Cal Earth Open House Attempt

On 02 November, I hopped on my bicycle early in the morning hoping to attend the Cal Earth open house. I rode east until I reached Fontana where I turned north to cut through a valley. However, I missed a turn, and went into the adjacent valley. I entered the San Bernardino National Forrest and ended up in Lytle Creek. Since I could not receive any signal from T-mobile, I had to ask a truck driver for direction before going back out. After correcting my route, I met another obstacle: the only two ways to cut through the valley is the 15 freeway and a dirt road. I had to walk the dirt road since the incline was too sharp and the road was unsuited for road bicycles. The dirt road did elevate me to a nice vantage, though. In sum, all the obstacles, namely, being hit by a car (his fault :P), four flat tires, missing at turn and going into the National Forrest, and walking through the dirt road, delayed me entirely for the Cal Earth open house.

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[the mascot’s jersey reads “HESPERIA”- proof that I did reach Hesperia, just not in time]

 

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Pumpkin Patch Pedal

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At the Pumpkin Patch Pedal event on 20 October, a crowd rode from downtown Pomona to Cal Poly Pomona for the pumpkins. While a being a long time bicycle commuter, this is the first time I rode in a large group. Seeing the ubiquity of utility cyclists on the streets certainly solidifies a vision for regenerative urban life. Yes, car-free streets are achievable. 

CicLAvia

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Humans outweigh sight over any other senses. Thus a strived-for outcome made tangible is a “vision.” CicLAvia presents the vision of car-free downtown streets. But it does more. At CicLAvia, one sees, hears, smells, tastes, and feels a car-free environment. Suddenly, a car-free vision is no longer a remote creature of idealism. 

Assignment Ten

Response to Diamond

Jared Diamond, author of Guns, Germs, Steel, explains Europe’s domination through several environmental factors, such as diverse livestock and competitive pressures between neighboring countries. His main question was why certain civilizations on Earth advanced more quickly than other. This question has an underlying assumption that civilization is measured by its ability to destroy. The conquistadors were certainly advanced in that they could wipe out classical American civilizations. However, if civilization is measured by quality of life, Aztecs had healthy bodies and enjoyed good sanitation.

Response to Polanyi

Karl Polanyi, author of The Great Transformation, points out the exaggeration of market’s exclusive significance in the economic history.  Today’s problems show the consequences of adhering to the primacy of the market. The market may bring services and goods at lower prices. However, such prices are also the results of externalizing the costs. The prices of many services and goods to not reflect the true costs, such as environmental degradation which everyone has to to bare. The market also cannot effectively provide necessary services and goods, such as health care.

Assignment Nine

Response to Jacobs

In The Nature of Economies, Hortense and Hiram contend that conventional Darwinism cannot account for altruism, and discuss the possibility of an advantageous habitat preservation trait. I contend that conventional Darwinism can account for altruism. Robert Axelrod, author of The Evolution of Cooperation, conducted repeated prisoner’s dilemma games and invited academics around the world to submit strategies to be pitted against one another. The winning strategy was tit-for-tat, which cooperates in the first round and reciprocate the opponent’s previous move in following rounds. It was elegantly parsimonious, yet more effective in the long run than greedy strategies, including ones that are designed to exploit cooperative strategies. Thus informed, and given the geologic time life has evolved, altruistic traits seem plausible.

 

Response to Sirolli

Ernesto Sirolli, speaker at TED, proposes that development must be initiated by the locals, instead of imposed top-down. He illustrates the problems of imposed developments with his experience in Africa. He taught locals how to grow Italian tomato, which were eaten by hippos. More a stark depiction is modern Chinese development. Under communist economic doctrine, the central government sets the production goals. It demanded iron for industrialization, and villages were stripped of cooking instruments. Now the government endorses capitalism, and China enjoys rapid growth. Yet, the people suffer pollution of all sorts.

Assignment Eight

Response to Jacobs

Jane Jacobs argues that cities should be the unit of analysis for macroeconomics instead of nations or rural areas: within nations there are diversity and across nations there are similarities, and the developments of cities shapes the developments of rural areas. Jacobs may be right on the first point. Political boundaries are arbitrary. Economy is the aggregate of all people’s lives. Her focus on cities instead of rural areas, however, creates false division between cities and other areas. True, cities shape rural areas: the city is the active agent, rural areas are the passive agent. But her conclusion does not follow. Just as ecology does not single out humans, the active agent, from the environment, macroeconomics should not single out the city. Rural areas should not remain constant in the equation. And to thus question Jacob’s assertions takes for granted the division of the city and the rural. Are they so distinct? Or are they different only in the density of humans, whose activities amount to economies? Cities, with larger concentration of humans, may warrant more focus in economics. But increasingly, interactions of human activities and the environmental activities emerge. Can environment impacts continue to be labeled “externalities?”

Response to Democracy Now! 22 Nov. 2013 Broadcast

The broadcast brought two (among many) interesting stories: U.S. envoy to the COP 19 denied reparations for environmental impacts, and climate activists protested against carbon trading. The first raises moral issues naturally. Desire for fairness is innate. However, to acknowledge the issue is to ignore the collectiveness of nations. Nature does not distinguish. Climate hazards do not inflict justly. To deny reparations to other nations for past harms is to deny oneself future prospects. The second story sheds light on efforts to repair a broken system. Carbon trading functions under the current economic systems. Humans make Earth uninhabitable in many ways. Carbon trading limits merely carbon emissions, one of many pollutants. Pollutants themselves, in turn, are one of many environmental impacts. Thus the objective in this game is to simply cut carbon, ignoring everything else. Carbon emission is not the only measure of environmental impact, just like monetary abundance is not the only measure of well-being as fabricated by the consumerism culture.

Assignment Seven

Response to RIP! A Remix Manifesto

In the video, producer Brett Gaylor documents Girl Talk, an artist that mashes up other artists’ musics, in the context of the current state of copyright laws. The advent of copyright benefited society. In ancient China, where none existed (even today), many trade skills were kept secret by the masters until they find virtuous apprentices that would not kill them once learning the secret; most often they don’t. If only they had copyrights. Today, however, corporations have huge advantage in obtaining copyrights. Music publishers own most of the pop musics and press down on dissidents to the current copyright laws. The law that once promoted innovation has now prohibit it.

 

Response to Implicit Association Test
My result for the IAT is “your data suggest little to no automatic preference between European American and African American.” 

Correcting negative implicit associations is no easy task. Implicit thoughts are not supervised by social acceptance. Also, they are years of accumulation of perceptions and thoughts. One is not born with negative implicit associations. However, one is also born with a brain that yearns for patterns, which results in hasty generalizations. To correct negative implicit associations, one should acknowledge the way the brain functions to forge such implicit thoughts. One should reexamine what one took for granted. Consider the facts, and be wary of the source of information, e.g. today’s media concern more on rating than truth. Or, one can try my method: be ignorantly indiscriminant. I suck at telling race, age,  or other labels, and I never got the chance to improve.