Progressive Place

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Meyers' Twilight series is deeper than it appears

Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series was called "downmarket" in the April 20 Newsweek. Why am I five weeks behind in reading my Newsweeks? Because I was, yes, deep into the Twilight series!

The Twilight series is full of ponderable questions about the human condition. Consider: How can the "good" vampires stand to live with us regular humans, when a vampire's strongest desire is to rip out our throats and drink our blood?

Here's a similar question: How can so many of us regular humans drive powerful machines of potential death and destruction, and be tempted daily to maim and kill some of the obnoxious idiots on the road, yet not do so?

The "good" vampires make it quite clear: Once they've experienced the life-enriching joy of living among humans, subduing their taste for human blood becomes a worthy trade-off.

Maybe they're not that different from most of us, after all.

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Saturday, May 09, 2009

The Next Eco-Advance: First Bottles, then Bento Boxes

Perhaps you’ve seen, or ordered, a “bento box” in a Japanese restaurant. Until they were replaced by polystyrene, as here, the personal re-usable bento box was a common container for Japanese to take their lunches to work in (school children have been getting universal school lunches since after WW II.)

Here’s my vision of the next eco-advance, after using one’s own water bottle and coffee mug: the personal re-usable bento box. Initially a personal statement for trendy young econistas, the bento box will eventually be adopted by all the environmentally conscious. Rather than accept our food in disposable containers, we will insist on having it put into our own containers, from which we will eat it or take it out, to wash it at home. Initially this will conflict with municipal health regulations and vendor convenience, but those will quickly adapt to suit the changing market. To accommodate servings that are charged by weight, each container will have its tare weight embossed on the handle, and that weight will be deducted at checkout.

At purchase, those using their own containers may have to sign a release of vendor liability should they get sick from an unclean container. This has obvious risks, if the sickness might also have come from the food itself. An alternative might be for arriving customers to use a fast, automated steam sterilizer designed for that purpose.


Wednesday, May 06, 2009

All Is Connected

You’ve probably seen this shape: It's a circle, with a bunch of evenly-spaced dots drawn on it, and lines drawn that connect every possible pair of dots. It's often drawn with lots of points, then the lines filled in to create a fine mesh of connections, to show how complex the relationships can get between multiple things.

Now that you have that shape in mind, consider it representing this:
In the real world, all phenomena are connected.
If a technological race such as ours is to have a sustainable presence (read: long-term survival) in this world, we are responsible for understanding how everything we do impacts everything else, and all the relationships.
While the challenge may seem impossibly complex, the responsibility to take it on is no less ours.
We have the sensing technology to monitor, reveal, and measure the influences and outcomes, and the analytical tools to identify and assess the impacts, and locate the causes.
We must accept the responsibility to understand and act on what we learn.

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