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Continue reading Links for the week of August 28th, 2009
It currently appears likely that the “stimulus” package to be passed as soon as congress reconvenes will dump tens or hundreds of billions of dollars into the budgets of the state transportation departments, because they’re the ones with “shovels in the ground” ready projects capable of mindlessly absorbing that much cash. The problem is, those projects are all about cars, and the feds have virtually no oversight of where the money goes once it’s in the state DoT coffers. This is a recipe for waste, not forward looking investment. It is the worst of spending, for spending’s sake – which is what the “stimulus” is all about, let’s be clear – but if we’re going to spend for the sake of spending, why oh why can’t we also do it in a thoughtful way? Because when there’s a crisis, it’s the ideas that are laying around, most accessible, that get implemented. The plans that are on the books, ready to go. The wishlists of those in power.
Continue reading No More Roads to Nowhere
The US road to recovery runs through Beijing says Asia Times Online, and Thomas Barnett emphatically agrees. Everyone is talking about how to reorganize the global economy, but mostly the discussion is about how to most efficiently export our recently collapsed model of growth to the developing world. Better this time around for sure, we say, but not fundamentally different in any way. The Chinese need (and want, it turns out) more domestic consumption and consumer debt.
Continue reading Rearranging vs. Reinventing the Global Economy
It turns out that Pasadena has a wonderful little theater called The Boston Court. It’s a non-profit organization, producing some classics, but perhaps more interestingly, also some first-run original pieces by SoCal playwrites. Michelle saw an adaptation of the Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh there last year, and we went and saw 1001, a story weaving the Arabian Nights with commentary on the modern Arab-Israeli coflict and the War on Terror. The casts are essentially dedicated amateurs – the auditions page lists a $300 rehearsal stipend, plus $25/performance. The space is so small that there is no need for amplified sound, and the sets are fairly minimalist. They have student discounts and matinees, and late night salons for discussion after the plays are performed. I have a hard time imagining a better setting and scale for theater. Even better, it’s easy biking distance, and they seem to have a bent toward plays that are relevant to the modern world.
On Friday, we went to see The Sequence, by Paul Mullin, who has also written about Louis Slotin’s death during the Manhattan Project due to a criticality accident while “tickling the dragon’s tail’, and The Ten Thousand Things, an exploration of the meaning of deep time in human society, inspired by The Clock of the Long Now. The Sequence is a play about the Human Genome Project, and the race between Craig Venter‘s Celera, and the publicly funded project headed by Francis Collins, to complete the sequence first, and also about a young journalist, Kellie Silverstein, who is covering the race, who struggles with her own genetic destiny, knowing that her mother died from breast cancer due to the BRCA1 mutation, which she likely also carries. The Sequence was commissioned by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Ironically, Mullin cannot afford to be a professional playwrite, and instead works in a clerical position at Amgen to pay the bills. Like Copenhagen, the play has only three characters.
Continue reading The Sequence: a play about the Human Genome Project