laurence turner

the random musings of a fool

regarding Haiti…

The tragedy that has befallen Haiti in the wake of the earthquake there requires us to focus our minds as well as dig into our wallets to offer help. We can leave Pat Robertson and his ilk behind, and get closer to the truth about Haiti’s desperate poverty by looking at a few more cogent renditions of the story…

We’ll start with a post from boingboing.net by Maggie Koerth-Baker, Haiti’s real deal with the devil, wherein we learn that Haiti’s troubles are not all of its own making, countering the assertions of the 700 Club. Today, we can turn to Harper’s and Ken Silverstein for a brisk dashing of cold water with Haiti: Media provides sanitized history for American audiences, which further expands upon the notion of colonialist buggery, which Silverstein began yesterday with Haiti: A trip down memory lane. Also today, BoingBoing continues its coverage of the tragedy by collecting links to press our understanding even further.

Of course, if you would like to witness the horror of it all, boston.com’s collection of photograph’s are as good a place to start as any.

If you would like to help the victims in Haiti, the SUPPORT HAITI page at tumblr.com is a good way to do so.

If you would like to prevent things of this nature happening in the future, then please vote for people who will not foster colonialism around the globe, nor buy products from companies which exploit people and the environment. It would also be helpful if you could press for changes in building codes so as to prevent the construction of inadequate and unsafe buildings in zones subject to seismic activity.

We cannot undo what has been done to the people of Haiti in the past. However, we can use this tragedy to help the people of Haiti now and in the future, and to learn of the reasons for the horrible conditions which bedevil so much of the world.

Now would be a good time to look in the mirror.

UPDATE: Here’s a depressing post from The Economist, The End of Haiti?, and a thoughtful plea for help from Caroline Saunders in The Guardian, Haiti needs our help.

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Filed under: environment, politics, stupidity

14 days

‘Fourteen days to seal history’s judgement on this generation’ – guardian.co.uk

It’s hard to understand why it has taken so long for so little. I can remember the first Earth Day. I was in second grade, quite a long time ago. I expected that environmentalism would be a driving force in in the world by the time I was grown up, and that we’d all live in a cleaner, healthier world. I was wrong. It’s easy to be idealistic and utopian in second grade. When I was in second grade I also assumed that by 2009 I would have traveled to the moon. Well, we all know what happened with that…

We are a disappointing species in some respects. So much ability, so much promise. But when push comes to shove, there are times we don’t live up to our abilities. Are we truly beset by an evil short-sightedness that will forever doom us as a species?

If you want to know why our species is doomed, look no further than George Michael: “All I really need is music, sex, and TV“. That’s a brute-force attack on genetic destiny. That’s betting that just propagating the species is enough to sustain it, when in fact the survival of any species is largely determined by the environment in which it develops and lives.

Now, as the gathering gets underway in Copenhagen, we have learned that some climatologists have fudged their research. Not good for science, and not good for those who hoped to see some movement towards change in environmental policies. Some scientists are rightly outraged. Science, one hopes, will not succumb to politics, but it does, as science is a human endeavor, after all.  If one considers what other scientists have done to deny global warming (see Exxon-Mobil) and other forms of environmental degradation, this is probably a drop in the bucket, but the good guys have lost the high road.

Even if the science about global warming is all bad, the underlying premise of having to conserve resources and lesson pollutants is not a bad thing. We’ve poisoned our world, and weird things are happening to our kids because of it. Is that OK? Are you OK with that? I’m not. I don’t know how even the powers-that-be at Exxon-Mobil can be OK with that, but apparently, they are. Exxon-Mobil alone has spent millions of dollars to overturn the prevailing views of scientists and muddy the waters to the point where the general public are unsure what to make of it all. Profits uber alles.

What Earth Day taught me back in second grade was that we humans are on a little raft of a planet, living in a very thin biosphere, adrift in the vast space of the Universe. Everything about our Earthly existence is finite, including resources. When I was eight years old, I understood this simple truth.

14 days. That’s a big challenge, a call to action, or recklessly hopeful. We’ll see what comes of it. Hopefully, not this.

Filed under: environment, science

Sunday leftovers

update: this is going to be an interesting story –  Leaked documents reveal No. 10 cover-up over Iraq invasion, guardian.co.uk / How 16 ships create as much pollution as all the cars in the world, mailonsunday.co.uk / OS mapping data: a new landscape unfolds, guardian.co.uk / Call girl in Silvio Berlusconi sex scandal claims series of attacks and threats, guardian.co.uk / reviews for many things – blippr.com / parenting in the age of paranoia, quinnnorton.com / Murdoch targets Sulzberger as newspaper ad slump shifts fight to readers, bloomberg.com

Filed under: environment, news, politics, science, tech

Weekend Reading Assignment

Catching up… been a little hectic around here of late. Sorry for my absence, O’ Mighty Web!

“It’s so terrible, it induces an entirely new emotion: a blend of vertigo, disgust, anger and embarrassment that I like to call “shitasmia.” It not only creates this emotion: it defines it. It’s the most shitasmic cultural artefact in history. Watch it for yourself. Still, bad though it is, I vaguely prefer the clumping, clueless, uncool, crappiness of Microsoft’s bland Stepford gang to the creepy assurance of the average Mac evangelist.” – Posted this Charlie Brooker piece a while back when it was first published by The Guardian, but it’s still funny: Better the broken Windows than life with the Mac monks, smh.com.au

Some wind in the sails of the Green Movement? Perhaps… Spain gets 53% of its energy from wind!, greenmonk.net / Sarah Palin Suggests Coin Conspiracy In Wisconsin Speech, huffingtonpost.com / With Berlusconi in the Soup, nybooks.com /  Barack Obama ‘risks Suez-like disaster’ in Afghanistan, says key adviser, guardian.co.uk / The Frightening Beauty of Bunkers by Paul Virilio, themorningnews.org / Robotic Tightrope Walkers for High-Voltage Lines, spectrum.ieee.org / I am become Death, destroyer of worlds, economist.com / The Nerd Handbook, randsinrepose.com / Big news? Twitter and LinkedIn Status Updates Are Now Synced, mashable.com / ‘Pirate Radio’ Tunes Into Rock-Revolution Nostalgia, npr.org / Be afraid, be very afraid… your privacy ended in 1994: User Tracking, philipgreenspun.com / Another step towards the Fourth Discontinuity: Bare, bareconductive.com

We took our daughter to see Where the Wild Things Are the other day. Go see it before we are all turned into robots of the hive mind.

Filed under: architecture, environment, film, music, news, politics, tech

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