Gun, Germs and Steel, i’m so stoked on this series. This has been a personal quandary for a long time. What separates the powerful from the weak. Looking at the people of New Guinea you see insanely fit and intelligent people. If these men can make a saw out of some measly palm fronds just imagine what they could do with a bit of steel. The fact is, they didn’t have steel, they didn’t have good food, they were “geographically blessed.” The answer isn’t clear cut, there are so many factors that go into what group of people come out on top, and sometimes just the absence of one of one factor can make all the difference. The spanish became great farmers, warriors and conquerors but it could have just as easily been the Japanese that ruled the world, they had the steel, they had the horses the cereal crops…they didn’t have the ambition to rule the world, they believed Japan had the best of everything and didn’t see the value in exploring. Its very interesting. Also those Spanish re-enactors were given some startlingly derogatory dialogue. 

As a graphic design major i’m still not sure how sustainability pertains to my field. Certainly i can make posters and websites that encourage sustainable practices. But most of that is done electronically with programing or photoshop. The biggest resource I consume is whatever coefficient of energy it takes to run this obscenely priced 15″ Retina MacBook Pro. I guess we could design cheaper, more efficient laptops to work on…thats more industrial engineering and computer engineering though. This class has sparked my interest and through the quarter i’ve heard a lot of terms here that have later been brought up in my other classes. The question of sustainability is relevant in all fields and I hope to become an expert in how it relates to mine.


Assignment #9

      Jane Jacobs The Double Nature of Fitness for Survival brings up the point that evolution favors not only traits that make an organism more competitive but also traits that contribute to the preservation of habitat. She gives the example of a mechanism that prevents lions from devastating gazelle populations in their habitats, mainly, their need to rest to aid digestion and heal stressed muscles. She also gives several examples of activities in which animals engage to keep them occupied. These activities prevent animals from exhausting the resources of their habitats. She mentions that humans must also have these traits. While most of the emphasis has been placed on traits that help humans survive and reproduce little attention has been payed to human abilities to preserve habitat. While some are concerned with the state of the environment, must are too busy trying to get ahead in the world regardless of others.

     I liked the idea behind the Take. At first i was apprehensive at the though of the people taking over a factory. After all, someone had to make the investment to buy the land, ship in the materials and build up the factory, therefore that factory is theirs, to take it is to steal. I dont want to condone thievery even if its the whole “stealing a loaf of bread” type of stealing. These factories were established by people who were bent on exploiting the local population, who abandoned their endeavors when faced with demands for better wages and working conditions. I think at that point they’ve lost their right to the claim over the factory. Morally the occupation is justified. These people are risking a lot by taking this course of action. It isn’t uncommon for South American governments to be callous with the lives of their own people, yet these people have disregarded the danger. It shows howe desperate their situation is. Its good to see that their efforts are paying off. Hopefully this sends a message to exploitive companies. Its shameful that poor and hungry people have been taken advantage of for so long, just in the name of profit for a select few stockholders. People in developing nations deserve the same respect as those in the big countries, their time is no less valuable.

Assingment #8

    John Schwarz Voices of the Founding Fathers, Chapter 2, gives a detailed description of how the founding fathers saw their new nation. For every house hold to be independent. Everyman was to be equally entitled to the opportunity to be independent. However it is admitted that the term “man” was narrowed down to white American citizen. Natives of the Americas and other Europeans were in fact seen as a major threat as these people held the lands that the new republic required in order to give its citizens freedom to farm and provide their own means subsistence. It is interesting to see all that a small group of very ambitions and aggressive squatters have been able to accomplish. True that the nation that now exists is starkly different from the everyman is a farmer society they envisioned, but it is a prominent world power nonetheless.

  Democracy Now!’s broadcast from Warsaw, Poland showed the backlash the Polish government received for letting the Climate summit be sponsored by fuel companies. Companies that are trying to argue that fossil fuels can be used in environmentally conscious ways. One environmentalist argued that there is no such thing as a clean coal, that all fossil fuels are harmful for the planet. Kumi Naidoo of green peace international explained the reasons for the walking out of environmentalists from the summits. Largely because the summit was being sponsored by the coal industry and also as a gesture that nature does not negotiate. According to him, it is the fault of individuals within the government that progress is halted.

Assingment #7

The film RIP the Remix Manifesto was pretty cool. I liked the story of the arch bishop that was eaten by the locals who wanted to have a closer relationship with god. When we like something, a tune, an image, a story, we absorb it, it becomes a part of who we are and helps define us as an individual. The manifesto was clear on this, in the first statement that culture builds on the past. Its only logical that our creativity is fueled by what we know. Suing people over music downloads is ridiculous and shows that these corporations are only out for money, they could careless about culture. Ultimately, these corporations will loose power when people stop supporting them and start supporting the open source community. One guy talked about how all these companies force us to look at their advertisements but then when we want to take something from them they start throwing out lawsuits. Their arguments is that we are taking something we want without paying them for it….but i would say isn’t that the same as them paying advertisers to show me ads i don’t want to see? By that logic, we the people are owed dues from these corporations that are wasting our time with their ads and ruining our city with their cheesy billboards. Girl Talk Let it Out.

I wasn’t aware of it at the beginning of Battle in Seattle but I was already familiar with the story. I lived in Washington during these protests. I did not hear about the police brutality nor about the violent protestors. All i remember is a newspaper article about some Japanese students protesting the deaths of sea turtles caught in fishing nets. I was fairly young when this happened so it is possible that the story was covered more in depth, but its not a far stretch of the imagination to think that the events may have been played down by the media. From what the film showed, these protests and the city’s lack of preparedness was an embarrassing event in Seattle’s history that is best swept under the rug.

Assignment #6

   The Malcolm Gladwell excerpt “The Warren Harding Error: Why We Fall for Tall, Dark and Handsome Men” doesn’t present any new information. Rather it give substantial weight to the Avenue Q song “everyone is a little bit racist.” At the very least it shows legitimate physiological research that personal prejudices can become the paramount hindrance of very talented and apt individuals. In the same way, prejudice and preconceived notions are the only explanation for why some obviously inept individuals have done so well politically, socially or financially. It would seem that looking at attractive, successful people with contempt and dismissing them as benefactors of nothing more than their physical attributes is not just self-righteous jealousy; its proof of our understanding of the Warren Harding error.

   RSA Animate Drive was very entertaining to watch, the man is a magical with an expo marker. The information presented was jarring however. We’ve always heard the phrase “money talks.” Pop culture and the MTV have show again and again that there is next to nothing people wont do for money. It would appear that there is something people wont do for money and that something is thinking hard. Ive often heard of the term “writers block” in which when you are deliberately trying to think of new ideas you actually stagnate the flow of inspiration. The possibility of a large reward actually adds to the strain of the creative process on an individual and ultimately leads to failure. Hopefully companies pick up on this idea that they have to pay their employees enough so that they don’t have to worry about cash and can just let ideas flow. However, I don’t many companies are willing take a leap of faith and keep a staff of overpaid creative types in hopes that they might come up with something good.


                 The Steven Johnson excerpt from “Here Comes Everybody” talks about the apparent ability of slime mold to form a body without any central system that dictates its organization. According to Johnson, certain slime mold “pacemaker” cells secrete a compound referred to as “cyclic AMP” which signals slime mold cells to coalesce into a single, slow, slimy body of single celled organisms. Understanding the slime mold became relevant to fields as complex as soft ware design and developed sciences such as bio-mathematics. As Johnson describes it, the science of emergence, in which complex forms emerge from simple self repeating elements sounds a lot like the work of Benoit Mandelbrot. Mandelbrot work attempted to explain and quantify what people generally refer to as “chaos.” His work showed that everything from the silhouette of a mountain range, to the branching patterns of trees and even the structures of blood vessels in lungs could be predicted with fractal mathematics. It can be argued that the confusion and disarray perceived by our eyes is often explained by a lack of understanding. Ultimately everything we perceive as complex came about by following a simple set of rules over a given number of time. This process is what is being referred to as “emergence.” This leads to the theory that nature designs from the bottom up, from “self-organizing…stupid elements” acting autonomously.

                We Feed the World, the title is ironic. In this video we learn that the current state of agriculture is such that it could feed 12 billion people with no problem. Yet 100,000 people die every year of starvation. The gentleman presenting this information makes the statement that these facts in essence mean that every child that dies of starvation today is in fact a murder victim. When you see dump trucks full of two day old bread being thrown away, its hard not to agree. As it turns out the wealth of the worlds food industries is controlled by some 500 global corporations, Nestle being king amongst them. It is pointed out that these corporations have the sole aim of maximizing profits for its share holders. The burning question is then, how can this be changed, who can say whether someone has a right to food or not. Many of us think that the question is simply answered by the fact that if you work you have money, if you have money you can buy food and that asserts a person’s level of entitlement.  We are not where we are because we are special, unique, talented, beautiful, or highly intelligent, we got lucky at birth. However, not everyone in the world was lucky enough to be born into an environment that presented them with opportunities of which they could take advantage. Which makes it worse when we stand by and allow these corporations to rise up at the expense of the unfortunate many.

Acting a fool at Cal Earth



Started out normal enough


Then it got kinda creepy





Somebody was yelling at me at this pointImage



I learned about the architect Nader Khalili, his work with NASA and his travels through the Iranian deserts. He was a very interesting man. His children are making sure his legacy lives on. They were good story tellers and didn’t even kick me out or anything.