Archive for the ‘thisthat’ Category
There is also a good interview by Terry Gross, of Fresh Air (NPR): http://www.npr.org/rss/podcast.php?id=13
Of course, the issue is not particular to American professional class parents. It affects all in a similar bind. The solution, interestingly, if not surprisingly, lies outside the US boundaries, in polities that seek to arrange work schedules to accommodate child bearers before (epi-)genetic risks become too high–and thus more costly to the society.
Like many, I’ve been declaiming the imminent demise of Microsoft, and I’ve been doing that since about 2002. Partly, my argument was motivated by my desire to showcase OpenOffice as the better option, and open source ways of making and distributing software superior to the enclosed hive of Microsoft. But I also believed my propaganda. Microsoft’s business model, of putting Windows on enterprise desktops and limiting choice to its “office” products, worked fine in the days when the Internet was an academic exercise but self-destructive in the present age of the more capable Web.
The former age–whose persistent ghosts are not to be dismissed as old-CIO tales–was a heavy one, and, as we say, locked the user into the vendor’s product universe. The present age is much lighter, or will be, must be, inexorably. In this day and age, with mobile finally ascending (took its time, but more because of business reasons than technological), and with the cloud gaining the reality of being backed and invested in by enterprise-class businesses, the tools, the apps, are available and usable (provided there is the bandwidth) as the result of open standards, and other open protocols and technologies. This is good: the open market gives rise to new businesses. But it also threatens established ones, or at least those whose steps have been more clumsy than nimble and unable to grab the multiplexed audience’s attention as something other than a 20th century hangover. Yes, I’m exaggerating. This is a blog.
Of course, IBM was able to pirouette astonishingly effectively, as was Apple. And in the case of IBM, the analogy is suggestive, as it kept its legacy business while still opening itself to disruptive novelty. (Sun, of course, was hanged by its legacy businesses and obligations and though it proclaimed open source ambitions and even acted on those, it rather infamously failed to connect its claims to revenue in any convincing way.)
I see now a landscape that is actually not too different from what I’ve imagined for some time: A world where there is a burgeoning international field of interesting–and sometimes innovative–technologies, companies, projects, some open, some not, but all (or at least most) using tools that do not lock the user into the vendor’s product but rather appeal to the user on the basis of quality and character. In short, on the basis of what we use for any other commodity or thing we wish to use.
From my perspective, the growth of the cloud and the rise of a more level market (even profoundly weighted by Apple), is generally good. It also makes my own profession, as a community strategist, more interesting, as the one element that any organization actually needs to make its products collaboratively is a functioning community, and they quite often do not come spontaneously into being, at least not in the way that is desired by both the sponsoring company and the non-company participants.
Why are Americans fat? And it’s not just they: it’s a global phenomenon. Sure, it has to do with sugary drinks, sugared foods, and a general avalanche of low-glycemic processed foods that, bite by bite, taste almost good enough but never quite. And, sure, it has to do with modern urbanism and the wholesale destruction of traditional foods and eating patterns. Used to be we didn’t eat in-between meals, unless we were particularly unable to repress our animal instincts and thus uncouth. No longer. Used to be that fancy foods were fancy for a reason and rare because they were fancy; no longer. And used to be that eating alone was a sign of abject loneliness and something avoided. Now, it doesn’t matter if one eats in a group: quite often what I eat is not what you eat, and we thus find ourselves alone while in the company of others. But this is the nature of maximal consumerism.
But I would suggest another point, one raised a while ago by some researchers who tallied the total amount of unexported calories produced in the US and divided it by the population. I don’t have the reference, but far more are produced daily than can be consumed even by the most stalwart of eaters. The result is that, as has been noted by Pollan and others, too much food is way too cheap; and also abundant. And as there is competition in the selling and buying of it, big-box logic prevails, so that one is hounded by the suspicion that what you bought now could have been bought cheaper elsewhere, and that it makes no sense at all to be pennywise when it costs so little in the medium term (forget long) to pay a little more and get so much, so much more, and all in big boxes. Worse being that much of what was just bought is probably perishable. You’ve got to eat it, else, you are simply throwing money away–never mind that it’s food you are throwing away, or at least, its reasonable facsimile thereof.
Too much food too cheap packaged too big and sold brilliantly to those removed from corner stores and markets (where one can get individual portions, say, and where anonymity doesn’t work)–all these things make for fat people. This is not new. And the obvious solution is not new either: Food should cost the consumer (able to afford it; no need to punish the already deprived) what it actually costs. And actual cost includes the impact on the environment, on the health of the consumer; includes the packaging, the resources used, and so on. It is not simply predicated on market value, but on that new category we really need to confront, Real Cost.
But how is Real Cost determined? There are efforts and rather good ones already initiated. And as this is a new thing, the algorithms and considerations will surely change as we gain a deeper understanding of the issues. For instance, remember how it was thought that eating food grown locally was always better? It’s not. Sometimes, it’s *more* expensive and *more* energy consuming than food grown far away and shipped in vast container vessels. But let’s promote equal labour, and take all the hidden costs and benefits into account. There could even be an app for that, one that calculates the Real Cost of this or that thing– But that’s a personal solution, and the real, effective solution must necessarily be one used by the populace at large.
Mexico City is facing another crisis, besides the water, food, pollution, crime, governance, etc. It has to do with garbage, which every city is now or will face. The interesting point about the article I cite lies in the last paragraphs, where the issue of getting rid of the trash includes the very difficult one, Who owns the trash before the city takes it?
In 2009, the Mexican federal government suspended plans for building Centros Integrales de Reciclado y Energía (CIRE – Integral Waste-to-Energy Plants) because of heated opposition from local residents in the locations chosen. The CIREs are intended to make use of organic waste to produce compost, recycle inorganic materials and generate electricity.The 2003 Federal Waste Law regulates waste management and procedures for opening and closing waste dumps, but does not clarify who owns the garbage – the source producer, the collector or the waste dump manager? – until such time as it reaches the hands of the municipal or federal authorities, which complicates the use of garbage for profit.\
Let’s say that the explosions noted by the Ha’aretz and so many others, as well as the probable downing of the drone, indicate that “we” are at war with Iran. Who’s “we”? The US? Nato? Israel? A combination of the lot? War has so often been fought by proxy, and I doubt that this is an exception. Furthermore, any explosive continuation would simply be a furtherance of the embargoes that have been going on for many years. But as Greenwald and many others have noted, it’s one thing for the US to launch a war whose reasons and costs are held up for accounting, its another to simply do it without accountability.
Very much worth reading.
And data means nothing without the apparatuses, the instruments to extract its meaning. I’d suggest that it’s not only those directly meant by the data gathered but also those indirectly affected, and that’s a lot of people. After all, the boundaries of instrumentality–of what counts as meaningful data, even–are uncertain. Need only to look at belated discoveries in biology, or surreptitious extraction of meaning from the data of genes taken from unknowing subjects.
Of note. There *are* alternatives to irradiation.
It’s an old question, I hope: What if “fred” is declared dead in polity A where death occurs with heart stoppage, but is deemed alive in polity B, where death is all about the brain and more particularly about the ability to express thoughts or act on commands. And then comes this more focused examination, which looks to what was previously pretty much obscured by the meat of the matter.
All of which is to highlight the very ancient and now–to me, quite problematic–notion of death itself, the couple of life. We are not our thoughts alone, the pattern of sparks between and among synaptic neurones; our bodies, however defined, constitute us, too. And elements of that body are in constant creation/discreation. Death then is a continuing process, and I wonder if it really even ought to be called death at all.
I suppose the extension of this is not that by this equivocation, or perhaps biological evasion, I seek to pluck death’s thorns. Hardly: mourning, the anguish over the loss to death, sometimes enters with the slam of the closing door, sometimes silently, creeping, and you discover, in retrospect, that it’s been with you all along, the dimming reflection of your parent, your friend, your child.