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robertogreco : permanence   16

If Seeing the World Helps Ruin It, Should We Stay Home? - The New York Times
"In the age of global warming, traveling — by plane, boat or car — is a fraught choice. And yet the world beckons."



"The glaciers are melting, the coral reefs are dying, Miami Beach is slowly going under.

Quick, says a voice in your head, go see them before they disappear! You are evil, says another voice. For you are hastening their destruction.

To a lot of people who like to travel, these are morally bewildering times. Something that seemed like pure escape and adventure has become double-edged, harmful, the epitome of selfish consumption. Going someplace far away, we now know, is the biggest single action a private citizen can take to worsen climate change. One seat on a flight from New York to Los Angeles effectively adds months worth of human-generated carbon emissions to the atmosphere.

And yet we fly more and more.

The number of airline passengers worldwide has more than doubled since 2003, and unlike with some other pollution sources, there’s not a ton that can be done right now to make flying significantly greener — electrified jets are not coming to an airport near you anytime soon.

Still, we wonder: How much is that one vacation really hurting anyone, or anything?

It is hard to think about climate change in relation to our own behavior. We are small, our effects are microscopically incremental and we mean no harm. The effects of climate change are inconceivably enormous and awful — and for the most part still unrealized. You can’t see the face of the unnamed future person whose coastal village you will have helped submerge.

But it turns out there are ways to quantify your impact on the planet, at least roughly. In 2016, two climatologists published a paper in the prestigious journal Science showing a direct relationship between carbon emissions and the melting of Arctic sea ice.

32 = The square feet of Arctic summer sea ice cover that one passenger’s share of emissions melts on a 2,500-mile flight.

Each additional metric ton of carbon dioxide or its equivalent — your share of the emissions on a cross-country flight one-way from New York to Los Angeles — shrinks the summer sea ice cover by 3 square meters, or 32 square feet, the authors, Dirk Notz and Julienne Stroeve, found.

In February, my family of three flew from New York to Miami for what seemed like a pretty modest winter vacation. An online carbon calculator tells me that our seats generated the equivalent of 2.4 metric tons of carbon dioxide.

Throw in another quarter-ton for the 600 miles of driving we squeezed in and a bit for the snorkeling trip and the heated pool at the funky trailer-park Airbnb, and the bill comes to about 90 square feet of Arctic ice, an area about the size of a pickup truck.

When I did that calculation, I pictured myself standing on a pickup-truck-sized sheet of ice as it broke apart and plunged me into frigid waters. A polar bear glared hungrily at me.

Calculating the harm

And what of my vacation’s impact on my fellow man? Actually, academics have attempted to calculate that, too. Philosophers, not climatologists. But still.

In 2005, a Dartmouth professor, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, wrote in a journal article provocatively titled “It’s Not My Fault: Global Warming and Individual Moral Obligations” that he was under no moral obligation to refrain from taking a gas-guzzling S.U.V. for a Sunday afternoon joy ride if he felt like doing so.

“No storms or floods or droughts or heat waves can be traced to my individual act of driving,” he wrote. Conversely, “If I refrain from driving for fun on this one Sunday, there is no individual who will be helped in the least.”

Other philosophers questioned his reasoning.

Professor John Nolt of the University of Tennessee took a stab at measuring the damage done by one average American’s lifetime emissions. (The average American generates about 16 metric tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent a year, more than triple the global average.)

Noting that carbon stays in the atmosphere for centuries, at least, and that a United Nations panel found in 2007 that climate change is “likely to adversely affect hundreds of millions of people through increased coastal flooding, reductions in water supplies, increased malnutrition and increased health impacts” in the next 100 years, Professor Nolt did a lot of division and multiplication and arrived at a stark conclusion:

“The average American causes through his/her greenhouse gas emissions the serious suffering and/or deaths of two future people.”

Then Avram Hiller of Portland State University used Professor Nolt’s approach to derive the impact of Professor Sinnott-Armstrong’s hypothetical 25-mile ride.

“At a ratio of one life’s causal activities per one life’s detrimental effects, it causes the equivalent of a quarter of a day’s severe harm,” he wrote.

“In other words, going for a Sunday drive has the expected effect of ruining someone’s afternoon.”

Multiply that joy ride by a three-person Florida vacation and you’ve ruined someone’s month. Something to ponder while soaking up UV-drenched rays on a tropical beach.

Ships? Even worse

There are alternatives to flying, of course. Perhaps a cruise? After all, there’s more ocean than there’s been in thousands of years. With the Northwest Passage now mostly ice-free in the summer, new vistas have opened. One cruise company runs polar bear tours to check out “the Arctic’s ‘poster boy.’”

Perhaps not. Bryan Comer, a researcher at the International Council on Clean Transportation, a nonprofit research group, told me that even the most efficient cruise ships emit 3 to 4 times more carbon dioxide per passenger-mile than a jet.

And that’s just greenhouse gas. Last year, an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that the air onboard cruise ships was many times dirtier than the air nearby onshore.

3x to 4x = The amount of carbon dioxide the most efficient cruise ship emits per passenger mile when compared with a jet.

“Some of the particulate counts were comparable to or worse than a bad day in some of the world’s most polluted cities like Beijing and Santiago,” said Kendra Ulrich of Stand.earth, the advocacy group that commissioned the study.

While most cruise ships run on highly polluting heavy fuel oil, many have begun using “scrubbers” to remove toxic sulfur oxides from their exhaust. But the scrubbers discharge these and other pollutants into the ocean instead, and they’ve been banned by seven countries and several U.S. states.

A spokeswoman for Cruise Lines International Association, a trade group, said that the scrubbers comply with the new 2020 standards for air and water quality set by the International Maritime Organization, a U.N. agency. The spokeswoman, Megan King, added that it was not fair to compare emissions from ships and jets because a jet is just a transportation vehicle while a cruise ship is a floating resort and amusement park.

There’s always driving, which is less carbon intensive than flying, especially if there are multiple passengers. But “less” is relative, and most long trips are out of practical driving range anyway.

Considering carbon offsets

Maybe there is a justification out there somewhere: Personal decisions alone won’t stop global warming — that will take policy changes by governments on a worldwide scale. Tourism creates millions of jobs in places starved for economic development. Carbon offsets can effectively cancel out our footprint, can’t they?

Carbon offsets do seem to offer the most direct way to assuage traveler’s guilt. In theory, they magically expiate your sins. You give a broker some money (not a lot of money either — carbon offsets can be bought for $10 per metric ton). They give it to someone to plant trees, or capture the methane from a landfill or a cattle operation, or help build a wind farm, or subsidize clean cookstoves for people in the developing world who cook on open fires. All these things help cut greenhouse gas.

But nothing is that simple in practice. Carbon-offset people talk about concerns with things called additionality, leakage and permanence.

Additionality: How do you know the utility would not have built the wind farm but for the money you gave them?

Permanence: How do you know the timber company that planted those trees won’t just cut them down in a few years?

Leakage: How do you know the landowner you just paid not to cut down an acre of rain forest won’t use the money to buy a different acre and clear that?

While certifying organizations go to great lengths to verify carbon offset projects, verification has limits.

“Whether someone would have planted trees anyway, or taken some other action like building a housing development, is ultimately unknowable and something you have to construct,” said Peter Miller, a policy director for the Natural Resources Defense Council and a board member of the Climate Action Reserve, the country’s biggest carbon offset registry. “It’s an endless debate.”

Some carbon offsets are surer bets than others. “With methane capture,” Mr. Miller said, “once you capture that methane and you burn it — you’re done. It’s not in the atmosphere, it’s not going in the atmosphere. You’ve got a credit that’s achieved and you’ve avoided those emissions forever.”

Not flying at all would be better, Mr. Miller said, “but the reality is that there’s lots of folks that are going to do what they’re going to do.” For them, offsets are a lot better than nothing.

But some climate experts call offsets a cop-out.

“It’s like paying someone else to diet for you,” said Alice Larkin of the University of Manchester’s Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, who has not flown since 2008.

She said that while governments do need to take tough action, they derive their courage to do so from the … [more]
flight  flights  travel  climatechange  globalwarming  2019  andynewman  emissions  carbonemissions  offets  carbonoffsets  flying  leakage  permanence  additionality  ayramhiller  johnnolt  waltersinnott-armstrong  dirknotz  juliennestroeve  flightshame  flyingshame  flygskam  aviation  airlines  climate  airplanes  carbonfootprint 
june 2019 by robertogreco
crap futures — Back to nature
"We live on a remote island - mountainous, mid-Atlantic, still heavily forested and pretty wild - and for that reason nature sometimes sneaks into our otherwise technology-centred work. It is hard not to think local when you live in a place like this. We’re neither farmers nor pioneers - except in the sense that resident aliens on this island are few - but lately our reading has got us thinking about ancient paths and rural places. We’ll discuss the paths today and save most of the farm talk for a future post.

Paths v roads

In his 1969 essay ‘A Native Hill’, Wendell Berry - the American writer, farmer, activist, and ‘modern Thoreau’ - makes a useful distinction between paths and roads:
The difference between a path and a road is not only the obvious one. A path is little more than a habit that comes with knowledge of a place. It is a sort of ritual of familiarity. As a form, it is a form of contact with a known landscape. It is not destructive. It is the perfect adaptation, through experience and familiarity, of movement to place; it obeys the natural contours; such obstacles as it meets it goes around. A road, on the other hand … embodies a resistance against the landscape. Its reason is not simply the necessity for movement, but haste. Its wish is to avoid contact with the landscape. … It is destructive, seeking to remove or destroy all obstacles in its way.


Aside from conversation as usual, the reason we are talking about Berry is the arrival of a new film, Look & See, and a new collection of his writing, The World-Ending Fire, edited by Paul Kingsnorth of Dark Mountain Project fame. Berry and Kingsnorth, along with the economist Kate Raworth, were on BBC Radio 4’s Start the Week recently chatting about the coming apocalypse and how it might best be avoided. It is a fascinating interview: you can actually hear Berry’s rocking chair creaking and the crows cawing outside the window of his house in Port Royal, Kentucky.

The normally optimistic Berry agrees somewhat crankily to read ‘the poem that you asked me to read’ on the programme. ‘Sabbaths 1989’ describes roads to the future as going nowhere: ‘roads strung everywhere with humming wire. / Nowhere is there an end except in smoke. / This is the world that we have set on fire.’ Berry admits that this poem is about as gloomy as he gets (‘blessed are / The dead who died before this time began’). For the most part his writing is constructive: forming a sensual response to cold, atomised modernity; advocating for conviviality, community, the commonweal.

Paul Kingsnorth talks compellingly in the same programme about transforming protest into action, although in truth no one walks the walk like Berry. Kingsnorth says: ‘We’re all complicit in the things we oppose’ - and never were truer words spoken, from our iPhones to our energy use. In terms of design practice, there are worse goals than reducing our level of complicity in environmental harm and empty consumerism. Like Berry, Kingsnorth talks about paths and roads. He asks: ‘Why should we destroy an ancient forest to cut twelve minutes off a car journey from London to Southampton? Is that a good deal?’

It’s a fair question. It also illustrates perfectly what Berry was describing in the passage that started this post: the difference between paths that blend and coexist with the local landscape, preserving the knowledge and history of the land, and roads that cut straight through it. These roads are like a destructive and ill-fitting grid imposed from the centre onto the periphery, without attention to the local terrain or ecology or ways of doing things - both literally (in the case of energy) and figuratively.

Another book we read recently, Holloway, describes ancient paths - specifically the ‘holloways’ of South Dorset - in similar terms:
They are landmarks that speak of habit rather than of suddenness. Like creases in the hand, or the wear on the stone sill of a doorstep or stair, they are the result of repeated human actions. Their age chastens without crushing. They relate to other old paths & tracks in the landscape - ways that still connect place to place & person to person.


Holloways are paths sunk deep into the landscape and into the local history. Roads, in contrast, skip over the local - collapsing time as they move us from one place to the next without, as it were, touching the ground. They alienate us in our comfort.

Here in Madeira there are endless footpaths broken through the woods. Still more unique are the levadas, the irrigation channels that run for more than two thousand kilometres back and forth across the island, having been brought to Portugal from antecedents in Moorish aqueduct systems and adapted to the specific terrain and agricultural needs of Madeira starting in the sixteenth century.

Both the pathways through the ancient laurel forests and the centuries-old levadas (which, though engineered, were cut by hand and still follow the contours and logic of the landscape) contrast with the highways and tunnels that represent a newer feat of human engineering since the 1970s. During his controversial though undeniably successful reign from 1978 to 2015 - he was elected President of Madeira a remarkable ten times - Alberto João Jardim oversaw a massive infrastructure program that completely transformed the island. Places that used to be virtually unreachable became accessible by a short drive. His legacy, in part, is a culture of automobile dependency that is second to none. The American highway system inspired by Norman Bel Geddes’ (and General Motors’) Futurama exhibit at the 1939 New York World’s Fair almost pales in comparison to Jardim’s vision for the rapid modernisation of Madeira.

But when you walk the diesel-scented streets of the capital, or you drive through the holes bored deep into and out of towering volcanic mountains to reach the airport - and even when you think back in history and imagine those first settlers sitting in their ships as half the island’s forest burned, watching the dense smoke of the fires they lit to make Madeira favourable to human habitation - it’s hard not to think what a catastrophically invasive species are human beings.

Bespoke is a word we use a lot. In our vocabulary bespoke is not about luxury or excess - as it has been co-opted by consumer capitalism to suggest. Instead it is about tailored solutions, fitted to the contours of a particular body or landscape. Wendell Berry insists on the role of aesthetics and proportionality in his approach to environmentalism: the goal is not hillsides covered in rows of ugly solar panels, but an integrated and deep and loving relationship with the land. This insistence on aesthetics relates to the ‘reconfiguring’ principles that inform our newest work. The gravity batteries we’ve been building are an alternative not only to the imposed, top-down infrastructure of the grid, but also to the massive scale of such solutions and our desire to work with the terrain rather than against it.

Naomi Klein talked about renewable energy in these terms in an interview a couple of years ago:
If you go back and look at the way fossil fuels were marketed in the 1700s, when coal was first commercialized with the Watt steam engine, the great promise of coal was that it liberated humans from nature … And that was, it turns out, a lie. We never transcended nature, and that I think is what is so challenging about climate change, not just to capitalism but to our core civilizational myth. Because this is nature going, ‘You thought you were in charge? Actually all that coal you’ve been burning all these years has been building up in the atmosphere and trapping heat, and now comes the response.’ … Renewable energy puts us back in dialog with nature. We have to think about when the wind blows, we have to think about where the sun shines, we cannot pretend that place and space don’t matter. We are back in the world.


In a future post we will talk about the related subject of sustainable agriculture. But speaking of food - the time has come for our toast and coffee.
2017  crapfutures  wendellberry  paths  roads  madeira  bespoke  tailoring  audiencesofone  naomiklein  sustainability  earth  normanbelgeddes  albertojoãojardim  levadas  infrastructure  permanence  capitalism  energy  technology  technosolutionsism  1969  obstacles  destruction  habits  knowledge  place  placemaking  experience  familiarity  experientialeducation  kateraworth  paulkingsnorth  darkmountainproject  modernity  modernism  holloways  nature  landscape  cars  transportation  consumerism  consumercapitalism  reconfiguration  domination  atmosphere  environment  dialog  conviviality  community  commonweal  invasivespecies  excess  humans  futurama  ecology  canon  experientiallearning 
may 2017 by robertogreco
The Other Refugee Crisis - The New York Times
"Dadaab may be the world’s largest, but there are many other examples of these temporary-but-permanent cities. In Pakistan, along the border with Afghanistan, the camps founded in 1979 for Afghan refugees are now a string of 79 permanent slums run by the United Nations and home to nearly a million people. Hundreds of thousands of refugees from Darfur have been living in a collection of 12 camps across the border in Chad since 2004, with no end in sight. Similar numbers and situations exist in Ethiopia, South Sudan, Thailand, Lebanon, Yemen, Jordan, Turkey and elsewhere, where people are living, and reproducing, in limbo. The numbers are growing not only because of a world in turmoil, but also because whole generations are growing up in camps.

Gaza is perhaps the best example of this. The eight original refugee camps have morphed into towns that, together, are now one of the most densely populated areas in the world, home to 1.7 million people. Separate from the U.N.H.C.R. and with a different mandate, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East was founded in 1949 for around 750,000 Arab Palestinians forced to flee their homes in 1948. But with no peace deal or return in sight, the agency looks after their five million descendants at a cost to the international community of over $1 billion a year. The agency was supposed to be an exception, but Gaza now looks like the rule. In Dadaab, the United Nations resettles around 2,000 refugees annually to Europe, Australia, Canada and the United States. But the birthrate in the camp of 1,000 a month will always outstrip that effort.

As refugee populations spiral higher, host nations usually move toward ever stricter encampment policies. Kenya is one of the strictest; last year the police rounded up thousands of refugees found outside designated camps and incarcerated them in the national stadium. Pakistan has threatened several times not to renew refugee status for Afghan refugees, and periodically attempts to force people back to Afghanistan. In Jordan, refugees have the right to move and work in theory, but authorities have reportedly issued no new work permits since 2014 and have begun coercive administrative measures to keep them in the camps.

To leave Dadaab, residents require a “movement pass,” just like under apartheid. Acquiring one usually involves a bribe. Thus, members of the third generation that is now beginning life in Dadaab may well spend their whole life in the camp. If they win one of the fiercely contested slots at secondary school, they could gain diplomas and degrees online or through the mail, but when there’s no viable path to a free future elsewhere, education in the closed camp is a cruel trick: There are no jobs except volunteer positions with the aid agencies that run the hospitals, schools and social programs, and these pay a fraction of what Kenyan staff members receive for doing the same job.

One might expect that in such circumstances, talent would curdle into bitterness, but the most striking thing about Dadaab is that the miserable conditions do not seem to have engendered radicalization. People are frustrated, but until now, the isolation of the camp and the United Nations mantras on rights and gender balance have fostered a subdued but tolerant society in which women are more emancipated than their sisters back in Somalia.

This is the ultimate contradiction of camp life: how to locate hope for the future in a desperate situation that appears permanent. People are trying. Life in Dadaab and all the other camps is a daily exercise in manufacturing hope. But for many, the fiction of temporariness no longer holds. And we are seeing the results of that realization washing up on Europe’s beaches.

Separate enclaves are beginning to appear in the rich world, too: slums such as “the Jungle” in Calais, where refugees and migrants wait to try to enter Britain illegally, or the detention centers that are now common in Europe, Australia and the United States where people must wait sometimes for years while their status is determined. In a world centered on nation-states, the full range of human rights is increasingly unavailable to those without citizenship. A whole gray population of second-class citizens has emerged, and their numbers are growing.

The proper and legal response should be to allow refugees and asylum seekers freedom of movement within their host nations and all the rights accorded to other citizens, including the right to travel abroad and seek work legally. But the tide of public opinion in most countries is moving in the opposite direction.

Of course rich nations should take more. But even if Europe and the United States stepped up and admitted much larger numbers than the paltry offers that have been suggested in recent weeks, it would still make only a small dent in the global refugee population.

Until our current wars die down, the world needs to adjust to the new reality of permanent refugee cities in legal limbo. Even if host nations wish to deny citizenship to long-staying refugees, it would make sense to allow the United Nations and refugees themselves to invest in infrastructure to reduce disease, provide employment and make these ramshackle slums more habitable. They could perhaps become autonomous open cities or international zones where those with United Nations documents were permitted to move and trade within the normal international visa regime. If camps were economically viable they might at least offer some pull to remain there. As one man told me as I was nearing the end of my time in Dadaab: “I belong nowhere. My country is the Republic of Refugee.”"
dabaad  kenya  somalia  citizenship  refugees  limbo  2015  geopolitics  impermanence  permanence  hope  hopelessness  calais  afghanistan  benrawlence  pakistan  darfur  un  unitednations  africa  unhcr  migration  palestine  refugeecamps  future  futures 
october 2015 by robertogreco
ruby amanze
"ruby onyinyechi amanze is a Brooklyn based artist of Nigerian birth 
and British upbringing. her drawings and works on paper have been influenced greatly by this cultural hybridity, as well as textile design, photography, print-making and architecture.
 amanze graduated Summa Cum Laude from Tyler School of Art, Temple University in Philadelphia. she then went on to pursue a M.F.A at Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.



amanze has exhibited her work in numerous exhibitions in New York,
 London, Ghana, Lagos, Philadelphia and Amsterdam. most recently, amanze was
 awarded a 2012-13 Fulbright Scholars Award, to join the 
Department of Fine and Applied Arts at the University of Nigeria, 
Nsukka. she currently resides in Brooklyn where she maintains a full time studio practice."



"In a once conflicted space of neither here not there, ada the Alien and her cohort of kindred creatures [including audre the Leopard, Pidgin, Twin, Oyibo the Merman, ofunne & the Ghosts…] now find solace and empowerment in their self constructed, chimeric universe of hybridity and freedom. Exhibiting human, alien and animal characteristics, they navigate effortlessly through an intergalactic space and time. Ranging in size from hand held to immersive, these drawings reflect the layered experiences of a growing population of “in-betweeners” and global citizens, whose fluid identity is not grounded in a monolithic geography or permanence based, notion of home. Aliens, hybrids and ghosts is a non-linear narrative that celebrates the labyrinth of national, ethnic and sexual identities that exist somewhere between constructed reality, fantasy, memory and imagination. In this world, creatures find authenticity and wholeness in their ability to simultaneously belong nowhere and everywhere."

[See also:
http://www.okayafrica.com/news/no-such-place-edward-tyler-nahem-fine-art-new-york-city/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xvhZLbdjRvQ
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RexNXjrzrKI
https://vimeo.com/70056081 ]
rubyonyinyechiamanze  art  artists  africa  nigeria  nyc  brooklyn  space  aliens  in-betweeners  permanence  geography  home  hybrids  authenticity  wholeness  belonging  identity  memory  fantasy  globalcitizens  ghosts  rubyamanze 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Chapter 4 of An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth by Mohandas K. Gandhi
[Wayback: https://web.archive.org/web/20171227051615/http://www.columbia.edu:80/itc/mealac/pritchett/00litlinks/gandhi/part3/304chapter.html ]

"This sad situation developed after my departure from South Africa, but my idea of having permanent funds for public institutions underwent a change long before this difference arose. And now after considerable experience with the many public institutions which I have managed, it has become my firm conviction that it is not good to run public institutions on permanent funds. A permanent fund carries in itself the seed of the moral fall of the institution. A public institution means an institution conducted with the approval, and from the funds, of the public. When such an institution ceases to have public support, it forfeits its right to exist. Institutions maintained on permanent funds are often found to ignore public opinion, and are frequently responsible for acts contrary to it. In our country we experience this at every step. Some of the so-called religious trusts have ceased to render any accounts. The trustees have become the owners, and are responsible to none. I have no doubt that the ideal is for public institutions to live, like nature, from day to day. The institution that fails to win public support has no right to exist as such. The subscriptions that an institution annually receives are a test of its popularity and the honesty of its management, and I am of opinion that every institution should submit to that test. But let no one misunderstand me. My remarks do not apply to the bodies which cannot, by their very nature, be conducted without permanent buildings. What I mean to say it that the current expenditure should be found from subscriptions voluntarily received from year to year."

[Related:
http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2011/12/why-do-universities-have-endowments.html
http://ethicist.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/09/28/should-you-give-to-harvard/
http://harvardpolitics.com/hprgument-posts/investing-future/
http://www.ssireview.org/articles/entry/ethics_and_nonprofits ]

[More on endowments:
http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2013/01/07/dartmouth-controversy-reflects-quandary-for-endowments/
https://ideas.repec.org/a/ebl/ecbull/eb-11-00531.html
http://www.pgdc.com/pgdc/issues-and-opportunities-endowment-fundraising
http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2010/05/28/the-problems-with-university-endowments/
http://www.universitybusiness.com/article/endowments-new-questions-new-normal
http://www.changemag.org/Archives/Back%20Issues/January-February%202010/full-the-truth.html
http://ir.lawnet.fordham.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=4428&context=flr (.pdf)]
endowments  money  finance  colleges  universities  nonprofit  gandhi  institutions  power  control  democracy  management  permanent  funds  publicopinion  charitableindustrialcomplex  philanthropy  capital  wealth  organizations  permanence  impermanence  ephemeral  ephemerality  legacy  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  nonprofits  capitalism 
july 2014 by robertogreco
The Reinvention of the Self § SEEDMAGAZINE.COM
"Marmosets are the ideal experimental animal: a primate brain trapped inside the body of a rat."

"The structure of our brain, from the details of our dendrites to the density of our hippocampus, is incredibly influenced by our surroundings. Put a primate under stressful conditions, and its brain begins to starve. It stops creating new cells. The cells it already has retreat inwards. The mind is disfigured.

The social implications of this research are staggering. If boring environments, stressful noises, and the primate’s particular slot in the dominance hierarchy all shape the architecture of the brain—and Gould’s team has shown that they do—then the playing field isn’t level. Poverty and stress aren’t just an idea: they are an anatomy. Some brains never even have a chance."

"The genius of the scientific method, however, is that it accepts no permanent solution. Skepticism is its solvent, for every theory is imperfect. Scientific facts are meaningful precisely because they are ephemeral, because a new observation, a more honest observation, can always alter them. This is what happened to Rakic’s theory of the fixed brain. It was, to use Karl Popper’s verb, falsified."

"Neurogenesis is an optimistic idea. Though Gould’s lab has thoroughly demonstrated the long-term consequences of deprivation and stress, the brain, like skin, can heal itself, as Gould is now beginning to document, finding hopeful antidotes to neurogenesis-inhibiting injuries. “My hunch is that a lot of these abnormalities [caused by stress] can be fixed in adulthood,” she says. “I think that there’s a lot of evidence for the resiliency of the brain.”"

"The mind is like a muscle: it swells with exercise. Gould’s and Kozorovitskiy’s work reminds us not only how easy it is to hurt a brain, but how little it takes for that brain to heal. Give a primate just a few extra playthings, and its neurons are capable of escaping the downward cycle of stress."

"Neurogenesis is a field that doubts itself. Because it has been scorned from the start, its proponents talk most emphatically about what they don’t know, about all the essential questions that remain unanswered. Their modesty is accurate: The purpose of all of our new cells remains obscure. No one knows how experiments done in rodents will relate to humans, or whether neurogenesis is just a small part of our mind’s essential plasticity."
uncertainty  trophins  childhoodstress  children  childhood  lizgould  biology  geniakozorovitskiy  resilience  resiliency  neuronova  jonasfrisén  fernandonottebohm  robertsapolsky  serotonin  prozac  antidepressants  depression  pharmacology  psychiatry  psychology  ronaldduman  michaelkaplan  josephaltman  paskorakic  brucemcewen  christianmirescu  neurogenesis  howwelearn  science  permanence  adaptability  change  ephemeral  observation  scientificmethod  research  stress  poverty  surroundings  environment  primates  marmosets  brain  neuroscience  elizabethgould  via:litherland  2006  ephemerality 
july 2012 by robertogreco
ICON MAGAZINE ONLINE | Design Fiction | the most comprehensive archives of architecture and design content on the web
"process in which they’re working is a bit like a scientific process where you have a hypothesis & you try to experiment not knowing what the outcome is going to be."

"…how can I say anything which someone will be able to see in 20 years in the form in which it was created…serious…new contemporary problem, how do we make something work in a situation where the means of production are in a maelstrom or things are politically or financially falling apart? I don’t expect bookstores…libraries…Google, Facebook, Yahoo or Twitter…Microsoft to survive 20 years, I don’t expect NATO to survive. I don’t know about the EU. This is not like a gospel of despair or anything I just really think we could do something magnificent by just rising to the scale of the actual problem."

"Experience design is the first school of design that can actually encompass literature as a wing of itself."

"[I]t would be a shame if everything was virtual or written in a way that precludes the tangibility of things."
sciencefiction  speculative  research  future  culture  speculativedesign  ephemerality  uncertainty  process  imagination  creativity  literature  tangibility  permanence  futurism  dunne&raby  fionaraby  anthonydunne  interviews  2012  experiencedesign  designfiction  design  brucesterling  ephemeral 
april 2012 by robertogreco
Webstock '12: Matt Haughey - Lessons from a 40 year old on Vimeo
"Matt will cover a bunch of lessons he’s learned in the past decade of life as he embarks on turning 40. They eschew much of the Techcrunch/ReadWriteWeb/Mashable world by focusing on taking a longer term view of your work and focusing on life/work balance and having a happy life as well as a fulfilling career."

["Semi-transcript": http://a.wholelottanothing.org/2012/03/my-webstock-talk.html
community  portability  backup  platformagnostic  urls  permanence  simple  attention  time  relationships  cv  metafilter  longterm  37signals  small  slow  bootstrap  lifestylebusiness  aging  wisdom  lifelessons  startups  webstock12  webstock  longnow  meaning  purpose  work  happiness  fulfillment  life  matthaughey  work-lifebalance 
march 2012 by robertogreco
Deploy / from a working library
"What if you could revise a work after publishing it, and release it again, making clear the relationship between the first version and the new one. What if you could publish iteratively, bit by bit, at each step gathering feedback from your readers and refining the text. Would our writing be better?

Iteration in public is a principle of nearly all good product design; you release a version, then see how people use it, then revise and release again.…

Writing has (so far) not generally benefited from this kind of process; but now that the text has been fully liberated from the tyranny of the printing press, we are presented with an opportunity: to deploy texts, instead of merely publishing them…

where fixity enabled us to become better readers, can iteration make us better writers? If a text is never finished, does it demand our contribution?…

Perhaps it is time for the margins to swell to the same size as the text."
publishing  marginalia  readingexperience  reading  unfinished  editing  fixity  elizabetheinstein  change  permanence  impermanence  stability  metadata  revision  print  productdesign  design  deployment  contentstrategy  content  digitalpublishing  digitial  process  writing  2012  unbook  iteration  mandybrown  aworkinglibrary 
february 2012 by robertogreco
OBIA, THE THIRD: GPOYW
"Flux is great as a concept until you actually have to sit down and get stuff done. I’m one of those strange people who enjoys working. I like being in the haven of my studio—busting out ideas and trying out new experiments and explorations within the laboratory of these four white walls. And yet, I cannot help but notice how everything around me feels more and more temporary. Everything is moving about so much more quickly now. The moment I create something it vanishes in my memory. My own work becoming information to be transferred and over layered—over and over until it is only a glimmer of something I once interacted with, something I once knew. This is not limited to the experience of making or working. I don’t know about you, but I see and feel it everywhere I turn."
homes  temporality  temporary  flux  change  permanence  place  meaning  security  2011  sanfrancisco  belonging  searching  work  toyinojihodutola 
august 2011 by robertogreco
The Rhetoric Of Neuroscience | Wired Science | Wired.com
"The language of neuroscience definitely fuels an “anxious parenting” mentality–everything you do molds the child’s brain, permanently influencing your child’s future life (job, mental health, intelligence, and so forth). This is scary stuff–some of the language I look at uses neuroscience to suggest that a single mistake at the wrong time (an aggressive tone, yelling at the child) can have permanent effects on the child’s emotional stability. Of course, we have always had various ways of promoting – as well as contesting – the anxious parenting mentality, so the neuroscientific version isn’t totally new, it’s just the latest reinvention. But the neuroscientific language and images give it a particularly persuasive quality that I think is especially nerve-wracking–popular magazine features tell us that we can see, on a second-by-second basis, how our every word and behavior are permanently influencing our child’s brain."
jonahlehrer  davijohnsonthornton  parenting  anxiety  anxiousparenting  permanence  fear  neuroscience  language  rhetoric  2011  brain  science 
august 2011 by robertogreco
Think before wiping that whiteboard - FT.com
"A few years ago, Intel, the US technology giant, permitted a couple of social anthropologists to explore its Seattle offices. The two researchers, Dawn Nafus and Ken Anderson, duly started observing the rituals of everyday life in Intel’s corporate “jungle”, in much the same way that anthropologists might study the social life of an Amazonian tribe, say, or a far-flung Indian village.

However, there was a twist; instead of simply looking at how Intel made products, or how the staff related to each other, Nafus and Anderson focused on Intel’s “project rooms” as their “field-site”. More specifically, they watched how different Intel employees and researchers (including other ethnographers) used whiteboards, colourful charts, photographs and graphs to convey company messages, stimulate debate – and “brainstorm” innovative ideas."
via:hrheingold  intel  observation  anthropology  howwework  innovation  whiteboards  postits  post-its  brainstorming  ideas  workspace  permanence  powerpoint  projectbasedlearning  projects  ethnography  2011  workspaces  pbl 
july 2011 by robertogreco
Forever / from a working library
"perhaps when it comes to our collective cultural memory, a single life is long enough: long enough, that is, for the next generation to pick up the torch.

This, I believe, is why a book feels permanent, even though enough libraries have burned over the centuries that we ought to know better. A well-made book, stored upright, in a dry, dark place, will survive a hundred years—that is, a lifetime. More if it is especially well printed, and only carefully handled, but a hundred years is a safe bet. Plenty of time to read it as a child, hold onto it through adolescence and adulthood, and then give it to your first great-grandchild. That’s as much forever as any of us can reasonably conceive. … no civilization has ever saved everything; acknowledging that fact does not obviate the need to try and save as much as we can"
culture  books  preservation  archiving  technology  memory  culturalmemory  permanence  eternity  perspective  scale  human  libraries  posterity  civilization  generations  limitations  longnow  longhere  archives  via:preoccupations 
february 2011 by robertogreco
Alex Payne — Settling Down Without Settling
"About six months ago, in May, my wife and I moved from San Francisco to Portland, Oregon. We expected to rent an apartment in Portland for at least a year, maybe two. Yesterday, in a major diversion from that path, we closed on our first home. We move in this coming Saturday.

In this post, I’m going to talk about why we bought a home, how we went about it, and the context of the particular socioeconomic moment we find ourselves in."

"There’s a simplicity that comes from transience, and a simplicity that comes from permanence. Both are illusions, and one will present itself before the other. For now, I’m eager to be wrapped up in the illusion of permanence, serene and arboreal."
homebuying  tips  money  portland  housing  finance  transience  simplicity  illusion  houses  alexpayne  2010  permanence  neo-nomads  nomads  lifestyle  silence  quiet 
january 2011 by robertogreco
The Cognitive Cost Of Expertise | Wired Science | Wired.com
"Now for the bad news: Expertise might also come with a dark side, as all those learned patterns make it harder for us to integrate wholly new knowledge. Consider a recent paper that investigated the mnemonic performance of London taxi drivers. In the world of neuroscience, London cabbies are best known for their demonstration of structural plasticity in the hippocampus, a brain area devoted (in part) to spatial memory. Because the cabbies are required to memorize the entire urban map of London – it’s the most rigorous driving test in the world – their posterior hippocampi swell and expand, leading to permanent changes in the brain. Knowledge shapes matter."
neuroscience  psychology  constraints  jonahlehrer  perception  brain  chess  thinking  science  expertise  memory  plasticity  generalists  specialization  mindchanges  permanence  specialists  mindchanging 
november 2010 by robertogreco
In design, the temporary is so contemporary - Los Angeles Times
"Some architects are playing up the idea of impermanence, perhaps underscoring the changeability of our times and town."
architecture  design  society  change  permanence  shigeruban  time  losangeles  temporary  via:cityofsound 
april 2008 by robertogreco

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