Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


decay & ruin
Biosphere II
dead malls
Irving housing

got that wrong

appropriate tech
Arduino μcontrollers
Backwoods Home
Fractal antenna

fun social media stuff

(nobody does!)

Like my brownhouse:
   foraging pigeons
Sunday, December 5 1999
I feel sorry for those engineers behind the evidently ill-fated Mars Polar Lander mission. I keep checking the NASA website and the news isn't looking too good. Kim and I argued a little this morning about the value of space exploration, with her saying the money would be more wisely spent on things like high speed rail, etc. While I agree that there should be more spent on mass transit in this country, I think space exploration is as good an excuse to advance technology as any. I pointed out that there'd have been no microelectronic revolution without the space race; certainly the relatively modest demands of high speed rail would have never prompted the development of the microprocessor. Kim seems to be under the delusion that things are idyllic in Europe: no suburban sprawl, no tacky architecture, etc. She attributes their superiority to the fact that they haven't been spending much on weapons or space over the past 50 years. Perhaps things really are better over there, but Europe is still an old, heavily-trodden, crowded continent. Things must not be too great there given all the people who have fled and all the bloody wars that have been fought over trivial issues.

Voltaire Street in front of the People's Food Co-op in Ocean Beach. We're looking here towards the Pacific Ocean. The palm below is nearby and has an unusual accumulation of vines growing on its trunk.

Outside the People's Food Co-op as Kim was inside shopping, I found myself watching the bold foraging of the pigeons. They were out in the street picking at the tire-flattened pieces of food, quickly jogging out of the way as cars drove by. All of them were taking harrowing risks. A few months ago I saw a pigeon get hit by a car at this same spot. One moment he was pushing the limits of risk in the name of breakfast, the next moment his life was over. I suddenly realized something about the way evolution works.
In a world containing a set number of resources of various difficulties of extractability, the number of organisms that will come to tap this resource will eventually reach an equilibrium with that resource. If that resource is difficult or dangerous to obtain, there will always be some creatures who will specialize in obtaining it all the same, taking the necessary risk. That's what I was seeing in the bold pigeons out in the street. They were pushing the limits of safety simply because they had to. Without tapping this admittedly dangerous resource, there wouldn't be enough food to feed all the pigeons of Ocean Beach. And in so relying on this resource, they were consigning all future generations they might spawn to depending on this resource as well. It's exactly the same as the world's population's dependency on fossil-fuel-dependant grains or the 19th Century Irish dependency on potatoes.

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