Feb 15, 2016

income replacement, briefly

A city is formed at a location where there a natural resource is abundant and plentiful.  The human population at this location begins to harvest this natural resource and put it to use.  Eg: Venice and the salt flats.

This city, or human settlement really, comes into contact with another human settlement.  These two groups of humans trade their differing, but equally useful, resources.  For the sake of example, let's say that our imaginary city Veni (which has salt) trades with an imaginary city called Roma (that has cows).  Now Veni has some cows and Roma has some salt.

One woman in Veni begins using the salt that is at her disposal to salt the beef that she now has access to.  Veni has now created a new product or resource.  This salted beef is dried and she begins selling it locally, at the market in Veni.  Soon, other people in Veni are making salted beef.   Salted beef becomes a staple in every Veniese's diet. The Veni traders that source cows from Roma begin to bring salted beef along with them on their trade junkets.  The traders trade their salted beef back to the citizens of Roma.  Salted beef, which was once a local product of Veni, has now become an export.  Veni now has through the discovery of a new invention and happenstance increased their total trade to 2 exports: salt and salted beef.

In order for Roma to afford salted beef, they are now paying more cows to Veni.  With the creation of a new product, Veni has increased the total value of imports that is available to the settlement as a whole.  This process explains how new exports are created (or in the case of Roma, new imports).

Now that Veni has more cows, they are able to produce twice the amount of salted beef.  They begin to trade their salted beef with a neighboring city, Dalma, that has its own salt production but no access to cows.  Veni begins to import woven baskets that Dalma has created, trading salted beef for the baskets.  Over time, Veni's crafts people learn how to create bowls out of weaving, gradually replacing their reliance on bowls from Dalma.  The salted beef that they had to trade with Dalma now goes toward buying Dalmatian dogs, as well as reeds to make the baskets. Veni, by creating new local jobs in the basket making trade, has replaced the import of woven baskets with locally produced baskets.  This is called "import replacement".  Thru import replacement, that is replacing imported woven baskets with locally produced baskets, Veni has expanded their local economy and increased the number of goods that they have available to trade with other city markets.  Additionally, now Veni has yet another locally produced good that they can trade with other markets.  Their total number of potential exports has grown to 3: woven baskets, salted beef, and salt.


It occurs to me, walking thru this very basic scenario of the development of a local economy, that it may not be entirely possible for city such as Veni to produce everything that it trades for.  For example, let's say that another of Veni's neighbors is Lapis.  Lapis' natural resource is beautiful blue stones that are used in decorative jewelry, religious practices and medicinal cures.  Veni trades baskets and salted beef for these stones.  No amount of internal development, however, will allow Veni to create these beautiful blue stones for itself.  Veni may produce master craftspeople that are adept at fashioning imported stones into beautiful jewelry.  Or they may discover a new medicinal use for the stones.  But at its core, Lapis will always be relied upon as a source for the raw material that is the blue stones.

Or at least, this used to be the case.  Scientists produced the first synthetic diamond in the 1950's.  Now, provided that a city has access to the scientific know how and the raw materials that are necessary, any city or location can produce diamonds for themselves.  Ubiquity of the stone should drive down the price, and make cities that used to rely on the value of these goods as a driver for their own imported goods down.  Imagine if Veni was suddenly able to produce blue stones for themselves, or they discovered a source within the boundary of their own city.  Suddenly, Veni no longer needs to trade away salted beef and baskets for stones -- they are readily available for the local market.

There is something here tho, that differentiates the supply and trade based on raw resources and trade based on goods that are created from the combination of a variety of raw goods.  I think it's the reproducibility of that good in other places.  Returning to the first example of trade between Veni and Roma, the simple case of beef and salt creating salted beef.  In this example, both Veni and Roma have the basic resources necessary for both to survive available to them.  Although Veni initially created salted beef, there is nothing stopping Roma from developing their own salted beef industry locally, other than perhaps extenuating circumstances of human politics and work ethics.

Let's investigate some reasons why Roma would not develop their own salted beef production.  Perhaps Roma has no citizens that have the free time to put in the work to produce salted beef.  Maybe Roma's population to too small. Perhaps cattle raising is such a labor intensive production process that there is no spare time left over for Romans to produce salted beef.  Maybe the price of salt is prohibitively high, that is that the amount of beef Roma would have to pay to buy enough salt to produce salted beef is higher than the amount of beef it takes for Roma to buy already salted beef from Veni.  Why might this be?  Perhaps Veni has more people with idle time than Roma, as in the salt trade requires less time than the beef trade does.

Perhaps Roma is a very caste or guild based society and the creation of salted beef does not fit into the existing social structure that Roma has developed.  Perhaps in Roma the social hierarchy is established in such a way that the citizens making decisions about production and economy are different than the ones that do the work, such to the extent that the development of new types of work go unfunded and uninvestigated because it is not something that the 'deciders' would consider possible for the 'doers'.  (A concrete example of this would be an economy based on slave labor).



Note: this exercise is based on the works of Jane Jacobs, particularly her books the Economy of City, Cities and the Wealth of Nations, and Systems of Nature.

Feb 14, 2016

So much tension in the little things

You made it more about who you weren't than who you were. Where you aren't, rather than where you are. Dwelling in the negative space which is always Infinite, rather than the here the now the is, which is decidedly finite

Feb 13, 2016

Resonance

I've been a lot of places but none of them is California.  Cal-leaf-for-nya.
How do you explain the inexplicable? Like it's a place that just remembering makes a smile play out across the corners of my mouth. It's not the people. It's not the tech industry. It's not the size or the shape. It's something intangible, something expansive. Something resonant, that vibrates a chord back like no other place does or can. Dalmatia was a neighboring note. Austin, a faint echoing fifth, in the triad.
There's a bridge near Seattle[1] that collapsed from vibrations. For a long time they thought (and it's still being taught) that the bridge failed from resonant frequency -- that is that the wind hit the note that a bridges' steel knows how to sing and the whole bridge began dancing with such joy that it broke from its suspended moorings and fell, piecewise, into the sea below.
This has been since debunked. The bridge's undulations was, at root, caused by whiplash that was spurred by high winds passing over the solid metal side girdings. Not being aerodynamic enough. Not enough room to let the wind just pass thru caused its eventual collapse. Galloping Gerties' final ride.
I cant help but remember tho the thought of that most delightfully dancing bridge and wonder: What would it be like, to live in the most perfectly resonant place on the planet?
[1] the Tacoma Narrows

Feb 11, 2016

Beauty probs, a classification

Beauty, a classification of problems
Face:
Coloration, evenness. Is your face one even tone? It is unnatural but looks good if you can nail this down. Problem areas: nose (too red) and eyes (too purple)
Blemishes. Like zits, pimples and the like. Usually temporary. Best to just leave them to their own devices til they leave.
Washed out features. ie your eyebrows and lashes disappear. Mostly a problem for people with light hair.
Dry, flakey skin.
Oily skin
Unwanted hair. As in your upper lip could raise money for Movember. Solving this is the least of fun.
Eyebrows: too big or too small. Pen them in or pluck.
Hair:
Dandruff. White flakes that ruin the sweep of darkness that is your hair and shower your favorite sweater.
Bad cut for your face. Needs to balance your facial features.
Too oily.
Ruined, static-y ends.
Frizz levels.
Badly parted.
Pulled too tight against your face
Weird bumps, not smooth or unartful styling.
Tangled, uncombed messes
Body:
Smell. Deodorant? Perfume?
Do your clothes fit you? Forget what your target body shape is -- do the clothes you own now look good on you. Are they too baggy or too tight?
Do you feel comfortable in what you're wearing? This is the most important thing when getting dressed.
Why care about these things?
When you work for the man, you might as well look the part.

Feb 5, 2016

Doggone

Weird thoughts about reality as introduced by the virtue of co-existing with another creature, for a while now.
I keep wondering what it is like to sleep.all day and what does it mean to just hang out with me all the time (and her with me). I see her napping while I'm working and I remember those days that I also have slept all day and the luxury of watching time pass and suddenly I am also luxuriating in time, too, in the memory of luxuriation.
,". 
why doesn't she play by herself I wonder as I too pull out chat and try to see what the rest of the world is doing.
,".
she's the one person I can't call. well, almost.

dreaming of you

It started off with me in some skivvies in the backroom den just hanging out, waiting for a party to start then the crew showed up and I got recruited for a dance routine that I wasn't sure I was going to remember. We didn't end up performing but instead I landed in Denver with my friend Liz who's moving there and we went book shopping and we talked about this book I had read (a book I dream wrote) and she gave me a pair of scissors to cut out the part at the front that wasn't right. As I was cutting an officer rolled up and Liz left but I ended up in a line, another queue, waiting for the safari or underwater adventure. A line formed, and we were a singing class, outside the same book store, carolling but not. I wandered into the wrong section, the sopranos maybe, only to be sent back to the other side and then we became not a class of singers but again a line that I was near the head of. The boats weren't running yet tho, so we all of us, got to talking and a dive computer came out from somewhere but we couldn't use it because it was too heavy and it would weigh you down once you got in the water. Then the front of the line didn't end in the waterfront, but instead a sparsely wooded safari and I followed you down to spy on the rangers cabin, perched on a steep incline. The way over was steep and the porch began to sway precipitously at my ineptitude of walking on it but everyone survived and then we were driving, four or five of us, me in the backseat, cuddling with two new friends and a faceless driver who was talking to KLosse, in the front seat, about the writing seminar she was working on and her latest blog post in a new website. I was listening and decided not to brag about how I had been stalking her lately. As we drove, suddenly I was confused about where we were as it didn't look like Colorado. I tried to check my smartphone but my friends had papered it over with stickers but I managed to take them off and then I saw that we were just outside Columbus, OH and I felt more at home here than I ever had. 

The road wound down thru fields, where we narrowly skirted hitting field hands surveying their handiwork from the vantage point of the road, to winding back up into the mountains, where we narrowly missed a snowplow driven by a septuagenarian woman with the longest face I'd ever seen. Then my cuddle buddy was at the wheel and we were driving across a long narrow rickety wooden bridge on a high pass and I was interrupting KLosse to ask about how you could write, you know really write, if you didn't have a narrative, a strong story, to tell.

sound reflecions: observations from SF MOMA's Soundtracks exhibit

karthik and i went to the SF MOMA today to check out the last few bits of the soundtracks exhibit. we saw this great video work that i can&...