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Re: [xmca] Re: New Aps and the Growth of inequality

Victoria BC is one of the communities that allows urban farming, as home occupation, and the conversion of back yards into farm land, that some allow others to use to grow produce. We produce all vegetables we eat year round, have chicken. I have been writing about this and other similar activities (activism) as a context for learning science through activism for some time-----since about the time when I asked science education to be DEINSTITUTIONALIZED.
Thumbs up for all those, Katsu, Kris, who do this with kids!

On 2010-04-18, at 9:25 AM, mike cole wrote:

Thanks a lot, Katsu-san. There is a lot to follow up on. It would be great
to see an article about how you link theory-methods-practice in your
third generation activity work in Mind, Culture, and Activity. Meantime, we
can follow your bibliographic leads.

I learned last week that the fastest growing sector of American agriculture
is local farms that sell their produce locally.... both for concerns over
the environmental damage of long distance importation of basic foods and for
reasons of cost. This is true, I am told, even in northern states of the US
with relatively cold winters (we do not compete with Finland in this

On Sun, Apr 18, 2010 at 6:39 AM, Katsuhiro Yamazumi <
kyamazumi@chat.kansai-u.ac.jp> wrote:

> Dear Yrjo, Kris, Mike, and colleagues,
> Many many thanks for noting and talking about our 'New School' (NS) project
> in Osaka, Japan. As Yrjo kindly mentioned, NS seeks to crate elementary
> school children's and various other participants' project-based
> collaborative learning activities for 'sustainable living' from the
> experience of agriculture through organic cultivation and learning about
> ecology to learning about 'slow food' through original cooking lessons.
> Using an expansive learning approach to school and educational innovations,
> NS is attempting to build a hybrid 'platform of learning' that will create
> collaborations between municipal schools and a diverse range of outside
> partners as follows:
> - community-oriented farmers and agricultural experts who produce
> traditional local vegetables using only organic cultivation
> - voluntary associations and grass-roots movement aimed at the
> proliferation
> of traditional local vegetables and their bequeathal to future citizens
> - regional government agencies in industrial labor and agriculture-forestry
> promotion
> - regional educational authorities.
> Also NS will create a 'bridge of learning,' which will connect our mutual
> learning activities to a new and ecological form of sustainable living that
> is productive and practical, and to better living in the future. This kind
> of expanded platform of learning for transformation of surrounding
> activities could be the radically new form of schools that act as agents of
> societal change and contribute to community revitalization.
> I am very inspired by hearing from Kris about the 5th Dimension that will
> be
> organized around the health issues, and would very like to learn much more
> about it.
> My colleague in Singapore, Yew Jin Lee and I recently started a new
> international project that would have many implications for learning and
> new
> ways of teaching. By drawing upon third generation activity theory, it will
> focus on hybrid or boundary objects between formal and informal learning
> settings in and out of the school, and our two systems - The Nature
> Learning
> Camp (NLC) in Singapore and NS - in a comparative study. NLC is an
> environmental program for elementary school students.
> With response to Mike's kind advice, here are references to my recent
> articles on the NS project:
> - Yamazumi, K. (2006). Activity theory and the transformation of pedagogic
> practice. Educational Studies in Japan: International Yearbook of Japanese
> Educational Research Association, 1, 77- 90.
> http://ci.nii.ac.jp/naid/110006244668
> - Yamazumi, K. (2008). A hybrid activity system as school innovation.
> Journal of Educational Change, 9(4), 365-373.
> - Yamazumi, K. (2010). Toward an expansion of science education through
> real-life activities in Japan. In Y.-J. Lee (Ed.), Science education
> research in Asia. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.
> http://www.helsinki.fi/cradle/documents/Yamazumi.pdf
> Warmest regards,
> Katsu
> --
> Katsuhiro Yamazumi, Ph.D.
> Professor, Elementary School Education,
> Project Unit for Research on Education and Learning Activity(PURELA),
> Kansai University
> 3-3-35 Yamate-cho, Suita, Osaka 564-8680, Japan
> Tel +81-6-6368-0097
> Fax +81-6-6368-0096
> kyamazumi@chat.kansai-u.ac.jp
> http://www.chat.kansai-u.ac.jp/english/
> On 10/04/13 8:04, "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
> wrote:
>> Kris and colleagues, Katsuhiro Yamazumi's 'New School' project in
>> Osaka, Japan, is focused on exploring and developing practices that
>> support the cultivation and creative use of local and organic food
>> products and nutritional practices (including 'slow food'), in
>> collaboration with local farmers and other actors.
>> Perhaps such schools and educational projects should get together
>> globally?
>> Yrjö Engeström
>> Kris Gutierrez kirjoitti 12.4.2010 kello 23.03:
>>> actually there are school programs that focus on health/nutrition/
>>> science issues in low-income neighborhoods.  The school in which the
>>> newest 5th Dimension is being established in Lafayette Colorado has
>>> such programs, "growing gardens," salad bar cart with organic
>>> veggies and organic milk; children grab fresh apples as they leave
>>> for home, etc.  Our 5th Dimension will be organized around the
>>> health issues (the school's #1 issue) of the children and local
>>> community.
>>> We had a similar science program with high school students from
>>> migrant farmworker backgrounds but in that case we did study health
>>> issues (including the most prevalent in migrant communities) in
>>> relation to larger social issues:  poverty, environmental racism,
>>> inequity, the working conditions of migrant farmworkers, etc.   the
>>> most engaged young scientists I ever saw.    great ideas and topic
>>> here.
>>> Kris Gutiérrez
>>> Professor
>>> Social Research Methodology
>>> GSE&IS
>>> Moore Hall 1026
>>> krisgu@ucla.edu
>>> On Apr 12, 2010, at 9:03 AM, mike cole wrote:
>>>> I have forwarded that note to potential partners. But there must be
>>>> others out there who could help.
>>>> I wonder who the President of AERA is? :-)
>>>> mike
>>>> On Mon, Apr 12, 2010 at 7:46 AM, kurt squire
>>>> <kurt.squire@gmail.com> wrote:
>>>> Great questions! I'm not really sure. My own thinking is really
>>>> only just forming on it. It seems like the seeds are there with
>>>> Michelle Obama's agenda. But as one might predict, it doesn't seem
>>>> like you can really address health without addressing these other
>>>> issues about property ownership, etc.
>>>> I'm a pretty novice social organizer, but it seems like something
>>>> needs to be done to raise awareness that this is even an issue. I
>>>> guess that Pollan's work has gathered a lot of attention, but I
>>>> dont see as of yet any real movement toward having fresh food in
>>>> schools for example.
>>>> I do know that Ben Stokes is discussing organizing a convening
>>>> around mobile social activism to tackle these issues, and trying to
>>>> get MacArthur Foundation support for it. He's in LA so there are
>>>> many similar issues to what you see, I'd suspect.
>>>> Either way, I'm on board! Let's organize!
>>>> On Sun, Apr 11, 2010 at 3:56 PM, mike cole <lchcmike@gmail.com>
>>>> wrote:
>>>> So how do collaborate to get these issues on the national research
>>>> agenda, Kurt?
>>>> Locally, the fruit app wouldn't work for the population we work
>>>> with because the fruit trees have been cut down and paved over and
>>>> the only fresh food they can walk to is at the 99 cent store.
>>>> Public transport is
>>>> mimimal and expensive. Unemployment is staggering. etc.
>>>> And all we get is celebration of a wireless world while the poor of
>>>> other countries get our digital waste. Bah humbug.
>>>> mike
>>>> On Sun, Apr 11, 2010 at 12:42 PM, kurt squire
>>>> <kurt.squire@gmail.com> wrote:
>>>> Couldn't agree more, particularly on the mobile apps. A student,
>>>> Seann Dikkers and I have been studying youth with mobile devices,
>>>> and we have a piece we're putting together arguing for them as
>>>> devices that amplify interest, personal power, identification, and,
>>>> yes, probably class distinctions. The Educational Research &
>>>> Development Group I'm in at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery
>>>> is working on a variety of applications around personalized
>>>> medicine to try and deal with these issues of health & class, but
>>>> it's an uphill battle, to be sure.
>>>> Some of the most interesting work I've seen in that area is
>>>> participatory mapping. Another student of mine, Jim Mathews has
>>>> been using mobile devices with high school kids for them to map
>>>> their neighborhoods and then create mobile media learning
>>>> experiences that highlight social, environmental, or economic
>>>> issues. He's been very interested in how one can apply
>>>> participatory mapping techniques in educational settings... there
>>>> are fantastic examples of people mapping the healthiness of
>>>> neighborhoods (i.e. how far must you walk to find fresh fruit or
>>>> vegetables?).
>>>> Jim also turned me on to Neighborhood Fruit, a great app that shows
>>>> you where fruit trees are growing so that you can eat free fruit.
>>>> Probably you folks in California will have more trees appear than
>>>> we get in Madison.
>>>> cheers
>>>> kurt
>>>> On Sun, Apr 11, 2010 at 11:49 AM, mike cole <lchcmike@gmail.com>
>>>> wrote:
>>>> A clear weakness in this medium is the prominent display of
>>>> contextual
>>>> clues to guide interpretation. Using irony, which i do a lot in
>>>> oral speech
>>>> and too often online, is extremely iffy.
>>>> I agree that the online gaming environment is rich in potential for
>>>> what
>>>> most of us in xmca (I am guessing) would see as creating rich
>>>> environments
>>>> for educational activities. To Rafi's list I would recommend that
>>>> those
>>>> interested google "Quest Atlantis" or "Sasha Barab" and of course
>>>> Donna
>>>> Russell is an XMCA member who has worked in this area.
>>>> David Kel's comments about multi-aged play groups and zopeds is at
>>>> least one
>>>> of the serious points I take out of his most recent rumpusy posting.
>>>> Simultaneously, I have a growing suspicion that the spread of
>>>> iphone apps
>>>> for educational and health purposes is going to prove both a bigger
>>>> wedge
>>>> between classes and an big ecological challenge. I see
>>>> consideration of
>>>> these possibilities nowhere in the discourse on the marvels of
>>>> ubiquitous
>>>> mobile wireless computing. Perhaps its me who is missing the point.
>>>> mike
>>>> On Sun, Apr 11, 2010 at 7:40 AM, Martin Packer <packer@duq.edu>
>>>> wrote:
>>>>> On Apr 10, 2010, at 10:30 PM, Rafi Santo wrote:
>>>>>> From the date on the article (March 22), I'd doubt that it was
>>>> an April
>>>>> Fool's joke, though the author certainly does himself no service
>>>> by using
>>>>> somewhat of tongue in cheek and polarizing argumentation strategy
>>>> ("schools
>>>>> are broken, let's replace them with video games!", if I can
>>>> paraphrase...).
>>>>> My university library doesn't provide access to some important
>>>> journals,
>>>>> but it does allow me to read Jonathan Gough's columns. I'm
>>>> copying two here:
>>>>> in the first he solves the global energy crisis; in the second he
>>>> muses on
>>>>> the wonders of capitalism. April Fool's joke? No, he is this
>>>> witty and
>>>>> provocative every week, for a living!
>>>>> =============
>>>>> The life & opinions of Julian Gough
>>>>> I have decided to devote this column to doing only good.
>>>>> I shall start by solving the energy crisis. Now, crisis is a
>>>> terrible
>>>>> description and shortage is worse. The terms of this debate have
>>>> been set by
>>>>> the oil industry, whose worldview was formed when atoms were
>>>> solid. Oil
>>>>> industry executives still see cars as the solution to the global
>>>> threat
>>>>> emanating from horses (who, scientists once predicted, would bury
>>>> the
>>>>> world's cities under 20ft of manure by 1950). But how can you
>>>> have a
>>>>> shortage of energy in a universe made out of nothing but energy?
>>>> On a planet
>>>>> half of which is bathed in high-energy radiation at all times? A
>>>> planet with
>>>>> a core of solid, crystalline iron, which rotates in a boiling
>>>> slurry of
>>>>> molten rock so energetic it can burst through the earth's skin to
>>>> consume
>>>>> cities? A planet with a moon that hauls entire oceans, whales and
>>>> all,
>>>>> several meters up in the air, twice daily? Earth's air pours
>>>> forth raw
>>>>> electricity, in billion-volt bolts, at a global rate of 100 times
>>>> a second.
>>>>> Absurd excesses of energy lash us from every direction, it's a
>>>> miracle we're
>>>>> not all dead. Shortage? The crisis is one of overproduction.
>>>>> Yet people are faffing about attempting to run cars on soya oil.
>>>> Stop it!
>>>>> It's embarrassing! Where is your pride in technological advance?
>>>> Way back in
>>>>> the 1970s, spacecraft already used fuel cells and solar panels
>>>> and elegant
>>>>> gravitational slingshots around distant planets and yet we, in
>>>> the 21st
>>>>> century, are still trying to move forward by essentially lighting
>>>> our own
>>>>> farts.
>>>>> What is this obsession with the internal combustion engine,
>>>> anyway? German
>>>>> engineers can perfect it all they want, they're still setting off
>>>> explosions
>>>>> in a tin can, in order to rotate a stick, so that mechanical
>>>> gears can turn
>>>>> a wheel, with a 15 per cent energy efficiency. It's Victorian.
>>>> And nuclear
>>>>> power is no advance. Nuclear power plants are just used to boil
>>>> water. They
>>>>> are giant kettles. We cracked the atom and we used it to make tea.
>>>>> Why aren't we having more fun with this? Look, if we can't find a
>>>> way to
>>>>> generate power from an iron sphere which is the size of the moon
>>>> and as hot
>>>>> as the sun rotating in a magnetic field beneath our feet, then we
>>>> deserve to
>>>>> sit in the dark until the fission reactor that floods us in
>>>> energy rises the
>>>>> next morning.
>>>>> For the love of God, our planet is flying through the sun's
>>>> magnetic field
>>>>> at a shocking speed. While spinning. It's just a huge dynamo,
>>>> waiting for
>>>>> someone to tap it.  All you have to do is run 100,000-km wires
>>>> out of the
>>>>> earth's magnetic field and into the sun's field. What? How? Make
>>>> the wires
>>>>> out of stuff that's already up there. Use old nuclear warheads to
>>>> blast a
>>>>> few iron asteroids into geosynchronous orbit around earth. Voilá!
>>>> Tiny,
>>>>> fixed moons of solid ore. A little factory builds a big factory
>>>> from the
>>>>> asteroid's material and off you go. Finally, gently lower one end
>>>> to earth,
>>>>> at the equator, using space-elevator physics, and connect it to a
>>>> global
>>>>> grid. Do I have to do everything for you?
>>>>> It's an ideal way for America and China to rebalance their
>>>> accounts with
>>>>> each other, while building something more productive than
>>>> machines for
>>>>> spin-drying lettuce. America needs to replace its dilapidated 1950s
>>>>> electricity infrastructure, and China needs to generate
>>>> electricity for a
>>>>> billion people without cooking the world. Not only would a global
>>>> dynamo
>>>>> generate no greenhouse gases but the heat from the dynamo would
>>>> be radiated
>>>>> into space. (Besides, in the next few years, America and China
>>>> will need
>>>>> something exciting to do together that isn't a war.)
>>>>> You also end up with the bonus of a space elevator, which lowers
>>>> the cost
>>>>> of getting stuff into orbit a hundredfold, so only the first wire
>>>> is really
>>>>> expensive. And the wires would look great at night: big glowing
>>>> lines
>>>>> stretching off into the darkness. Especially if you hung
>>>> ultrathin sheets of
>>>>> glittery solar panel off them too, doubling the energy return.
>>>> Nature was
>>>>> fun while it lasted, but humans now own the planet. We might as
>>>> well
>>>>> decorate it.
>>>>> Sure, converting some of the earth's orbital and rotational
>>>> energy into
>>>>> electricity would eventually slow the planet down, lengthening
>>>> the day and
>>>>> the year,  but we'll enjoy the lie-in. And we could declare the
>>>> extra days
>>>>> holidays. No, no, your thanks are unnecessary. Just name December
>>>> 32nd after
>>>>> me. (And before the protesters get started, tidal friction is
>>>> already
>>>>> slowing the earth's rotation. Go picket the moon).
>>>>> Much of the research has been done: many of the satellites
>>>> passing over
>>>>> your head already use electricity and a kilometre-long wire
>>>> dangling into
>>>>> the earth's magnetic field to raise and lower their orbit.
>>>>> And one of the nicest things about this plan is, unlike burning
>>>> all the
>>>>> oil, it's reversible. If we later found a cleaner, cheaper, more
>>>> fun way to
>>>>> generate energy, we could push electricity back up the wires.
>>>> Resistance
>>>>> would become assistance: instead of slowing us down, the sun's
>>>> magnetic
>>>>> field  would speed the earth up and haul us into our old orbit,
>>>> as if it had
>>>>> never happened.
>>>>> Well, that's the energy crisis solved. Next month, I shall bring
>>>> about
>>>>> world peace.
>>>>> Julian Gough is the author of  "Jude: Level 1" (Old Street
>>>> Publishing)
>>>>> April 30, 2009
>>>>> ============
>>>>> The sacred mystery of capital
>>>>> BYLINE: Julian Gough
>>>>> LENGTH: 1962 words
>>>>> Many prophets foretold the disaster. Rending their garments, they
>>>> cried
>>>>> that these works of man deviated from all that was good and
>>>> proper, and
>>>>> would bring destruction. The prophets were mocked. Some were even
>>>> driven
>>>>> into the wilderness. But then it came-a freezing of markets, a
>>>> collapse of
>>>>> structured products, a destruction of asset classes and a global
>>>> credit
>>>>> crunch. Foretold by the prophets, yet somehow unpredicted by the
>>>> risk models
>>>>> of banks and governments, it wiped trillions of dollars from the
>>>> value of
>>>>> houses and dumped families out in the street in numbers far
>>>> exceeding those
>>>>> of Exodus. The crisis threw communities, and commodities, into
>>>> chaos-from
>>>>> New Zealand to Iceland, from soya to oil-and many bankers were
>>>> fired and
>>>>> great was their woe.
>>>>> Of course, the idea of economics as a religion is not new. As Max
>>>> Weber
>>>>> pointed out early Protestants saw economic success as a sign from
>>>> God that
>>>>> one was of the heavenly elect. It was a small step from there to
>>>> seeking
>>>>> success to ensure one would be saved. Capitalism, as Walter
>>>> Benjamin said,
>>>>> silently took over Reformation Christianity and replaced the
>>>> religion with
>>>>> itself: it became a religion, the western religion. So when
>>>> Protestantism
>>>>> arrived in America, in its purest form, so did capitalism: the
>>>> Catholic
>>>>> Spanish Americas never thrived economically, in contrast to
>>>> Protestant,
>>>>> Anglo-Saxon North America. My own experience bears this out-the
>>>> collapse of
>>>>> Catholicism in Ireland in the 1990s mirrored the rise of
>>>> capitalism: the
>>>>> Celtic tiger was Protestant.
>>>>> But religions evolve, and recent events show that capitalism has
>>>> begun to
>>>>> evolve less in the manner of the Galapagos finches (whose beaks
>>>> adjusted
>>>>> over millennia to suit the berries of their individual island),
>>>> and more in
>>>>> the manner of the Incredible Hulk. Incredible Hulk capitalism can
>>>> expand the
>>>>> muscle of its credit so swiftly that its clothing of real world
>>>> assets
>>>>> cannot stretch fast enough to contain it. Expansion, explosion,
>>>>> collapse-Incredible Hulk capitalism sprawls, stunned and shrunken
>>>> again, in
>>>>> the rags of its assets.
>>>>> Or, returning to our religious analogy, if capitalism was a
>>>> religion, it
>>>>> would now be a delightfully demented pseudo-scientific cult.
>>>> Incredible Hulk
>>>>> capitalism is to the capitalism of Adam Smith what Scientology is
>>>> to the
>>>>> Christianity of Christ. Both modern high finance and Scientology
>>>> use the
>>>>> language and tools of science to ends that are religious, not
>>>> scientific.
>>>>> Both meet a need, a yearning which the old forms of religion and
>>>> capitalism
>>>>> no longer meet. The need for a mysterious power greater than us,
>>>> in which we
>>>>> can believe. It must be powerful-but it must also be mysterious.
>>>> And mystery
>>>>> has been vanishing from the world ever faster, ever since Galileo.
>>>>> We know what the stars are made of, and can compute their course
>>>> through
>>>>> the heavens for the next 10,000 years. We can explain the storms
>>>> and floods
>>>>> that were once evidence of the wrath of God. But as the advance
>>>> of science
>>>>> has removed the divine mystery from much of life, the advance of
>>>> free market
>>>>> capitalism has put it back. Only modern economics can now provide
>>>> forces
>>>>> that we don't understand. And we need that in our lives.
>>>>> Critics such as Naomi Klein are almost exactly wrong when they
>>>> say that the
>>>>> giddy boom and bust cycles of modern capitalism are forced on
>>>> unwilling
>>>>> people by big corporations. On the contrary, we the people impose
>>>> these
>>>>> rhythms on capital. We've always wanted higher highs and lower
>>>> lows. That's
>>>>> why we drink and take drugs. A flat life is no life; that's why
>>>> people kill
>>>>> themselves in Scandinavia. Boom and bust, party and hangover:
>>>> they are human
>>>>> nature, as natural as the seasons or the clap. Modern capitalism
>>>> just
>>>>> magnifies our urge to binge and purge, on food, on housing, on
>>>> commodities,
>>>>> on life. Don't listen to what people say-we always complain, when
>>>> free to do
>>>>> so-look at what we do. In any situation where there is a
>>>>> barrier between capitalism and the
>>>>> communist/Islamist/Christian/self-sufficient agrarian
>>>> alternative, in which
>>>>> direction do the people jump, tunnel, swim, smuggle themselves
>>>> and their
>>>>> children?
>>>>> Capitalism is seen as arrogant, but that is merely the rage of
>>>> Caliban on
>>>>> seeing his reflection. The extraordinary thing about capitalism
>>>> is its
>>>>> humility and refusal to judge. It will give us what we want; it
>>>> will not
>>>>> force on us what it thinks we need. Often we are disgusted by
>>>> what we
>>>>> discover that we want-but that reflects on us, not on the servant
>>>> who brings
>>>>> us our fetish gear and saturated fats. It would bring us organic
>>>> turnips
>>>>> just as happily. If we cease to desire a product, the producer
>>>> changes, or
>>>>> ceases to exist. There is nothing more powerless than a
>>>> corporation.
>>>>> So how has something so powerless spread so fast? From Adam Smith
>>>> to now is
>>>>> little more than 200 years. Islam, Christianity and the religions
>>>> of the
>>>>> east took far longer to cover far smaller territories. And, even
>>>> more
>>>>> interesting, why has modern capitalism suddenly, explosively,
>>>> sped up its
>>>>> spread in the past 30 years?
>>>>> For a system to bloodlessly replace an entrenched system, the
>>>> newcomer must
>>>>> offer some significant improvement. And it must offer it to
>>>> everyone. The
>>>>> religion of Abraham and Moses did not explode across the globe
>>>> until Paul
>>>>> decided to make the version of Judaism preached by Jesus open to
>>>> everyone,
>>>>> regardless of birth. Likewise, old-style capitalism was incapable
>>>> of
>>>>> becoming a universal religion, because it did not offer the hope of
>>>>> salvation to all. Only those born into an elite of landowners and
>>>> capital
>>>>> owners could access capital. But the recent rise of venture
>>>> capital threw
>>>>> capitalism open to all, and made it at last a potentially universal
>>>>> religion.
>>>>> Only one other change was necessary, and it came in 1971. For as
>>>> long as
>>>>> money had to be backed by gold, economics was rooted in the
>>>> material world
>>>>> (just as Christianity was merely an interesting philosophy for as
>>>> long as
>>>>> Christ was alive). The abandonment of the gold standard was the
>>>> crucifixion
>>>>> and resurrection of capitalism; the traumatic and liberating
>>>> event which
>>>>> allowed capitalism to be purely religious and entirely driven by
>>>> faith. As
>>>>> with all religions, once its link to the physical world was
>>>> severed, free
>>>>> market capitalism mourned briefly, then experienced a surge of
>>>> energy and
>>>>> expansion.
>>>>> In an explosion of credit markets, deficit spending and faith-
>>>> based money,
>>>>> it overwhelmed Soviet and Chinese communism and shook Islamic
>>>> societies to
>>>>> their roots. It expanded further and faster than Islam after the
>>>> death of
>>>>> Muhammad. The IMF and the World Bank sent their missionaries to
>>>> every
>>>>> nation. And their language has now replaced Latin as the
>>>> universal language,
>>>>> spoken by a sombre, dark-clad priestly caste, but mouthed without
>>>>> understanding by the ordinary people. People need that, they
>>>> hunger for
>>>>> mysteries, a priesthood, shamans in touch with great forces. And
>>>> modern high
>>>>> finance, like the Latin of the Christian Church, has profound
>>>> mysteries at
>>>>> its core. Not even bankers know what a collateralised debt
>>>> obligation cubed
>>>>> really is.
>>>>> Where once the essential mystery was contained in the phrase fiat
>>>> lux-let
>>>>> there be light-now it is contained in the phrase "fiat money."
>>>> Money, that
>>>>> weightless thing, that spirit that is everywhere and nowhere:
>>>> that nothing
>>>>> in everything, is the Holy Spirit of capitalism. And its touch
>>>> can transform
>>>>> you in this life, giving it a big advantage over earlier
>>>> religions, which
>>>>> offer you only consolation in the next. A bank with a capital
>>>> base of $10bn
>>>>> can loan out $100bn. Yet with that money, people build real
>>>> houses, drive
>>>>> real cars, eat real bread and drink real wine. Is this not an act
>>>> of
>>>>> creation? Is this not a mystery worthy of God?
>>>>> A banker can make a $1bn loan to a mining company. This faith-
>>>> based money,
>>>>> backed by nothing, electronically transferred, is used to turn
>>>> hills into
>>>>> holes. The mining company ships the resulting ore around the
>>>> world. We live
>>>>> in the first age in which faith can literally move mountains. But
>>>> as with
>>>>> all religious expansions, success bred hubristic dementia. The
>>>> elevation of
>>>>> metaphysical above physical turned into a kind of contempt for
>>>> the physical.
>>>>> The world in which over $500 trillion in credit default swaps
>>>> could be
>>>>> created by mostly US banks was also the world in which the US
>>>> hadn't built a
>>>>> new oil refinery or nuclear reactor in 25 years, and whose
>>>> bridges and
>>>>> levees were collapsing through lack of maintenance.
>>>>> In any given era, the one true religion is so all-embracing, so
>>>> saturates
>>>>> every area of life, that it almost vanishes. God accompanied the
>>>> medieval
>>>>> Christian to the toilet, to bed, judged his thoughts, every action.
>>>>> Communism was so all-pervasive that husbands and wives censored
>>>> private
>>>>> conversations (I live in east Berlin, and even today you can tell
>>>> the older
>>>>> East Germans by the way they pause before replying to a question,
>>>> as though
>>>>> they must still weigh up all the implications of speaking
>>>> honestly).
>>>>> Critics of consumer capitalism despair over the foolishness of
>>>> the masses,
>>>>> who buy what they want packaged as what they need. But this is to
>>>>> misunderstand the transaction. We pray with our money, which is
>>>> backed by
>>>>> nothing but faith, and a miracle happens-our baskets fill with
>>>> goods, far
>>>>> more things than we could ever make or grow ourselves. In all other
>>>>> religions, you go to the temple and give the guardians food that,
>>>> with
>>>>> difficulty, you have grown. Under this new, improved religion,
>>>> the temple
>>>>> gives food to you. What happens, every time we shop in Tesco, is
>>>> a miracle
>>>>> on a par with the loaves and the fishes.
>>>>> Like all true religions, capitalism has entered into the cracks
>>>> between
>>>>> people, filled the air, so that we can no longer find a place to
>>>> view it.
>>>>> Except perhaps the desert... A few years ago I attended the
>>>> Burning Man
>>>>> festival in Nevada. A city housing 30,000 people is built in the
>>>> desert, for
>>>>> a single week. A Xanadu, dreamed into being every August. Burning
>>>> Man's most
>>>>> interesting experiment is to run on a gift economy. Coffee and
>>>> ice are the
>>>>> only products for sale. Every other need must be met out of your
>>>> own
>>>>> resources or by gift from another. After the festival I helped
>>>> take the city
>>>>> apart, leaving no trace that it had ever been. While doing so, I
>>>> led a life
>>>>> that resembled that of a monk. I saw no money for those two
>>>> weeks. When I
>>>>> was hungry, I was fed. If I needed clothes for the night, or
>>>> tools to do a
>>>>> job, I asked, and I received.
>>>>> Eventually, I returned from the desert, in a 22-wheeler truck.
>>>> The truck
>>>>> stopped at a truck stop. I went in and took the food and water
>>>> that I
>>>>> needed. As I walked out, a man standing behind a counter stared
>>>> at me as I
>>>>> passed. And I stopped, and realised that I would have to find
>>>> tokens made of
>>>>> paper and hand them to this stranger, and that all the complex
>>>> human
>>>>> interaction involved in feeding a stranger, and all the
>>>> difficulty and sweat
>>>>> of raising the food, had been replaced by an entirely symbolic
>>>> exchange of
>>>>> green paper strips bearing an eye and a pyramid. And it seemed as
>>>> wonderful
>>>>> and arbitrary as it must to an Amazonian tribesman encountering
>>>> the city.
>>>>> Back in my city, I switched on my miraculous electric light
>>>> ("fiat lux!")
>>>>> and looked out across the miraculous city which no individual
>>>> could have
>>>>> built. I saw miraculous light in the window of the rich and the
>>>> same light
>>>>> in the window of the poor. Many talk about the inequalities of
>>>> modern
>>>>> capitalism. But the truth is more subtle, and strange.
>>>> Christianity once
>>>>> preached the equality of man, but could find no way to make the
>>>> vision real.
>>>>> Communism tried, and failed, to force equality upon us. But only
>>>> our modern,
>>>>> excitable, faith-based capitalism has delivered this degree of
>>>> uniformity
>>>>> and equality. Ikea, with its Û6 chairs, is delivering not only
>>>> the Christian
>>>>> but the communist heaven: everyone equal, sitting on the same
>>>> chair,
>>>>> illuminated by the same lamp, all over the
>>>>> world._______________________________________________
>>>>> xmca mailing list
>>>>> xmca@weber.ucsd.edu
>>>>> http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca
>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>> xmca mailing list
>>>> xmca@weber.ucsd.edu
>>>> http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca
>>>> --
>>>> Kurt Squire
>>>> Associate Professor, Educational Communications & Technology,
>>>> Curriculum & Instruction
>>>> University of Wisconsin-Madison
>>>> Associate Director of Educational Research and Development,
>>>> Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery
>>>> 544b TEB
>>>> 225 N. Mills St.
>>>> Madison, WI 53706
>>>> 608 263 4672
>>>> --
>>>> Kurt Squire
>>>> Associate Professor, Educational Communications & Technology,
>>>> Curriculum & Instruction
>>>> University of Wisconsin-Madison
>>>> Associate Director of Educational Research and Development,
>>>> Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery
>>>> 544b TEB
>>>> 225 N. Mills St.
>>>> Madison, WI 53706
>>>> 608 263 4672
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> xmca mailing list
>>> xmca@weber.ucsd.edu
>>> http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca
>> _______________________________________________
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