Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Santiago calatrava
We are learning physics from a videotape much as Fuller predicted.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Arundhati Roy is one of my heroes but...

"Children who ought to be in school, run wild".

I must confess that I haven't read much further than this in the article I linked to in the previous post. Something about that assertion stuck in my craw. I have never lived in a country where there was open warfare, nor where children were participants in that warfare so I will concede that my white-bread/bred suburban American upbringing gives me a different perspective than that of Roy who has witnessed poverty and suffering first hand...BUT.

"School?" Is school a better alternative because the children are safe from gunfire and marauding government troops and improvised explosive devices? Because they are safe from death?

But school is the beginning of death. Is not school a form of the very prison against which the Maoists are fighting? Wouldn't putting their children in schools (which I assume for the present to be administered by the government who is shelling and killing and raping and pillaging the Maoists) be a form of acquiescence? A tacit recognition of the Indian government's authority? I am going to wage war on you but allow you to care for my children while I do it?

Is it possible that these children are in fact safer in the jungle with their warrior parents at their side? Maybe the answer to this apparent lack of understanding will come later in Roy's article but I can't help but think that she does not understand what it means to wage a full scale war against an occupation force.

There is a scene in a Viet Nam war movie in which a U.S. Special Forces officer recounts the moment when he knew that the war was unwinnable for the U.S.. As he recounts it the U.S. Army vaccinated the children of a village controlled by the Viet Cong (the "bad guys") against some childhood disease. Feeling good about their benevolence they returned to the village a few weeks later to check on the progress. The VC had hacked the arm off of every child in the village who had received the vaccination. By his calculation some of the children had their arms cut off by their own parents.

That is what total war is, so when Roy asserts that the young warriors in Kashmir should be sitting in some mind control factory administered by their enemies instead of engaging in the productive work of killing them perhaps she should think carefully about her position.

A school is an institution of violence. It is a tool of a culture to perpetuate itself. A school does not feel, have compassion, have mercy, or intuition as a parent does. If it were me in Kashmir, my children would be with me in the jungle fighting. They would learn the ways of the world in a way that a school could never teach them. Just as the Indian government soldiers seek to kill the free with bullets and bombs so too their schools, like Chinese schools, U.S. schools, and Israeli schools seek death for those who will not conform.

The mind control factory teaches you that there are predetermined paths to security and success. Deviance from those paths is not tolerated. You will wake early in the morning every day with the ringing of a bell. When other bells ring you will speak on the phone, or move from room to room, or fasten your seat belt. You will sit in a moving box on a road and drive by depressing box and coffin like architecture on your way to the box within a box that you will occupy for 9 or 10 hours. Other Pavlovian conditioning stimuli will tell you when it is time to check your e-mail or voicemail, a honking horn will tell you to go at a green light. Other members of your culture who have been similarly conditioned by schools, television, movies, and advertising will reinforce societal norms of dress, speech, behavior and thought.

You are free to choose between this form of death or the exile you will experience if you choose to defy the norms of your culture. Live in a box of the culture's choosing or live in a cardboard box on the street. School teaches you to choose how you will die from one of these two options.

At least the 10 year old with the AK-47 is free to choose for herself.

I choose life. I stand with the Maoists and look forward to their inevitable victory.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Fuller Explanation

Reading this book about B. Fuller's alternative geometry, makes me happy, confirms my suspicions that mathematics is artificially difficult. In a world based on hierarchy and competition there is little incentive for the high priests of knowledge to disseminate what they have learned to the masses. But let's face it, there is something fundamentally wrong with the way we learn math and science. We're not all idiots, yet even among those with graduate level education math is scary and intimidating, why? Every time I take a physics class I am immediately struck that the material is far simpler than the method used to teach it. Our cultural commentators bemoan the lack of science and math majors yet the same useless methods are used to teach these subjects year in and year out. It is a miracle this species isn't extinct yet.

Don't kill bugs you may come back as one.

Terrorism is War, War is Terrorism

Remember when NPR used to have the audacity to criticize the U.S. war machine? As Solzhenitsyn once remembered that citizens used to be called upon to verify the actions of the police in The Gulag Archipelago I feel it necessary to remind my small audience that there was a time when NPR and PBS were confronting and questioning the actions of their government and not just cheerleading the war effort in whatever country the U.S. happened to be bombing.

It sickens me to listen to the mass media talk about terrorism as if it is somehow distinct from war. Dropping bombs on civilians is terrorism. The U.S., Israel, and NATO are and have been engaged in terrorism on a mass scale since the end of WWII. It is staggering to the man of average intellect to have to listen to the day in day out reporting of terrorism here and war there as if there is some distinction between the two. International law has a definition for terrorism, whether you are comfortably ensconced in an F-117, or B-2 or are in a hijacked aircraft heading for a building if it is your raison d'etre to kill and maim and destroy in order to inflict fear on your enemy in the hopes that he will come around to your philosophical, political, or religious position you are engaging in terror.

Terror is just in the fight against war. Sound strange?

How about we run it through the Orwellian double speak machine and say:

War is just in the fight against terror. Sound more palatable? Wake up sheeple, it's the fucking same thing.

Change your "Support our troops" sticker to "Support Al-Qaeda" if you are going to support the idea of killing to make your point at least be consistent.

And if you are offended, fuck you, I hope you get killed in a terrorist attack. Pussy.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Intersection of Law and Architecture --- The Building Code

Architecture is the most political art form. It is an expression of conformity with the previous occupants of a space; "I will build a box next to your boxes, and with the exception of a few accoutrement I will not disturb the social order of the space by doing anything new. I will rent an existing box to live in, I will not build something out of the material at hand. I will accept the social order, that land is held privately, by an individual, a corporation or a state and I will not disrupt that social order by pitching a tent in the middle of a suburban parking lot, sleeping in a public park, building a tipi in the middle of a subdivision, or a geodesic dome among bland, boxy condominiums".

Homelessness is deemed to be the absence of architecture. But is not homelessness a rebellion against conventional architecture and all the mind prisons which accompany it? A homeless man is free in a way that the suburban slave can not even fathom. His home, his architecture is the very space he occupies, the air he breaths, the ground under his feet. He may not gather the sticks around him and construct a yurt, or a tipi, or a dome, because in doing so he clashes with the social order, his trespass takes on a physical manifestation, a visible ember in the eye of the civilization which occupies the ground around him.

Is this why the shanty town is always a hotbed of political uprising: The shacks on the hills in Rio, the slums of South Africa, the burgeoning tent city in Haiti, refugee camps the world over? Are these people not the embodiment of every failing of the civilization in which they and we live? They are a visible embodiment of the lie that is the center of world culture, namely that man is born as a slave, and shelter is not a right but a privilege reserved for the chosen few that perpetuate the system.

A child has no right to shelter. A legal entity has no obligation to allow a child to live on the property that it owns. Thus a homeless child is by definition an illegal human being.

In Amsterdam I believe there is a law which allows unoccupied buildings to be legally squatted in. If I remember correctly this creates problems for landlords whose property becomes vacant because if a squatter manages to physically gain entry that person gains certain limited rights. Although I can appreciate how inconvenient this would be for a property owner there is a certain logic to this law.

Such a law if enacted world wide would alleviate a great deal of homelessness. The Bauhaus art movement could be replicated in every abandoned building, house, church, warehouse, industrial space, strip mall, Wal-Mart etc. It does not assault our reason as lunacy to see a homeless person walking through a blighted urban area in which massive parking lots are being overrun with weeds because the buildings it surrounds like a concrete fortress have been unoccupied for so long that nature is reclaiming the blacktop.

And it does not strike us as maniacal that this homeless man, standing in the rain in front of a million square foot empty space would be classified as a criminal if he stepped inside that space to shelter himself, his child, his humanity. I wonder if one were to divide every unoccupied space in the world by the number of homeless how much square footage could be allotted to each.

Those of us in wealthy western countries may convince ourselves that we are safe and secure snuggled up in our mortgaged or rented properties but the reality is that a very small percentage of the population is anything but a few missed paychecks aways from homelessness.

The shattered state of the economy makes such a statement seem plausible even though twenty years ago it would have seemed laughable.

So the beginning of true political revolution is the defiance of the conventions of architecture: the suburban shanty town, the blighted Wal-Mart with thousands of tents, tipis, yurts, earthships, campers, and cardboard houses in the parking lot, and in the building itself. The subdivision with a campsite on every vacant lot. The "homeless" becoming unmarginalized and exercising what few rights we have to gain more rights.

What rights does a suburban American have? Are there city charters, county regulations or state laws that grant people the right to shelter? Are their laws anywhere in America which resemble those like the squatters rights in Amsterdam?

To see architecture as repression one must imagine how the political process would unfold if homeless people were to attempt to gain more political rights in a community. I can imagine what the city council meeting would look like in Beavercreek if someone proposed that such a measure be passed. The first thing in every property 'owners' mind is "what is going to happen to my already depreciated real estate value if this becomes the next Santa Monica?"

A brief reading of the Urban Institute's 200 plus page evaluation of the homeless situation in Santa Monica illustrates the politically repressive nature of society's approach to the homeless. Among the recommendations made by the institute is the "criminalization of panhandling" which the report notes has been struck down as unconstitutional but nevertheless holds out as a desirable solution. Nowhere in the report could I find an enumeration of the rights of homeless people and the tone of the report generally dehumanizes the people it is supposedly trying to help.

We are all homeless. We are all homeless. In this culture we are all homeless. Of course there are exceptions, but even outright title to a piece of property is not an absolute right to shelter. Property can be lost in a lawsuit, taken by a state or county agency for failure to pay taxes, etc. Without a legal right to shelter every human being in simply living in a varying degree of insecurity with the vast majority being truly close to homelessness.

This brings to the fore the relationship between law and architecture. Most of the laws in this country are designed around the idea of amassing and protecting wealth including land and real estate. It is only reasonable that those who have the most of both when the laws are written construct the laws to insure that their property remains in their hands and remains valuable. The primary value of land is its potential use as shelter.

So what this country needs is a new homestead act. Just as a man could gain title to land by simply developing it in the 19th century west we need a new piece of legislation which opens every decrepit urban area, defunct strip mall, blighted box store and fallow farmland to settlement and development of single family homes.