Sugar is a poison and should be regulated

Robert H. Lustig, MD gives a lecture exploring the damage caused by sugary foods:

Coffeehouse hipster technocrats are the linchpins of tomorrow

My brother stumbled upon my last post, We have the capacity for renaissance, and suggested I read Seth Godin's book Linchpin. Only thirty-some-odd pages into it and I'm realizing he's preaching what I so-humbly prophetized five years ago: My generation's affluence depends not upon employment, following, or obedience, but upon self-reliance, leadership, and challenging the status quo. For the first time in our industrial society, Godin proclaims, the proletariat owns the means of production.

In my last days of my undergraduate study, I held an internship at a small software company in Ithaca, New York. When I decided to up and move across the country to Portland, I was bold enough to inquire about telecommuting. They said yes.

What an exciting, new prospect! I had heard of transcriptionists and architects taking their work home with them, but the idea that I could work among a team of four engineers sitting in a seat 3,000 miles and three timezones away seemed like a fantasy. This was in 2007 a time when VoIP was in its barely-useful infancy. Source control systems were hosted on dedicated servers and lacked the social facilities which make GitHub such a joy to use.

Moving to Portland, in retrospect, was like sailing the maiden voyage of a vessel to a new world. One free from the shackles of 9-5 work schedules, daily commutes, lacking office kitchen facilities, distracting water cooler jabber, and most importantly, showing up for work.

My parents' generation was the Worker Bee Generation. Throughout my childhood, my parents preached higher education not as a means for academic enrichment, but as a means toward gainful employment. It's not their fault they were wrong to assume polite obedience and good grades would bear our generation's livings. It is our responsibility to adjust our attitudes and act in accordance with our brave new economy.

We are thoughtworkers. Whereas a steel worker's hands are easily replaced by another's hands, the thoughtworker's mind is irreplaceable and irreplicable. Manual and clerical labor are mere facilities to assist creative people to realize their visions.

We are the new elite. We have the power to shift opinion, to automate businesses, to create and topple entire industries with our minds and some circuitry. And we're doing it from your neighborhood coffee shop, your cocktail bar, your park's picnic table, and the beach.

That's so fucking cool.

We have the capacity for renaissance

So frequently I find myself in awe over the tools available for content creation and distribution—tools which might have cost the average worker's annual salary only a decade ago. The Internet has granted nearly everyone the capacity to realize and disseminate the ideas in their hearts and minds in a way we've never known in any culture, ever.

Why then, do we trend toward consumption-centric use patterns with our new technology? I consider myself prolific, but I still find myself checking my Facebook and Twitter feeds constantly, as if this moment of my life is incomplete. We flock toward the mundane minutae of image macros and top ten lists despite their obvious irrelevance to profound betterment of our lives.

Each and every one of us has the capacity to create. What will you make today?

Sticker/poster designs.

I was bored sitting at Stumptown today, so I decided to let out my anti-globalization rage by creating a few bumper sticker and/or poster designs. If any of y’all like them I might get them printed and open an online store or something…

What Will We Eat as the Oil Runs Out?

Richard Heinberg has a wonderful paper which discusses the direness of the oil crisis, and eloquently debunks the idea that biofuels are a viable solution to our energy crisis:

One factor influencing food prices arises from the increasing incentives for farmers worldwide to grow biofuel crops rather than food crops. Ethanol and biodiesel can be produced from a variety of crops including maize, soy, rapeseed, sunflower, cassava, sugar cane, palm, and jatropha. As the price of oil rises, many farmers are finding that they can produce more income from their efforts by growing these crops and selling them to a biofuels plant, than by growing food crops either for their local community or for export.

Already nearly 20 percent of the US maize crop is devoted to making ethanol, and that proportion is expected to rise to one quarter, based solely on existing projects-in-development and government mandates. Last year US farmers grew 14 million tons of maize for vehicles. This took millions of hectares of land out of food production and nearly doubled the price of corn. Both Congress and the White House favor expanding ethanol production even further - to replace 20 percent of gasoline demand by 2017 - in an effort to promote energy security by reducing reliance on oil imports. Other nations including Britain are mandating increased biofuel production or imports as a way of reducing carbon emissions, though most analyses show that the actual net reduction in CO2 will be minor or nonexistent.

Heinberg, unlike many alarmist environmentalists today, attempts to offer viable solutions to our impending crisis, which can be summed up with one word: conservation. I encourage everyone and anyone to peruse his article carefully; it provides a well-cited, insightful overview of the resource depletion crises which will affect every human on the planet. Most importantly, Heinberg stresses that “applying mere techno-fixes … will almost certainly lead to dire consequences.”

See you all on the farm.

I am in love with this town!

  • There is no sales tax.
  • Coffee shops have free wi-fi. Period. Oh, and my favorite americano and bagel combination costs less than at Juna’s in Ithaca as a result of the lack of sales tax. Oh, and the coffee here is good. Really, really good. Better than Gimme. Sorry, Gimme.
  • I pay $45 more per month for a house that is 1000% more livable than my previous apartment.
  • Pabst Blue Ribbon isn’t an option. It’s a staple.
  • I was at a crosswalk, and the cars stopped for me. They have to. By law.
  • There’s a multi-acre park on a main boulevard. The trees in the park are taller than the shops.
  • I have never seen greener grass in my life.

A smattering of holiday “cheer”

I was at the bank today, and sure enough, they had a television tuned to CNN. While waiting in line, I figured I would see what the rest of the country deems “news.” What I saw in the ten minutes I watched was a report about how Domino’s Pizza expects a 6% increase in profits today due to some tradition that claims tonight is a great night to eat pizza. This is not news. This is an overpriced commercial for pizzerias. We’ve entrusted the responsibility of rigorous appraisal and objective scrutiny of our government with the likes of CNN, and they offer us a report about pizza. Fuck you, CNN. Fellow Americans, you pay for this? You actually take out your wallets and say “Hey News Corporation, I want you to tell me about celebrities every minute of every day and neglect to address key issues like our energy crisis and our three escalating conflicts in the Middle East!” You should be ashamed. If you want to see change in the world, put away your wallets and open your notebooks, turn on your cameras, and start screaming.

Most eccentrics and radicals with opinions often offer little in the way of a solution. These are the rabid protesters at every WTO rally, the Democrats, the Republicans, Michael Moore and Bill O’Reilly. There is one thing all of these folks lack which I think needs to be addressed at a public hearing immediately: balls. No, I’m not talking in the physical sense — I haven’t checked whether rabid hippies have testicles and God would know I wouldn’t want to check under Michael Moore’s trousers… if I believed in God. The balls I’m talking about represent the ability for an individual or organization to stand up for what they believe in and be able to rigidly define those beliefs without succumbing to fear that their particular ideology will be shot down by another party. That certainly isn’t to say that women don’t have balls. As a matter of fact, many of the women I know have bigger balls than most men — they take action and do so with passion. Perhaps us men have become comfortable with our balls to the point where they have shriveled so far up into our abdomens that we have turned into a rowdy bunch of cowards: the Gonzalez’s, the Cheney’s, the Bush’s, the Murdoch’s, the Turner’s, and the Rockafeller’s.

This holiday season, I want each and every one of you to do something radical. Do not lavish your friends with expensive shit they will not use because the TV tells you to (and don’t pull the “the TV didn’t tell me to, I did it by my own volition” card. I stopped buying gifts for people at Christmas as soon as I rid myself of the propagandavision and I will never look back). Instead, take extra time to think of your family. No, not just your mother. Not just your siblings, your aunts, your uncles, your cousins. They’re all important, but they’ll do just fine without iPods. I mean your distant black cousins down the street whose mother is working Christmas Day because her children’s father left her. I mean your distant Iraqi cousins whose house just got destroyed in a raid and spent Ramadan fighting for their lives. No, don’t send them iPods — they don’t need them either. Meditate on the world and find peace within yourself. No amount of wrapping paper, pretty bows, and blister-packed electronics can possibly compare to the humility of awareness.

Change starts with you. I had a conversation with my brother I’d like to share with all of you. He told me he didn’t have any idea what he wanted to pursue in college. No subject of study seemed relevant to the world around him. I told him to look outside, and tell me who decided that there should be a traffic light at the intersection. He hesitated, and I told him a civil engineer probably decided that — a civil engineer that might retire soon and expect our generation to pick up where he left off. I explained to him that our generation is about to take the reigns of the sleigh of humanity, and that, to be quite honest, it looked as if we were heading straight into a tree. I could tell this started the wheels of his brain turning. Change starts with you. It is your world and your responsibility. Your XBox, CNN, ESPN, NFL, CBS, Wal-Mart, NASCAR world is a fantasy. It is a condition of a naive mind to believe that the problems caused by the machine of the world will be solved as a cog. You must be the operator of that machine. Consumption breeds corruption. Gluttony breeds greed. Ask any good-hearted Christian and they’ll tell you it’s in their Bible. It’s too bad we’ve all lost sight of the true meaning of it all.

Casper’s Doppelgänger


The West Coast Departure Project

[revision 2 | mp3]

[revision 1 | mp3]

They sold out.

So much nonsense.