Tab Dump 01

Posted: September 7, 2009 in Blogosphere, Idle Nonsense

Any given week, I have at least a dozen blog ideas. Most of them don’t get written because my style of blogging requires more time than I have to devote to careful consideration and eventual organization and writing as a thoughtful blog. With all the reading I do, I have a much higher input than I do output. So the ideas and links pile up and get stale. If I’m to be honest, most of them will never make their way into a blog post. So I’ve decided to purge some of my link file, in no particular order, and make a few comments on each. As always, comments are welcome.

A library in Massachusetts has decided to relinquish its book collection in favor of digital media. A friend of mine characterized the book as the flagship carrier of knowledge. A library without books begs the question whether it can still be called a library. Either way, it’s a short-sighted move and pretty risky in terms of how students best learn.

Until fairly recently, I knew practically nothing about subatomic physics. I still know almost nothing, but I keep running across mentions of the Higgs boson, also sometimes called the God Particle. This question/answer from The Straight Dope describes it pretty well.

Names for geological periods exist in multiple timescales, from supereons to eons to eras to periods to epochs and finally to ages. Those who consider such things believe that we’re at the end of the Holocene epoch as global warming and climate change threaten to destabilize what we’ve known through all of human history. Most apocalyptic discussions focus on the collapse of civilization. This one is about the end of human dominion.

A video that discusses media ecology and the impact of, ironically, video. Media ecology has been one of my preoccupations in the last few years, primarily from reading Neil Postman.

Dmitri Orloff offers a comparison of the former U.S.S.R. and the current U.S.A. vis-a-vis our ability to cope in the event of systemic collapse. The hindsight perspective is instructive because the U.S.S.R. actually did collapse, but Orloff believes the U.S.A. will be far less able to transition to some new style of social organization when the time comes.

This brief argument avers that hope for a solution to global warming and climate change is futile, and worse, even harmful. Therefore, we should abandon hope and simply begin living now in a sustainable manner.

This is a more elaborate and scientific argument about our declining energy future suggesting that we give up our oil addiction sooner rather than later. I’ve heard it said that if you aren’t yet convinced of our inevitable decline/collapse resulting from environmental destruction, oil scarcity, climate change, etc., then you simply don’t understand the science. This article aims to provide a convincing explanation.

This article called Facing the Myth of Redemptive Violence examines and elaborates on the old saw that one accomplishes nothing through the use of force.

Some of the superrich have gotten the memo that things are going south sometime soon and are quietly preparing to hunker down in fortified compounds whilst the rabble fend for themselves. The prerogatives of the rich have always been different from those of the masses, but I can’t shake the mental image of Nero fiddling as Rome burns and the highly questionable morality of insulating oneself from our collective fate.

Earlier this year, concerns about food security led many to buy seeds and start gardens. However, eventual scarcity may be a future created long ago by upsetting the intricate balance of the ecosystem and shifting agriculture to chemical- and oil-based production. In our technological cleverness, we may well have outwitted ourselves.

In perhaps the worst news of the last month, Obama says he won’t give up rendition as a tool of the state. I guess we’re supposed to trust that no further torture will occur. I don’t believe it for a moment.

Here is a heartbreaking discussion between George Monbiot and Paul Kingsnorth that amounts to fussing over the option of fighting the industrial apocalypse (not quite denying it, but strangely similar) or more gracefully accepting our collective fate. Maybe it’s not an either/or proposition, or maybe it’s just about arranging the proverbial deck chairs on the R.M.S. Titanic. Either way, it’s certainly odd to be entertaining such discussions.

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