Saturday, November 12, 2011

When history was made and other stories

The Economist: When history of made, a graph in which the historical novelty of the last six decades or so is made breathtakingly clear. H/T Michael Tobis, who offers his own reflections upon it.

SMH: Bob Brown, the most ______ man in Australia. Fill in your own adjective to complete the title of an interesting profile of a fascinating man.

Naomi Klein: Climate change, capitalism and the transformation of cultural values. Klein suggests that perhaps the insistence of the deniers that climate change implies the necessity of a left-wing cultural transformation ought to be taken with more seriousness.

Slavoj Žižek: Occupy First. Demands come later. Žižek answers the critics of the movement who claim it is a gathering of un-American violent dreamers. Speaking of Occupy (which surely deserves its own post or three at some stage), I found this summary (from a NZ perspective) useful, these images illuminating of protesters' motives and this warning (from an American in London) quite salient.

ABC: Anti-consumerism is the new democracy.

John Dickson: Art of persuasion not so simple. Dickson turns to Aristotle to gain some basic insights into how to be convincing: logos, pathos and, crucially, ethos.

Orion: The Consolations of Extinction. A reflection on how deep time affects our perception of the ongoing sixth extinction event and of our own mortality as a species.


Anonymous said...

Patriarchal HIS-story in two stark images.

These two images are featured in the book by Lewis Mumford titled The Pentagon of Power. A book which describes the origins and historical developments of the Invisible Mega-Machine, or the formative psychic myth/force that has always patterned Western Civilization and its inexorable drive to obtain power and control over everyone and everything.

The recent Avatar film was very much about the inevitable dead-end of that "culture" of death. At one point in the film the Navi Princess says something like this to Jake: it is almost impossible to cure you and your Earthling techno-barbarians of your psychosis.

Quite so!

Toby said...

When considering graphs like the "When history was made" one, we need to be careful to mentally adjust for the monetization of services. Nowadays they are counted as economic output because we outsource and sell them to each other, but in days gone by there were plenty of services circulating which were not monetized.

This category of services is one which the "economy" can "grow forever", because in and of themselves they do not consume resources other than the person's time.

byron smith said...

Toby - Yes, the monetisation of the economy is an important consideration. Do you have any sense of the scale involved? I am pretty confident that many/most graphs of resource use would be almost as dramatic as the one I linked to. I have been planning for some time to post a review of a fascinating book called Something New Under the Sun: An ecological history of the twentieth century, which includes many figures making a similar point, even though it essentially only covers the period 1900-90, and the last two decades have been the most resource-hungry in all history.

byron smith said...

Land of the free, home of the brave, in which the mayor of NYC fears the presence of media might disrupt a process carried out on the basis of health and safety considerations obviously overriding the constitution.

byron smith said...

Guardian: Is it really 99% vs 1%? An animation of inequality stats.

byron smith said...

BI: Another benefit to being in the 1% - namely an almost guaranteed job at father's company. I wonder how high that figure would go if friends' and colleagues' firms were also included?

byron smith said...

AlterNet: 10 incidents of police violence towards Occupy protesters. And this was a very interesting piece from the former police chief of Seattle who oversaw the 1999 WTO protests.

byron smith said...

Colin Bell: offers his reflections on the Klein piece.

Sean said...

Byron, just fyi, a couple of weeks ago UNSW ran a conference on climate change and migration. Recordings are up at . Papers that I thought might especially interest you (given your own line of research) were François Gemenne's on the way the perception (by both media and academia) of climate change movement has been distorted; and Ben Saul's on the way the security paradigm influences responses to climate change migration.

Toby said...

After a little digging, it looks like roughly 70% of GDP is services, and this goes up as countries get richer, but I don't know how that has changed century-to-century:

I'm sure you're right that just plotting non-renewable resource consumption would put the 20th century well on top.

byron smith said...

Sean - Thanks!

Toby - According to Gittins in the SMH today, the Australian economy is 86% services.

It's worth noting that service industries still consume physical resources, and that huge increases in efficiency mean that more physical resources are extracted per unit of GDP as well (for example, consider deforestation: the increased pay of loggers over the last 50 years is a tiny fraction of the increased volume of timber each worker fells in a day once the whole process has become mechanised).