THE SECOND SHALL BE FIRST


Learning As You Go

This second part, which should really be first, comes from having learned a thing or two working on the climate and then politics.

The subject of Part II is “Life.” In this case it is the life of the city. And it is specifically the Introduct by Jennifer Clark: Solving the city.

HOW DO I BEGIN....

Were this a business plan I would begin with a “situation analysis.” There are many good books on writing business plans but last I checked you boil them down to capitalizing on opportunities, and so the exercise was to find the opportunities.

But the problem here is a bit different, in that my reaction to most of the cities I have been in requires diging large holes and burying a good part of them. Why?

In all the political debates, the op eds, the editortials, the essays, I have not heard (maybe I missed something) an answer to the question: What do people want their lives to be like, or even more important, what should people want their lives to be like.

I took the picture below with my 4 by 5 view camera (I switched from EE to photography mid-life; long story). It was taken from across the department of public works in Ashland, Massachusetts. It is the Sudbury River and is titled Spring Morning After Storm. Although the road is very busy and close to downtown Ashland I doubt if anyone other than me noticed it.

Untitled photo

I am going to bounce around a bit, because there is no coherent approach expect to list key issues.

A couple of decades ago my photo business was bought by a group of angel investors and I can remember the chairman telling me that the only thing that mattered was shareholder equity. I was too out of it at the time for that to register, but not it is the first and only commandment of the Americal National Religion: the free market. Do what you wish; keep taxes low and down’t regulate.

And so we come to the key question: what makes a good city which in turn makes us answer the infinite dollar question: What makes a good life? And then are their cities? Wrong question. Are their neighborhoods that enhance the opportunity for a good life. And if I were analyzing the city I know best, Boston/Cambridge I would begin by taking liesurely walk, perthaps one lasting a week or two or more, along with companions, and explore Boston. The first question woulde be where would I want to live and why.

I have ecxplored life as an engineer, father, artist, writer, husband, friend, scientist (with a particular interest in cosmology and evolutionary psychology), psychologist, and philosopher.

Evolutionary psychology is the outgrowth of the work of E. O. Wilson of Harvrd who synthesied multiple branches of thinking in his seminzl book Sociobiology.Reading this book and subseauently meeting Prof. Wilson was important to the development ogf myh tinking. I thought I had coinedd the term evolutionary psychology, but as is inevitably the case, many were their before me.

The point of all this is that you cannot design a house, neighborhood, or city without a very clear sense of what is possible and desirble. So that is the topic of this section, along with insisting that a failure to address this (e.g. Robert Moses or the destruction of the West End in Boston or the building of the Centgral Artery) mean that we should listen before we speak. The problem that the story "Solving for the city" is that far too much is already literally cast in concrete.

IV. Eyes Shut, Ears Blocked


unconscious reality

This web site was originally inanothershoes.com in response to the rash of gun violence, racism and multitudes of other sins happening in America. Then global warming came to the top of my list as I became aware of how little the public knew, how great was the danger and how little we were doing, and the site became caringfortheearth.com.

Except that, on the scale necessary, caring never happened. Fossil fuel barons simply ignored the evidence and continued to burn, and around the world more coal was being burned. Where in hell were we going to end up. My own assessment is that the Paris Accords are a futility. We pump more and more carbon dioxide, the developing countries burn more coal and the developed countries ignore the agreements, as in the United States, or ask for concessions. When the risk is an uninhabitable planet that we have already ravaged, this seems inconceivable. But there is a back story.

Ironically I have taken joy in this being the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth and listened to new and inspired performances of familiar music. But it is another anniversary (plus one year) that could not be further from the joy of Beethoven and that has an amazingly fundamental role in virtually every aspect of American life as well as in global warming. The anniversary is 400 years (in 2019) of bringing slaves to America.

The New York Times, which I have often criticized for its dismal coverage of global warming has created Project 1619, the story of slavery in America. Its impact on me has been profound. In reading just a small part I came to know America far more than I had wished because slavery was not just enslavement, it was an industry. It’s free labor built America into the financial colossus it became. The United States supplied 60% of the worlds cotton, slaves were treated as property to a degree I never imagined, and with great irony, the blindness to everything but money that is still driving global warming is simply an extension of the slavery industry, a utterly crushing realization and somewhat of an explanation of where America’s soul lies. It is interesting to note that Thomas Jefferson, the man behind “we are all created equal,” morgaged his 150 slaves to build Monticello. But it doesn’t end there.

America is the worst of all industrialized nations in income inequality, in the treatment of is people and especially of its workers without college degrees resulting in an enormous surge in suicides, drug and alcohol abuse. Then we add to this Donald Trump who has exacerbated every problem we face. In my mind, reading of all his machinations about his election and his behavior of hiding everything he possibly can about himself, he is if not legally, then in principle a fake, abusive president.

V. Reciprocity


The missing link

In Sunday school, many decades ago I learned of the golden rule. More recently I learned of the philosophical term, reciprocity that carries the same meaning. In this Wikipedia link, the Japanese philosopher Fukuyama maintains that human culture is not possible without reciprocity, yet all the problems America is facing can be traced to a failure to accept that we are all of the same species, all carry essentially the same genome, all feel more or less the same joy and pain, but that America is, contrary to what I was taught in grade school, a society that does not recognize reciprocity as a value. In all the presidential debates I have heard nothing about what it should mean to be a human being in the United States. We are as a nation and as a planet on the brink of catastrophe. We may continue to exist, but it will be an existence that denies what it should mean to be human. Humans like you and me are homo sapiens. We are of the genus homo and the species sapiens. The ancesters of all of us, blacks and whites, and all in between, are Africans. Yes, you heard me correctly you and I (I am of Polish descent) are Africans. Its recorded in every cell in our bodies.

Here is the map. And here is the experience by someone who lived the life. Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, in her wonderful book, The Old Way, tells what it was like to live among the bushmen of the Kalahari, probably as close as we could get to knowing how our original ancestors lived.

But being black has a whole other connection that it seems to make me an ignoramous that I learned of it today reading the New York Times.For the last decade or so I have slowly tuned into shortcomings of our democracy, and then felt body blows from Mr. Trump. However, 2019 was the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first sales to America. I had known that American textbooks downplayed the story and some in the south gave it a positive spin. But I did not know the role it played in global warming, although that may be the least of slavery’s sins.

ABOVE: A map of the migrations of homo sapiens that began about 100,000 years ago. (Credit: National Geographic)

VI. It Takes Cotton To Mine Coal

It took slaves to grow the cotten that built capitalism

How much of the story of slavery has not been told. From my perspective, hardly any until I began reading the New York Times 1619 Project.

“Out of slavery — and the anti-black racism it required — grew nearly everything that has truly made America exceptional: its economic might, its industrial power, its electoral system, its diet and popular music, the inequities of its public health and education, its astonishing penchant for violence, its income inequality, the example it sets for the world as a land of freedom and equality, its slang, its legal system and the endemic racial fears and hatreds that continue to plague it to this day. The seeds of all that were planted long before our official birth date, in 1776, when the men known as our founders formally declared independence from Britain.”

“...it economic might...” is what burned coal and later oil and pumped gigatonnes of carbon dioxide into the air and continues to do so, and I expect is responsible for American industry’s inability to stop. Once slavery became a money machine all else followed and American democracy became a joke, but a joke that hardly any got. We rank at the bottom and I mean bottom of industrialized nations in the way we treat those not wealthy. The wealthy own our govenment to and have guided it to an obscene distribution of wealth at the top.

ABOVE: A map of the migrations of homo sapiens that began about 100,000 years ago. (Credit: National Geographic)

VI. It Takes Cotton To Mine Coal

It took slaves to grow the cotten that built capitalism

How much of the story of slavery has not been told. From my perspective, hardly any until I began reading the New York Times 1619 Project.

“Out of slavery — and the anti-black racism it required — grew nearly everything that has truly made America exceptional: its economic might, its industrial power, its electoral system, its diet and popular music, the inequities of its public health and education, its astonishing penchant for violence, its income inequality, the example it sets for the world as a land of freedom and equality, its slang, its legal system and the endemic racial fears and hatreds that continue to plague it to this day. The seeds of all that were planted long before our official birth date, in 1776, when the men known as our founders formally declared independence from Britain.”

“...it economic might...” is what burned coal and later oil and pumped gigatonnes of carbon dioxide into the air and continues to do so, and I expect is responsible for American industry’s inability to stop. Once slavery became a money machine all else followed and American democracy became a joke, but a joke that hardly any got. We rank at the bottom and I mean bottom of industrialized nations in the way we treat those not wealthy. The wealthy own our govenment to and have guided it to an obscene distribution of wealth at the top.

Despite knowing full well that burning fossil fuels puts the earth in danger, fossil fuel producers continue to produce and market as much as they can. Accumulating wealth rules.

As of three years ago LiveScience wrote:
“Global warming is expected to have far-reaching, long-lasting and,
in many cases, devastating consequences for planet Earth.”

Attempts to reduce CO2 emissions to meet the Paris accords have failed.
Then Donald Trump arrived and poured gasoline on the fire. A more uninformed, ignorant, corrupt person I find hard to imagine.

As an engineer I feel an almost overwhelming compulsion to solve problems but after two years and two months attempting to teach, to create something that would inform, advocate and convince anyone of the seriousness of our situation I believe it is too late to turn things around and I am spent.

Now Donald Trump has shifted his attention to creating a corona virus vaccine or the wealthy.

Is there any hope? Perhaps a miracle.

I have written on many topics relating to global warming including trying to teach what science is. You will find them in two tables of contents.

The site is pretty much still a draft, not spell checked, and needs rewriting. But I believe there is some good thinking here and I will slowly try to clean things up. In the meantime I am trying to cool off and get on with other work.

VI. Thought


an overview

THE PROBLEM OF NOT UNDERSTANDING THE PROBLEM

Our place in life is determined by what and how we think. That, of course, is determined by the circumstances of our birth: where, when, in what environment, religion or philosophy. Or possibly none of these for many children. Many will not survive, receive little or no education or learn only how to cause harm.

In the face of threats civilization provides anything from an idylic, idealistic, informed life, to a hateful, violent need to kill and dominate. Or it provides nothing at all.

America has seen itself as the ideal, yet in early 2020 it is failing further and in more ways than most of us could have imagined. These failures are exacerbating the effects of global warming, the worst crisis the planet has ever faced. Thought, that which we do all day every day, is so uninformed, so twisted and illogical, so lacking in compassion as to defey finding appropriate words.

Science and truth are virtual twins, each enhanses the other and we cannot function or ultimately exist without both. Yet we find, particularly on the conservative side of the asile, stunning ignorance including a president who causes despair and even contributes to the rate of suicide.

Many citizens of intelligence fight for truth and compassion, but pitifully corrupt power blocks the way. And now a pandemic, a bodily sickness in a terrifying way appears seemingly out of nowhere and our president blames his political enemies, and minimizes its danger and then hints at a vaceen that will be only for the wealthly. Another day, another eye-opening evil.

In ths website I try to expand on those needing more explanation while searching for thoughts that are missing, which had we a Roosevelt, Lincoln or Churchill might be inspiring and teaching us.

above: two year old pictures of the beginnings of climate change


N E X T

The Beginning

Note:

At this point I have paused, or possibly stopped, working on this web site essentially since I have lost hope, that anything I say will ever be read by anyone who can do more than is being done. However, I will make it as available as I can.

I think the following contains useful thoughts although it may take some effort to extract them. I will do my best to clean things up. Also, the Table of Contents contains many links to drafts of various essays, some more or less complete, others in early draft stage. However, after two years and two months I am returning to my photography for this story is more than I can bear.

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