the important and the not-so-important, horribly conflated.

Archive for the ‘nature’ Category

Portfolio: Detroit

In nature on April 11, 2010 at 8:07 pm

In front of Andrew Moore’s lens (slide show here), even entropy in the Motor City has a production line-like geometry and compartmentalization. And recent news from Detroit suggests that the city’s “rebirth” might not spring up organically—like the flora that has reclaimed much of the metro area—but will emerge instead in the careful deconstruction of the myth of Detroit as the once-and-future manufacturing capital of the world. It needs to become the city of ideas again.


Memory Tapes + Neon Indian

In nature on February 22, 2010 at 6:55 pm

I saw these two “chill-wave” groups Friday night in Philly. Neon Indian opened and struggled to get their sound right throughout the set—which was frustrating, because they had everything else down: the angular and jerky dancing, the syncopated group hopping, the absurdly catchy, beamed-in-from-space-invaders hooks. Their encore was a fantastic new tune that caught and held on to grooves that would have been cast off after 8 bars on the band’s debut album, Psychic Chasms. At once brazen and beautiful, the encore had Neon Indian finally looking and sounding comfortable in their own unique niche.

Memory Tapes is one dude (like Neon Indian), but he brought along a drummer friend and a laptop on friday night. With the music ricocheting and tumbling through different tempos and rhythms, it was stunning to simply watch the humans try to keep up with their computer. They broke up and excerpted several songs, but the experience as a whole was an exercise in fragile continuity—even during abrupt shifts, I could hear echoes of the themes and hooks just tossed off: a dynamic underscored by the jubilant laptop that continued clicking and humming onstage after the rest of the band walked off to deserved applause.


In music, nature, politics on August 23, 2009 at 6:48 pm

these are the ones I listen to religiously… which makes up for the paucity of religious sociology/theology podcasts out there.


(click post title for bigger version)

india, solar power, and gender politics

In nature on August 19, 2009 at 7:41 pm

Articulating my thoughts about india is a stream-of-consciousness affair. None of the following is meant to be coherent in any way.

India has committed in principle to the country’s (world’s?) largest solar endeavour, setting the goal of increasing solar capacity from 3 megawatts to 20 gigawatts by 2020. Most of the blogosphere has pointed to the upcoming copenhagen climate talks to interpret this as a giant slammer (please get this elementary school reference) to the wimpy pogs (ie, the US cap n’ trade bill) the west has laid out in the place of emissions bargaining chips.

Regardless of the global realpolitik maneuvering here, the utter hugeness of this plan reminds me of the utopia/dystopia (depending on your gender) of RS Hossein’s “Sultana’s Dream,” in which women not only run india on solar and water energy, but use it to subdue armies of men. the deeper message of the story is that men irrevocably mess things up when any sort of power—electrical or political—is involved.

Which, in turn, makes me think about Secretary of State Clinton’s visit to the subcontinent, wherein the (mostly male) government pretty much dismissed Hillary’s calls to get their emissions standards under control. Their (completely fair) argument goes like this: how did the west develop? massive, polluting industry. and we (india) can’t? A recent princeton study looked at this problem and suggested that we should structure carbon taxes and caps around individual high-emitters, not whole countries. At a certain level, these uber-emitters are doing more damage to their country than good. It’s a broad framework,  but it should be the center of the copenhagen talks.

If that fails, we can always just hand things over to the Sultanas of the world… after all, Clinton’s speeches over the last month and a half have served as an amazingly effective palliative to the screeches from the (male, white) Right in our own country. If you’ve paid any attention… God knows the media hasn’t.

most ridiculous sub-header of the day:

In nature on July 14, 2009 at 9:27 pm

“Fox attacks on endangered penguins have led Australia’s wildlife authorities to post snipers at night to protect the birds.” – FP

I have nothing against measures (albeit extreme) taken to protect endangered species. We’re probably in the middle of the sixth big, sweeping global extinction. Every species on the margin tells us something about the causes (or cause = us) of such a depletion of biodiversity. I don’t like penguins. I’m not completely sure why—maybe because there was a 18 month stretch there when every movie seemed to be about penguins acting all anthro… surfing penguins, marching penguins, &c.


In nature on July 1, 2009 at 10:58 am

From the times: “The outlines of a miraculous story began to emerge Wednesday as French officials and her relatives related details of how the sole survivor of the crash of a Yemeni airliner, a girl from the southern suburbs of Paris, had managed to cling to wreckage in the Indian Ocean for more than 13 hours until she was rescued.”

this is…

In nature on June 11, 2009 at 1:19 pm

maple seed… a maple seed (from “Leading-Edge Vortices Elevate Lift of Autorotating Plant Seeds.” By D. Lentink, W. B. Dickson, J. L. vanLeeuwen, M. H. Dickinson. Science, Vol. 324 Issue 5933, June 12, 2009.)