28 December 2009

EVOLUTIONARY POLICYMAKING

We need to shed our prehistoric policymaking practices and turn to evolution for guidance, argues David Sloan Wilson.

For almost everyone, evolution is about fossils, dinosaurs and human origins. But it should also be about governance, education, health, peace and virtually every other public policy issue relevant to human welfare.

Why is evolutionary theory missing from the toolkit of politicians and their expert advisers?

plus

The Evolution Institute

27 December 2009

This Cyborg Life

Aimee Mullins asks: Racing on Carbon Fiber Legs, How Abled Should We Be?

Advantage is just something that is part of sports. No athletes are created equal. They simply aren't, due to a multitude of factors including geography, access to training, facilities, health care, injury prevention, and sure, technology.

"It makes me twitch when we talk about 'a level playing field.' No two athletes are the same genetically and environmentally, and the mental and emotional factors they've endured in their life are relevant in their performance, too. The only reason athletes today are better than those of decades ago is because of science and technology: We know exactly what and when to feed our bodies for maximum energy, we have lighter shoes and better bikes and new rubberized track surfaces and (legal) supplements and altitude training. We are upping the ante each Olympic year with 'smarter' design of an athlete's tools, both inside and outside the body."

"Let's think about Tiger Woods having not one, but two LASIK surgeries to achieve 20/15 vision, when what we consider the best of natural vision to be is a mere 20/20. Before his first LASIK surgery, Woods had lost 16 straight tournaments. Immediately following the surgery, he won 7 of his next 10. Advantage through technology, or not?"

Maybe our acceptance of Tiger's LASIK super vision is really answered in the question, "Can everyone have access to it?" In other words, perhaps because the average citizen out there on the street can get laser surgery, it's okay for Tiger to get it, too, whereas the nature of a bionic prosthetic is still viewed as exclusive

The Human SuperOrganism

Bugs Inside: What Happens When the Microbes That Keep Us Healthy Disappear?

The human body has some 10 trillion human cells, but 10 times that number of microbial cells. Some researchers think of our bodies as superorganisms.

With rapid changes in sanitation, medicine and lifestyle in the past century, some of these indigenous species are facing decline, displacement and possibly even extinction. In many of the world's larger ecosystems, scientists can predict what might happen when one of the central species is lost, but in the human microbial environment - which is still largely uncharacterized - most of these rapid changes are not yet understood.

21 December 2009

To Be or Not To Be

Buckminster Fuller said:

I know that I am not a category.

I am not a thing — a noun.

I seem to be a verb...

16 December 2009

Authenticity

Alan Alda is credited as saying....

"Be brave enough to live life creatively. The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. You can’t get there by bus, only by hard work and risk and by not quite knowing what you are doing. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover will be yourself."

07 December 2009

ART

"Amidst the attention given to the sciences and how they can lead to the cure of all diseases and daily problems of mankind, I believe that the biggest breakthrough will be the realization that the arts, which are conventionally considered 'useless,' will be recognized as the whole reason why we ever tried to live longer or live more prosperously."

John Maeda, via Jason Silva's essay
"Why Science Needs To Bring Sexy Back"

"...the scientific community was failing to elicit a sense of awe and wonder out of people. You can't win the hearts and minds of the masses unless you inspire them -- you must lift their spirits and enliven their hearts. We have to give people emotional experiences. Science can always use better art direction: scientific progress and discovery must be presented to the world in a way that excites and titillates people's sense of what is possible."

plus: from the archives

http://www.flickr.com/photos/kcohen/3384240690/

30 November 2009

Stigmergy

Stigmergy is a form of self-organization. It produces complex, apparently intelligent structures, without need for any planning, control, or even communication between the agents.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stigmergic

Stigmergic Collaboration: The Evolution of Group Work

An “invisible hand” effect results from the several efforts of individuals and small groups working independently.

LOVE

"One has to expand the concept of love beyond the limits of the couple."



Michael Hardt at European Graduate School EGS 2005

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Hardt

23 November 2009

The Pansy Project

http://thepansyproject.blogspot.com/

Artist Paul Harfleet revisits city streets planting pansies at the site of homophobic abuse. Each location is photographed and named after the abuse received.

http://www.thepansyproject.com/

21 November 2009

The DAWN CHORUS

Twitter co-founder Biz Stone said: "...people are communicating publicly. It is untrue that we are becoming more isolated because of these tools, I think we are connecting more and we are finding new ways to do good."

"A friend of mine asked me, 'what do you hope people will say about Twitter in five or 10 years?' and my answer to him, which I was surprised to hear myself say, was that I hope people will not consider Twitter a triumph of technology, instead that they will consider it a triumph of humanity."

"The idea that the open exchange of information can have a positive global impact. If people are more informed then they become more engaged and if they are more engaged then they can become more empathetic."

20 November 2009

The People Will Give Strength Unto Their Poet

engraved on the Gdansk monument is the defiant penultimate stanza of Czesław Milosz's poem,

"You Who Wronged"

"Do not feel safe.

The poet remembers.

You can kill one, but another is born.

The words are written down, the deed, the date."


Czesław Miłosz in the Guardian 2001

Czesław Miłosz in Wikipedia

enslavement through consciousness

The Captive Mind via Wikipedia

The heart of his book, The Captive Mind, is a portrayal of four gifted Polish men who all capitulated, in some fashion, to the demands of a totalitarian state.

He highlights the processes which force, cajole and woo thinking men and women to believe self-evident lies.

The Captive Mind via Amazon.co.uk

While banned in Poland, The Captive Mind circulated underground there, Czesław Miłosz being among those authors whose name could not be mentioned even in order to denounce."

19 November 2009

Modular Intelligence

......the early precursors to living, thinking, reprogrammable architecture.

http://seedmagazine.com/slideshow/interactive_architecture/

KETMAN

Ketman (Arabic kitmān كتمان "secrecy, concealment") is the act of paying lip service to authority while holding personal opposition.

It is a sort of political or religious camouflage, for the purpose of survival, in circumstances where open opposition would result in persecution.

Ketman can be practised through many generations, and eventually erupt in the form of revolutions, uprisings, etc.

Though the term was originally used exclusively in regard to Islamic authority, the term is most frequently encountered in reference to Communist authoritarianism.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ketman

17 November 2009

LIFE

Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass.

It's about learning how to dance in the rain.

16 November 2009

Mario Savio: Sproul Hall Steps, December 2, 1964



"There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part; you can't even passively take part, and you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop. And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you're free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!"

Comfortable Slavery and Society as a Work of Art

"We must each of us generate in ourselves, and try to generate in others, the instinctual need for a life without fear, without brutality, and without stupidity."

"The fact that today we cannot identify any specific class or any specific group as a revolutionary force, this fact is no excuse for not using any and every possibility and method to arrest the engines of repression in the individual."

"By virtue of the way it has organized its technological base, contemporary industrial society tends to be totalitarian. For "totalitarian" is not only a terroristic political coordination of society, but also a non-terroristic economic-technical coordination which operates through the manipulation of needs by vested interests."

"The question is no longer: how can the individual satisfy his own needs without hurting others, but rather: how can he satisfy his needs without hurting himself, without reproducing, through his aspirations and satisfactions, his dependence on an exploitative apparatus which, in satisfying his needs, perpetuates his servitude?"

http://www.marcuse.org/herbert/index.html

http://www.marcuse.org/herbert/soundvideo.htm

13 November 2009

Charter for Compassion

via http://www.ted.com/

http://charterforcompassion.org/

The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated ourselves. Compassion impels us to work tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of our fellow creatures, to dethrone ourselves from the centre of our world and put another there, and to honour the inviolable sanctity of every single human being, treating everybody, without exception, with absolute justice, equity and respect.

It is also necessary in both public and private life to refrain consistently and empathically from inflicting pain. To act or speak violently out of spite, chauvinism or self-interest, to impoverish, exploit or deny basic rights to anybody, and to incite hatred by denigrating others — even our enemies — is a denial of our common humanity. We acknowledge that we have failed to live compassionately and that some have even increased the sum of human misery in the name of religion.

We therefore call upon all men and women ~ to restore compassion to the centre of morality and religion ~ to return to the ancient principle that any interpretation of scripture that breeds violence, hatred or disdain is illegitimate ~ to ensure that youth are given accurate and respectful information about other traditions, religions and cultures ~ to encourage a positive appreciation of cultural and religious diversity ~ to cultivate an informed empathy with the suffering of all human beings, even those regarded as enemies.

We urgently need to make compassion a clear, luminous and dynamic force in our polarized world. Rooted in a principled determination to transcend selfishness, compassion can break down political, dogmatic, ideological and religious boundaries. Born of our deep interdependence, compassion is essential to human relationships and to a fulfilled humanity. It is the path to enlightenment, and indispensible to the creation of a just economy and a peaceful global community.

05 November 2009

Creative Talent and the Mental Environment

Should the best creative minds of our generation be so focused on high-gloss dishonesty?

"We, the undersigned, are graphic designers, art directors and visual communicators who have been raised in a world in which the techniques and apparatus of advertising have persistently been presented to us as the most lucrative, effective and desirable use of our talents. Many design teachers and mentors promote this belief; the market rewards it; a tide of books and publications reinforces it."

Artists "who devote their efforts primarily to advertising, marketing and brand development are supporting, and implicitly endorsing, a mental environment so saturated with commercial messages that it is changing the very way citizen-consumers speak, think, feel, respond and interact. To some extent we are all helping draft a reductive and immeasurably harmful code of public discourse."

"We propose a reversal of priorities in favor of more useful, lasting and democratic forms of communication - a mindshift away from product marketing and toward the exploration and production of a new kind of meaning. The scope of debate is shrinking; it must expand. Consumerism is running uncontested; it must be challenged by other perspectives expressed, in part, through the visual languages and resources of design."

http://www.spack.org/words/firstthings.html.moved

https://www.adbusters.org/category/tags/first_things_first

02 November 2009

THE MYTH OF SISYPHUS

ABSURDITY and REVOLUTION

"From a lucid appreciation of the absurdity of our life three consequences flow, which Camus calls Revolt, Freedom and Passion."

By 'Revolt' Camus means defiance in the face of the bleak truth about the human condition, hopeless but not resigned, lending to life a certain grandeur.

"We must imagine Sisyphus happy."

"Recognition of the absurdity frees us from habit and convention: we see all things anew, and are inwardly liberated."

"By 'passion' Camus means the resolve to live as intensely as possible, not so as to escape the sense of absurdity but so as to face it with absolute lucidity."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Myth_of_Sisyphus
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sisyphus

In "The Myth of Sisyphus" Albert Camus elevates Sisyphus to the status of The Absurd Hero.

"Absurdity is a feeling which arises from the confrontation of the world, which is irrational, with the hopeless but profound human desire to make sense of our condition. The appropriate response to this situation is to live in full consciousness of it."

31 October 2009

you won't fool the Children of the Revolution

"Revolution is not something fixed in ideology, nor is it something fashioned to a particular decade. It is a perpetual process embedded in the human spirit."

(...said Abbie Hoffman)

24 October 2009

Vaclav Havel : Summer Meditations

"So anyone who claims that I am a dreamer who expects to transform hell into heaven is wrong.

I have few illusions.

But I feel a responsibility to work towards the things I consider good and right.

I don't know whether I'll be able to change certain things for the better, or not at all.

Both outcomes are possible.

There is only one thing I will not concede: that it might be meaningless to strive in a good cause."

Pessimism of the Intellect: Optimism of the Will

....said Antonio Gramsci.

Roll Up Your Sleeves

The Perception Gap

"A dangerous gap exists between our personal experience, which is mainly happy, and our view of a society in decline."

"Progressives want the world to be a better place. We bemoan its current inequities and oppression - yet if we fail to celebrate the progress that human beings have made, and if we sound as though the future is a fearful place, we belie our own philosophy. Instead, we need to address a deficit in social optimism that threatens the credibility of our core narrative."

"My starting point is the need to forge a new collectivism. It is in working with others on a shared project of social advance that we can be reconnected to the sense of collective agency so missing from modern political discourse."

It is the attitude of the spectator that induces pessimism, the experience of the participant that brings hope.

"The old collectivism is dead or dying. Its characteristics - hierarchical, bureaucratic, paternalistic - are no longer suited to the challenges or the mood of the times. The institutions of the new collectivism must be devolved, pluralistic, egalitarian and, most of all, self-actualising."

16 October 2009

Everything we do is music

"We shape our tools, and thereafter our tools ape us"

(The Medium is the Massage, 1967. side A side B)

APE PERSONHOOD : ape protection

http://www.personhood.org/personhood/lawreview/

The core mission of Great Ape Standing & Personhood (GRASP) is to secure legal recognition of the rights of apes and all nonhuman primates to live in their own ways.

- The condition of “humanness” is not essential to becoming a “person” under the law. -

- We now know that Chimpanzees, Gorillas, Bonobos, and Human Beings are all species of African Great Apes. -

- Together with Orang-utans, we are members of a slightly larger taxonomic group known as the Great Apes, or "Hominoidea." -


- We humans understand the other great apes much more than was possible even a few years ago. -

http://www.greatapeproject.org/

It is morally unjustifiable to treat sentient animals as items of chattel property.

Great Ape Project (GAP) is an international movement that aims to defend the rights of the non-human great primates - chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans and bonobos, our closest relatives in the animal kingdom.

The main rights are: the right to life, the protection of individual liberty and the prohibition of torture.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ape_personhood

NEURODIVERSITY: how soon is now

"I am the son and heir,
Of nothing in particular,
You shut your mouth
how can you say,
I go about things the wrong way,
I am human and I need to be loved,
just like everybody else does..."


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neurodiversity

"Neurodiversity is an idea which asserts that atypical (neurodivergent) neurological development is a normal human difference that is to be recognized and respected as any other human variation."

11 October 2009

DOGS IN SPACE

The first acknowledged earth born creature to leave the planet was Laika, in Sputnik 2, 1957.

More dogs followed, between 1959 and 1961.

Before the launch, one of the scientists took Laika home to play with his children. In a book chronicling the story of Soviet space medicine, Dr. Vladimir Yazdovsky wrote, "I wanted to do something nice for her: She had so little time left to live."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laika

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_space_dogs

Zazen on Ching-t’ing Mountain

The birds have vanished down the sky.
Now the last cloud drains away.
We sit together, the mountain and me,
until only the mountain remains.


attributed to Li Bai, 8th century Chinese poet:
(zazen is a form of meditation where one just sits silently.)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Li_Bai

Time Travel And ‘Energy Umbrellas’: Chicago Gets A Makeover For The 22nd Century

“Big. Bold. Visionary. Chicago Considers the Next Century,”

among the several “Towers” proposals, there is “Eco-Casino”... Its true innovation, if brought to fruition, is the marriage of sustainability and gambling... The roulette skyline bar, powered by wind turbines, sits beneath a bay of solar-powered slot machines by the rooftop pool, and patrons can bet on the weather.

08 October 2009

30 September 2009

Being Human

The Human body contains perhaps 100 trillion cells.

And around 90 trillion of those cells are actually bacteria.

SPACE and TIME

We are travelling around the Sun at about 67,000 miles per hour.

22 September 2009

Anaïs Nin said:

We don't see things as they are,

we see them as we are.

Marshall McLuhan said:

side A side B

Our Age of Anxiety is, in great part, the result of trying to do today's jobs with yesterday's tools.

We drive into the future

using only our rear view mirror.

Erich Fromm said:

Let your mind start a journey through a strange new world.

Leave all thoughts of the world you knew before.

19 September 2009

Fortress of Solitude

Melting Ice Caps Expose Hundreds Of Secret Arctic Lairs

"Claiming it to be one of the most dramatic and visible signs of climate change to date, researchers said Monday that receding polar ice caps have revealed nearly 200 clandestine lairs... once buried deep beneath hundreds of feet of Arctic ice."

17 September 2009

Earthship Perrine in Normandy

holidays_don't_get_much_greener

"This wonderful self-catering house is suitable for families and couples, sleeps six and is entirely off-grid: meaning it isn’t connected to any mains utility lines such as gas or electricity. It produces all of its electric power with solar panels and wind turbines. In the event of the end of civilisation, in theory one could survive here - once they get the vegetable patch and chicken coup up and running that is."

12 September 2009

No more talk about the old days it's time for something great


Farm Lab, LA
photographed by Kris Cohen

New World

Arundhati Roy said:

"Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. And on a quiet day, if you really listen, you can hear her breathing."

06 September 2009

BIOMIMICRY

Janine Benyus said: "I don’t think any technology is unnatural. We are biological, and we created technology, after all."

http://www.biomimicryguild.com/
http://janinebenyus.com/
http://www.ted.com/talks/janine_benyus_biomimicry_in_action.html
http://www.biomimicryinstitute.org/

Biocentrism

‘Biocentrism’: How life creates the universe

"In biocentrism, what we call space and time are forms of animal sense perception, rather than external physical objects."

"We carry space and time around with us like turtles with shells."

inhabitat

http://www.inhabitat.com/

Stewart Brand and the new face of environmentalism

"a_manifesto_for_the_planet"

"There are two main elements that are changing things. One is the younger generation, which is pretty comfortable with technology and doesn’t regard it as inherently evil. So something like synthetic biology or genetic engineering looks like something they can figure out and put to use. And when it comes to nuclear engineering, they don’t remember the Cold War or Chernobyl. The other element is climate change. It was taken seriously early and often by environmentalists, and they’re now living with the consequences of having been right about it. They paid attention to climatologists, to the scientists, to the IPCC, so they are more comfortable with a scientific approach on other issues."

Libertarian Municipalism

libertarian municipalism an overview

"The Social Democratic Party in Germany, the Labor Party in Britain, the New Democratic Party in Canada, the Socialist Party in France, and others, despite their original emancipatory visions, barely qualify today as even liberal parties in which a Franklin D. Roosevelt or a Harry Truman would have found a comfortable home."

"Whatever social ideals these parties may have had generations ago has been eclipsed by the pragmatics of gaining, holding, and extending their power in their respective parliamentary and ministerial bodies."

"It is precisely such parliamentary and ministerial objectives that we call “politics” today. To the modern political imagination, “politics” is precisely a body of techniques for holding power in representative bodies – notably the legislative and executive arenas – not a moral calling based on rationality, community, and freedom."

POSTSCRIPT

Hackney Environment Network:

Profile - Russell Higgs

Blog - Russell Higgs