books

Cities of Intellect, and the perqs of living in one

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Yesterday, after seeing the News' article about one of our area poly-political families, I decided that the Arborwiki page on Al Wheeler needed a little attention. In the course of googling up additional sources, I stumbled on a paper on affordable housing and homelessness advocacy in Ann Arbor in the 1970s and '80s.

Our networked, gaslit future?

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While up north, Michael and I spent a significant amount of time discussing peak oil, global warming, and related issues. Michael asked me, as someone professionally interested in The Shape Of Things To Come, what I thought our societal future held.

Hedging my bets by placing predictions far enough out that no one alive today could call me on them, I stated a prediction that, 100 years from now, our land use, transportation, and agricultural patterns would strongly resemble those of 100 years ago, but that we would maintain something like our current level of communications infrastructure. "So, steampunk, then?" stated Michael and Margaret simultaneously.

"'Good reads'? What's 'good reads'?"

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Elias just told me I should be on Good Reads. "How is this different from Library Thing?" He sensibly answered, "How do you make a good idea better if not by splitting the user base three ways?"

Part of me wants to get into the spirit of things by letting all of you vote on which one I should be on, but, really, I kind of lump these in with almost all other social software - even if I had an account, I probably wouldn't use it, just because it wouldn't occur to me at the proper time that something was an appropriate task to use it for.

"Ender's Game" - like HP, but good.

Yesterday, I read Shadow of the Giant, the current-last book in Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game series.

As I've mentioned before, I harbor a general dislike for Harry Potter, stemming from when I worked in a used bookstore with an excellent science fiction / fantasy selection, but found that parents couldn't think of buying anything but HP for their adolescent kids, neglecting a huge corpus of darn good books. Whenever such shoppers could be bothered to listen for two minutes, rather than turning and walking out the door as soon as they found that we didn't have a hundred copies of Rawlings' latest, I tried to make sure they ended up with a copy of Ender's Game.

Register, "Ecocities"

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Creating an Ecocity Zoning Map for any American city:

On an up-to-date map of your town, which will be Map #2, locate the present city, town, and neighborhood centers and draw concentric circles indicating distances from these centers. These will look much like the concentric circles of a target. On about one-fifth to one-third of the land area of the town, in the zones closest to the centers, the density of development should be significantly greater than is the case presently. On about half to three-quarters of the land area of the town, in the zones farthest from the centers and most dependent upon automobiles, there should be much less density of development in the future and, ultimately, only natural or agricultural land uses. The lower the [present] density of the whole town, the smaller should be the percentage in the increasing density area and the larger the percentage in the decreasing density area. Everywhere the mix of uses should become far more complex, even in the restoration areas on the future fringe; all sorts of diverse agriculture and networks and patches of nature corridors and zones can be established in time.

Richard Register, Ecocities: Rebuilding Cities in Balance With Nature, "Chapter 10 - Tools to Fit the Task."

Salomon, "Little House on a Small Planet"

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Since 1950, worker productivity has more than doubled. That means, roughly and theoretically, that if we could somehow maintain a 1950 standard of living today, we could each work forty hours per week for less than six months each year, or twenty hours a week for a full year. But we have chosen instead to channel the benefits of increased productivity into more consumer goods for workers, and higher profits for corporate executives, directors, and shareholders.

Trade unions and a variety of civic organizations are working to lighten our load, but in the meantime, unless you move to Europe or take a time machine back to a prehistoric era or at least the fifties, you'll have to be creative if you want to live more of your life at home.

-- Shay Salomon, Little House on a Small Planet, Ch. 7 - Live at Home.

Read: John Perkins, "Confessions"

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Yesterday, I read Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, the memoirs of John Perkins, who served as the Chief Economist for MAIN, a now-defunct Halliburton rival of the 1970s. I wouldn't say much of the "how the US treats other countries" material was new to me, nor is Perkins necessarily the best writer. I do recommend the book, though. You probably won't find any other non-fiction treatment of post-World War II international finance that reads like an episode of Alias. It's interesting to note that the US Department of State has printed a refutation of the book that doesn't actually challenge any of the claims Perkins makes - "Sure, all that destabilizing of foreign governments stuff is routine, but this guy thinks he was somehow working for the NSA! What a nut job, are we right?"

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