Light a Candle…

In the developed world, and in most urban environments throughout the world, electricity is taken as a guarantee. What then of the day that energy production stumbles? How many of us have candles in our homes? Why do we have these relics of an age without electrical generation?

Do we have these artifacts of the past because of traditions? Or, do humans still feel some sort of satisfying metaphysical connection with the light cast by a candle? Do we find a peace in the flickering of the flame … does it connect us with our space?

How much energy goes into the production of our candles and our matches? Would much energy be saved if every American family were to sit around a candle-lit dinner for each evening meal? What might we gain from adopting this habit? Would we only gain a moderate amount of energy, and an increase in production by the candle industry?

Could such action foster greater kinship and reverance for human interrelations and human life?

Can you picture a world where families did not have the radio or television playing during their meals? Where telephones were silenced?

Would our society gain from such a tactical delineation between what means family and what means other?

I think some of what might be gained can be seen in the occasional blackouts that haunt our system of eternal energy production and consumption.

After all as Eleanor Roosevelt so eloquently said during one of America’s roughest economic droughts … “It’s better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.”

Off to a Silly Start

This morning a coworker linked me to a description of a new PhD to be offered by RIT.

Sadly, the topic and title for this new PhD is “Sustainability.” Linguists and Philosophers involved in the field of ecologically conscious design at all levels understand the problem with using the word sustainable to define solutions. The traditional, and literal, meaning of the word sustainable is: something capable of continuing in a constant state without maintenance.

Unfortunately, in the recent rush of Americans to define their Gore movement, the population and pundits have seized on the one word “sustainable” rather than other words better modified with items such as “conscious” or “aware” or “respectful” etc.

Sustainable is not the first word to be sacrificed to the Gore movement and it will not be the last.

So, let me introduce you to the new, mutable and ill-defined, meaning of sustainable.

The new definition of sustainable, for use in the 21st century, is “that which is capable of being continued with minimal long-term effect on the environment” … odd that the definition for sustainable must include a word that better suits the Gore movement … “environment.”

In the world of design, energy, and the environment there simply is no such reality that fits the traditional meaning of sustainable. And, truthfully, there is no such reality that fits the new meaning. Because, EVERYTHING that humans interact with via creation or destruction results in a long-term effect on our environment…and these long-term effects subsequently result in MAJOR changes to the environment.

Take a moment to close your eyes and picture a world without human intervention. There ya go, do you see all those insects? How about all those plants we call weeds?

Since man first walked and utilized fire, we have been DRASTICALLY impacting the world around us. Our changes are always for the long-term and never for the short-term. Basically friends, there simply is NO SUCH THING as “that which is capable of being continued with minimal long-term effect on the environment.”

Nature came first, and nature will come last. Science can do nothing to negate this truth.

So, Rochester Institute of Technology, I wish you all the best with your new and state approved Doctoral Degree. May some good eventually come out of its science.

Following up on the Small World

The concept of the Small World and the chain-links gripped me. This post follows on that discussion.

A fascinating game grew out of this discussion. One of us suggested performing the following experiment to prove that the population of the Earth is closer together now than they have ever been before. We should select any person from the 1.5 billion inhabitants of the Earth—anyone, anywhere at all. He bet us that, using no more than five individuals, one of whom is a personal acquaintance, he could contact the selected individual using nothing except the network of personal acquaintances.

It is taken from Chain-Links, written by Figyes Karinthy and translated from Hungarian with annotations by Adam Makkai and Enikö Jankó.

I now know why the concept of the Small World first attracted me. I have become involved with a conceptual working social net framework in the past months and I find this theoretical postulation to be quite indicative of the future.

I believe that we humans are attracted to the new social networks like moths to the flame … but with a bit of a twist in that as I see it we are the light and the networks are the moths. As our numbers increase, our collective light results in more and more variations on the theme of the social network. I think that soon we will see the numbers of users for online and real networks surpassing those of internet porn sites. And these networks will be much more valuable.

Our Small World

I’m not sure how I stumbled upon the following … but I did …

In 1929 a Hungarian author named Frigyes Karinthy published a volume of short stories titled Everything is Different. One of these pieces was titled Chains, or Chain-Links. The story investigated in abstract, conceptual, and fictional terms, which are many of the problems that now captivate mathematicians, sociologists, and physicists within the field of network theory.

I am still trying to determine how this selection from a wiki impacts my intellectual life … perhaps it is an answer I will only discover later in life … well, ’til then.

Entrepreneurs and Half-wits…

On the topic of success and entrepreneurial spirit … I ran into a statement of Steve Jobs’ today.

I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.

Now, as someone who has an uncanny proclivity for pure perseverance … I first want to say “thank you, Steve Jobs” … but of course, being who I am … I must follow my thanks with this:

If half of what separates a successful entrepeneur from his unsuccessful counterparts is “pure perseverance” …

Then what constitutes the other half of the equation?

Obviously perseverance alone will not lead to success. At the least it will lead to a level of rabidity. So, Steve Jobs, I wish to toss this into the discussion:

Entrepreneurial success relies on two things: Perseverance and Wit.

Those entrepreneurs with Wit and Perseverance will find themselves a success.

Those who only find themselves with Perseverance, will find themselves to be half-wits.

I know, I know … a silly addition to the discussion. But then, I have a quirky conception of success and of what makes a pure entrepreneur successful.

Morning Epiphany…

As I was walking to work this morning I worked through a number of theoretical suppositions and tallied up a few more design and ecopreneurial concepts.

When I got to work, I found the following Teddy Roosevelt epiphany waiting for me on my desktop …

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.

I think this particular epiphany is quite fitting for me today given my early morning thinking. The only addition I wish to make is that we should all be doing what we can, with what we have, where we are, with who we are. I suppose that “who” we are falls under Teddy’s heading of “what we can” … but being me, I wanted to clarify.

I believe that being true to one’s nature is the most noble thing that a human being can ever do … yes, even if this means being a bastard. The world still needs bastards, if only to create the contrast that allows us to have heroes and martyrs.

Now, if it was only that easy for us to each “know” without any doubt what our nature’s are.

As for me, I think one of my strongest traits is a proclivity for mutability. And yes, I too find that odd given the “fixed” nature I exhibited as a young child and teenager. Perhaps my parents and friends succeeded in polishing off the rougher edges of my nature. Whatever the reasons … I know I am still pursuing growth, and I think I will be until the day I step into the grave.