Paradigm Part 2

Since I was very young I was taught and shown entertainment that promoted ideas that there was always hope for the better. That’s the usual plot structure of stories in modern western society. There are stories that shine through the cliche and give me a taste of something more stirring. It’s a combination of the ‘you can do anything you put your mind to’, ‘let your heart/gut guide you’, and ‘standing for something greater than yourself’ ideologies. Will, honor, and selflessness are the words I would attach to each respectively.

The honest heroes you see in stories struggle to maintain these virtues through whatever conflict they’re going through. The tales you can read about in history are little different… change comes and bars are raised or toppled over by the odd ones, whether they try to fit in or not. ‘Normal’ people compare to each other and make an attempt at conforming trying in vain to reach some mutual unspoken consensus so they can all have a nonchalant explanation for “why it happens” and “how it should be” so they don’t have to worry or think about it any more.

For example, take the Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution show that’s on ABC… a Brit (probably paid well) comes over to America’s reported most unhealthy city in West Virginia to try to curb obesity and the other ailments that come from processed food and poor eating habits. Naturally, conservative area that it is, people aren’t too trusting of this foreigner coming in telling them what they are and how to change it. I’ve seen similar reactions on Super Nanny or Kitchen Nightmares, also shows with a respectable Brit in their professional field that observes occupied space then knocks over the flag pole of conventional wisdom to help these clueless saps build a fucking radio tower in it’s place.  The entertainment value is in them having to drag the dolts along by whatever method they have. I don’t envy Jamie Oliver’s job in doing that to an entire city. This guy has a clear sense of his abilities, huge gonads, and a steel spine to even attempt what he’s doing.

This whole thought process actually got kicked into motion after watching How To Train Your Dragon. It had themes to it that I’m used to seeing separate. There’s the whole odd-ball struggling with the perceived ailment of being odd eventually coming to terms when he figures out what he’s capable of, then doing his thing and basically freeing everyone from their own prejudice. Like A Bugs Life, The Matrix, or V for Vendetta if you were to watch it in chronological order. Yeah, it has all that inner struggle, peer struggle, physical struggle and a very real wonder that humans have probably had since we had the ability to realize that birds, bats, and bugs could counteract gravity.  While many humans from modern society have laughed at gravity in the last hundred years very few of them can actually FLY… and even then 99.9% of them require a collaborative industrial effort to provide the materials, assembly, and maintenance. It’s really not the same as being “free as a bird.”

How long has it been since two bicycle mechanics could have the means and materials to not just fashion an air craft… but have the time and resources to experiment for decades to figure how to invent the concepts behind it. It’s not the America of today, that’s for sure. The closest thing we see to it now is software engineers, and even that is getting further and further along from it’s origin.

And that’s why I’m reading about flight…

Paradigm Part 1

Since I was very young I was taught planet awareness. In elementary school we were encouraged to recycle. We were bribed into making donation for “trees” that we could plant. The “rain forest tree”, as I understood it to be as a 3rd grader turned out to be a standard shrub. The shrub is still alive and doing well on my mother’s deck of plants. Free Willy was newly filmed in Austoria, Oregon and Michael Jackson’s “Heal the World” was shown during an assembly. 4th and 5th (’94-’95) grades my teacher had us turn our class into a rain forest one year and coral reef during the next… literally the class had tissue paper over the lights, we built a large tree trunk in the middle of the room out of loads of paper mache… lol, it’s no wonder Rain Forest Cafe has never impressed me. I studied the poison dart frog and some kind of fern I think. Had to make one of each. For the coral reef we made an entire wall into a reef… I studied and made a moray eel and a kind of twiggy coral which has a name that escapes me.

This is so long ago that it feel like a different person experienced those things and I’m just remembering the tale. Did the parents or teachers see Severn Suzuki speak as a seven year old at the UN Earth Summit in 1992? She is two or three years older than me; if the parents and teachers did see that speech what did they feel? What can we do? How long have the grown-ups and adults slid things forward thinking our children will pick up the burden. Kids are out living is up today while parents have have dues to pay.

The tuna, the wales, the dolphins, the salmon, the river beds, the islands of plastic trash in the oceans. Depleting forests, and ice caps, and deserts, and top soil. Food shortages, water shortages, CO2 levels, nitrogen levels, land fills, and loads upon loads of stress related illnesses. We didn’t start the fire… chicka chicka cha. Most of this only became a problem since my grandparents generation. Some of it may or may not be directly caused humans, but we’re not seeking to figure it out either. Not really. Grandparents generation will usually deny there’s a problem, my fathers generation passes it off if they acknowledge it. My generation looks set to do the same for the most part; we gotta eat and we have bills to pay.

It is encouraging to know that society is changing; people are at least starting to talk about renewable energy, even though it’s not cheap enough to actually use. There is the green/organic trend with biodegradable packaging and foods without pesticides. Water conservation, and swirly light bulbs. I can’t help but get a sense of urgency and anxiety. Do we really have time for our values to change? Should we just trust that they will?

Profit Is Not a Crime

Another hashing of a potential Youtube video. This is one I’d like to make about Profit.

You hear a lot of back and forth about wealth and profit. Does profit motivate emergent innovation or cause regulated stagnation? Will a profit based system encourage manipulation or honesty? Personally I’ve come to think of profit in much the same way I think of skateboarding. Profit, like skateboarding, is not an inherently bad thing. What makes skateboarding and profit negative is that practitioners zoning in on an ever existing goal can put their social considerations on the back burner.  This is how my logic goes down when thinking about skateboarding:

  1. As long as those who endanger themselves by skateboarding aren’t putting other people or their habitat/property at risk there isn’t a problem.
  2. The issue skateboarding has is that the practice is self-indulgent competition encouraged by other self-indulgent peers.
  3. The point comes to bare quickly because curbs, benches, and hand rails etc which are payed for with tax or property owner dollars.  Walking and sitting traffic areas are less safe, etc.
  4. The public or private owners complain to their public officials that their dollars are going toward crowded unsafe sidewalks, scrapped up rails and benches, and messy parks because of these skateboarders.
  5. It gets harped on long enough and the various innovations come along to make the area’s less appealing to skaters and to further help divert skate traffic skate parks are setup.
  6. For a while skaters would get stickers and t-shirts that say “Skateboarding is not a crime” to express how oppressed they were, but eventually new generations come along and the slight is all but forgotten.

Here is the same run down with profit:

  1. As long as those who endanger their financial well being aren’t putting other people’s finances or livelihood at risk there isn’t a problem.
  2. The issue that accumulating profit/wealth has is that the act is a primarily self-indulgent competition encouraged by other self-indulgent peers.  The slope is even more slippery for people with families to provide for; with a family just about anything can be justifiable.
  3. The point comes to bare quickly because for profit/wealth generation to work the money needs to come through a function desired by the public which will likely be an innovative or a refined method of a currently existing function. Either way, the profiteer must persuade the public to not only buy x and only x, but to keep buying more x while encouraging their peers to buy x so profit can keep growing and expansion is possible causing new cycles to start the trend over again.  Planned obsolescence through withheld services, cheaper materials or methods of construction, automation are commonplace.
  4. The public or other private owners complain to public officials that regulation is needed because the function is getting out of hand, high costs, unreasonable conditions, practices that undermine competition etc. Their tax dollars aren’t doing enough to regulate whatever erosion of publicly desired functionality is going on.
  5. It gets harped on long enough that elected officials make it into office promising to take action so various innovations come along to regulate the profitable function keep it competitive.
  6. For a while the guys who make money complain about socialization stifling their entrepreneurial spirit until newer generations come along who doesn’t remember what the old system was like.

This is honestly how I feel about the health care debate going on, the bank regulation crap, and the job issues our country is having. I would MUCH prefer the entrepreneurs in the public sector to satisfy the needs of the public. We can talk could-a or should-a done x, y, z to keep the situation out of government hands… we can talk about the money grubbing politicians doing what they were elected to do. I see a kind of a karmic quality to it all: The insurance companies, banks, automotive industry, etc didn’t keep watch of the populous or environment they inhabit… the people elect officials who campain on promisses that the issues would be addressed… every once and a while politicians follow through and the issues get addressed with some back and forth about how to get it done… things change and there’s fallout from things going terribly wrong or right. Eventually people will move on and forget about it.