All the Wisdom in the World

What more could you want? This site has all the wisdom in the world, and provides a great way to waste an hour too.

I came across this site today called Basic Philosophy as I was doing some research (some days I do a lot of research). This one is a project done by a self-described ‘retired canadian former bridge-builder’ named Phil. It’s the history of philosophy wrapped in a dialectic hidden in an aphorism. More to the point, this page is a classic way to burn through a lunch hour.

Consider, for example, argument number 20 (out of 581):
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LOVE & FRIENDSHIP

IS FRIENDSHIP THE HIGHEST LOVE?

You can’t love what you don’t know.

but

We only know someone through friendship. (St. Augustine)

and

The bond of companionship, both in marriage and friendship,
is conversation.
(Oscar Wilde)

______________________________

Don’t like that one? Don’t worry, there are 580 more.

Phil’s biggest efforts seem to go into advocating for a universal basic income. He says the following:

Capitalism is based on the principle of competition. People must work hard in order to succeed. But many people, through no fault of their own, are ill-equipped to live in such a competitive world. If we think it wrong to discriminate on the basis of race, creed or colour, why do we tolerate economic discrimination on the basis of energy, academic aptitude, or the motivating desire for wealth? It’s up to the victims of our economy, and their sympathizers in the middle class, to point to the obvious injustice in much of modern economic practice, as well as to the historic change underway in the nature of work. Though it may be delayed the day is coming when our society will agree with John Kenneth Galbraith, ‘Everybody should be guaranteed a decent basic income. A rich country…can well afford to keep everybody out of poverty.’

There’s something I like about this guy…

Save the earth, one veggie burger at a time

Today’s Christian Science Monitor has an article entitled Humans’ beef with livestock: a warmer planet which argues that the easiest way to improve the environment is to cut back on eating meat. According to the article:

Researchers at the University of Chicago compared the global warming impact of meat eaters with that of vegetarians and found that the average American diet – including all food processing steps – results in the annual production of an extra 1.5 tons of CO2-equivalent (in the form of all greenhouse gases) compared to a no-meat diet. Researchers Gidon Eshel and Pamela Martin concluded that dietary changes could make more difference than trading in a standard sedan for a more efficient hybrid car, which reduces annual CO2 emissions by roughly one ton a year.

Of course, becoming vegetarian is not the answer to addressing all our planetary issues, but this article gives credence to the importance of being aware of all our choices. Even small changes in how we use our ‘body politic’ can ultimately have a profound impact. I know a number of vegetarians don’t consider the impact of their choices. And then there are many people, vegetarian or not, who are far more aware of where their food comes from than I am.

I do believe it is important to eat locally grown food whenever possible – as the saying goes, local is the new organic. While the industrial food industry has plenty of critics, including Michael Pollan, climate change is deeply rooted in all of our actions. Whatever steps we can take as individuals to lessen our impact on the world will ultimately be greatly appreciated by those who come after us.

Interview with Michael Wesch

John Battelle has posted ‘a brief interview’ with Michael Wesch, the guy who created the Web 2.0 video that all the kids are talking about (I linked to it last week). What’s interesting to me is that Professor Wesch is a cultural anthropologist. A trained observer, an ethnographer, as they say. And one with the right kind of politics.

So if there is a global village, it is not a very equitable one, and if there is a tragedy of our times, it may be that we are all interconnected but we fail to see it and take care of our relationships with others. For me, the ultimate promise of digital technology is that it might enable us to truly see one another once again and all the ways we are interconnected.

Sounds almost buddhist. Read the whole interview here

North Denver Italian Culture

I just spent the weekend working with a group of Italians creating digital stories (through the Center for Digital Storytelling, storycenter.org) about their lives in Denver and Colorado. It was amazing how many of the stories had Highland connections.

For instance, Duke’s story was all about Mount Carmel Church. He was baptised there, his sons were baptised there, his grandkids were baptised there, and he hopes his great-grandkids will be baptised there soon.

Louis Polidori, whose family still makes sausage near 33rd and Tejon, told the story of growing up during the depression behind the market at 34th and Shoshone (the market is now the home to our friends Jim and Michael). According to my buddy Michael Thornton, who grew up in the hood, Polidori sausage is the best in town (as a vegetarian I’ll just have to take his word for it). They are now being made by the fourth generation of the same family. check it out at: polidorimeats.com.

There were stories of holiday meals on Shoshone street, with homemade wine for the adults and sprite for the kids, and memories of the grandparents house on Osage. And I got to help Jess Gerardi create his story. Jess plays the trombone, was the director of the Englewood Marching Band, and is the sixth director of the Denver Feast Band. The Denver Feast band has been around since 1895 and plays at the feast of St. Rocco and other events. It made me wish summer was here so I could go play bingo and gamble to win olive oil at the Mount Carmel fair.

It’s great to be in a place where there is so much history. What’s frightening is that so much of it is at risk of being lost.The Italian stories will be shown at the Colorado History Museum downtown starting in April. I know that many of the Highland stories have been recorded in oral histories and lots of photos have been scanned. But many more, even most, are bound to be lost.

Hopefully this group can serve as an opportunity to make sure we don’t forget.

Storytelling for Good Causes

Len Edgerly sent me a link to a podcast by Andy Goodman called Storytelling for Good Causes on the Social Innovation Conversations website. The presentation was given at Stanford University last fall to a group of social innovators over the age of 60. It runs about 45 minutes long, but is definitely worth a listen, especially if you work for any organization working for social change.

Andy offers a great overview of why stories are the way we understand ourselves and others; our history, identity, culture, and memory are all defined through narrative. He then relates Robert Reich’s four stories that define the american psyche: Mob at the Gates, the Triumphant Individual, Benevolent Community, and Rot at the Top. You can read them on Reich’s site in this article entitled The Lost Art of Democratic Narrative.

The presentation ends with a series of stories told by the attendees at the conference. As the old axiom goes, the proof is in the pudding. As Goodman says, we have to tell our stories to everyone who will listen. The powerful stories of individuals can help to change the world.

Maddie is not a designer dog


Maddie and I read the lead article in the New York Times Sunday magazine with interest, as you can well imagine. After all, Maddie considers herself to be the equal of any labradoodle or puggle and, frankly, superior to a bichon-poo or a doodleman pinscher.

So it was with some surprise that we visited the American Canine Hybrid Club, looked at the recognized breeds, and found that (horrors!) there is no mention of the combination of Old English Sheepdog and Standard Poodle. I tried to console her by explaining that just because she’s different doesn’t mean she’s wrong. But she saw that there are shih-mo’s, and beacols, and bogles, and shockers, and corkies, but not a sign of a ‘peepdog’. Oh well, what’s in a name, anyhow? She’ll just have to get by on her good looks and charming personality.

Snickers wins anti-gay title

I alway liked Snickers. Good candy bar, a peanut in every bite and all that. But I guess I’m gonna have to give ‘em a break for a while.

During last nights superbowl Snickers ran an ad (called “after the kiss”) where two guys share a candy bar, meet lips, and rip their chest hair off to prove how manly they are.

This happens during the Superbowl where Tony Dungy becomes the first african-american head coach to win an NFL title.

The timing wasn’t lost on me, or on King Kaufman who has an article on the topic in today’s Salon. I guess it’s true that gay is the new black.

I suppose you could argue that the agency was trying to acknowledge the existence of gayness, but without offending the delicate sensibilities of their homophobic audience. But it just ends up offensive to everyone.

Oh well. I shouldn’t be eating candybars anyhow.

Update: February 6th
King Kaufman reports that Mars and TBWA/Chiat/Day have pulled the Snickers ad campaign. He also quotes Molly Willow in The Columbus Dispatch: “I’m ready for homophobia not to be funny anymore.”

Libeskind finds apologists

In an article in today’s Denver Post entitled Pro-Libeskind forces fire back, Kyle MacMillan cites two influential critics coming to the defense of the new Hamilton wing of the Denver Art Museum. Most interesting is the assessment of Suzanne Stephens of Architectural Record:

Regardless of the controversy about the display of art within the canted gallery walls, the jagged building is a surprisingly successful tour de force on urbanistic grounds alone. It revitalizes an area of downtown Denver between Civic Center Park, the location of the Colorado State Capitol, and a dilapidated district to the south dubbed the Golden Triangle, now in the process of being gentrified with housing, art galleries, shops, and restaurants.

I’ve read a number of the previous reviews critical of the space and, although I’m somewhat critical of parts of the design, I felt the initial reaction was a bit harsh. The Hamilton building is very much a proof of the intellectual ideas expressed by Libeskind since his days at Cranbrooke, and, as Stephens points out in the Architectural Record, is a maturing of the ideas first tested on a large scale at the Jewish Museum in Berlin.

From the outside, the fractured geometries of the space are visually arresting, and provide a worthy counterpoint to the crenellated fortress of the North tower designed by Gio Ponti. The configuration of the building and its muscular gestures create a magnificent public plaza that serves as a gateway to the Golden Triangle neighborhood.

The very strength of the design program ultimately prove to be one of the limitations; in particular, the galleries on the top floor of the building are not effective spaces and suffer from their position at the edge of the design metaphor. Much like Gehry’s Guggenheim Bilbao, some exhibition spaces lack flexibility. Fortunately, these are not temporary exhibition spaces, so there is the opportunity for the curators to address the limitations of the space over time (as Bilbao did by installing a Richard Serra into the leading prow of the titanium ship).

Other parts of the interior are more effective in creating a dialog with the art presented there. And while some may find the vertigo inducing central foyer of the building problematic, I enjoy the disorienting flavor of the complex geometries.

Architecture, like other human endeavors, goes through ebbs and flows; if the Libeskind building may be an example of how architecture, as art, limits the presentation of the very art it is charged to support, it also provides the grounding from which artistic creation can step forward. The Libeskind addition to the Denver Art Museum extends the conversation about the importance of art and culture in our lives and in our cities.

RiNo/Ironton News

Last weekend’s Iron Pour at Ironton and the Studio Tours in RiNo went off pretty much without a hitch. Of course, the weather sucked, but what are you going to do this year? At least it stopped snowing in time to allow the pour to happen. I put some photos up on flickr. If you’ve never seen one, well, you’re missing something in your curriculum vitae.

The current show at Ironton got reviewed this week by Michael Paglia in Westword. It’s a pretty positive review of the show, and a great review for Mike Mancarella, Junoworks (whose website I did about five years ago), and the somewhat towering Donald Lipski sculpture in the yard.

On another note, RiNo now has a blog. It’s a good spot to catch up on news from the district, as well as some other cool stuff and ideas from around the internets.