inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #201 of 223: 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?
  
inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #202 of 223: 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
  
inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #203 of 223: 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!!!)
  
inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #204 of 223: (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.
  
inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #205 of 223: 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. 
  
inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #206 of 223: 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 Haiti’s 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 agency’s
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
  
inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #207 of 223: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #208 of 223: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #209 of 223: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #210 of 223: 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!
  
inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #211 of 223: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #212 of 223: 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?
  
inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #213 of 223: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #214 of 223: Dan Flanery (sunspot) Tue 19 Jan 10 00:11
    
Talk about Soylent Green!
  
inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #215 of 223: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #216 of 223: 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!
  
inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #217 of 223: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #218 of 223: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #219 of 223: 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.   
 
  
inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #220 of 223: those Andropovian bongs (rik) Tue 19 Jan 10 18:04
    
And thanks for the pseud.
  
inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #221 of 223: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #222 of 223: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Wed 20 Jan 10 14:01
    
Amen on all counts, brother.
  
inkwell.vue.373 : Bruce Sterling: State of the World 2010
permalink #223 of 223: Gail (gail) Mon 25 Jan 10 12:58
    
Thank you both.
  



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