Archive - May 2010

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American Business Adventures

The connection between oil and U.S. foreign policy should be obvious already. This simply hits that nail into the coffin one more time.

Originally produced in 2002, it seems appropriate to re-introduce this piece as Afghanistan continues to once again occupy the attention of the public, the media, and the powers that be.

This audiovisual collage piece was originally a backdrop video for a live electronic music performance of mine in april 2002. The recorded live music was relayered back onto the video and the whole thing tweaked and horked a little more.

The source material used is listed in the credits at the end of the video.

Humanitarian "Litterer" Re-Sentencing

Walt Staton is an activist who volunteers with No More Deaths, a humanitarian group that helps migrants who are in trouble in the desert just north of the U.S./Mexico border. He was cited for littering by the US Fish and Wildlife agency when agents found him placing water jugs for migrants in the desert. He was convicted by a jury in July 2009 and sentenced in August.

13 more volunteers have since been cited with the same charge. Their trial is set for January 2010.
see for more info.

Untenable Environmentalism

In the May 17 issue of The New Yorker there's a great piece profiling a brilliant inventor Saul Griffith.   Griffith is involved with many projects, a large proportion of which have to do with alternative energy technologies or energy conservation devices.  Two excerpts are really worth my time typing in here (the article is only available online to subscribers, though an abstract is here) and well worth your time reading.

The writer, David Owen, explains that limiting global warming to a level of 2 degrees C would mean replacing 13 of the 16 terawatts of total energy use that the human race uses with non-fossil fuel sources. Doing that, according to Griffith's calculations, would require that we build the equivalent of the following every second for the next 25 years: "a hundred square metres of solar cells, fifty square metres of new solar-thermal reflectors, and one Olympic swimming pool's volume of genetically engineered algae (for biofuels)" as well as "one three-hundred-foot diameter wind turbine every five minutes; and one hundred-megawatt nuclear power plant every week."   Theoretically possible but probably politically and financially impossible.

So Griffith understands that a purely high-tech fix to generate the same amount of energy we use now is not the whole solution.  He works on low-tech projects to make our livess more energy efficient, like cheap insulation for homes, but even with these advances we still as a society need to change the way we live and use resources. He describes a problem that I have observed over and over again, on the personal as well as public level:

"environmentalists... are bold-facedly hypocritical, and I don't think the environmentalism movement as we've known it is tenable or will survive. Al Gore has done a huge amount to help this cause, but he is the No. 1 environmental hypocrite. His house alone uses more energy than an average person uses in all aspects of life, and he flies prodigiously. I don't think we can buy the argument anymore that you get special dispensation just because what you're doing is worthwhile." Griffith includes himself in this condemnation. He said "Right now, the main thing I'm working on is trying to invent my way out of my own hypocrisy."

I've seen this hypocrisy many times, with professional enviros jetting around the globe so they can, for instance, hike up a mountain in order to publicise the plight of the Andean glaciers, or go to meetings about climate change. These people somehow think they have a magic pass to spew carbon into the air because their jobs have something to do with saving the world. This is simply not going to fly (pun intended). Read more>>>

The Advertising That Killed The Killer App

My friend Jose writes on his blog about the shift from email to facebook as primary communication tool thanks to spam.  It's a situation that feels like a 15-year long train wreck to me, watching the rising volume of unsolicited commercial email wash over the world like a giant tsunami ever since the start of the popularization of the internet.

Email, using a non-web client, is still the center of my daily time-management practice. it's how information flows from the world to my calendar and to-do list. it's still the killer app, for me. but i'm a power user. I spend a non-trivial amount of time every day categorizing and deleting spam, and some time on a less-frequent basis tweaking my various spam filters.  It's something that works ok for me, but I realize that a lot of people don't have the tools or the time to live this way.  However, I still can't stand when people try to organize and do business via facebook messaging - FB's interface is just so bad and annoying...  but it's happening more and more, and i realize it's all because most people don't have the tech skils, resources, or patience to continue to battle email spam.  

what would the internet look like if spam hadn't destroyed email for most users? sigh.  the other thing i often forget and then re-remember is that for most people email IS the web - they just use a web app to get their email, which, even with gmail, is a poor interface compared to a dedicated client.  so to a lot of people, facebook's UI is no worse than the yahoo or hotmail or squirrelmail interface that they once were stuck with.

it's interesting that one communication mode was destroyed by unethical marketing and is now replaced with another communication mode that is funded by another type of marketing, which, when you take into account the concerns about FB's escalating privacy-violating practices, is also probably unethical (and in a deeper way, is harming us) but is easier for the average person to put up with on a daily basis. Read more>>>

Glenn Weyant's Noise Where Prohibited

A sound art event at MOCA in Tucson, Arizona, April 2010.

Cast: steev hise and Adam Cooper-Terán

Tags: sound, audio, noise, music and art

Pacific Edge (Three Californias Triptych)

Pacific Edge (Three Californias Triptych)

author: Kim Stanley Robinson

name: Steev

average rating: 3.87

book published: 1990

rating: 2

read at: 2010/05/09

date added: 2010/05/11

shelves: novels, own-it

Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions

Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions

author: Edwin A. Abbott

name: Steev

average rating: 3.78

book published: 1880

rating: 4

read at: 1990/01/01

date added: 2010/05/04



The Men Who Stare at Goats

The Men Who Stare at Goats

author: Jon Ronson

name: Steev

average rating: 3.57

book published: 2004

rating: 3

read at: 2010/05/01

date added: 2010/05/03

shelves: fun, politics