Dream of the Dragon

Month: June, 2010

Oil and the whales.

by Justin

The situation in the Gulf remains incomprehensible to me – new and constantly rising estimates for the sheer volume of crude, the comparable flow of photographs depicting the assaulted ecosystem, the presidential addresses demanding 20 billion dollars from the villainous multinational corporation responsible . . . none of it contextualizes the travesty in a way that I can grasp. It’s too big. Almost too big to be tragic in a real way. Undeniably tragic, of course, but not in a gut-twisting, immediate way. At least not for a New York resident with no active link to the Gulf.

But this story drove it home. While the death of this sperm whale may not have been a direct consequence of the spill, the possibility that something so majestic and powerful fell to this negligence hurts. Sperm whales aren’t surface skimmers like their baleen-sporting cousins, they dive along the continental shelf hunting for food. Meaning they’re more likely to stumble into the black plumes of toxic crude oil. Read the rest of this entry »

Becoming Robots

by Justin

I worry about encouraging the seduction of the material world. The dichotomy of Haves and Have-nots inspires crime and prejudice, hatred and conflict. If a new pinnacle of physical achievement emerges that further stratifies the world, how dangerous might that be for all involved? I’m not so sure I’d sign up for what certain groups believe is the next round of evolution.

The New York Times ran a piece last week about the Singularity movement, interviewing some of the crazier geniuses and technophiles at the new university funded by Google founders and other Silicon Valley darlings. For a lot of people the concepts of transhumanism, of a post-human world of biotech and other science fiction wonders this isn’t a revelation. The fact that a university with extensive funding is actively pushing for the realization of that particular utopia may be a bit surprising. Read the rest of this entry »

Real Shenanigans

by Justin

I wonder if this thing will boil down to a bizarre fluke, underhanded politics, or straight up criminal manipulation.

This past Tuesday Alvin Greene, an unemployed Army veteran with no political background, won South Carolina’s Democrat nomination for the U.S. Senate. In this age of internet campaigning and the sudden celebrity possible through YouTube that kind of success isn’t all that outlandish. Mr. Greene doesn’t need the edge of sharing the name of a recently deceased long time Senator – these are strange days for traditional publicity building.

What’s remarkable, though, is that Alvin Greene produced not one advertisement, gave no speeches, and spent no more money than the $10,400 required to get your name on the ballot. The man’s nothing but a question mark and he won the Senate nomination. He has no cell phone and only checks his email two or three times a week at the local library in the 4000 strong town of Manning, S.C.  I can’t pin down, and it doesn’t seem like informed analysts can either, how he managed to wrangle 59% of the vote. Read the rest of this entry »