Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Magics Tricks

Sometimes I go online and look up magic tricks. It is so fun: Play along with this first one. :)
oh and don't be to turned on by his hair.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Icky

I keep having to tell myself that I did not come to school so that I could land a good job, so it doesn't matter if my transcript looks this:

Class

Credits

Chemistry for Everyone

2

Foundations of The Performing Arts

32

Academic Writing

4

Academic Writing: The Next Steps

4

The Power of Story

4

Juvenile Justice

4

Music and Dance

16

Multi-Track Audio Production

16

Adaptation: Evolutionary Science

8

Music, Math and Motion

32

Marx and Marxism’s

16

The Practice of Writing

4

New Media Studies: Hardware Hacking, Computer Programming, and Robotics

4

Digital Audio Production

8

I don't care that nobody will be hiring a composer with a side interest in physics, evolution, mythology, political economy and chemistry, and an emphasis on academic writing...who has dabbled a little in computer programing and robotics. I remember all of my classes and what I learned in them and how they changed my thinking. I will just keep alive as best I can.


...


*ten years in the future: Ben is working in a kitchen washing dishes as an extremely "interesting" 31 yr old*
Ben:"Hey guys! You know what we should do? We should arrange all these pots so that they can be played with these ladles! Then we can take this dishwasher apart and use the water pressure to power this robot to play them! Then I will write an academic paper about it! Then we will talk with our employer about involving us intellectually with our work and paying us for what we produce rather than wages! Come on it'll be SWEEEeeeeeeeee ee ee ....e t" *fade back to present*

... I am a 31 year old crazy guy who all the young kids have to tolerate at work.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Future of Food: dissatisfying

Hannah recently posted a link to the documentary, The Future of Food, which I watched and which was infuriating. Our economic and governmental strategy results in the formation of very large businesses, the higher-ups of which are the people who end up having the funding to enter into the political sphere and then are allowed to regulate (by not regulating) their own businesses. Justice Clarence Thomas is a Monsanto’s Lawyer Regulatory Affairs. Supreme Court Justice Micky Kantor is on the Board of Directors for Monsanto. Linda Fisher was the Executive Vice President of Monsanto, then the EPA Deputy administer then was back at Monsanto, and now is back with the EPA again. Even Donald Rumsfeld was the president of Searle, which is a subsidiary of Monsanto. The list goes on.*


If history is any indicator, those with the most money pouring into their campaigns are the ones who are capable of reaching elected or appointed positions of power. When the country votes the barrage of misinformation coming form these companies makes the relative trickle of clear thinking look like a conspiracy theory by comparison. The opposition campaigns always reaching several orders of magnitude beyond what the non-corporations can put out. We do not have to be paranoid to realize we are sick.**

That we are sick, in the case of our food, is unfortunately literally true as well as figuratively. We are ingesting things that have not evolved along with our bodies - which is to say that we have not had millions of years to evolve adaptations for whatever it is they may do to our bodies – which is to say that we will likely be unprepared for their effects. To evidence for this is easily found. Transfat was an excellent idea for extending the shelf life of food, but ended up being toxic because our bodies were not evolved to deal with it. The new technique for hyper-saturating fats is also likely to suffer the same fate. HIV and bird flew are both suspected to bee deadly because they came to our spices from another without our species having a change to evolve a defense against them. Today, genetically altered corn and wheat is making its way into our food. We have not evolved with it, it has caused several allergic reactions, it is not well tested or regulated, and it is not required to be labeled “modified” in the grocery store.


How this was allowed to happen in food is intimately tied with the general problems of capitalism: Workers are exploited with increasing efficiency under a capitalist. Those who try and compete as small start up businesses cannot keep pace with the capitalist’s brutality or its incredible scale of and efficiency in production as it costs too much money. The working class is drawn more and more into a situation where they are both oppressed by a few large businesses - by being forced to work under terrible conditions as appendages of super-production techniques - and made dependent on these businesses because they are the only place to find employment and the only people to get products from.

In food, the super-business (Monsanto in this case) has the time and resources to go and buy up patents on seeds from seed banks, to lobby for and infiltrate government regulation, to throw frivolous and crippling lawsuits at small business to push out the competition, and to engineer plants that grow bigger and faster than small businesses can afford to compete with.*** The pressure of capitalism puts incentive to grow monocultures in order to produce the highest returning type of plant with the highest efficiency – though this makes them highly susceptible to disease, because one disease is adapted to destroy every plant if all plants are the same. Paradoxically, competition is systematically reduced by virtue of new competitors having to compete with current super-producers. It is a system that begs for continued growth and exploitation in order to avoid being pushed out by the company who is willing to grow and exploit a little more. In the long run, having diverse sources and types of plants will be a safer bet. However, the insane pressure of capitalism to invest in immediately higher profits and cheaper products puts people out of business who try and invest long term because they cannot compete in the short run.

Unfortunately, I find that I and many of my friends are tired of even the word "capitalism". It has come to serve as a cliché for all that is wrong with the world and because it is so ubiquitous it begins to feel like saying i'm against capitalism, is like saying i'm against murder- Sure you don't like it, but just saying so is almost silly because it says nothing about how to deal with it.

I have also tried to identify this problem purely in terms of scale. In our politics, an individual only has power if they can get 100,000 other people to feel the same way - which is another way of saying that as an individual, they don't have power. The "spread it like wildfire!" approach makes my part, or someone else's part important only because it makes 10, or 20 or a million other people think the same way - which, as someone who is not a million people, is discouraging. At one point I was excited about the possibility of participatory democracy, because it is based on consensus and reasoned discussion rather than gathering the largest group to your side. However, it seems that any group that might form with a strategy of participation would still be held by the rules of the adversary system (i.e. our group of participatory democrats would have to have at least 100,000 people in it to have any political power).

The police and the army are under the control of people who have decided that they own the plants of the earth whether I bought them from their company or weather they grew there by themselves. I do not want to have patents in my life. Invention is a collaborative effort. If I deserve credit than so too does everyone who talked with me, who invented before me, who fed me that day, who built the home and tools I used and who made other things that inspired me to make, because without them I would not have made what I made. Instead we have Monsanto asking for money for seeds it pulled out of a seed bank and stuck a patent on.

I don't want the question: 'But what can we do?' to become a rhetorical one. Unfortunately saying that doesn't seem to make a strategy any clearer not making the question legitimate doesn't seem to help. I went and talked to Arun the other day he said his strategy is to be a teacher he makes people dissatisfied with the way things are going. His plan worked on me.

I am dissatisfied with this.





* Rest if the list

Lidia Watrud

Biotech Researcher, Monstanto

Environmental Protection Agency

Anne Keneman

Board of Directors, Calgene purchased by Monsanto

Secretary of Agriculture

William Ruckleshaus

Monsanto board member

Chief Administrator, EPA

Micheal Friedman

Senior VP, GD Searle division of Monsanto

Acting Commissoner FDA

**I think Marx might have said this

***they grow ‘better’ despite the fact that they are possibly toxic and are prone to catastrophic collapse due to monoculture farming

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mind Your Manners

A few days ago:
I'm sitting in the back of the bus on the ride home from school and I'm tired and spacing off. I'm in the midst of my spacing when I realize that I have coincidentally met eyes with this guy walking up the stairs towards the upper level of the bus, who I realize a second later has just finished saying: "What the f*** are you starring at you motherf***in' c**t!"
At this point I am not really interested in trying to talk to this guy so I just smile at him and drift my head over to the window. He goes and sits down and his friend sits down with him. They talk about some different parties they are going to attend, and in a about 3 or 4 minutes I am at my and it's time to get off.

Today I am thinking about this - because I replay all awkward moments from my life at least a hundred times each - and I am wondering why this guy was so mad about my unbecoming manners. I mean, I know it's not polite to stare but at what point do you just let the half asleep guy with silly hair just be a little weird and zoned out.
Also, I noticed that if you take all the other things I noticed about this guy in our 3 minutes of knowing eachother, he sounds just like an old-thyme aristocrat. Which was funny to me.


Attends lots of Parties


Conspicuous Jewelry

Carefully Refined Stride

Carefully Groomed Hair

Guy on Bus

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Aristocrats

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes


I am gonna have to find him again to collect more data.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Flying Penguins Via Hack-a-Day

make sure you watch until at least 1:10, that's when I got really happy.

Thursday, April 23, 2009