Brian Slesinsky (bslesins) Sun 17 Jan 10 14:34
I think the thing about Haiti is that it shows the resources that can be brought to bear on a problem, but apparently it takes a sudden disaster to do it. You've got the U.S. Military, Red Cross, Doctors without Borders, Partners in Health. The organizations going in are the ones that were already prepared for this. In-kind donations are mostly not useful to them. First response to disaster relief is up to the people already there and professionals flown in from other countries. Meanwhile we've got two ex-presidents shaking people down for money, and the money is flowing in. I'm not sure how much it even matters when the money arrives? This is at least partially about replenishing bank accounts to prepare for the aftermath and the next crisis. But Haiti was already a disaster before all this happened. What other kind of signal would get this kind of response?
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sun 17 Jan 10 15:55
Those are good points. I'm seeing several instances of probably well-intentioned groups setting up initiatives to collect money "for Haiti," though it's not always clear who exactly will receive the money and what percentage of the money will actually be committed to Haitian efforts. I favor avoiding mediation by other groups and giving as directly as possible. Here's one way to do that: http://www.standwithhaiti.org/haiti
The road to hell is paved with "pragmatism"? (robertflink) Sun 17 Jan 10 18:39
>People who try to elide this fact lack a street-smart awareness of the inherent wonder and horror of the human condition.< >"If we have learned anything from the twentieth century, we should at least have grasped that the more perfect the answer, the more terrifying its consequences.< Does this mean that idealism and ideology can't simply be justified by good intentions? (Talk about the end of the world as we know it!!!)
(fom) Sun 17 Jan 10 21:54
>Local trees, weeds, cables, fences are deeply coated with a strange growth of gray-white, weak, powdery fur, built up micro-droplet by microdroplet and radiating in all directions, like a mineral deposit. Bruce, that is rime. I forget where you are but I once took the TGV through France and everything was coated with rime -- it was spectacular. I had never seen it in the USA.
Christian De Leon-Horton (echodog) Mon 18 Jan 10 02:52
<I think the thing about Haiti is that it shows the resources that can be brought to bear on a problem, but apparently it takes a sudden disaster to do it. You've got the U.S. Military, Red Cross, Doctors without Borders, Partners in Health.> For all the highly trained professionals headed into Haiti, military and otherwise, there still seems to be a lack of aid getting to the points where it is really required. Why this is happening is a mystery to me. It may be a lack of clear leadership (most of the UN mission and many of Haiti's legislature were killed in the initial quake), or a problem of logistical bottlenecking, but it's been almost a week and we still hear stories of people not receiving water, food, and basic medical care. Haiti isn't that big. It's not even all that populous, in raw numbers. It may have complex terrain, but you'd think the international community would have been able to overwhelm the difficulties by now.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Mon 18 Jan 10 05:27
<echodog>, here's some background from Friday and Monday news (BBC and NY Times). The logistics are formidable (note the part about blocked roads), and when aid finally does arrive on the scene, unruly mobs form. It's chaos, internal leadership is weak if at all present. The excerpts: BBC, Friday: Anjali Kwatra of UK-based charity Action Aid, tells the BBC World Service: "In the first 48 hours after a disaster, it isn't international aid that makes a difference - that usually comes in after two or three days. It's the local people who go in, who rescue people, who provide what food, water and shelter that they can. What we're seeing in Haiti is that there isn't the ability to do that, because so many people have been affected." The BBC's Mark Doyle at the airport in Port-au-Prince says: "If some planes are now arriving, it's far from clear how effective the distribution of the aid may be. There are problems of coordination with the Haitian Government, which is dysfunctional at the best of times, and some roads are reported to be blocked by buildings toppled in the quake." http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8460771.stm NY Times, today: On the fifth day after the earthquake, there were signs of improvement, possibly even hope that the worst was passing. Traffic at the airport continued to increase, and there were 27 rescue teams on the ground, with 1,500 people searching for survivors. But the World Food Program said: Aftershocks persist which is a concern given the damaged infrastructure. --- The military has established a priority list for providing slots, Major Jones said. At the top are planes bringing in water. Next is equipment for distributing supplies, followed by food and then medical personnel and medicine. In Port-au-Prince, the stepped-up effort appeared to be paying off and aid was finally reaching at least some of Haitis desperate, with varying degrees of order. On Sunday morning, a United Nations truck appeared in the park near the presidential palace, where hundreds of families have been squatting since the earthquake. They handed out bags of water to a crowd mostly appreciative, with only a little shoving. The World Food Program also sent at least three convoys to different locations badly affected by the earthquake, with a goal of delivering enough nourishment to last 65,000 people five days. But the scene at one delivery site suggested that the food rations of fortified biscuits, each one about the size of a graham cracker would hardly last the ravenous victims one night. And the agencys distribution methods nearly started a riot when throngs of people who had lost everything mobbed one of the trucks in the convoy. --- Mr. Ernso, a 25-year-old linguistics student, introduced himself to a World Food Program official and suggested that it might have been more effective if the agency had called ahead to advise community leaders that it was coming. Then he and four other brawny young men dived into the mob and began pulling people apart. Within five minutes the people had been arranged in three neat lines. They have to create another way to deliver food, Mr. Ernso said of the World Food Program official, speaking in English. The way they are doing it now, they will not help us out of our misery http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/19/world/americas/19haiti.html?hp
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Mon 18 Jan 10 07:09
So, "rime." That's quite a good word. Never saw frozen rime before. I've heard of "sea-rime." This congealed fog stuff looks very plausibly rimey. So, now, finally, it's begun snowing. Snow is sifting gently over the rime. Not enough snow to attract any skiers yet, but, well, there's snow in the mountains.
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Mon 18 Jan 10 07:18
*Great interview with Brian Eno. If you've gotta listen to one off-the-wall ultra-trendy pop-culture guru guy, make it this guy. *I'm sure there are people around who find Brian Eno somewhat irritating, but I never tire of this guy's pitch any more than he does. http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2010/jan/17/brian-eno-interview-paul-morley On the naming of things (((A line of work I always find of particular interest))) "A way to make new music is to imagine looking back at the past from a future and imagine music that could have existed but didn't. (((Any science fiction writer who doesn't get it about this needs another line of work.))) Like East African free jazz, which as far as I know does not exist. To some extent, this was how ambient music emerged. My interest in making music has been to create something that does not exist that I would like to listen to, not because I wanted a job as a musician. I wanted to hear music that had not yet happened, by putting together things that suggested a new thing which did not yet exist. It's like having a ready-made formula if you are able to read it. One of the innovations of ambient music was leaving out the idea that there should be melody or words or a beat so in a way that was music designed by leaving things out that can be a form of innovation, knowing what to leave out. (((Blogging is journalism with the ethics, the ink and the intellectual continuity left out.))) All the signs were in the air all around with ambient music in the mid 1970s, and other people were doing a similar thing. I just gave it a name. Which is exactly what it needed. A name. A name. Giving something a name can be just the same as inventing it. By naming something you create a difference. You say that this is now real. Names are very important." (((Like for instance, if you're dead, and you're a voodoo guy, you don't actually have to be "dead," because you can name it something else. Oh wait, maybe that's not such a great example.))) On hindsight "Instead of shooting arrows at someone else's target, which I've never been very good at, I make my own target around wherever my arrow happens to have landed. You shoot your arrow and then you paint your bulls eye around it, and therefore you have hit the target dead centre." *There's lots more. I like all of it.
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Mon 18 Jan 10 07:23
I'm okay with the catchy term "thriveable," but rather than arguing over how neat-o it is as a concept and how effective it is as a reproach to the horrid status quo, I'd rather find a real-life, working place that has Thriveability in Power. You know, where the Thrivers took over. Where they're all thriveable from mayor down to dogcatcher. Then I would wander over there to see if I could stand the regime. So far, it sounds a lot like certain neighborhoods in Portland.
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Mon 18 Jan 10 07:46
Speaking of certain neighborhoods in power, check this out. Since we're all broke, politically helpless, sick, unemployed, aging and/or evicted from our overpriced homes, while facing massive weather crisis -- let's drive, or rather bicycle, over by the liquor store and smoke us some legal pot! Yeah man! "Social tipping point!" Just getting the concert-throngs of potheads out of the domestic gulag and pruning back the savage narcotics decapitations in Mexico might perk 2010 up a bit... But what the hey, man! *Marijuana!* Mary Jane! Reefers! Da Chronic! A new unfiltered smoking habit is just what I need! *Not to mention to intrinsic rush back to woozy 70s progressive-rock epics on vinyl... where I don't have to get out of my beanbag to go push buttons in iTunes any more. http://www.impactlab.com/2010/01/18/the-push-to-legalize-marijuana-on-the-west -coast/ *Wait a sec.... this blogpost is via the WALL STREET JOURNAL?! Wall Street legalizes marijuana, is that the sulfur smell of the pitch here? *Knock-knock-knock!* Oh Rupert Murdoch! "Mr Potter of Pottersville!" Is that you I hear in there next to those Lucky Strike packaging machines? Welcome to 2010, sir!
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Mon 18 Jan 10 08:12
Trying to get my head around the concept of a world where Mr. Potter's a stoner.
Gail (gail) Mon 18 Jan 10 13:12
Perhaps its because I have somebody in my house who is recovering from moderately minor surgery right now, but the health care stalemate comes to mind immedately. So... we won't care for the boomer generation via medicare until they are well over 65, and we won't care for those in the younger working generations who will not get assurance of care for all. Let's make sure everybody can stay stoned, so they don't get riled up about healthcare in any organized and effective way. Simpler and more contemporary than Cointelpro or Iran-Contra drug importation schemes to dampen social movements at home, because the drugs can calm the populace legally, AND be taxed, too. Or am I just a perpetual cynic?
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Mon 18 Jan 10 18:17
I'm having a bizarre vision - Sarah Palin presiding over a nation filled with crazyass stoned-out boomers, mostly ill and, while treatable, unable to afford treatment; many living in streets (no more social security payments, rents unaffordably high, home ownership reserved for under-40s who can still get and hold jobs). Their one consolation: marijuana's been legalized for anyone over fifty, and offered free to anyone over fifty and ill. In-a-gadda-da-vida, baby.
Dan Flanery (sunspot) Tue 19 Jan 10 00:11
Talk about Soylent Green!
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Tue 19 Jan 10 06:42
That vision doesn't sound all that bizarre to me. It's basically the Soviet Union under Andropov, with vodka replaced with bongs.
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Tue 19 Jan 10 06:48
It's still snowing up here. Barely. Not near enough to impress the locals, who pine for their legendary second-story snowdrifts in the 1980s, with Yugoslav helicopters dropping food-packs on stranded farm-houses and diggers prospecting for buried cars as people forged from house to house through snow-roofed tunnels. Got a couple of inches of fluffy white stuff. That may be enough to bring in a few tourist buses this weekend. I'm leaving for Belgrade tomorrow. The blog's got a couple of YouTube videos up on it now, from the state-of-the-art in Serbian pop music. http://www.wired.com/beyond_the_beyond/ We're nearing the end of the tape here on the WELL (whew), but over at BEYOND THE BEYOND, the pontification is like some endless dripping faucet!
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Tue 19 Jan 10 06:50
By the way, if you eat "rime," it has the exact texture and taste of the frosty build-up inside a neglected freezer.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Tue 19 Jan 10 11:04
This year's "state of the world" has been an interesting ramble. Thanks, Bruce, and thanks to all the others who took part. Despite the grimness in the world around me, despite all the distressing bits I've learned and seen over the last year, I'm feeling up beat. There's a creative pulse beating within my world, and the juices are flowing relentlessly into visions of innovation. Our new company, Plutopia Productions (http://plutopiaproductions.com) - plutopia a mashup of "pluralist utopias" - is catching all sorts of energy and vibe from artists and makers and visionaries who won't let the world go dismal and wrong. They're just not gonna have it. We're planning our SXSW Interactive event, "The Science of Music (http://plutopia.org)," featuring DJ Spooky. It reminds me of Thomas Pynchons "enclaves of negentropy" from _Gravity's Rainbow_. This year will be a great party, despite everything. Let's go do great things.
Gail Williams (gail) Tue 19 Jan 10 16:46
Sounds good! Thanks, Bruce. I think there might have been some kind of confusion about the two week span and when it was to start, and I hope that didn't totally wear you out! We have been lucky enough partake of your insights and the general contact-high and counterpoint for nearly three weeks. That's enough to make anybody upbeat even without those Andropovian bongs.
those Andropovian bongs (rik) Tue 19 Jan 10 18:04
And thanks for the pseud.
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Wed 20 Jan 10 08:55
I'm back in Belgrade now. In a couple of days I'll be back in Obamastan. Global jet travel is relentless targeted by the Terror on War, and it's also wrecking the atmosphere. But it's really a great historical privilege to live in an era when a human individual can see so much of his planet. I hope we can do this another eleven times. It's a joy and a wonder just to watch the parade.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Wed 20 Jan 10 14:01
Amen on all counts, brother.
Gail (gail) Mon 25 Jan 10 12:58
Thank you both.
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