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Gene map- American Museum of Natural History


Veggie Art- Courtenay BC, Fall Fair


After reading my last post, Derek sent this useful link to a PDF of Raoul Robinson’s brilliant work on self-organizing agricultural systems. which, in addition to describing the theory of “horizontal resistance” in plant breeding, serves as a great little primer on the principles of emergence and complexity theory, as applied to ecological systems. Robinson’s idea of allowing the natural chaos extant in the genetics of plants to generate dynamic resistance to pathogens, is revolutionary and the exact opposite of contemporary agribusiness’s tunnel-vision focus on (patentable) single genes. It is so *zen* to realize that complex living systems can respond to ever-changing stresses, if only they are allowed to maximize diversity and left to *self-organize*. And the engine driving this is *chaos* – the seething emergence of adaptation enabled by embodied genetic diversity. The more diverse the genetics, the greater the variety of resistance strategies available. There are definitely some larger lessons to be learned here. And best of all, this brilliant publication is *free*
My pal Sascha Scatter (also a big Raoul Robinson fan) and inveterate peripatetic guerilla gardener, reports on the Icarus Project. I love the post; “Head like a funnel and the world pouring in”
In a recent chat, Laura told me how cool the computer language, python is, and pointed me to another *free* and very useful download entitled “How to think like a Computer Scientist -Learning with Python. This is an absolutely amazing tutorial that helps the novice make the conceptual leaps necessary to *get* programming and (from what I can tell), python, seems to be a very sensible, very understandable language at least syntactically- yet is extremely powerful. One of my favourite tools, plone, is written in python, so I can’t wait to start learning it.
Iceland is apparently home to a disproportionate number of clairvoyants who freely communicate with *invisible beings*. The strangely beautiful 2002 film- “Investigation into the Invisible World” details this peculiar phenomenon as well as the Tolkeinesque cast of parallel beings such as elves, trolls, light-fairies and mountain spirits reputed to inhabit Iceland’s windswept volcanic landscape. Belief in “hidden folk” seems to permeate all walks of life in Iceland, and there are interviews in the film with a highways department bureaucrat, the former Prime Minister and a police officer, all of whom matter-of-factly concur with this notion. Oh, BTW, the elves *live inside rocks*
I was so pleased to find this story about a new species of jellyfish just discovered off the California coast, which endearingly has only *four* little arms. Up here around Cortes Island, the ocean just teems with jellyfish at certain times of the year, which is why I used one for the logo of my plone site. There is nothing like skimming across a mirror black sea in a kayak and looking over the side and seeing millions of purple and chartreuse jellyfish pullulating in the inky depths. You feel kind of weightless and, well, *free*, like floating in a vast holographic rendering of an early Kraftwerk record label. But, I have to confess, the little specimen depicted in my logo was actually photographed in an aquarium deep in the vast Takashimaya department store, far from the limpid lagoons of Cortes Island, in the metastasized techno-landscape of Shinjuku, Tokyo. It seems that jellyfish were the *it* pet that year and this little creature had rather photogenically positioned itself opposite someone leaning against the tank, wearing a t-shirt covered in Greek letters. Well, I just had to photograph it. . .

The BBC World series Capitalism, presented an interesting discussion of what *freedom* means in its last episode on Globalization. In reference to Frances Fukuyama’s deeply flawed “End of History” thesis, one of the panelists (the former chief economist for British Airways) reduced contemporary globalized capitalism down to “the economic dimension of freedom” and democracy to “the political dimension of freedom.” She was vigorously rebutted (fortunately), and then I nearly fell out of my chair when the panelists started to then discuss the relevance of Marx’s theory of alienation in the contemporary globalized economy. The fact that they were having the debate *at all* was refreshing, given the fact that Marx has been more or less completely expunged from North American cultural memory, or relegated to the status of historical boogy man. This discussion was my first exposure to the term term “politics of scale” to describe the immense power and political influence wielded by multi-national corporations over government policy.

George W. Bush’s pious, platitudinous torrent of rhetoric on “the enemies of freedom” made me think back to the seminal 1969 film Easy Rider. George, the drunken ACLU lawyer (played by Jack Nicholson) has this memorable exchange around the campfire with Billy, (Dennis Hopper), before being beaten to death in his sleep, by vindicitive, xenophobic southern ‘bubbas.’

Billy: Hey man. All we represent to them, man, is somebody needs a haircut.
George: Oh no. What you represent to them is freedom.
Billy: What the hell’s wrong with freedom, man? That’s what it’s all about.
George: Oh yeah, that’s right, that’s what it’s all about, all right. But talkin’ about it and bein’ it – that’s two different things. I mean, it’s real hard to be free when you are bought and sold in the marketplace. ‘Course, don’t ever tell anybody that they’re not free ’cause then they’re gonna get real busy killin’ and maimin’ to prove to you that they are. Oh yeah, they’re gonna talk to you, and talk to you, and talk to you about individual freedom, but they see a free individual, it’s gonna scare ’em.
Billy: Mmmm, well, that don’t make ’em runnin’ scared.
George: No, it makes ’em dangerous.

Of course Easy Rider is full of Fetish:Footage and I’ll close with a couple of screen snaps that I grabbed with my trusty digital Elph . . .