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Saturday, March 31, 2001
liquid crystalline spinning of spider silk

Spider silk has outstanding mechanical properties despite being spun at close to ambient temperatures and pressures using water as the solvent. The spider achieves this feat of benign fibre processing by judiciously controlling the folding and crystallization of the main protein constituents, and by adding auxiliary compounds, to create a composite material of defined hierarchical structure. Because the 'spinning dope' (the material from which silk is spun) is liquid crystalline, spiders can draw it during extrusion into a hardened fibre using minimal forces. This process involves an unusual internal drawdown within the spider's spinneret that is not seen in industrial fibre processing, followed by a conventional external drawdown after the dope has left the spinneret. Successful copying of the spider's internal processing and precise control over protein folding, combined with knowledge of the gene sequences of its spinning dopes, could permit industrial production of silk-based fibres with unique properties under benign conditions.

Friday, March 30, 2001
*nice look at nanotechnology and quantum mechanics from ars technica

*sketch quake (via sensible erection)

*feed on another sketch game

*me looking into crystal ball

-argentina devalues, crisis in s. america
-the yen goes to 140, pressuring asia, china
-paul o'neil lets devaluations go by
-need a new currency system

*i woke up this morning to christopher walken dancing like a mad man! so awesome. (link via plastic, thanks)

*also saw a duck sleeping on the canal walk this morning. i thought he was dead but when i approached him, he started quacking at me then jumped into the water.

Thursday, March 29, 2001
great essay, "cultural transition and spiritual transformation: from alexander the great to cyberspace"

these stanzas from the grande chartreuse

Forgive me, masters of the mind!
At whose behest I long ago
So much unlearnt, so much resign'd--
I come not here to be your foe!
I seek these anchorites, not in ruth,
To curse and to deny your truth;

Not as their friend, or child, I speak!
But as, on some far northern strand,
Thinking of his own Gods, a Greek
In pity and mournful awe might stand
Before some fallen Runic stone--
For both were faiths, and both are gone.

Wandering between two worlds, one dead,
The other powerless to be born,
With nowhere yet to rest my head,
Like these, on earth I wait forlorn.
Their faith, my tears, the world deride--
I come to shed them at their side.

Wednesday, March 28, 2001
narrative consciousness! by chris crawford (via missingmatter) also see the origin of writing by lon cayeway :)

mithras by davidu

quantum art by eric heller (via scitech)

Tuesday, March 27, 2001
avant gardening

While walking around my neighborhood, the Lower East Side of Manhattan, I had a sort of vision. I saw gardens everywhere. Every vacant lot was a pocket garden. Most of the rooftops were blooming with flowers and vegetables, and dripping with ornamentals, giving each block the baroque tropical look of the Hanging Gardens of some Babylon-on-the Hudson, or rather on the East River (and the banks of the East River has somehow become a park). Mature shade trees lined the streets, many of which were closed to traffic. There were fewer cars, more bicycles and mini-moto-trucks, handcarts, even a few horse-wagons. The tenements seemed shabbier than ever, but greatly beautified by the omnipresent summer greenery. Around the edges of Tompkins Square Park a hundred local "farmers" had set up makeshift stalls and were doing a brisk business (and barter) in vegetables, fruit, eggs and chickens and so on, exchanging neighborhood surplus with folks from other parts of town (where, I presume, there were fewer gardens and more small industries and crafts). I got the impression that our barrio was famous for its fresh produce, sweet-scented air, songbirds, street fairs and the like, but I didn't seem to notice many tourists. Everyone looked relaxed, but no one was sightseeing. Where were all the tourists?

cities for people

The participatory politics of the PT, Partido dos Trabalhadores (Workers' Party) in Brazil and the FA, Frente Amplio (Broad Front) in Uruguay has transformed the corrupt, wasteful municipal government of South America. These experiments in determining local budgets through extensive citizen involvement and in decentralising the administration of services provide a laboratory from which the left can learn how to govern in a new way.

Decentralisation and participatory budgeting challenge neoliberalism. They increase the accountability of local government and introduce decision making and negotiation from below in place of the traditional centralised and secretive process. This model seeks to transform powerless urban residents who, after decades of authoritarianism were used only to casting an obligatory vote every five years, into active subjects with growing power over the decisions that affect their daily lives.

In the cities of Montevideo and Porto Alegre, left parties have reorganised the local state to play a co-ordinating and faciliating role in the process. Such progressive local governments face a double challenge. They must be effective and efficient in providing basic urban services and administering financial resources; they also have the goal of overthrowing repressive decision making systems.

Participatory budgeting and decentralisation to sub-municipal districts are underway in some 80 cities of Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina where progressive parties hold office. Guided by the values of the PT and the FA, they are not mere imitations of what has been done in Montevideo and Porto Alegre but are a response to the political realities of each location.

Monday, March 26, 2001

pure genius :) (via sensible erection)

Sunday, March 25, 2001
a world in balance

chapter 1 from the future of money
summer in 2020, pp. 24-27
by bernard lietaer

***
It's 1 p.m. For Anna, head of customer service in the largest telecommunications company based in Munich, the day is over. Using the high-speed underground, she returns to her other community, the village nestled in the foothills of the Alps, 15 minutes away.

She really enjoys her job, but she can't wait to get back to her studio and continue her work with stained glass. She has just started her most ambitious project to date a large stained-glass window depicting seminal events in her little town's history. At her village's next arts festival, which lasts two weeks during the summer, she will donate the window to the Permanent Learning Centre.

All of Anna's company colleagues have a similar lifestyle. Wolfgang in Finance is into African dance and has formed his own dance troupe; Birgit in MIS, whose passion is wood carving is considered making the special wooden frames for Anna's window; Reiner in Human Resources restores old lutes and other musical instruments.

Because complementary currency systems support both types of activities, everybody in Anna's village has the choice to have a dual career. Some people choose for full-time work in a traditional corporate job. Some concentrate their energy on their artistic interests, earning mostly community currencies. Many combine the two because greater choice is available, and because life is simply more livable in a 'World in Balance'.

With the growth in productivity that has resulted from the Information Revolution, Juliet Schor, associate professor of Economics at Harvard University, asserts that 'We actually could have chosen a four-hour day. Or a working year of six months. Or every worker in the US could now be taking every other year off from work with pay.'

German sociologist Ulrich Becker similarly claims that 'There is a life beyond the alternatives of unemployment and stress at work . . . It must be possible for every human being autonomously to shape his or her life and create a balance between family, paid employment, leisure and political commitment.'

So why don't we achieve this?

The closest prototype that we can find in the new millennium for a 'World in Balance' is occurring in Bali and some other traditional societies. People visiting Bali are astonished by the unusually vibrant and artistic quality of daily life. Almost every man is an accomplished artist; every woman a graceful dancer; all find ways to be creative. Every village has 50 or more festival holidays throughout the year, with elaborate ephemeral artful expressions. Houses have elegant carvings, landscapes are exquisite.

What is so different about Bali and the Balinese? What if the world, our cities, our lives, became more like those of Bali? Many tourists visiting Bali are not aware that the Balinese consider the performances they see as 'practice sessions'. The 'real performances' happen in the temple or for temple-organized activities. The Balinese dedicate between 30% and 40% of their working hours to the temple, which organizes the cooperative, caring, artistic and religious activities. These are what I later define as the 'Cooperative' dimension of life. Most Balinese adults also have a professional job where they spend the other two-thirds of their working hours in what I call the 'Competitive' economy, the only one we know in the West.

'Temple time' is part of the long tradition of a 'gift economy' in Bali. In the Western world, during the current transition period from the Post-Industrial Age, we may not be ready for a pure gift economy. Nevertheless, it is possible for our future to include a 'Cooperative' dimension in everyday life. What if we needed only a transition tool, a process through which we can rebuild community and our trust in a gift economy.

Communities around the world have already created and implemented several types of complementary currencies that are comparable with, even result in a gift economy. Called 'mutual credit' currencies, they can always be created in amounts that are sufficient, rather than scarce. In contrast with competition-programmed national currencies, they are not scarcity based. They are created by the participants at the moment of their transaction. For instance, if you perform a service of one hour for me, you get a credit of one hour and I get a debit for the same amount. A simple barter would occur if I did something in exchange for you that is also valued at one hour. But using the mutual credit currency, you can purchase fresh eggs at the market, and I can cancel my debit with someone else. That means that we have created a true currency one that is not artificially scarce. Whenever we agree on a transaction, we can always create the money.

One of the first scarcities to address is job security. There are now 2,500 complementary currency systems operational in the world today, most of which have sprung up to generate local work in high unemployment areas. More than 400 communities in the UK have started their own electronic complementary currency system called the Local Exchange Trading System (LETS). Similarly, in Germany they are called Tauschring, in France Grains de Sel, and several hundred such grass-roots projects are now operational in these countries as well. In the US, 39 communities have followed Ithaca, NY, in creating their own paper currency, redeemable only within the community. All of these systems will be explained in detail later.

These initiatives are often treated as marginal curiosities by mainstream media and academic circles. However, in New Zealand, Australia, Scotland and 30 different US states, regional governments have been funding the start-up of such systems because they have proved effective in local employment problems. The European Union is funding pilot complementary currency programmes in four deliberately very different settings and technologies; two in the countryside of Ireland and Scotland, and two in the major cities of Madrid and Amsterdam. In New Zealand, the central bank has discovered that complementary currencies actually help to control the overall inflation in the national currency. More about this will be described in Chapters 5 and 8.

We can each only imagine what we would create if 40% of our working hours were available for 'temple time', whatever form that might take. Using this approach, would it not be possible for the Information Revolution to evolve into an authentic Age of Knowledge? What would each of us like to learn? What improvement would you like to make in life?

Imagine what you could create on your own or with others.

Saturday, March 24, 2001
harvey s. karten (rec.arts.movies.reviews) and james berardinelli (reelviews) reviews of the war zone

emma thompson was really good in mike nichols' wit (rockin dry heaves)

american high was picked up by PBS (starts april 4)

martin amis on the porn movie industry (via dev null) april's take on it (via sensible erection)

amis on book reviews and literary criticism (via omnivore)

the return of conservative ideology and maybe scapegoatism (via drudge)

solar cell back pack! (via scitech) be your own power company! (astropower)

Friday, March 23, 2001
creative geography:

Thursday, March 22, 2001
watched the limey, reminded me of this TNG episode, lessons. same sense of loss.

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