18 agosto 2007

From 0.0

Disorganization. Focus.

(Entropy? Order?)

Hiding behind 'anonymous'
let's add a bit to the
'why' column at right.
No blogs, please, but
here we are.

We explored a bit of the
Alps' beginnings from Turin,
by bicycle, during the August
holidays. Up the Ala di Stura.

There we saw a strange thing
that wanted photographing.

Day up, again by bicycle,
dragging 8x10 view camera
in the 'B.O.B.' trailer.
Up and up.
Sprawling the bike, trailer,
shopping bags of film holders,
camera, and stuff, quick to
get to making the photograph.

What's the difference between
making a photograph
and a train wreck?

Quick-witted answer:

'In the one, more people get off track.'

Let us off track get.

Starting from oh-ZERO.
Zero. Point. Zero.


Invitation to Post

If you have been invited to post, you are now, hopefully, logged-in and ready to post. Go to it. Comments to existing posts are welcome from all, whether you're signed up as a 'poster' or not. No hoops to jump at all.

If you are reading this and would care to become an invited poster, please write to me at this email to request an invitation: lkrndu 'at' tiscali 'dot' it (or, in Italian, lkrndu 'chiocciola' tiscali 'punto' it).

Please understand that this blog is un-monitored, that posts and comments go straight onto the blog. The usual note requesting dignity and civility applies (no restrictions on passion). The blog's creator reserves (and hardly relishes) the burden of 'editing' if need be and hopes this word to the wise will be sufficient.

— BT (Look Around You)


Professional Curtsies

Look. I'm trying to get a discount (that's slang in Italian, you figure it out) on a road sign. A red circle enclosing icons for a bicycle, a handcart, and a horsecart. As in you 19th-century guys stay out of this street. In 2007. But this is tricky. You can't just walk up at four-thirty p.m., pull out your wrench, and go to work. So I'd spotted a couple of candidates nearby, low enough on their poles and so on. It's midnight now, I've just come in from an hour and a half hoofing it to check things out.

First candidate, nice access but a busy street, lots of apartments looming on every side, bad visibility. Even though it is Saturday night, the amount of traffic action seems pretty absurd.

Next, about the same. Giving up I trudged along Corso Regina Margherita, a main boulevard with two double-lane high-speed roadways, then medians with trees and a frontage lane on each side. It comes to a huge intersection with an equally expansive street. There's a school on one side and an electricity substation on the other. Lots more big trees. The far side of the intersection might as well be on Mars, it's so far away. On the third corner, an endless gravel lot, on the far side of which carnivals and the circus set up shop. The fourth, who cares.

Still, though, there was quite a steady flow of cars and the position is right where eastbound drivers pretty well have to look at this particular sign. Aside from that, even though it was nearly midnight there were a remarkable number of pedestrians hanging around. Mostly professional women. On the north side, a leggy blonde. A nice Muslim from ex-Yugoslavia, or Ukrainian Orthodox, maybe. On the south corner where the street lights were out, the Senegal-Tunisia-Libya Animist fringe were hanging out. Salespersons, by their getups. Friendly, outgoing, good communications skills, willing to take the initiative in any encounter. And of quite apparently robust, flexible physical health.

Decided I'd need to recalculate the best time of day for this. Maybe late on a Sunday morning while everybody is in church, except for the sales staff who are probably sleeping off a hard day's night? Or-- four a.m. on a Monday, drowned out by advancing squads of garbage collectors? I turned for home, only to discover that different corners support specialty markets. Well, what's new. At the next corner I passed a 40-ish woman at the curb hassling a kid who looked all of 17, slouching astride his scooter. In a snatch of their exchange I caught the figure 'fifteen' followed by 'not enough' -- 'non basta'. Just opposite strutted a bevy (the proper herd-word?) of teenybopper gum popper ho's. Real cuties, Imus(t) say. One might have been 16, the rest, well, one averts one's eyes.

Aside to pc. Honey, times is we calls a spade a spade. This writer invokes Imus-isms as code for the destruction of women in this manner, in a social callousness we all indulge.

Fifteen minutes later and back at my door it occurred to me that the best time for a good discount was probably right then. Everybody's out there, the competition and distraction levels are fierce. There's lots of coming and going. Or going and coming. What with sins of emission (if not commission) on every font (sic-- front?) --who the hell would care about one more sin of omission? Of a little street sign.

To be continued...


Continued: Professional Curtsies

So what about that street sign and the notion of its acquisition at a (five-finger) discount? I confess. I did set my alarm for 3:15 a.m. the next night, dutifully awoke, went outside, remarked the beautiful night of stars and gone-away thunderclouds. And sat down to write something.

Sometimes things are like that. I can't explain it. 'Something' — did not stop me exactly, but did retard forward motion. Late that following afternoon, an afternoon filled with bright light and passing clouds, I overcame my inertia and dragged myself and the thirty or so pounds of camera stuff downstairs, loaded the bicycle and pedaled over to the sign. My mission would be to make one straight-ahead 'record' of the sign. It should be a good candidate, the reflective surface enamel richly crazed from years exposed to the western sun. So I did that, but examining the ground glass image noted a strange reticular form off to one side. It was a recent office block, striking in both its architectural emptiness and for its geometry in contrast to that of the sign. Not trusting logical thoughts arriving during moments of photo-embrace, so to speak, I noted my impression and set about packing up to go.

In the few moments required to put away film holders, focus cloth, and camera I glanced up at the pedestrian signal on the opposite corner, an icon of a human figure illuminated green, amber, or red as need be. Beyond that there was an electrical substation, a jerky mess of projecting towers, glittery insulators, and connecting cables arching from one to another. In the corner of my eye I caught part of the sign, the icon of man-with-handcart. Trying not to think, but to focus energy on the physical difficulty at hand, I slid the tripod over a bit and remounted the heavy camera. Some wiggling this way and that, backing up a little too close for comfort to the passing traffic. The man-cart icon hunched itself in one corner of the ground glass, the pedestrian signal figure in the other. Electrical symbolism, or whatever it might become in the photograph, rose up in between.

Now this really is thinking about it too much, and after the fact at that. At the time these were not clear thoughts at all. More like vague hunches. Or grudges, but happy ones. Such as are to be acted upon, photographically, in true religious observance.

Good thing nobody stole that sign.


We Do Mind Candy

News item: Wikipedia entries have been edited from computers inside corporate networks to more favorably portray said corporations.

Suggestion: those who make such edits, believing they do so in service of a more benign, positive corporate image, are not clear on the concept. Better to let sleeping dogs lie, for the social encyclopediae (Wikipedia), the networking sites (Facebook), and the alternate-realities (Second Life) altogether, in truth the web experience in toto, make ancient Rome's bread and circuses look like the truest no-fat, lo-salt diet of all.

Club drug aside: if religion was the opium of the people, the internet is become its ecstasy.

Observation: neither the elimination of detrimental elements — excessive fat or too much salt — nor their indulgence (the slang 'eye candy' is an invention of the internet epoch) promote health.

Moral: both the individual and society thrive on actual nourishment.


Received truth: Global Warming, Speculation

Awakened at three in the morning to heavy, steady rain that continues into the day. Yesterday saw noisy thunderstorms, true summer drama of lights and darks, winds and sound. Today is long-sleeve-shirt brisk and damp. Not August, but November.

What if, the geoscientist in this writer wonders, the warming of the Earth were not smooth, but lumpy? More obvious: that some places get much warmer and others not so much or even get cooler. Less obvious? That, through time, some places or moments get, not warmer, but cooler, both as to inversions of seasonal norms, and in annual, longer-term changes. Let one accept that this past winter-spring were abnormally mild and dry over Europe and the northeastern US and that this summer has been unseasonably cool. 'Global warming' does seem consistent with the warmer winter, but what about the cooler summer?

And: what can we take from this, to our advantage? In spite of the obvious threats in this global predicament, let us consider how the warming might present opportunities of not modest proportion.
(Note D)

1. Develop and expand urban settings inland from low-lying coasts, favoring places that are or are becoming warm-temperate.
(Note A)

2. Apply smart urban design to make liveable towns with infrastructure people will care about maintaining.

3. Let go of flooding regions coastwise, with few exceptions.
(Note B)

4. Resettle those displaced into expanding regions. Favor areas of moderate climate, do not penalize those that are colder.

5. Accept that for most places the prevailing climate will become warmer on average. In selecting where to extend new development, favor those predicted to have warm 'mediterranean-temperate' climates.

6. Ride the warming trends to economize on fuel use and to take advantage of indoor-outdoor living, the 'balcony culture' of Mediterranean societies.

7. Multiply efficiencies in every activity. In urban design, 'efficiency' equates to 'irresistable temptation' to enter, traverse, linger in, be part of, and to own, the urban space. Unless we build new places people want to inhabit, no technological uptick in mpg or cubic meters of heated space per btu will be enough. People who stay in town because they have to won't care and will go down complaining and not stay up by voting. When Job 1 has become the saving of one's own skin and 401(k) and tax deduction, instead of enjoying and promoting one's own house as it stands in the whole community, the enterprise is in danger. When everyone dreads with gritted teeth and angry expletives the commute, the search for parking, the wait for the bus, and the prospect of enduring what it is simply to be in such a place, the urban fabric is rent.
(Note C)

8. Make 'free' bicycles available within 200 meters of any urban origin point for journeys of 10 kilometers or less. The bicycle is the single most efficient and rapid means of personal transportation that has ever existed.

Note A: Human value underpins this project, in the notion that it will be kinder to disrupt and uproot in anticipation of losses to come than to recover and relocate, in chaos, after such loss is suffered. No formulation of this motive can avoid the inference of potential mischief in motive and manipulation, nor of the advantaging of the few at the expense of the many. Is doing nothing the greater virtue?

Note B: Some already-flooding zones will claim resources for their protection and preservation, but at some point the cut will be made. Venice, quite possibly, perhaps Holland. Bangladesh, doubtful, and not solely on the basis of geographic extent. Let this be however the gauntlet thrown, a challenge to bigger thinkers and do-ers — to prove this thesis wrong.

Note C: Rent: to remove, split, or tear apart by violence; hire out, lease, have the use of that owned by others by payment of a fee; monies paid for such use.

Note D: This writer, geoscience head firmly attached, sees great danger in the element of human-assisted cause for the up-trends in planetary temperatures now confirmed. This present argument rests on two prongs: that reversing human-triggered change is essential and that treating these shifts as 'natural' will be helpful. Both are required.