Bibek Dhong needed a job. He ended up an indentured servant
I took my Thinkpad apart a few weeks ago. I was surprised to realize that most of the parts were stamped Foxconn.
I’d like to go somewhere in January. Drive to a small, cold cabin in the Adirondacks and drink coffee and read books and pretend to write, never more than five feet from the wood stove. Are there hotsprings in Maine?
Can someone explain digital humanities to me?
Everything, nothing. Tea and gorgeous afternoon light. Carmelized onions and stock because.
I could talk about all the things I want, but I won’t. Just as I was starting to feel down, amazing things feel possible again.
If a room of private investors asked you which civic startups should receive their next round of capital (i.e. on the verge of disrupting the civic status quo in a very powerful and substantive way), who would you recommend?
WOULD ANY SANE PERSON think dumpster diving would have stopped Hitler, or that composting would have ended slavery or brought about the eight-hour workday, or that chopping wood and carrying water would have gotten people out of Tsarist prisons, or that dancing naked around a fire would have helped put in place the Voting Rights Act of 1957 or the Civil Rights Act of 1964? Then why now, with all the world at stake, do so many people retreat into these entirely personal “solutions”?
Part of the problem is that we’ve been victims of a campaign of systematic misdirection. Consumer culture and the capitalist mindset have taught us to substitute acts of personal consumption (or enlightenment) for organized political resistance. An Inconvenient Truth helped raise consciousness about global warming. But did you notice that all of the solutions presented had to do with personal consumption—changing light bulbs, inflating tires, driving half as much—and had nothing to do with shifting power away from corporations, or stopping the growth economy that is destroying the planet? Even if every person in the United States did everything the movie suggested, U.S. carbon emissions would fall by only 22 percent. Scientific consensus is that emissions must be reduced by at least 75 percent worldwide.
Or let’s talk water. We so often hear that the world is running out of water. People are dying from lack of water. Rivers are dewatered from lack of water. Because of this we need to take shorter showers. See the disconnect? Because I take showers, I’m responsible for drawing down aquifers? Well, no. More than 90 percent of the water used by humans is used by agriculture and industry. The remaining 10 percent is split between municipalities and actual living breathing individual humans. Collectively, municipal golf courses use as much water as municipal human beings. People (both human people and fish people) aren’t dying because the world is running out of water. They’re dying because the water is being stolen.
…Personal change doesn’t equal social change.
This always bugs me, because it is true. It is. And I get defensive because I’m totally out there composting and taking short showers and buying second hand clothes and I don’t so much dumpster dive anymore, but I did sometimes in college and I don’t imagine that I was stopping Hitler by showing up at the bakery dumpster at closing time.
And yes: as we debate hydraulic fracture gas drilling taking shorter showers seems silly, but I do believe there is value in challenging our assumptions about how much we need. We don’t need that much. We don’t need new electronics and beef for dinner and special matching boxes manufactured in China to organize our closets with. We don’t.
And the sooner we recognize that, recognize that we don’t need a new pair of jeans, the easier it is to challenge the system that provides us with these things.