Thursday, June 3, 2010

Musings: Things to Think About

Up and out when when others were mostly asleep, Koko and I encountered the pure blackness of a night where the moon had not yet risen and the stars were extinguished by a thick blanket of fleece.

Morning arrived similarly subdued, with a streak of clear light sandwiched between gray layers in the east and the quilting that covered the sky tinted pale orange. In the distance, lavender clouds were crawling all over Waialeale and it was hard to predict just what the day might bring.

It’s also hard to predict what the future might bring for humankind. While many folks seem to be either in denial about the challenges we face, others think science, engineering and technology will save the day. In short, we’ll be able to invent our way out of our woes, especially in the area of energy.

This idea was laid to rest in a recent article in The New Yorker on inventor Saul Griffith, who estimated that the human race currently consumes energy at an average rate of about 16 trillion watts. To cap greenhouse gas at a level that would result in a global temperature increase of only two degrees Celsius would require a dramatic shift to renewable and non-carbon based sources.

And doing that, Griffith said, would require building the equivalent of all the following: a hundred square metres of new solar cells, fifty square metres of new solar-thermal reflectors and on Olympic swimming pool’s volume of genetically engineered algae (for biofuels) every second for the next twenty-five years; one three-hundred-foot diameter wind turbine every five minutes; one hundred-megawatt geothermal-powered steam turbine every eight hours and one three-gigawatt nuclear power plant every week.

“Right now, everyone sees climate change as a problem in the domain of scientists and engineers,” Griffith told me. “But it’s not enough to say that we need some nerds to invent a new energy source and some other nerds to figure out a carbon-sequestration technology — and you should be skeptical about either of those things actually happening. There are a lot of ideas out there, but nothing nearly as radical as green-tech hype.


Guess that's why we're just sticking with oil and coal and pretending it'll all be OK.

That same issue had another article, on Alexis de Tocqueville’s 1831 journey to America, that included an excerpt from his writings about the way in which America was acquiring Indian lands. It jumped out at me, because it reflected the same approach America used in taking the Hawaiian Kingdom:

…he notes that America is expert at talking a noble language while committing ignoble deeds. The extermination of the Indians has been done “tranquilly, legally, philanthropically, without spilling blood, without violating a single one of the great principles of morality in the eyes of the world.”

On a related topic, Dawson, a frequent, thoughtful presence in the comments section of KauaiEclectic, forwarded a link to this article with the comment:

No wonder the "we rule the world, get over it" commentators on your blog are sounding so strident!

And changing the subject entirely, a survey shows that many married women in America would rather sleep, watch a movie, read or do just about anything rather than have sex with their husbands.

Just a few things to think about this quiet morning.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

To say technology won't help us because the current state of technology cannot solve the problem completely misses the point about technology. It is like saying before the airplane was invented, "Technology will never help man fly because with current technology man cannot fly."

Anonymous said...

It is like saying before the airplane was invented, "Technology will never help man fly because with current technology man cannot fly."

Or right after the first computer was invented, saying "Computers will never be widely used because they are too expensive and too big."

Casey said...

The article on the how the internet helps liberals more than conservatives is believable. It makes no mention of libertarians, though. The internet is also known as a haven for Ron Paul fanboys.

Anonymous said...

The article on the how the internet helps liberals more than conservatives is believable.

I don't see that. It sounded like the unresearched musings of a college freshman. Yes, it omitted the libertarians. It also omitted the tea partiers and their revolt against the Republicans. More than anything the little writer is completely confused about the fundamental political philosophies of the left (which favors monolithic central federal government authority) and the right (which favors devolving power away from the federal government to the states and even to school districts). The kid has no clue. Also, did somebody really try to compare two very different types of blogs and pass it off as a robust study? Again, weak.

Anonymous said...

Joan..What's the difference between having sex with your boyfriend vs your husband?.....three hours.

Dawson said...

Hm, let's see... from the abstract of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University report "A Tale of Two Blogospheres: Discursive Practices on the Left and Right" cited in the CNN story:

Discussions of the political effects of the Internet and networked discourse tend to presume consistent patterns of technological adoption and use within a given society. Consistent with this assumption, previous empirical studies of the United States political blogosphere have found evidence that the left and right are relatively symmetric in terms of various forms of linking behavior despite their ideological polarization (Hargittai, Gallo & Kane, 2008; Hindman, 2008; Adamic & Glance, 2005).

In this paper, we revisit these findings by comparing the practices of discursive production and participation among top U.S. political blogs on the left, right, and center during Summer, 2008. Based on qualitative coding of the top 155 political blogs, our results reveal significant cross-ideological variations along several important dimensions. Notably, we find evidence of an association between ideological affiliation and the technologies, institutions, and practices of participation across political blogs. Sites on the left adopt more participatory technical platforms; are comprised of significantly fewer sole-authored sites; include user blogs; maintain more fluid boundaries between secondary and primary content; include longer narrative and discussion posts; and (among the top half of the blogs in our sample) more often use blogs as platforms for mobilization as well as discursive production.

Our findings speak to two major theoretical debates on the political effects of the Internet and networked discourse. First, the variations we observe between the left and right wings of the U.S. political blogosphere provide insights into how varied patterns of technological adoption and use within a single society may produce distinct effects on democracy and the public sphere.

Secondly, our study suggests that the prevailing techniques of domain-based link analysis used to study the political blogosphere to date may have fundamental limitations. The fact that we find evidence of significant cross-ideological variation when we compare intra-domain attributes of political blogs demonstrates that link analysis studies have obscured both the diversity of participatory affordances online as well as the primary mechanisms by which the networked public sphere alters democratic participation relative to the mass mediated public sphere.



- vs. -


Anonymous said...
It sounded like the unresearched musings of a college freshman. Yes, it omitted the libertarians. It also omitted the tea partiers and their revolt against the Republicans. More than anything the little writer is completely confused about the fundamental political philosophies of the left (which favors monolithic central federal government authority) and the right (which favors devolving power away from the federal government to the states and even to school districts). The kid has no clue. Also, did somebody really try to compare two very different types of blogs and pass it off as a robust study? Again, weak.



Wow. I'm having a hard time figuring out who's more believable, authentic and authoritative.

Then again, my favorite of the Three Stooges was Moe.

Anonymous said...

Dawson is apparently impressed by the study. Does it confirm his biases?

Anonymous said...

a survey shows that many married women in America would rather sleep, watch a movie, read or do just about anything rather than have sex with their husbands.

While 41% would rather sleep,
37% would like to do nothing more than have sex with their husband.....that's something.