Making the best of it 2016

New year, new thread, I’m on sabbatical from ITP, and starting almost 3 months of deep research out of town – in the Gulf of Mexico, and in Minneapolis for a new umbrella project called Making the Best of It. Here’s a nano description:

Making the Best of It is the umbrella concept for a series of regionally site-specific pop up food shacks and community dinners that feature a climate-change enabled (and often unwanted) edible indicator species, in order to engage publics in tastings and conversation about the risks of climate chaos, our business-as-usual food system, and the short term food innovations at our disposal.

March – I’ll be at CENHS at Rice University

April – Minneapolis, through

May – Rising Waters Confab, Rauschenberg residency Program, Captiva Island


In the Gulf, I’m focused on jellyfish as an edible signal species.

In Minneapolis, a team of awesome artists (Valentine Cadieux, Aaron Marx, Sarah Peterson) and I are working with Northern Lights to produce 13 months of programming around eating dandelions.

I’ll be logging research and development on jellyfish and the Gulf. Oh, and hopefully the Port of Houston. I’ve been working on the firewall of maritime shipping and “Harmonized System” code that keeps us from the oceans. there’s a show up at bitforms of this work Feb 14-Apr 3.  It’s called MORE&MORE.


Bash, Cash, and Crash

“Weather surgeons draw silk through needles, close the eye of the storm.”
– Karen An-hwei Lee, from the poem Dream of Inflation

I came across a particularly virulent strain of enviro-bashing in the work of pundit James Delingpole, who has authored, among other things:
Watermelons: The Green Movement’s True Colors
(find out what global warming ‘climate change’ is really all about)

We all bash, but I know my position is the right path – I can adopt a middle path in terms of understanding the other side, but why wouldn’t we err towards stewardship instead of exploitation? Why busy one’s self with conspiracy theories? Is everything about ripping off the freedom of the little guy who may maybe maybe maybe, one far away day, get rich off the same things with which his overlords rule? I know, this is naïve and sincere, but there you go.

There are other economies than the ones most of us engage in, that foster more care about one’s larger community.

The Money Fix, Alan Rosenblith
(one of the great questions Rosenblith asks is whether the KIND of item chosen to stand in as money affects the behavior of the people inside that economy?)

Money is at the intersection of nearly every aspect of modern life. Most of us take the monetary system for granted, but it has a profound and largely misunderstood influence on our lives.  THE MONEY FIX is a feature-length documentary exploring our society’s relationship with the almighty dollar.

THE MONEY FIX examines economic patterning in both the human and the natural worlds, and through this lens we learn how we can empower ourselves by redesigning the lifeblood of the economy at the community level. The film documents three types of alternative money systems, all of which help solve economic problems for the communities in which they operate.


“Imagine what we know.”

The subject line is Percy Shelley’s. This part of an  essay by Tim Morton, “Don’t Just Do Something, Sit There!” included in  the exhibit/site RETHINK — Contemporary Art & Climate Change (2009). Among other provocative chunks and challenges:

Along with figuring out what implications science has for society and so on, humanists should be asking scientists to do things for us. We should create websites that list experiments we need. My top suggestion would be exploring the question, “Is consciousness intentional?” Negative results would provide a reason not to hurt life forms. If consciousness were not some high up bonus prize for being elaborately wired, but low down, a default mode that came bundled with the software, then worms are conscious in every meaningful sense. A worm could become a Buddha, as a worm. Or what if consciousness were profoundly intersubjective? (Another blow to individualism.)


The injunction to act now is based on preserving a Nature that never existed: this has real effects that may result in more powerful catastrophe as we tilt at non-existent windmills. I’m not saying let’s not look after animals because they’re not really natural. I’m trying to find a reason to look after all beings precisely because they’re not natural.


Ecological coexistence consists of what I call strange strangers. These beings are ineradicably, irreducibly strange, strange in their strangeness, strange all the way down, surprisingly surprising. I can’t in good faith use the word animal anymore, and “nonhumans” won’t work either—we are strange strangers too. “Life forms” sounds nice, but some of these strangers aren’t strictly alive. In order to have DNA, you have to have RNA. In order to have RNA, you need ribosomes. And in order to have ribosomes, you need DNA … So there must have been a paradoxical “pre-living life,” such as Sol Spiegelman’s RNA World, in which RNA type molecules coexist with a non-organic replicator such as a certain silicate crystal—yes, maybe your great times x grandmother really was a silicon chip. A virus is a macromolecular crystal that tells RNA to make copies of it. If a virus is alive, in any meaningful sense, then so is a computer virus. The more we know about strange strangers, the stranger they become. Are they alive? What is life? Are they intelligent? What is intelligence? Are they people? Are we people?

(Complete essay here.)

The Great Disruption has arrived

Here’s an excerpt from a cautiously optimistic article in response to all the end-times weather we are having worldwide.
From climate change writer Paul Gilding’s blog, The Cocaktoo Chronicles :

Paul Krugman wrote in The New York Times recently: “The evidence does, in fact, suggest that what we’re getting now is a first taste of the disruption, economic and political, that we’ll face in a warming world. And given our failure to act on greenhouse gases, there will be much more, and much worse, to come.”

But don’t panic. We will wake up soon. Not because the ecosystem is showing signs of major breakdown. Not because people are drowning. No, we will wake up because something much more important to us is now clearly threatened. When you try to create infinite growth on a finite planet, only two things can change: Either the planet gets bigger, which seems unlikely, or the economy stops growing. It’s the end of economic growth that will really get our attention.

There is surprisingly good news in all of this. We as humans have long been very good in a crisis. We ignore our health issues until the heart attack; our unwise lifestyle choices until the cancer diagnosis. We ignore our badly designed financial system until the economic crisis; or the threat of Hitler until the brink of war. Again and again, we respond to problems late, but dramatically – and, crucially, effectively. Slow, but not stupid.

This is a good attribute, given what’s coming. We’re going to have to transform our economy very rapidly, including our energy, transport and agricultural systems. This transition – to a zero net CO2 economy – will soon be underway and the business and economic opportunities for those who are ready (and risks to those who aren’t) are hard to overstate.

london futures

..from the fantastic  artists / visulaizers  Robert Graves and Didier Madoc-Jones.

London Futures is a new exhibit on display at the Museum Of London featuring images depicting the possibilities that could await London in a future devastated by climate change, as imagined by artists Robert Graves and Didier Madoc-Jones.

The gallery showcases 14 digitally crafted images constructed as large back-lit transparencies, stemming from the artists’ Postcards From The Future series. The project was first started in response to the 2008 G8 summit, which focused on climate change. Graves and Madoc-Jones realized that the idea of climate change was hard for people to understand in a concrete way, so they decided to craft very real images of what iconic picturesque locations in London could look like in a future left to the whim of climate change.

(via Huffington Post)