Last night I devoured Frank Miller’s treatment of Batman, The Dark Night Returns, then I slowly read it again. I’d waited too long to read this one, it is such the anti-hero story in its highest form.
You were used against us, Bruce.
The one who played it rough.
When the noise started from the parent’s groups and the sub-committee called us in for questioning—
—you were the one who laughed…
…that scary laugh of yours…
“Sure we’re criminals,” you said. “We’ve always been criminals”.
“We have to be criminals.”
Thanks Frank Miller, you do good things.
Next on my list of publications to consume is Sharman Apt Russell’s Hunger: An Unnatural History. I’ve been to two of Russell’s reading, and through her writings and her personality I immediately recognized that she understood the mess. The way she can wax poetic on the initial breakdown of starches by saliva, for me, is exemplary. Her wordsmithing of obtuse science and the obviously loving way in the way she does it has me tearing through pages.
If we are not in charge, who is? The answer may be everything: the cerebral cortex, the circulatory system, the respiratory system, the pancreas, the intestinal walls, the nerves, the muscles, the hormones, the taste of an apple, the word for apple, the memory of an apple. We are a gestalt.
Thanks Sharman Apt Russell, you do good things. (She also personally introduced me to the term Pantheism, le sigh.)
Cars made me angry today, “isolating weapons of ignorance and destruction” I called them.
It started when a brand new red Mustang convertible shot past me on a road through campus. I overtook them shortly as they (generously) decided not to mow down a pedestrian in the crosswalk. As we both approached an intersection they pulled a sharp right in to the bike lane, cutting me off. They hadn’t signaled, and I had to stop so suddenly that I almost flew off my bike and into their backseat. “Use your fucking turn signals!” I (generously) advised. I saw them run a stop sign and fail to signal twice more on their way to wherever-the-fuck they so badly needed to be.
Rolling through the dorm parking lot I counted 17 monster trucks. I do not lie, 17 trucks consisting of a regular pickup/SUV frame, mounted atop oversize suspensions and wheels half as tall as me. To drive such a beast is not only absolutely inappropriate in Chico, but it almost always means the driver is a douche-bag who could care less about laws based on public safety. In such a truck, a driver is practically invincible on the road, and tends to act like it.
Twice more in the day, on my way to and from and in and around campus, I am almost got too intimately familiarized with rolling steel boxes. I’ve grown accustomed to riding in traffic composed of the blind and deaf, but today just brought them all out of the woodwork.
So I’m cranky, I desire violent retribution against the internal-combusters, I don a black bandanna, yet I do nothing. If I had stabbed some tires, poured sugar in a gas-tank, or carved “oil = blood” with my key on someone’s car, it would have provided temporary glee and satisfaction, but I know this would fade into guilt and regret. Ultimately all of my frustration and anger had no effect other than spoiling my own mood.
So what can I do when they so effectively piss me off? A black bandanna helps, but I’d rather be able to stop myself from wasting such emotional energy in the first place.
I worry that I’m developing an aversion to writing, I worry I’ll fail to communicate the enormity/complexity/passion/relevance/interesting-ness of a subject, I worry I can’t actually write and all you kind people have just been humoring me.
Nvrthlss, here are three things I think about quite often, which should be committed to
An unambiguous definition of sustainability that details the inclusion of global warming, climate change, exponential growth of human population and physical capital, and the depopulation of non-human fauna.
An account of the development of my personal ethic, one that will incorporate the fundamental tenets of sustainability.
‘Le Danse Electrique’, a tale of two skeletons living in the American midwest in the 1930’s, as the federal government begins to bring power to the countryside through the Rural Electric Administration. Including cameos from Nikola Tesla, Thomas Edison, and Zombie James Watt.
Those silly kids over at the Participatory Culture Foundation have whipped up a cute and surprisingly thorough site on how to Make Internet TV. If you’ve ever wondered how easy it would be to make funny faces at (potentially) millions of people at a time, your ship has finally come in.
I’m not so sure that IPTV is such the wave of futures as some would speculate, but I certainly don’t mind watching where it wanders. While Joost may have lured me with their slicker than sin UI and invite-only Beta testing, Democracy steals my heart with its embrace of open standards and open licensing.
So it’s gone.
I know enough about computers that when I fuck something up just a little bit, in the process of trying to fix it I can open up the doors to fuck it up a whole lot. Here’s how such fucking went down.
The harddrive in my laptop was acting fishy, so I backed it up to a an external drive. I reformated the harddrive in my laptop to make sure that whatever weirdness was on there is totally gone. I was not just erasing all of my personal files from the past 8 years, but overwriting them with nothingness. Where there once was 10Gb+ of photographs there is now only the absence of light. Any audio recordings from the past 14 months have been replaced by deafening silence. Lyrics, essays, greatest of schemes and most transient thoughts have been deleted beyond the combined reach of a thousand Ctrl-Z’s. But not to worry, I backed it all up to my external harddrive.
Oh yes, I was ever so vigilant in my archiving of archives. Regularly enough, sometimes even twice weekly, I would update the backup of my laptop’s contents. I even made sure to turn the external harddrive off when it wasn’t in use, to pause the clock on its inherently limited physical lifespan. My father taught me the value of backups, I remember the first external drive he gave me, my vigilance would have made him proud. But no measure of vigilance or foresight could have saved this sinking ship, though I the captain knew not that it was going down.
The time came to restore my laptop’s harddrive from the copy residing on the external harddrive. The disk utility would not recognize the backup disk image, because it was a sparseimage, which like a normal disk image but put through one of those kitchen appliances that shrink wraps while sucking all the air out. I figured the solution would be to convert this sparseimage in to a legitimate disk image, one that could be read by the disk utility program. I set the dials, primed the flux capacitor, and double-checked my calculations. All was set with the best intentions.
An hour goes by as the last decade of my computer usage is supposedly copied from one intangible location to another, and then it is done. I return to find not two copies of my backup, as I had expected, but instead two copies of nothingness. In less than two hours I had overwritten not only my original copy of everything, but my extra-specially-safe copy of everything.
“Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”
So here’s a thought experiment.
50 people wake up to discover that they have been kidnapped, abducted, or imprisoned. In any case, they cannot escape from their captors. Everyday these captors bring in just enough food for all 50 of them to survive on. All 50 prisoners understand that the amount of food provided will absolutely never increase, and that if any of them were to eat more than 1/50th of the food provided, than everyone else would have less to eat.
If you were one of these prisoners, would it be right of you to eat more than 1/50th of the food provided? Would it be unethical to eat more than your share and leave less for everyone else?
Suppose the years go by and this band of 50 survives. Being only human, sex becomes the primary pastime, and the captors graciously provide methods of birth control. Any child born in the prison would require just as much food as any other prisoner.
Knowing this, and that the amount of food provided will never increase, would it be right to forgo birth control, and to purposely have a child in the prison? Would it be unethical to reproduce?
If Jeremy Bentham was one of the prisoners, he’d have some answers. Bentham was a 19th-century philosopher, made particularly ill on half pints of shandy, and the progenitor of “felicific calculus”. As a utilitarian, Bentham would argue that actions are morally right or wrong based on their consequences, and that having a child is just as wrong as taking food from the mouths of other prisoners. If the prisoners made their own cute little society with their own adorable little system of justice, a utilitarian would argue that someone who had a child should be punished in the same way as someone who stole food from another.
If Immanuel Kant, the 18th-centruy German philosopher and rarely stable piss-ant was one of the prisoners, he’d have some different answers. Kant believed that the only measure of morality was the will as guided by reason. In order to be a moral principle, a rule must apply universally and must be consistent with reason. His theory of “The Categorical Imperative” demands that a rule of conduct should only be acted upon if can be applied universally and at the same time continue to be within reason. The act of eating more than anyone else fails as a moral principle because the concept of everyone eating more than everyone conflicts with reason. However, the act of having a child does not conflict with reason if it is universalized. In this way the two different actions, eating more and having a child, are not moral equivalents.
So let’s blow this up.
6,702,601,670+ people wake up and discover they’ve been born on a planet from which there is no means of escape. This planet has a limited carrying capacity, meaning sources (mineral deposits, aquifers, stocks of nutrients in soil) only produce natural resources at a certain rate, and sinks (the atmosphere, surface water bodies, landfills) only absorb waste at a certain rate. If we 6.7 billion prisoners exceed the throughput of of this planet, then our sources will run dry and our sinks will overflow.
So is it right take more than our fair share of natural resources and to produce more than our fair share of waste? Is it right to have kids faster than we’re dying? Is there any moral difference between the two?
I’ve adopted a roommate. Diana was shedding her houseplants and I got to walk away with one Epipremnum aureum, also knows as ‘Marble Queen’. I hung her in my window last night, and throughout the day I watched her twist her leaves and limbs to take best advantage of the sunlight. So here’s a (love) song partially inspired by that plant (and less than two minutes long).
Bless The Humble Chlorophyll - mp3
i’ve heard some sing when it rains it pours
but when you cry I can’t imagine
anymore ever coming out
so let’s put down our guards
and fight it out
it feels like it’s been years
since anything new grew in this town
and as records will indicate
it starts in the underground
driving up from florida
rain storms come and rainstorms go
but they don’t wash out the road
and when we find somewhere new
we know good things are gonna grow
our face in the sun
we turn it in to sugar
Lullaby - mp3
(featuring the indominable Diana Caplan on cello)
I said I’m sorry I’m sorry
for what happened
I didn’t see the other car
and now you’re bleeding
from your head from your head from your head
I said i was sorry
so lay down your head
lay down your head
lay down your head
lay it down
the ambulance will be here soon
and when it comes it will
play for you a little song
the one that goes
weeoo weeoo weeoo
that’s how it goes
so don’t close your eyes
don’t close your eyes
don’t close your eyes
don’t close your eyes
I’ll shake you shake you
if you start to rest
I don’t want to die alone
and so I think it’s
for the best for the best for the best
if we stick together
with your hand in my mine
your hand in mine
your hand held tight in mine
held tight in mine
i say I love you I love you
but you’ve gone cold
the only thing that’s worse
than death is the thought
that you’d go that you’d go that you’d go
and never know