiple options, but no matter what option you choose, you lose, and withdrawal is not an option. At this point, it should be pretty easy to recognize that every action involving the industrial economy is destructive (and we shouldn’t pretend that solar photovoltaics, for example, exempt us from this: they still require mining and transportation infrastructures at every point in the production processes; the same can be said for every other so-called green technology). So if we choose option one — if we avidly participate in the industrial economy — we may in the short term think we win because we may accumulate wealth, the marker of “success” in this culture. But we lose, because in doing so we give up our empathy, our animal humanity. And we really lose because industrial civilization is killing the planet, which means everyone loses. If we choose the “alternative” option of living more simply, thus causing less harm, but still not stopping the industrial economy from killing the planet, we may in the short term think we win because we get to feel pure, and we didn’t even have to give up all of our empathy (just enough to justify not stopping the horrors), but once again we really lose because industrial civilization is still killing the planet, which means everyone still loses. The third option, acting decisively to stop the industrial economy, is very scary for a number of reasons, including but not restricted to the fact that we’d lose some of the luxuries to which we’ve grown accustomed, and the fact that those in power might try to kill us if we seriously impede their ability to exploit the world — none of which alters the fact that it’s a better option than a dead planet. Any option is a better option than a dead planet.

Besides being ineffective at causing the sorts of changes necessary to stop this culture from killing the planet, there are at least four other problems with perceiving simple living as a political act (as opposed to living simply because that’s what you want to do). The first is that it’s predicated on the flawed notion that humans inevitably harm their landbase. Simple living as a political act consists solely of harm reduction, ignoring the fact that humans can help the Earth as well as harm it. We can rehabilitate streams, we can get rid of noxious invasives, we can remove dams, we can disrupt a political system tilted toward the rich as well as an extractive economic system, we can destroy the industrial economy that is destroying the real, physical world.

The second problem — and this is another big one — is that it incorrectly assigns blame to the individual (and most especially to individuals who are particularly powerless) instead of to those who actually wield power in this system and to the system itself. Kirkpatrick Sale again: “The whole individualist what-you-can-do-to-save-the-earth guilt trip is a myth. We, as individuals, are not creating the crises, and we can’t solve them.”

The third problem is that it accepts capitalism’s redefinition of us from citizens to consumers. By accepting this redefinition, we reduce our potential forms of resistance to consuming and not consuming. Citizens have a much wider range of available resistance tactics, including voting, not voting, running for office, pamphleting, boycotting, organizing, lobbying, protesting, and, when a government becomes destructive of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, we have the right to alter or abolish it.

The fourth problem is that the endpoint of the logic behind simple living as a political act is suicide. If every act within an industrial economy is destructive, and if we want to stop this destruction, and if we are unwilling (or unable) to question (much less destroy) the intellectual, moral, economic, and physical infrastructures that cause every act within an industrial economy to be destructive, then we can easily come to believe that we will cause the least destruction possible if we are dead.

The good news is that there are other options. We can follow the examples of brave activists who lived through the difficult times I mentioned — Nazi Germany, Tsarist Russia, antebellum United States — who did far more than manifest a form of moral purity; they actively opposed the injustices that surrounded them. We can follow the example of those who remembered that the role of an activist is not to navigate systems of oppressive power with as much integrity as possible, but rather to confront and take down those systems."
via:caseygollan  2015  change  politicalchange  personalchange  environment  sustainability  environmentalism  derrickjensen  capitalism  consumerism  globalwarming  climatechange  reistance  inconvenienttruth  water  energy  consumption  kirckpatricksale  waste  simplicity  politics  doublebinds  success  wealth  culture  industrialism  activism  purity  morality  injustice  oppression  power  integrity  systemsthinking  systems  misdirection  2009  policy  organization  civilization  individualism  collectivism 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Small acts, kind words and “not too much fuss”: Implicit activisms
"In this paper, we suggest that social scientists' accounts of ‘activism’ have too often tended to foreground and romanticise the grandiose, the iconic, and the unquestionably meaning-ful, to the exclusion of different kinds of ‘activism’. Thus, while there is a rich social-scientific literature chronicling a social history of insurrectionary protests and key figures/thinkers, we suggest that there is more to ‘activism’ (and there are more kinds of ‘activism’) than this. In short, we argue that much can be learnt from what we term implicit activisms which – being small-scale, personal, quotidian and proceeding with little fanfare – have typically gone uncharted in social-scientific understanding of ‘activism’. This paper will reflect upon one example of this kind of ‘implicit’ activism, by re-presenting findings from interviews undertaken with 150 parents/carers, during an evaluation of a ‘Sure Start’ Centre in the East Midlands, UK. From these interviews emerged a sense of how the Centre (and the parents/carers, staff and material facilities therein) had come to matter profoundly to these parents/carers. We suggest that these interviews extend and unsettle many social-scientific accounts of ‘activism’ in three key senses. First: in evoking the specific kinds of everyday, personal, affective bonds which lead people to care. Second: in evoking the kinds of small acts, words and gestures which can instigate and reciprocate/reproduce such care. And third: in suggesting how such everyday, affective bonds and acts can ultimately constitute political activism and commitment, albeit of a kind which seeks to proceed with ‘not too much fuss’."

[via: “This article on 'Small acts, kind words and “not too much fuss”: Implicit activisms’ just blew my mind #paywall”

“As I’m more & more drawn to pacifism each year, I need to find words for my politics/ethics. Can’t stand being told I’m not doing enough.” ]
small  activism  slow  2009  johnhorton  via:anne  peterkraftl  gestures  reciprocity  care  caring  bonds  affectivebonds  politics  commitment  scale  everyday  quotidian 
february 2015 by robertogreco
The Coming Showdown Over University Endowments: Enlisting the Donors [.pdf]
"This Essay focuses on the discordance between universities with particularly large endowments and what is occurring in the rest of higher education, particularly with respect to skyrocketing tuition and a growing institutional wealth gap. The Essay considers absolute endowment values, the amount of endowment per student, and expense-endowment ratios at sixty private universities. It concludes that a small number of schools have an excess endowment, and then provides a convenient proxy for determining when an endowment is so large that it should receive less preferential tax treatment. The Essay then considers the effects that large endowments have at their home institutions and throughout higher education, the arguments in defense of large endowments, and some frequently proposed modifications to the tax code. The Essay recommends that policymakers modify the charitable deduction for gifts to universities with mega-endowments, as part of a multifaceted effort to spur endowment spending and control tuition."

[See also: ]
sarahwaldeck  charities  nonprofit  2009  law  legal  finance  universities  colleges  wealth  taxation  taxes  endowments  charity  nonprofits 
december 2014 by robertogreco
The Hypercard Legacy — Medium
"This type of plain-language programming makes sense, particularly in an application that was designed specifically for non-programmers. I have been teaching programming to designers and artists for nearly a decade, and I find the largest concern for learners to be not with the conceptual hurdles involved in writing a program, but with obscure and confusing syntax requirements. I would love to be able to teach HyperTalk to my students, as a smooth on-road to more complex languages like JavaScript, Java or C++.

HyperTalk wasn’t just easy, it was also fairly powerful. Complex object structures could be built to handle complicated tasks, and the base language could be expanded by a variety of available externdal commands and functions (XCMDs and XFCNs, respectively), which were precursors to the modern plug-in.

This combination of ease of use and power resonated with the HyperCard user base, who developed and shared thousands of unique stacks (all in a time before the web). A visit to a BBS in the late 80s and early 90s could give a modem-owner access to thousands of unique, often home-made tools and applications. Stacks were made to record basketball statistics, to teach music theory, and to build complex databases. The revolutionary non-linear game Myst first appeared as a HyperCard stack, and the Beatles even got into the scene, with an official stack for A Hard Days Night."

"In new media, practitioners are often identified with the specific tools that they use. I started out as a ‘Flash guy’ and over the last few years have been connected more and more with the open source software project Processing. Though I originally came to Processing to escape the Flash Player’s then sluggish performance, I value the platform as much for its ease of use and its teachability as I do for its ability to quickly add floating point numbers. Lately, I’ve been asked the same question, over and over again:

‘Why don’t you move to OpenFrameworks? It’s much faster!’

It is true that projects built in OF run faster than those built in Processing. This question, though, seems to be missing a key point: faster does not always equal better. Does every pianist want to play the pipe organ because it has more keys? Is a car better than a bicycle?

In my case, choosing a platform to work with involves as much consideration to simplicity as it does to complexity. I am an educator, and when I work on a project I am always thinking about how the things that are learned in the process can be packaged and shared with my students and with the public.

Which brings us to the broader concept of accessibility. HyperCard effectively disappeared a decade a go, making way for supposedly bigger and better things. But in my mind, the end of HyperCard left a huge gap that desperately needs to be filled – a space for an easy to use, intuitive tool that will once again let average computer users make their own tools. Such a project would have huge benefits for all of us, wether we are artists, educators, entrepreneurs, or enthusiasts."

"I could imagine a new version of HyperCard being built from the ground up around its core functional properties: HyperTalk, easy to use UI elements, and a framework for extensions. It’s the kind of open source project that could happen, but with so much investment already existing in other initiatives such as Processing and OpenFrameworks, it might not be the best use of resources. So, let’s forget for now about a resurrection. Instead of thinking bigger, let’s think smaller.

HyperCard for the iPhone?
It might not be as crazy as you think. Imagine having a single, meta app that could be used to make smaller ones. This ‘App-Builder App’, like HyperCard, could combine easy to use, draggable user interface elements with an intuitive, plain language scripting language. As a quick visit to the App Store will show you, many or most of the apps available today could be built without complex coding. You don’t need Objective C to make a stock ticker, or a unit converter, or a fart machine. These home-made apps could be shared and adapted, cross-bred and mutated to create generation after generation of useful (and not so useful programs).

By putting the tools of creation into the hands of the broader userbase, we would allow for the creation of ultra-specific personalized apps that, aside from a few exceptions, don’t exist today. We’d also get access to a vastly larger creative pool. There are undoubtedly many excellent and innovative ideas out there, in the heads of people who don’t (yet) have the programming skills to realize them. The next Myst is waiting to be built, along with countless other novel tools and applications.

With the developer restrictions and extreme proprietism of the iPhone App Store, it’s hard to remember the Apple of the 80s. Steve Jobs, Bill Atkinson and their team had a vision to not only bring computers to the people, but also to bring computer programming to the public – to make makers out of the masses. At Apple, this philosophy, along with HyperCard seems to have mostly been lost. In the open source community, though, this ideal is alive and well – it may be that by reviving some ideas from the past we might be able to create a HyperCard for the future."
jerthorp  2009  2014  hypercard  apple  history  programming  toolmaking  billatkinson  myst  accessibility  tilestack  hypertalk  coding 
november 2014 by robertogreco
Texas in Africa: show me the data
"In other words, it's much more complicated than just the mineral trade. Which is why the argument that shutting down the mines will end all of this violence is fundamentally flawed. It is, quite frankly, based on incorrect assumptions and a lack of rigorously-analyzed evidence.

An all-encompassing focus on the mineral trade won't end violence in the eastern DRC. Assuming that it were even possible to track the Congo's minerals from source to market and that it would be possible shut down the militarized mineral trade (and, given the limits of technology and oversight, those are two mighty big assumptions), would the loss of income really force these armed groups to the negotiating table? These forces are already well-accustomed to terrorizing local populations to obtain the necessities of life. Would their behavior really change if they lost this income stream? I'm not sure. And, we must remember, there's the tiny problem of external financing of these armed groups (especially the FDLR) that the international community has until very recently completely ignored.

Then there's the lingering detail of the 1 million+ people who depend on the mineral trade for their livelihoods. Any program to shut down the mines have to take their employment into account. As Harrison Mitchell and Nicholas Garrett continue to point out, legitimizing the mineral trade is a far better idea than shutting it down.

I do not know a single scholar of the Congo who buys into the "cell phones cause rape" thesis. We all understand that the situation there is far too complex to be reduced by the activists to a simple resource war that could be solved if we just pressure Congress to stop the conflict mineral trade (How many of you are willing to give up your mobile phones to stand in solidarity with Congolese women? Keep in mind that there aren't any conflict-free cell phones.).

This doesn't mean that minerals don't matter. But the militarized mineral trade is a symptom of the disease of state failure, not the root cause of violence. Even setting aside all of the logistical issues with certification, controlling supply chains, taking physical control of the mines, developing the technology necessary to track minerals, finding livelihoods for newly unemployed miners, and creating a degree of consumer consciousness that's stronger than the desire for an iPhone, the violence won't end. It won't. There's no entity capable of stopping it.

Treating one symptom rarely cures a disease. We all want the people of the Congo to live productive, peaceful lives that are free from the constant threat of violence. We all agree that the eastern DRC is in many ways the linchpin for regional stability. But until there is serious security-sector reform, the Congolese government can actually control its territory, tax, and pay its soldiers, and the regional dynamics that drive much of the conflict over land, citizenship rights, and Rwanda's role in the region are settled, armed groups and civilians will continue to commit horrific acts of violence, simply because they can. "Doing something" about the mineral trade won't change that fact.

Policymakers would do well to focus less on oversimplified solutions to extraordinarily complex problems, and to instead turn their attention to giving the people of the DRC what they deserve and need: peace, public order, and a chance to make life better. That will require a long-term, sustained effort that doesn't pretend the peacekeepers only need to stay another six months or a year. It will require negotiating with unsavory non-state actors. It will require honest assessments of regional actors' territorial and sphere-of-influence ambitions. It will require the recognition of corruption in all its many varied forms, and of the need to directly target aid to its beneficiaries.

Above all else, it will require policies that are based on facts, not assumptions. The stakes are too high not to pursue policies that are data-driven and have a reasonable chance of success.

Then again, maybe it's easier to oversimplify things."
via:vruba  2009  lauraseay  congo  mining  violence  rape  economics  policy  politics  complexity  oversimplification 
october 2014 by robertogreco
An Emphatic Umph: On Soft Architecture, via Lisa Robertson
"We live in spaces and amongst things that are infused — with memory, mood, texture, tone, timbre, resonance. Buildings, roads, bridges: they are not hard and rigid but structured events, experiences lived all the way through, soft. This is soft architecture.

Design offers more than a spine; it offers — no, it is — an algorithm of possible experiences, combinations, folds, and juxtapositions.

Soft architecture is a phrase from writer, Lisa Robertson, with which I am thoroughly enamored. In fact, I'll say it again: soft architecture. I'm smitten with this phrase. Which is, precisely, the nature of the architecture of soft architecture — ideas are mooded invisible spaces.

Soft architecture turns the world inside out. Or, rather, it facilitates a space that dissolves, renders porous, that line that separates private from public, subject from object. As I enjoy a space, make my way through it, it enjoys me, makes its way through me. Together, we move and are moved. A building, a road, a sidewalk draw me to them and I draw them to me. Together, we make this world. Or: together, we are this world.

We don't unite, world and me; we marble. We are marbled."

[See also: ]
danielcoffeen  lisarobertson  softarchitecture  architecture  place  mood  texture  tone  memory  time  experience  consciousness  2009  poetry  being  softness 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Bruce Sterling's The Caryatids, my pick for best book of 2009, a novel of clear-eyed hope for the future - Boing Boing
"In The Caryatids, global warming has melted practically every government in the world (except China) -- leaving behind a slurry of refugees, rising seas, and inconceivable misery. But there are two stable monoliths sticking out of the chaos, a pair of "civil society groups" that embody the two major schools of smart green thought today: the Dispensation are Al Gore green capitalists based out of California who understand that glamor and profits, properly aimed, achieve more than any amount of stern determination and chaste conservation; their rivals are the Aquis, mostly European anarcho-techno-geeks who have abandoned money in favor of technologically mediated communal life where giant, powerful, barely controlled machines are deployed to save the refugees and heal the Earth.

The titular Caryatids are the seven clone-sisters of a Balkan war criminal (who is hiding out in orbit in a junk satellite), raised as part of a terrible fin-de-siecle plan to create a cadre of superwoman generals who would lead a militarized guerrilla force after the environmental catastrophe reached scale. Now they are scattered to the winds and divided among the world's superpowers, and the only thing they hate more than their "mother" is each other.

And the story unfolds, taking us on a tour of a 2060 Earth where the worst imaginable things have happened and yet humanity has survived. Is thriving. Not a perfect utopia, but not a tormented post-apocalyptic chaos either. Sterling's future is one in which the human race's best and most important and most deadly machine -- civilization -- survives its own meltdown.

More importantly, the future of The Caryatids is one in which human beings confront the terrible reality that technology favors attackers -- favors those who would disrupt the status quo because it gives them force-multiplier power, and undermines defenders because the complexity of a technological society always creates potential fault-lines that attackers can exploit. And in that society, Sterling's civil society types -- who care about saving the planet, even though they disagree about the best way to do this -- do their damnedest to build stable technological societies. Because in Earth's future -- and in Sterling's -- there's no going back to the land for us. Not because the land is too poisoned, but because billions of charcoal-burning hunter-gatherers are far more hazardous to the planet than a neatly ordered world of cities in which technology is used to minimize our footprints by giving us smarter handprints.

Most importantly, the future of The Caryatids is one in which there is hope. Not naive, wishful thinking hope. Hard-nosed, utterly plausible hope, for a future in which the human race outthinks its worse impulses and survives despite all the odds."
climatechange  brucesterling  hope  future  2009  corydoctorow  technology  technosolutionism  environmentalism  sustainability  novels  globalwarming  disruption  society  civilization  collapse  2060 
september 2014 by robertogreco
The Rhetoric of the Hyperlink
"The hyperlink is the most elemental of the bundle of ideas that we call the Web. If the  bit is the quark of information, the hyperlink is the hydrogen molecule. It shapes the microstructure of information today.  Surprisingly though, it is nearly as mysterious now as it was back in July 1945, when Vannevar Bush first proposed the idea in his Atlantic Monthly article, As We May Think. July 4th will mark the second anniversary of Ribbonfarm (I started on July 4th, 2007), and to celebrate, I am going to tell you everything I’ve learned so far about the hyperlink. That is the lens through which I tend to look at more traditional macro-level blog-introspection topics, such as “how to make money blogging,” and “will blogs replace newspapers?” So with a “Happy Second Birthday, Ribbonfarm!” and a “Happy 64th Birthday, Hyperlink,” let’s go explore the hyperlink."
hypertext  hyperlinks  venkateshrao  2009  via:vruba  internet  web  writing  linking 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Encyclopedia Pictura Interview - Spore and Bjork Animators Encyclopedia Pictura - Esquire
"How do you produce some of the world's most advanced and mind-blowing digital animation? Communally, in the deep woods, part-time, after the goat has been milked."
2009  encyclopediapictura  troutgluch  isaiahsaxon  darenrabinovitch  seanhellfritsch  animation  filmmaking  mearao'reilly 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Public Workspace Playscape Sculpture Graz | Dismal Garden
"Nils Norman’s Public Workplace Playground Sculpture for Graz, 2009, jumbles our expectations of what public sculpture can be today. Its title and look immediately announce the piece’s contradictory status as a workplace design, combined with the look of a roughshod playground for children, categorized as a sculpture, situated in the midst of a park! What appears striking is the project’s mind-boggling merging of functions (work and play), typological categories (artistic sculpture, office furniture, DIY-construction), intended users (children, business people, recreational visitors), and spaces (public and private). By joining these paradoxical qualities together in a bizarre, composite object, the work enters a utopian dimension by momentarily suspending all social and political contradictions implied by those qualities. But like all good uses of utopia—in contrast to the regressive, nostalgic, escapist versions—Norman’s piece rebounds reflexively and critically on reality by literalizing and exaggerating its ideals.

One important point of departure for Norman’s work—which is informed by the artist’s ongoing research—is the recent reconceptualization of office design within the New Economy (the post-manufacture financial system of globalization based on services and information technology). Unlike older plans for offices—based on cubicles, hierarchical layouts, and privileged zones of access—recent designs of the 1990s and 2000s aim to inspire fluid social interaction amongst workers, engendering cross-disciplinary communication in the name of creative innovation, efficiency, and of course the maximization of profit. The resulting design aesthetic typically emphasizes the flexible open plan (as in loft architecture), which combines uses of space and strategically situates social areas to facilitate exchanges within and between office members that will lead to collaborative solutions to business problems."

[See also: Educational Facility. No. 2. 2008 ]
nilsnorman  2009  playgrounds  playscapes  graz  sculpture  learning 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Karen Ho - Liquidated: An Ethnography of Wall Street
"Financial collapses—whether of the junk bond market, the Internet bubble, or the highly leveraged housing market—are often explained as the inevitable result of market cycles: What goes up must come down. In Liquidated, Karen Ho punctures the aura of the abstract, all-powerful market to show how financial markets, and particularly booms and busts, are constructed. Through an in-depth investigation into the everyday experiences and ideologies of Wall Street investment bankers, Ho describes how a financially dominant but highly unstable market system is understood, justified, and produced through the restructuring of corporations and the larger economy.

Ho, who worked at an investment bank herself, argues that bankers’ approaches to financial markets and corporate America are inseparable from the structures and strategies of their workplaces. Her ethnographic analysis of those workplaces is filled with the voices of stressed first-year associates, overworked and alienated analysts, undergraduates eager to be hired, and seasoned managing directors. Recruited from elite universities as “the best and the brightest,” investment bankers are socialized into a world of high risk and high reward. They are paid handsomely, with the understanding that they may be let go at any time. Their workplace culture and networks of privilege create the perception that job insecurity builds character, and employee liquidity results in smart, efficient business. Based on this culture of liquidity and compensation practices tied to profligate deal-making, Wall Street investment bankers reshape corporate America in their own image. Their mission is the creation of shareholder value, but Ho demonstrates that their practices and assumptions often produce crises instead. By connecting the values and actions of investment bankers to the construction of markets and the restructuring of U.S. corporations, Liquidated reveals the particular culture of Wall Street often obscured by triumphalist readings of capitalist globalization."

[via: ]
wallstreet  culture  ethnography  anthropology  capitalism  2009  books  kernho  insecurity  corporatism  ideology 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Theo - a short film about the wind-eating Strandbeest - Aeon
"Theo Jansen is part-artist, part-mad scientist. From PVC piping, he builds fantastical creatures that feed only on the wind: propelled by the movement of the air around them, his many-legged Strandbeest are free to roam the countryside and beaches around his house in the Netherlands. From a distance, they look like enormous grazing sheep, but up close, the intricacy of the mechanisms that facilitate their movement is breathtaking. Theo invites us to enter Jansen’s imagination, and to see the Strandbeest as he sees them, not as kinetic sculptures, but as living, breathing creatures."

[Direct link to video: ]
theojansen  strandbeast  art  sculpture  kineticsculpture  georgibanks-davies  2009 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Changing Places: Children's Experience of Place During Middle Childhood [.pdf]
"This thesis explores the role of special places—forts, dens, and hideouts— during middle childhood (ages 6-12). Natural settings have traditionally been children‘s special places. Research has demonstrated the importance of outdoor special places in children‘s lives including: helping children to develop and form bonds with the earth, and as locations for both privacy and socialization. The landscape of today‘s childhood is undergoing dramatic shifts and researchers posit that children‘s special places are shifting toward indoor settings.

This thesis seeks to understand children‘s experience of place in the Humboldt Bay region of Northern California. ‘Children-centered,’ qualitative research methods include interviews and an analysis of participants’ drawings and photographs. This thesis primarily examines how children‘s special places contribute to child development, place attachment, and environmental stewardship values. More generally, this thesis asks children to reveal what places they consider to be ‘special.’

Results build on previous research and suggest several findings concerning the significance of children‘s special places. First, children still prefer outdoor places as their special places. Second, outdoor special places are important for holistic physical, cognitive, and social development. Third, both indoor and outdoor special places are vital to children‘s emotional development because these places act as refuges and sites for emotional regulation. Fourth, children care deeply about their outdoor special places and express environmental stewardship values concerning these places. And last, special places facilitate healthy place attachments.

This thesis recommends that people who are involved in the processes and structures that shape children‘s lives recognize the value of outdoor special places and provide children with time, freedom, and access to natural landscapes."
place  middleyears  2009  chelseabenson  forts  dens  hideouts  children  play  outdoors  via:steelemaley 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Forget Shorter Showers | Derrick Jensen | Orion Magazine
"WOULD ANY SANE PERSON think dumpster diving would have stopped Hitler, or that composting would have ended slavery or brought about the eight-hour workday, or that chopping wood and carrying water would have gotten people out of Tsarist prisons, or that dancing naked around a fire would have helped put in place the Voting Rights Act of 1957 or the Civil Rights Act of 1964? Then why now, with all the world at stake, do so many people retreat into these entirely personal “solutions”?

Part of the problem is that we’ve been victims of a campaign of systematic misdirection. Consumer culture and the capitalist mindset have taught us to substitute acts of personal consumption (or enlightenment) for organized political resistance. An Inconvenient Truth helped raise consciousness about global warming. But did you notice that all of the solutions presented had to do with personal consumption—changing light bulbs, inflating tires, driving half as much—and had nothing to do with shifting power away from corporations, or stopping the growth economy that is destroying the planet? Even if every person in the United States did everything the movie suggested, U.S. carbon emissions would fall by only 22 percent. Scientific consensus is that emissions must be reduced by at least 75 percent worldwide.

Or let’s talk water. We so often hear that the world is running out of water. People are dying from lack of water. Rivers are dewatered from lack of water. Because of this we need to take shorter showers. See the disconnect? Because I take showers, I’m responsible for drawing down aquifers? Well, no. More than 90 percent of the water used by humans is used by agriculture and industry. The remaining 10 percent is split between municipalities and actual living breathing individual humans. Collectively, municipal golf courses use as much water as municipal human beings. People (both human people and fish people) aren’t dying because the world is running out of water. They’re dying because the water is being stolen.

Or let’s talk energy. Kirkpatrick Sale summarized it well: “For the past 15 years the story has been the same every year: individual consumption—residential, by private car, and so on—is never more than about a quarter of all consumption; the vast majority is commercial, industrial, corporate, by agribusiness and government [he forgot military]. So, even if we all took up cycling and wood stoves it would have a negligible impact on energy use, global warming and atmospheric pollution.”

Or let’s talk waste. In 2005, per-capita municipal waste production (basically everything that’s put out at the curb) in the U.S. was about 1,660 pounds. Let’s say you’re a die-hard simple-living activist, and you reduce this to zero. You recycle everything. You bring cloth bags shopping. You fix your toaster. Your toes poke out of old tennis shoes. You’re not done yet, though. Since municipal waste includes not just residential waste, but also waste from government offices and businesses, you march to those offices, waste reduction pamphlets in hand, and convince them to cut down on their waste enough to eliminate your share of it. Uh, I’ve got some bad news. Municipal waste accounts for only 3 percent of total waste production in the United States.

I want to be clear. I’m not saying we shouldn’t live simply. I live reasonably simply myself, but I don’t pretend that not buying much (or not driving much, or not having kids) is a powerful political act, or that it’s deeply revolutionary. It’s not. Personal change doesn’t equal social change.

So how, then, and especially with all the world at stake, have we come to accept these utterly insufficient responses? I think part of it is that we’re in a double bind. A double bind is where you’re given multiple options, but no matter what option you choose, you lose, and withdrawal is not an option. At this point, it should be pretty easy to recognize that every action involving the industrial economy is destructive (and we shouldn’t pretend that solar photovoltaics, for example, exempt us from this: they still require mining and transportation infrastructures at every point in the production processes; the same can be said for every other so-called green technology). So if we choose option one—if we avidly participate in the industrial economy—we may in the short term think we win because we may accumulate wealth, the marker of “success” in this culture. But we lose, because in doing so we give up our empathy, our animal humanity. And we really lose because industrial civilization is killing the planet, which means everyone loses. If we choose the “alternative” option of living more simply, thus causing less harm, but still not stopping the industrial economy from killing the planet, we may in the short term think we win because we get to feel pure, and we didn’t even have to give up all of our empathy (just enough to justify not stopping the horrors), but once again we really lose because industrial civilization is still killing the planet, which means everyone still loses. The third option, acting decisively to stop the industrial economy, is very scary for a number of reasons, including but not restricted to the fact that we’d lose some of the luxuries (like electricity) to which we’ve grown accustomed, and the fact that those in power might try to kill us if we seriously impede their ability to exploit the world—none of which alters the fact that it’s a better option than a dead planet. Any option is a better option than a dead planet.

Besides being ineffective at causing the sorts of changes necessary to stop this culture from killing the planet, there are at least four other problems with perceiving simple living as a political act (as opposed to living simply because that’s what you want to do). The first is that it’s predicated on the flawed notion that humans inevitably harm their landbase. Simple living as a political act consists solely of harm reduction, ignoring the fact that humans can help the Earth as well as harm it. We can rehabilitate streams, we can get rid of noxious invasives, we can remove dams, we can disrupt a political system tilted toward the rich as well as an extractive economic system, we can destroy the industrial economy that is destroying the real, physical world.

The second problem—and this is another big one—is that it incorrectly assigns blame to the individual (and most especially to individuals who are particularly powerless) instead of to those who actually wield power in this system and to the system itself. Kirkpatrick Sale again: “The whole individualist what-you-can-do-to-save-the-earth guilt trip is a myth. We, as individuals, are not creating the crises, and we can’t solve them.”

The third problem is that it accepts capitalism’s redefinition of us from citizens to consumers. By accepting this redefinition, we reduce our potential forms of resistance to consuming and not consuming. Citizens have a much wider range of available resistance tactics, including voting, not voting, running for office, pamphleting, boycotting, organizing, lobbying, protesting, and, when a government becomes destructive of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, we have the right to alter or abolish it.

The fourth problem is that the endpoint of the logic behind simple living as a political act is suicide. If every act within an industrial economy is destructive, and if we want to stop this destruction, and if we are unwilling (or unable) to question (much less destroy) the intellectual, moral, economic, and physical infrastructures that cause every act within an industrial economy to be destructive, then we can easily come to believe that we will cause the least destruction possible if we are dead.

The good news is that there are other options. We can follow the examples of brave activists who lived through the difficult times I mentioned—Nazi Germany, Tsarist Russia, antebellum United States—who did far more than manifest a form of moral purity; they actively opposed the injustices that surrounded them. We can follow the example of those who remembered that the role of an activist is not to navigate systems of oppressive power with as much integrity as possible, but rather to confront and take down those systems. "
activism  consumerism  consumption  environment  politics  derrickjensen  2009  systems  systemsthinking  policy  simplicity  organization  civilization  sustainability  individualism  collectivism  via:caseygollan  2015  change  politicalchange  personalchange  environmentalism  capitalism  globalwarming  climatechange  reistance  inconvenienttruth  water  energy  kirckpatricksale  waste  doublebinds  success  wealth  culture  industrialism  purity  morality  injustice  oppression  power  integrity  misdirection 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Face-Off With a Deadly Predator - YouTube
"Paul Nicklen describes his most amazing experience as a National Geographic photographer - coming face-to-face with one of Antarctica's most vicious predators."
animals  nationalgeographic  photography  2009  storytelling  leopardseals  seals  predators  antarctica  paulnicklen  antarctic 
march 2014 by robertogreco
In Conversation with Raoul Vaneigem | e-flux
"HUO: You have written a lot on life, not survival. What is the difference?

RV: Survival is budgeted life. The system of exploitation of nature and man, starting in the Middle Neolithic with intensive farming, caused an involution in which creativity—a quality specific to humans—was supplanted by work, by the production of a covetous power. Creative life, as had begun to unfold during the Paleolithic, declined and gave way to a brutish struggle for subsistence. From then on, predation, which defines animal behavior, became the generator of all economic mechanisms.

HUO: Today, more than forty years after May ‘68, how do you feel life and society have evolved?

RV: We are witnessing the collapse of financial capitalism. This was easily predictable. Even among economists, where one finds even more idiots than in the political sphere, a number had been sounding the alarm for a decade or so. Our situation is paradoxical: never in Europe have the forces of repression been so weakened, yet never have the exploited masses been so passive. Still, insurrectional consciousness always sleeps with one eye open. The arrogance, incompetence, and powerlessness of the governing classes will eventually rouse it from its slumber, as will the progression in hearts and minds of what was most radical about May 1968."

"RV: The moralization of profit is an illusion and a fraud. There must be a decisive break with an economic system that has consistently spread ruin and destruction while pretending, amidst constant destitution, to deliver a most hypothetical well-being. Human relations must supersede and cancel out commercial relations. Civil disobedience means disregarding the decisions of a government that embezzles from its citizens to support the embezzlements of financial capitalism. Why pay taxes to the bankster-state, taxes vainly used to try to plug the sinkhole of corruption, when we could allocate them instead to the self-management of free power networks in every local community? The direct democracy of self-managed councils has every right to ignore the decrees of corrupt parliamentary democracy. Civil disobedience towards a state that is plundering us is a right. It is up to us to capitalize on this epochal shift to create communities where desire for life overwhelms the tyranny of money and power. We need concern ourselves neither with government debt, which covers up a massive defrauding of the public interest, nor with that contrivance of profit they call “growth.” From now on, the aim of local communities should be to produce for themselves and by themselves all goods of social value, meeting the needs of all—authentic needs, that is, not needs prefabricated by consumerist propaganda."

"RV: The crisis of the ‘30s was an economic crisis. What we are facing today is an implosion of the economy as a management system. It is the collapse of market civilization and the emergence of human civilization. The current turmoil signals a deep shift: the reference points of the old patriarchal world are vanishing. Percolating instead, still just barely and confusedly, are the early markers of a lifestyle that is genuinely human, an alliance with nature that puts an end to its exploitation, rape, and plundering. The worst would be the unawareness of life, the absence of sentient intelligence, violence without conscience. Nothing is more profitable to the racketeering mafias than chaos, despair, suicidal rebellion, and the nihilism that is spread by mercenary greed, in which money, even devalued in a panic, remains the only value."

"HUO: My interviews often focus on the connections between art and architecture/urbanism, or literature and architecture/urbanism. Could you tell me about the Bureau of Unitary Urbanism?

RV: That was an idea more than a project. It was about the urgency of rebuilding our social fabric, so damaged by the stranglehold of the market. Such a rebuilding effort goes hand in hand with the rebuilding by individuals of their own daily existence. That is what psychogeography is really about: a passionate and critical deciphering of what in our environment needs to be destroyed, subjected to détournement, rebuilt.

HUO: In your view there is no such thing as urbanism?

RV: Urbanism is the ideological gridding and control of individuals and society by an economic system that exploits man and Earth and transforms life into a commodity. The danger in the self-built housing movement that is growing today would be to pay more attention to saving money than to the poetry of a new style of life.

HUO: How do you see cities in the year 2009? What kind of unitary urbanism for the third millennium? How do you envision the future of cities? What is your favorite city? You call Oarystis the city of desire. Oarystis takes its inspiration from the world of childhood and femininity. Nothing is static in Oarystis. John Cage once said that, like nature, “one never reaches a point of shapedness or finishedness. The situation is in constant unpredictable change.”2 Do you agree with Cage?

RV: I love wandering through Venice and Prague. I appreciate Mantua, Rome, Bologna, Barcelona, and certain districts of Paris. I care less about architecture than about how much human warmth its beauty has been capable of sustaining. Even Brussels, so devastated by real estate developers and disgraceful architects (remember that in the dialect of Brussels, “architect” is an insult), has held on to some wonderful bistros. Strolling from one to the next gives Brussels a charm that urbanism has deprived it of altogether. The Oarystis I describe is not an ideal city or a model space (all models are totalitarian). It is a clumsy and naïve rough draft for an experiment I still hope might one day be undertaken—so I agree with John Cage. This is not a diagram, but an experimental proposition that the creation of an environment is one and the same as the creation by individuals of their own future."

"HUO: Will museums be abolished? Could you discuss the amphitheater of memory? A protestation against oblivion?

RV: The museum suffers from being a closed space in which works waste away. Painting, sculpture, music belong to the street, like the façades that contemplate us and come back to life when we greet them. Like life and love, learning is a continuous flow that enjoys the privilege of irrigating and fertilizing our sentient intelligence. Nothing is more contagious than creation. But the past also carries with it all the dross of our inhumanity. What should we do with it? A museum of horrors, of the barbarism of the past? I attempted to answer the question of the “duty of memory” in Ni pardon, ni talion [Neither Forgiveness Nor Retribution]"

[long quote]

HUO: Learning is deserting schools and going to the streets. Are streets becoming Thinkbelts? Cedric Price’s Potteries Thinkbelt used abandoned railroads for pop-up schools. What and where is learning today?

RV: Learning is permanent for all of us regardless of age. Curiosity feeds the desire to know. The call to teach stems from the pleasure of transmitting life: neither an imposition nor a power relation, it is pure gift, like life, from which it flows. Economic totalitarianism has ripped learning away from life, whose creative conscience it ought to be. We want to disseminate everywhere this poetry of knowledge that gives itself. Against school as a closed-off space (a barrack in the past, a slave market nowadays), we must invent nomadic learning.

HUO: How do you foresee the twenty-first-century university?

RV: The demise of the university: it will be liquidated by the quest for and daily practice of a universal learning of which it has always been but a pale travesty.

HUO: Could you tell me about the freeness principle (I am extremely interested in this; as a curator I have always believed museums should be free—Art for All, as Gilbert and George put it).

RV: Freeness is the only absolute weapon capable of shattering the mighty self-destruction machine set in motion by consumer society, whose implosion is still releasing, like a deadly gas, bottom-line mentality, cupidity, financial gain, profit, and predation. Museums and culture should be free, for sure, but so should public services, currently prey to the scamming multinationals and states. Free trains, buses, subways, free healthcare, free schools, free water, air, electricity, free power, all through alternative networks to be set up. As freeness spreads, new solidarity networks will eradicate the stranglehold of the commodity. This is because life is a free gift, a continuous creation that the market’s vile profiteering alone deprives us of."
raoulvaneigem  art  politics  economics  life  living  situationist  humans  consumerism  learning  education  unschooling  deschooling  curiosity  power  anarchism  anarchy  totalitarianism  creativity  johncage  détournement  psychogeography  models  derive  servitude  love  oarystis  humanity  everyday  boredom  productivity  efficiency  time  temporality  money  desire  chaos  solidarity  networks  guydebord  freedom  freeness  museums  culture  hansulrichobrist  2009  nomadiclearning  lcproject  openstudioproject  work  labor  artleisure  leisure  leisurearts  artwork  profiteering  explodingschool  cityasclassroom  flow  universallearning  cedricprice  thinkbelts  dérive  shrequest1 
january 2014 by robertogreco
From “(Mis)Adventures in Poetry” by D.A. Powell...
"The Oulipo poet Jacques Roubaud says that the poet is a rat who builds his maze and then must find his way out. I'm afraid too often poets don't build mazes at all; they build corridors with well-marked entrances and exits; the proceed through the doors as quickly as possible and assume they've accomplished something. I say, "Get Lost." Build a true maze, a poem that doesn't have a clear path. Be willing to wander in the labyrinth and risk encountering the Minotaur. At least if you fail, the scholar who finds your bones will be able to ask, "Did he starve or was he eaten?"

From “(Mis)Adventures in Poetry” by D.A. Powell in The Writer’s Notebook: Craft Essays from Tin House. Tin House Books: 2009.
oulipo  jacquesroubaud  poetry  mazes  labyrinths  dapowell  writing  poems  gettinglost  2009  literature 
december 2013 by robertogreco
One-handed computing with the iPhone
"The easy single-handed operation of the iPhone1 is not one of its obvious selling points but is one of those little features that grows on you and becomes nearly indispensable. A portable networked computing and gaming device that can be easily operated with one hand can be used in a surprising variety of situations."

[See also: ]

[Update: see also (via @ablerism):
"It’s a Man’s Phone: My female hands meant I couldn’t use my Google Nexus to document tear gas misuse" ]
computersareforpeople  iphone  usability  accessibility  apple  design  kottke  2009  timcarmody  jasonkottke 
november 2013 by robertogreco
Phone solo / Snarkmarket
"Generally, I would say that while I was actually pretty conscious of accessibility issues before my injury, I have a completely different understanding of it now, as I’m navigating the world in a wheelchair, trying to both capture and manage the attention of random passers-by, totally aware of just how much function I have, and that (unlike my friends) I’ll be hanging up the wheelchair in just a few weeks. (Rehabbing the arm will take a while longer.) Your cheerfulness about the situation varies almost directly with your autonomy — and the iPhone is GREAT at making you feel autonomous. Innovation in interface design isn’t just about creating a cooler experience. It’s about giving more and more people a shot at that experience to begin with."
timcarmody  accessibility  iphone  computersareforpeople  design  autonomy  empowerment  2009 
november 2013 by robertogreco
In a Landscape: IV- - Poetry, Poems, Bios & More
"Now the scene changes, we say, and the next few years
are quiet. It’s another curse, the inverse of the “interesting times”
the Chinese were said to go on so about. Nevertheless, there it is,
as the emptiness needs a something in order to be defined as empty,
which means we spend the next few years talking about other years,
as if that’s what’s important. Maybe that is what’s important. It was terrible,
the hospital stay. The children. Not the children in the abstract way,
but those times worried that this would go wrong, or that, and then things
do go wrong and it almost feels like we’d wished for it to happen,
so not only do we have to go through this terrible time, but we also
have to keep reminding ourselves that we didn’t wish for it. It’s Problem
One. And there’s our two-year-old son strapped to a board with an IV, crying.

And doesn’t it feel like a formal device then? As if expecting it
were the same—or is the same—as willing it, but then almost willing it anyway,
saying something like, “Please God, or whomever, get it over with already . . .”
if the world isn’t going to be a museum only, as museums keep calling out
that there’s so much more to find in the past, like ourselves, for instance.
The simplification of our forms. The question of why it might be important
to save our dinnerware, or Yo-yos. We have these accidents
in common: last night I was pulling a filing cabinet upstairs on a hand truck,
and at the 90 degree turn it fell on top of me and I had to hold it like that,
one wheel on the stair, one in mid-air. So I had some time on my hands,
waiting for Robin to get home. They say that if you relax, lying there
is 80% as restful as sleep. And knowing how to relax is key, they say.

Here’s a guess: we will sit on a wooden lawn-chair in the sun, and we
will like it. We will run the numbers and think it sounds like a good
proposition. We will consult a map, even ask directions. The sun’s
out right now, in fact, and it’s all a matter of doing the next big thing.
Driving home, say. And then it’s a manner of having done something.
Driving past the car wash. Yes, forcing a matter of doing the next
thing, which is filling out the accident report, while the old man
who hit my pickup is crying in the street. And then I’m walking around,
picking up the fender and light pieces and putting them in the bed."
poems  poetry  johngallaher  2009  johncage 
november 2013 by robertogreco
New Normal? - Radiolab
"Evolution results from the ability of organisms to change. But how do you tell the difference between a sea change and a ripple in the water? Is a peacenik baboon, a man in a dress, or a cuddly fox a sign of things to come? Or just a flukey outlier from the norm? And is there ever really a norm?

John Horgan examines how Americans seem to have a completely different attitude toward war than we did thirty years ago. He takes us on a stroll through Hoboken, asking strangers one of the great unanswerable questions: "Will humans ever stop fighting wars?" Strangely, everyone seems to know the answer. Robert Sapolsky brings us farther afield - to eastern Africa, where a population of baboons defies his expectations of violent behavior. Robert is surprised to feel hopeful for a gentler future, but then primatologist Richard Wrangham asserts that their aggressive nature is innate, unchanging, and hanging over them like a guillotine.

Stu Rasmussen, of Silverton, Oregon, is an avid metalworker, woodworker, and electrician - and in 2008 became our country's first transgendered mayor. News of his election swept the country, but what was it like at home?

Brian Hare tells us the story of Dmitri Belyaev, a geneticist and clandestine Darwinian who lived in Stalinist Russia and studied the domestication of the silver fox. Through generations of selectively breeding a captive population, Belyaev noticed not only increased docility, but also unexpected physical changes. Why did these gentler foxes necessarily look different than their wild ancestors? Tecumseh Fitch has a hypothesis, something about trailblazing cells and embryonic development. And Richard Wrangham takes it a step further, suggesting us humans may have domesticated ourselves."
behavior  radiolab  2009  robertsapolsky  change  normalcy  normal  richardwrangham  sturasmusssen  dmitribelyaev  tecumsehfitch  domestication  evolution  primates  baboons 
october 2013 by robertogreco
The Expanded Field of Design: "black mountain college"
[Text from: ]

"The Black Mountain College paradigm, with roots in the Bauhaus and branches in a utopian ideal, was neither infallible nor oblivious, and its primary commitment was to maintaining a vital and responsive atmosphere for personal and collective growth. The shared space, scalar intimacy and de-institutionalized conditions that supported BMC’s activity in the mid-century were catalysts for a dynamic and reciprocal spatial engagement, a physical dialogue with space. Could today’s embodiment of BMC cultivate this relationship further? Could the space of learning itself become a generative component, an operative medium?"

See also: 2009 Thesis - Black Mountain Redux
and black mtn studies
BMC redux document excerpts
Intro / Chapters One - Three ]
jennymeyers  blackmountaincollege  bmc  architecture  design  2009  buckminsterfuller 
august 2013 by robertogreco
The Referendum -
"Yes: the Referendum gets unattractively self-righteous and judgmental. Quite a lot of what passes itself off as a dialogue about our society consists of people trying to justify their own choices as the only right or natural ones by denouncing others’ as selfish or pathological or wrong. So it’s easy to overlook that hidden beneath all this smug certainty is a poignant insecurity, and the naked 3 A.M. terror of regret."

“It’s tempting to read other people’s lives as cautionary fables or repudiations of our own.”

"One of the hardest things to look at in this life is the lives we didn’t lead, the path not taken, potential left unfulfilled. In stories, those who look back — Lot’s wife, Orpheus and Eurydice — are lost. Looking to the side instead, to gauge how our companions are faring, is a way of glancing at a safer reflection of what we cannot directly bear, like Perseus seeing the Gorgon safely mirrored in his shield."
adulthood  aging  children  life  living  decisions  tradeoffs  2009  timkreider  judgement  unschooling  cv  comparisons  choices  self-righteousness  certainty  undertainty  insecurity  regret 
april 2013 by robertogreco
"An unsentimental elegy to the American West, “Sweetgrass” follows the last modern-day cowboys to lead their flocks of sheep up into Montana’s breathtaking and often dangerous Absaroka-Beartooth mountains for summer pasture. This astonishingly beautiful yet unsparing film reveals a world in which nature and culture, animals and humans, vulnerability and violence are all intimately meshed."
film  documentary  sweetgrass  animals  humans  culture  nature  sensoryethnographylab  luciencastaing-taylor  2009  cowboys  sheep  montana  vulnerability  violence  human-animalrelations  interspecies  human-animalrelationships 
march 2013 by robertogreco
Liberal Education, Stewardship, and the Cosmopolitan Temptation | Front Porch Republic
"When speaking of the proper care for the natural world, the word that best describes our efforts is stewardship. Stewards are care-takers. They lovingly guide, protect, and cultivate that which is under their care. In the language of stewardship the concepts of indebtedness, gratitude, love, and responsibility all find their proper places. But it is not only in the context of the natural world that the concept of stewardship has meaning. When we examine the topic of liberal education the idea of stewardship is indispensable. For as inheritors of a civilization, we are its stewards. And because the gifts of civilization are tender plants requiring constant nourishment, our task as stewards requires perseverance, courage, and, ultimately, faith that succeeding generations will take up the mantle when we are no longer able to bear it.

It is, in the end, impossible seriously to engage the great tradition without cultivating the habit (or is it the art?) of attention. Tocqueville notes that the habit of inattention is the greatest vice of democracy. This vice is exponentially more pervasive in an age where email, text messaging, Tweets, and YouTube are only a click away. Learning to attend carefully is, perhaps, one of our culture’s greatest needs. Paying attention requires self-control. We must learn to listen before we speak and think before we act. These habits are essential for self-government.

But with all this, there is at the heart of much writing about liberal education a sort of cosmopolitan temptation that, ultimately, does a disservice to the concept of stewardship. When proponents of liberal education describe it as the attempt to grasp the whole, they are partially right, but if we do not continue with the acknowledgment that the whole is grasped via particulars and that, as human creatures, we necessarily inhabit only a small and particular part of the whole, we are missing something crucial.

If a liberal education teaches a person to love abstraction, to relish the exchange of universal ideas of justice, charity, and beauty, yet to be inattentive to the neighbor down the street or the beauty of a well-tended garden, then something has gone wrong. Such an education is suited to abstract beings who naturally belong in no particular place and have none of the senses by which particular beauty or empathy can be experienced. Such an education is, in other words, not fit for human beings.

In other words, a liberal education should teach students how to be human beings and how to live in some particular place. If a course of education cultivates a hatred for home, it has failed. If it cultivates a dissatisfaction with the local, particular, and the provincial in favor of distant, abstract places where cosmopolitanism drowns out the loveliness and uniqueness of local customs, practices, stories, and songs, then the education has failed. To be well-educated is to be educated to live well in a particular place. It is to acknowledge the creatureliness of one’s existence and thereby to recognize our many debts of gratitude and the scale proper to a human life. A successful liberal education cultivates stewards who are disposed to love their places and who are equipped to tend them well."

[via: ]
liberaleducation  democracy  liberalarts  2009  via:randallszott  cosmopolitanism  stewardship  gratitude  love  responsibility  civilization  sustainability  humanism  attention  tocqueville  self-control  self-government  local  slow  small  abstraction  justice  charity  beauty  global  glocal 
march 2013 by robertogreco
Difficult languages: Tongue twisters | The Economist
"“Gender” is related to “genre”, and means merely a group of nouns lumped together for grammatical purposes. Linguists talk instead of “noun classes”, which may have to do with shape or size, or whether the noun is animate, but often rules are hard to see. George Lakoff, a linguist, memorably described a noun class of Dyirbal (spoken in north-eastern Australia) as including “women, fire and dangerous things”. To the extent that genders are idiosyncratic, they are hard to learn. Bora, spoken in Peru, has more than 350 of them."
Economist  language  2009  Whorf  via:Preoccupations 
february 2013 by robertogreco

Resist whatever seems inevitable.

Resist people who seem invincible.

Resist the embrace of those who have lost.

Resist the flattery of those who have won.

Resist any idea that contains the word algorithm.

Resist the idea that architecture is a building.

Resist the idea that architecture can save the world.

Resist the hope that you’ll get that big job.

Resist getting big jobs.

Resist the suggestion that you can only read Derrida in French.

Resist taking the path of least resistance.

Resist the influence of the appealing.

Resist the desire to make a design based on a piece of music.

Resist the growing conviction that They are right.

Resist the nagging feeling that They will win.

Resist the idea that you need a client to make architecture.

Resist the temptation to talk fast.

Resist anyone who asks you to design only the visible part.

Resist the idea that drawing by hand is passé.

Resist any assertion that the work of Frederick Kiesler is passé.

Resist buying an automobile of any kind.

Resist the impulse to open an office.

Resist believing that there is an answer to every question.

Resist believing that the result is the most important thing.

Resist the demand that you prove your ideas by building them.

Resist people who are satisfied.

Resist the idea that architects are master builders.

Resist accepting honors from those you do not respect.

Resist the panicky feeling that you are alone.

Resist hoping that next year will be better.

Resist the assertion that architecture is a service profession.

Resist the foregone conclusion that They have already won.

Resist the impulse to go back to square one.

Resist believing that there can be architecture without architects.

Resist accepting your fate.

Resist people who tell you to resist.

Resist the suggestion that you can do what you really want later.

Resist any idea that contains the word interface.

Resist the idea that architecture is an investment.

Resist the feeling that you should explain.

Resist the claim that history is concerned with the past.

Resist the innuendo that you must be cautious.

Resist the illusion that it is complete.

Resist the opinion that it was an accident.

Resist the judgement that it is only valid if you can do it again.

Resist believing that architecture is about designing things.

Resist the implications of security.

Resist writing what They wish you would write.

Resist assuming that the locus of power is elsewhere.

Resist believing that anyone knows what will actually happen.

Resist the accusation that you have missed the point.

Resist all claims on your autonomy.

Resist the indifference of adversaries.

Resist the ready acceptance of friends.

Resist the thought that life is simple, after all.

Resist the belated feeling that you should seek forgiveness.

Resist the desire to move to a different city.

Resist the notion that you should never compromise.

Resist any thought that contains the word should.

Resist the lessons of architecture that has already succeeded.

Resist the idea that architecture expresses something.

Resist the temptation to do it just one more time.

Resist the belief that architecture influences behavior.

Resist any idea that equates architecture and ownership.

Resist the tendency to repeat yourself.

Resist that feeling of utter exhaustion."
architecture  truisms  lebbeuswoods  2009  resistance  compromise  values  persistence  cv  codeofconduct  canon 
february 2013 by robertogreco
Wheel of Stars
"You are watching, and listening to, a musical clock made of stars.

To make this, I downloaded public data from Hipparcos, a satellite launched by the European Space Agency in 1989 that accurately measured over a hundred thousand stars. The data I downloaded contains position, parallax, magnitude, and color information, among other things…"
sound  stars  polaris  clocks  time  musicofthespheres  circles  2009  jimbumgardner  astronomy  science  measurement  via:nicolefenton  from delicious
january 2013 by robertogreco
a note to myself from november 2009 - 5880
"(you need to close each conversation with a wish for the other to find in their life all they need, not cleave and stone open your own place in it)"
life  wisdom  relationships  conversation  2009  kindness  maxfenton  from delicious
december 2012 by robertogreco
Michel Serres, one of France's 'immortels,' tells the 'grand récit' at Stanford
"For the last 150 years, Western philosophy primarily has been a story of telling philosophers that they cannot do this, that or the other. They cannot synthesize, philosophize, cannot tell the grand story." This idea of the grand récit, he said, "is distinctly non-postmodern, maybe even non-modern."

"His is the 'yes we can' of an older concept of the philosopher. Yes, philosophers can—even in our time—tell the grand récit."

"as a writer…he is renowned as a stylist—and style is the hardest element to replicate in another language. His writing has been described as classical, poetic, a little bit arcane and virtually untranslatable…"

"The observant may notice that, although Serres speaks extemporaneously, in front of him is a pile of typed pages. They are not notes but full lectures. He writes about 40 pages between classes, so it is all fresh in his mind when he speaks. Occasionally during his lecture he will pause, flipping through a dozen pages to catch up to his spoken words."
education  howweteach  howwewrite  writing  transdisciplinary  philosophy  2009  michelserres 
december 2012 by robertogreco
Dear Nick Cave, I was at St. Brigid’s in Ottawa... - what what
"I’ve never drank beer in a church before, deconsecrated or not…never heard someone read about “cunt crunches” & “bullet-proof pussy” in the presence of the Virgin Mary. To say the least, it made an impact…

…you explained that Bunny doesn’t get redeemed. While that’s probably consistent for a story inspired by the Gospel of Mark & the SCUM Manifesto, it was your claim that redemption isn’t necessary that stuck with me. I’ve always had a hard time trusting a God who wanted to forgive me for being human, save me from being human… some people simply don’t deserve redemption. But I really liked Bunny Junior. His father was a monster and he loved him anyway. Found the bits that could be loved… monsters are like that. You can love them, can’t help but love them, but it doesn’t save them. And that’s just fine.

…thanks for saying that the life of an artist is more privileged than painful. It was the only time the security guy security guy behind you smiled so big I saw his teeth."
sincerity  humor  monsters  thedeathofbunnymonroe  bunnymunro  charlesbukowski  johnberryman  franko'hara  god  christianity  nickcave  2009  annegalloway  from delicious
december 2012 by robertogreco
The Designer as Trickster
"New anthropological studies of designer roles add a new perspective to designers’ understanding of their own role. And that is important. In today’s globalised and high-efficiency society, it is more essential than ever for designers to be trickster characters, maintaining their unique approach to the design process. Tricksterism ensures a degree of change and renewal that is crucial to our society, says anthropologist and management researcher Karen Lisa Salomon."
mediators  kernlisasalomon  practice  trinevu  2009  design  trickster  from delicious
december 2012 by robertogreco
Manhood for Amateurs: The Wilderness of Childhood by Michael Chabon | The New York Review of Books
"Art is a form of exploration, of sailing off into the unknown alone, heading for those unmarked places on the map. If children are not permitted—not taught—to be adventurers and explorers as children, what will become of the world of adventure, of stories, of literature itself?"
2009  learning  literature  deschooling  unschooling  storytelling  adventure  michaelchabon  cv  children  exploration  art  manhood  masculinity  from delicious
november 2012 by robertogreco
elearnspace › Even revolutionaries conserve
"Humberto Maturana has stated “even revolutionaries conserve…All systems only exist as long as there is conservation of that which defines them”. The concept revolutionaries as conservators is reflected in many aspects of society. Sometimes it’s revealed in the establishment of structures similar to those that a movement sought to replace (i.e. Soviet Union). Sometimes it’s revealed in politics (where a revolutionary, change-promoting candidate becomes more of a traditionalist once elected). The system that we participate in will soon make us what the system is. An individual elected to public office, by virtue of participating in the political system will over time, to varying degrees, become a politician."

[See also: ]
unschooling  deschooling  society  conservationoftradition  conservation  absorption  systemabsorption  perpetuation  wikipedia  georgesiemens  2009  systemsthinking  humbertomaturana  systems  politics  revolutionarychange  revolutionaries  conservatism  from delicious
october 2012 by robertogreco
Not war and war: politics and environmentalism · on Env
"By embiggening the import of national abstractions, it pulls us away from good opportunities to work on simple, tangible, everyday things."

"In another place, working on simple, tangible, everyday things is the way to death. It’s called environmentalism, which exemplifies a lot of its problems."

"We encourage each other to feel responsible for our cultural ecology at the largest scale – Roe v. Wade, science v. faith, welfare v. laissez-faire. We should make as big a fuss tending the culture right in front of us – raising children, jury duty, block parties.

We encourage each other to feel responsible for the ecology right in front of us – litter, gas milage, sorting the recycling. We should work as hard on ecology at the largest scale – mass-sequestering CO2, figuring out what to do about the 2 billion people who want cars for the first time, replanting the Amazon.

Politics should be less warlike. Environmentalism should be more."

[See ]

[Update 12 May 2013: See also: ]
misappropriatedenergy  society  civics  distractions  wahtmatters  hwotolive  scale  politics  environmentalism  environment  local  slow  small  2009  charlieloyd  global 
september 2012 by robertogreco
Alex Payne — The Case Against Everything Buckets
"One of my Rules For Computing Happiness is: “do not use software that does many things poorly.” Everything Buckets violate this rule up, down, and sideways. They’re poor filesystems, poor text editors, poor databases, poor to-do lists, poor calendars, poor address books, poor bookmark managers, and poor password managers. At their worst, they’re even poor web browsers, poor encryption systems, and poor synchronization schemes.

The corollary to that rule is: “use software that does one thing well.” When you need to store some data, there are so many wonderful applications to pick from. From recipes to receipts, photographs to music, journal entries to to-do list items, there’s a great application out there for what you need to do. Chances are good that the right application structures your data so that you can get more out of it. Use an application that actually does something more than holding data. You’ll be happier."
yojimbo  shovebox  devonthink  2009  computing  toolbelttheory  toolbelts  onlinetoolkit  specializedsoftware  tools  software  specialization  evernote  alexpayne  via:ablaze  organization  everythingbuckets  from delicious
september 2012 by robertogreco
HowTo: EC2 for Poets
"EC2 for Poets is a tutorial that shows you how to set up a server in Amazon's "cloud." All you need is a net connection, credit card, and a basic understanding of how to use computers.

Initially, the goal for EC2 for Poets was to make cloud computing less mysterious by helping people get through the process of setting up a server on Amazon EC2. The newest version is more than an experiment, it's a platform for applications. We're starting with the RIver2 news aggregator, an app that reads RSS feeds you're subscribed to every ten minutes and posts the new items at the top of the list. It's also a podcatcher and a photo aggregator, supports realtime updating and OPML reading lists.

And there are more apps you can install after getting your river up and running… Each app is an instrument, together they form a symphony. …"
glvo  webdev  s3  amazonwebservices  2012  2011  2009  davewimer  howto  amazon  hosting  ec2forpoets  ec2  webdesign 
september 2012 by robertogreco
New York City is the Future of the Web - Anil Dash
"New York City startups are as likely to be focused on the arts and crafts as on the bits and bytes, to be influenced by our unparalleled culture as by the latest browser features, and informed by the dynamic interaction of different social groups and classes that's unavoidable in our city, but uncommon in Silicon Valley. Best of all, the support for these efforts can come from investors and supporters that are outside of the groupthink that many West Coast VC firms suffer from. When I lived in San Francisco, it was easy to spend days at a time only interacting with other web geeks; In New York, fortunately, that's impossible.

Am I biased? Sure. But are there half a dozen startups anywhere in the world as interesting and full of potential as these new NYC efforts? Isn't it exciting that these are all built around the full potential of the open web, instead of merely trying to be land grabs within the walled gardens of closed platforms? I'm more optimistic about the environment and opportunity for starting new ventures than I've been in ages, and for me the fundamental reasons why are demonstrated best by startups that could only happen in New York City."
anildash  2009  nyc  startups  openweb  web  technology  culture  business  siliconvalley  bayarea  comparison 
july 2012 by robertogreco
The 'Interesting' Conferences
"The Interesting Conferences started with this post in March 2007. I'd been inspired by TED but wanted to do something cheaper, closer to home and less, well, zealous. So, I booked the Conway Hall, asked some people to speak and hoped people would want to come. It seemed to go well.

We did it again in 2008 and 2009 but had a break in 2010. (We had PaperCamp 2 instead). Fortunately in that year the Boring folk started up, giving the world's journalists the chance to say that Interesting had been cancelled due to lack of interest. We did another one in 2011 - with a slightly different format.

We also managed to inspire other, similar, events around the world. I can't take much credit for those, they did them all themselves.

I'm not quite sure what to do next. Last summer we organised Laptops and Looms which was smaller, longer and in Derbyshire but had a similar feel. Maybe Interesting will morph into something like that.

Or maybe it's over. That'd be fine too."
london  nyc  vancouver  oregon  portland  papercamp  laptopsandlooms  2011  2010  2009  2008  conferences  events  russelldavies  interesting  from delicious
july 2012 by robertogreco
Frieze Magazine | Archive | Border Control
"…Once they have identified what we should be looking at & talking about, my eye is inevitably drawn to the ‘not art’ side of the room, which often seems more alive to me, more fun. Is it possible to make things, do things, before they are categorized? Is it possible to build a life’s work as a free-range human, freely meandering and trespassing without regard for the borders?…

Children naturally operate this way, but it’s the opposite of how most formal education works. We are introduced to borders, decide which ones we want to surround ourselves with, learn what happened within them before we got there, and are then expected to perform within their narrow perimeters until we die… If I am interested in gardening, I don’t want to make work about gardens, I become a gardener…

Maybe identifying myself as one limits my freedom by implying that everything I do aspires to be art. I’m not aiming for art, I’m aiming for life, and if art gets in the way, that’s fine."

[via: ]

Another passage from earlier on:

"In her 1979 essay ‘Sculpture in the Expanded Field’ Rosalind Krauss analyzes the slippery, evolving nature of what was being referred to at the time as sculpture by artists including Carl Andre, Walter De Maria, Michael Heizer, Robert Irwin, Sol LeWitt, Richard Long, Robert Morris, Bruce Nauman, Richard Serra and Robert Smithson. Krauss talks about sculpture, and its relationship to ‘not architecture’ and ‘not landscape’. Recently the term ‘expanded field’ has been revived to help make sense of the work of a new generation of artists (including myself), whose legacy can ironically be traced directly back to artists from the 1970s whom Krauss does not mention in her essay. These include: Ant Farm, Buckminster Fuller, Anna Halprin, Joan Jonas, Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Yayoi Kusama, Gordon Matta-Clark, Ana Mendieta, Adrian Piper and Yvonne Rainer, to name just a few personal favourites. They were working at the borders of what was known as sculpture, and some were outside what was even considered art. With our generation growing out of theirs, I would argue that the field has not expanded at all, but rather the ossified borders that previously separated it and other fields from each other are becoming more porous."
criticism  autonomy  freedom  notart  artpractice  theory  tresspassing  meandering  lcproject  deschooling  learning  generalists  multidisciplinary  interdisciplinarity  interdisciplinary  disciplines  free-rangehumans  freeranging  unschooling  living  life  making  glvo  2009  fritzhaeg  culture  unartist  community  art  borders  carlandre  walterdemaria  michaelheizer  robertirwin  sollewitt  richardlong  robertmorris  brucenauman  richardserra  robertsmithson  antfarm  buckminsterfuller  annahalprin  joanjonas  mierleladermanukeles  yayoikasuma  matta-clark  anamendieta  adrianpiper  yvonnerainer  rosalindkrauss  architecture  landscape  artists  sculpture  porosity  gordonmatta-clark  from delicious
may 2012 by robertogreco
Abra Ancliffe – The ReHistory of a Lost School: Asbury Community School
"The Asbury Community School in Albuquerque, New Mexico existed from 1978-1985; during which time I attended as a young girl. It was a non-traditional school with an open campus, a diverse student body and curriculum that included yoga & self-directed learning. Asbury closed its doors in 1985, after which the school disappeared and its existence faded. I gathered the memories and traces of the students, teachers and parents of Asbury in order to reinstate the history of the school into its former buildings and the Sawmill neighborhood of Albuquerque. By engaging the ethereal nature of memories, the fuzzy and fractures fragrnents become a testimonial to a lost school and begin to fill a gap in the history of the buildings. The memories are placed back into the rooms and spaces in which they first occurred and a palimpsestual history emerges."
temporalspaces  temporality  atemporality  lcproject  childhood  mapping  maps  asburycommunityschool  glvo  installation  2009  place  space  memory  schools  abraancliffe  art  albuquerque  from delicious
may 2012 by robertogreco
SF Muni Fast Pass Colors - a set on Flickr
"A small cache of SF Muni Fast Passes (2005-2011) to aid a casual study of urban wayfinding, social design processes and their influence on visual culture.

Themes: security and aesthetic caprice."
urbanwayfinding  wayfinding  urbanism  publictransit  transportation  munipasses  colors  color  socialdesign  socialdesignprocesses  urban  2005  2006  2007  2008  2009  2010  2011  sanfrancisco  fastpass  from delicious
may 2012 by robertogreco
Designing Design – Kenya Hara — The Designer's Review of Books
"If you are a designer involved in the making of objects, it is certainly up there with Papanek’s Design for the Real World as a book that should make you think deeply about your profession. If you are in the digital design world or graphic design or branding, it will make you yearn for materiality and ask yourself how you can bring a stillness of the senses back into an area that feels perpetually hyperactive. You won’t agree with everything Hara has to say, but you will enjoy the journey he takes you on and be wiser for it."
mediocrity  adequacy  muji  tangibility  technology  sustainability  japan  designingdesign  2009  graphicdesign  interactiondesign  reviews  books  design  kenyahara  from delicious
april 2012 by robertogreco
Information Architects – Kenya Hara On Japanese Aesthetics
"A Japanese cleaning team finds satisfaction in diligently doing its job. The better they do it the more satisfaction they get out of it.

The craftman’s spirit, I think, imbues people with a sense of beauty, as in elaboration, delicacy, care, simplicity (words I often use). Obviously, this also applies to bento-making and the pride people take in making them as beautiful as they can.

There is a similar craftman’s spirit (“shokunin kishitsu” or “shokunin katagi”) in Europe. Yet in Europe I can see it coming alive only from a certain level of sophistication. –In Japan, even ordinary jobs such as cleaning and cooking are filled with this craftman’s spirit. It is is common sense in Japan.

While Japanese are known for their particular aesthetic sense, I would say we also have an incapacity to see ugliness. How come?

We usually focus fully on what’s right in front of our eyes. We tend to ignore the horrible, especially if it is not an integral part of our personal perspective."
bento  bentoboxes  knives  shokuninkatagi  shokuninkishitsu  glvo  craft  craftsmanship  via:tealtan  2009  design  japanese  minimalism  culture  kenyahara  simplicity  aesthetics  japan  from delicious
april 2012 by robertogreco
Flickr Co-Founder Caterina Fake on the Value of Viral Loops [Exclusive Q&A;] | Fast Company
"There's both a good and bad side to virality. Products with viral hooks that are so strong they coerce people to sign up--in order to achieve a huge initial viral rush--are obviously bad. Not only do they alienate users, they don't lead to a sustainable business. On the good side, you have organic growth, which comes as a natural byproduct of something that spreads simply because people like it--eBay, Hot or Not, and Flickr. I can't think of an antonym for it."

"The decision to make all the photos public versus private was motivated by the fact that conversations are where metadata happens."
2009  via:tealtan  metadata  folksonomy  tagging  joshuaschachter  growth  gameneverending  gne  socialmedia  design  viral  flickr  technology  caterinafake  from delicious
april 2012 by robertogreco
E. chromi on Vimeo
"E. chromi is a collaboration between designers and scientists in the new field of synthetic biology. In 2009, seven Cambridge University undergraduates spent the summer genetically engineering bacteria to secrete a variety of coloured pigments, visible to the naked eye. They designed standardised sequences of DNA, known as BioBricks, and inserted them into E. coli bacteria.

Each BioBrick part contains genes selected from existing organisms spanning the living kingdoms, enabling the bacteria to produce a colour: red, yellow, green, blue, brown or violet. By combining these with other BioBricks, bacteria could be programmed to do useful things, such as indicate whether drinking water is safe by turning red if they sense a toxin. E. chromi won the Grand Prize at the 2009 International Genetically Engineered Machine Competition (iGEM)."
echromi  2009  biobricks  dna  genetics  geneticengineering  bacteria  syntheticbiology  from delicious
march 2012 by robertogreco
The Spirit of Craftsmanship - Luxury Society - Comment & Analysis
"Scye is an exceptional clothing line, but Hidaka and Miyahara’s strategy of pursuing quality and craft over trend and flash is not unique amongst young Japanese brands. Miyahara explains, “I believe the Japanese people have a basic artisanal disposition. There is a word in Japanese — kodawari — meaning being obsessed with the details, and it guides almost everything here.”

While some of this so-called quality obsession may be a response to discerning consumers, Miyahara sees craftsmanship in Japan prospering from the creators’ own self-demands:

Some part of kodawari is the designers’ own self-satisfaction of creating really nice things, even if consumers don’t notice the details. When we started the brand, we thought about how to do things from the perspective of those who actually make the clothing, and we wanted to produce clothes that people would still wear after a long time — both in terms of quality and style."
2009  luxury  quality  detail  kodawari  via:tealtan  glvo  craft  japan  craftsmanship  from delicious
march 2012 by robertogreco
Astra Taylor: 'Unschool' was cool in her youth |
"The house was full of books & musical instruments, but not every moment was spent productively. Time was wasted. We wandered around, but also got to specialize at a young age…Some days I'm sure we looked like dirty brats not doing anything, but a lot of times, that's what creativity looks like. We figured out what it was to become a creative adult. Creative people spend a lot of time reading & thinking & going down blind alleys…

I think this educational possibility would be best for all children, but it's not possible. Choosing btwn dropping out of the system completely & a 9-hour compulsory day of classes & homework is such a dichotomy. I long for an intellectual community where it doesn't have to be so one way or the other. There are ethical problems w/ isolating your kids, but I wish public ed wasn't so prisonlike…

Have complete trust in your child. It's actually really hard. A lot of parents micromanage… You don't get to choose what your children are interested in."
2009  learning  deschooling  education  unschooling  astrataylor  from delicious
february 2012 by robertogreco
The New Atlantis » Science and the Decline of the Liberal Arts
"Finally, a restored liberal education would not be a liberation from “the ancestral” or from nature, but rather an education in the limits that culture and nature impose upon us — an education in living in ways that do not tempt us to Promethean forms of individual or generational self-aggrandizement. Particularly in an age in which we are becoming all too familiar with the consequences of living solely in and for the present, when too many among us are failing to live within our means — whether financially or environmentally — we would be well served to restore the proper understanding of liberty: not as liberation from constraint, but rather, as a capacity to govern ourselves. Such self-governance, as commended by ancient and religious traditions alike, makes possible a truer form of liberty — liberty from enslavement to our appetites, and from those appetites’ destructive power."

[via: ]
2009  philosophy  economics  liberty  liberalarts  liberaleducation  liberation  liberalism  multiversity  self-aggrandizement  colleges  universities  highereducation  highered  engineering  history  humanities  science  education  academia  patrickdeneen  from delicious
february 2012 by robertogreco
Searching The Library Of Babel - The
"Esteemed as both a critic and author, Borges was as selective as he was well read. And, given all the accounts of his nearly superhuman erudition, he was probably one of the most well read men in history. The highly referential nature of his short stories and the disarming insight of his criticism both serve to underscore the range of his literary knowledge. He was a voracious reader, but also a good reader—and one of particular tastes."

"the problem of guessing which specific handful of stories Borges chose was daunting. And what was daunting became laughable when confronted by Volume 12: trying to guess which 16 of the 431 tales Borges chose from Pu Songling’s fantastic 17th century collection, Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio, was like trying to find a copy of Borges’ “The Library Babel” in his own Library of Babel."
Borges  literature  2009  via:Preoccupations  readinglists  lists  reading  stories  books  thelibraryofbabel 
january 2012 by robertogreco
The Post-Futurist Manifesto
"4. We declare that the splendor of the world has been enriched by a new beauty: the beauty of autonomy. Each to her own rhythm; nobody must be constrained to march on a uniform pace. Cars have lost their allure of rarity and above all they can no longer perform the task they were conceived for: speed has slowed down. Cars are immobile like stupid slumbering tortoises in the city traffic. Only slowness is fast…

10. We demand that art turns into a life-changing force. We seek to abolish the separation between poetry and mass communication, to reclaim the power of media from the merchants and return it to the poets and the sages.

11. We will sing of the great crowds who can finally free themselves from the slavery of wage labour and through solidarity revolt against exploitation. We will sing of the infinite web of knowledge and invention, the immaterial technology that frees us from physical hardship. We will sing of the rebellious cognitariat who is in touch with her own body…"
futurist  politics  art  society  future  autonomy  francoberardi  theory  2009  futurism  manifesto  manifestos  from delicious
january 2012 by robertogreco
Fiction Writers Review » Magic and Music Steer this Vessel: On Jorge Luis Borges’s This Craft of Verse
"In this lecture, Borges famously declares that laziness kept him from writing novels. I wonder if this is the same “happy indolence” that Billy Collins has described as his modus operandi. Borges, like the ancients, defines the poet as “‘a maker’—not only as the utterer of those high lyric notes, but also as a teller of a tale."

"“Thought and Poetry” finds Borges asserting over and over again that metaphors should both resonate and unsettle."

"Borges’s humility should be admired but what must also be considered here is the incredible challenge—one may even describe it as a daunting, accusing mountain—that faces the writer. Those “tolerable” pages arrive from labored and conscientious output, through the uncertain process of trial and error, and through the making of, the awareness and recognition of, as well as the correction and ultimate learning from, mistakes."
cervantes  donquixote  bible  beowulf  wittgenstein  2009  books  writing  novels  johnmadera  music  odyssey  homer  poetry  classics  literature  borges  from delicious
january 2012 by robertogreco
"Series of 8 maps embroidered on canvas with the same technique of the propaganda slogans realized on large fabric and used by the communist party during the seventies, which have been lately filled with white thread wool insertions. The 8 maps depict different Hutong areas in downtown Beijing, with a size of approximately one square kilometre each and a population of 30000; these areas have been isolated as autonomous towns within the big city. Since 2009 the carpets have been shown to the Hutong dwellers trough street public temporary events, hanging them up on ropes, wires and threads commonly used by local Beijing residents for their clothes to dry. "
2009  carpets  sewing  textiles  urbanism  urban  art  glvo  beijing  china  mapping  maps  from delicious
january 2012 by robertogreco
TEDxMidAtlantic - Tyler Cowen - 11/5/09 - YouTube
Transcript here:

See also:

"So what are the problems of relying too heavily on stories? You view your life like "this" instead of the mess that it is or it ought to be. But more specifically, I think of a few major problems when we think too much in terms of narrative. First, narratives tend to be too simple…

Another kind of problem with stories is, you can only fit so many stories into your mind at once or in the course of a day, or even in the course of a lifetime…

A third problem with stories is that outsiders manipulate us using stories, and we all like to think advertising only works on the other guy, but that's not how it is.

So as an alternative, at the margin (again, no burning of Tolstoy), just be a little more messy."
simplicity  complexity  good  evil  counterintuitive  2009  meaningmaking  culture  economics  storytelling  stories  tylercowen  messiness  truth  perspective  from delicious
december 2011 by robertogreco
Ta-Nehisi Coates - YouTube
"Being black: handicap, blessing or neither? The Atlantic's contributing editor Ta-Nehisi Coates on Obama and a 'deeper' black identity."
ta-nehisicoates  manhood  parenting  youth  experience  blackculture  culture  2009  writing  identity  maculinity 
november 2011 by robertogreco
Deconstructing Political Activism | Ta-Nehisi Coates | Big Think
"But all the great works of art that I’ve ever seen that had any sort of political import were always great stories first. They were great stories before anything. I think ideology kills art. I think it kills writing all the time. It completely, completely destroy it.

So I’ve really had to make a choice and my choice was to tell stories. And once I decided it out that was what I was going to do, the whole idea of being an activist was pretty much shunted aside. Anything, like, that that was going to happen was going to be because somebody was inspired by something…

“Their Eyes Were Watching God,” I’ve read that and I thought, wow, this is beautiful writings…want to do something like this. I’m not particularly interested; pardon my rudeness here. I just was not interested in changing minds…I just wanted to write a beautiful story. And I thought the truth will emerge, the universal values will emerge from telling the story."
ta-nehisicoates  writing  storytelling  2009  politics  activism  zoranealehurston  richardwright  from delicious
november 2011 by robertogreco
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