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Posts Tagged ‘history’

In “Tent City, Tent Tent City” we learn of the movement in Austin to create a roaming Tent City to inspire awareness and legislative change around ideas of homelessness.  The tent city uprising piggy backed a little on the occupy Austin movement due to the fact that the laws used to restrict occupy Austin activities were the same laws preventing homeless people from squatting in public places.

I wasn’t fully aware of this reality because I was so caught up in the basic ideas being reported about occupy.  I was more focused on the 1% vs. 99% message.  Which in reflection isn’t even close to the more fundamental problem of property ownership.

What is property?  What in the world are these empty parks and buildings and old alleys?  All these public spaces and abandoned privately owned spaces?  These are opportunities for the “owners” of these spaces to extract revenue.  And the essay makes a powerful point in that the revenue increases the more people are kept on the move.  The key to property value isn’t in having people inhabit it!  It’s actually about the potential to inhabit!  Creating desire to inhabit is what we call development!  As long as people inhabit a space one can’t be improving it and selling it to others.

Ultimately the tent city movement fizzled for a variety of reasons. The participants made, in my opinion, a wise choice in disbanding the movement once a point a been made and the media started to get weird.

This issue of laws against homelessness – you can’t occupy public spaces in some cities (see this great report for overviews) – and that of property as something are far too big to be tackled in one movement.  Property ownership is the basis of civilization.  Our entire world is drawn into nations, states, cities, zones, personal real estate.  Ours is a history of conquest over those who occupy property we want to claim as our own.  This history will not be easily overthrown.

Though I do believe as we move into a more predominantly digital existence the idea of property ownership will erode.  I don’t see a short term end to property ownership because even the digital requires physical resources.  The difference though between the past and the digital future is that it is much more difficult to lay claim to digital property because it is so easily reproduced and modified and shared and expanded.  The idea of protecting intellectual property is already cracking for mostly practical reasons – it’s not physically possible to do so, even my offensive measures.   Beyond the digital I wonder how comfortable younger generations are getting with “renting” or “sharing” property.   (stats on rent/own in housing and some rent/own survey here)

The essay closes with a thought that perhaps it’s best to “keep on the move” as a means of experimentation towards a better world order.   It’s hard to argue with the idea of experimenting with ways of living that don’t include property ownership is probably a worthwhile exercise.   The way we do things currently – increasing income gaps, more punitive laws against homelessness, climate change – seems hardly sustainable for ANY way of living for lots of people.

Impasses Questions at the end of the essay responses follow.

Question 1: “How does the noting of profit involving bodies being set in motion intertwine with the idea that camps in order to survive, must be on the move?  Is this tactic playing into the profit-based motion or is it a form of subversion, a way out? Would standing ground and defending a camp be a resistant tactic, and in what capacity, to what degree?”

It’s all about the type of motion that’s inspired.  The intent to own a home or own a different home is what drives property valuation.   Simply being on the move from camp to camp doesn’t necessarily do that.  Though if we were in a fight for camps in more opportune places for survival the camps would be competing for space and thus there would be an opportunity to profit off of offering campers better places to camp.   The fact is this isn’t a new problem in the world.  It’s always been a competition for resources.  What’s changed is that people abide by various laws and/or give into various trade offs for survival.  One of those trade offs is going with the flow in society vs. subverting it.   Camping in places where it’s legally not ok to camp is subversive.  It is resistant and could be useful.  I believe the Occupy movement made a good case for taking over spaces that people in power frequent can stir a discussion that might just lead to change.

Question 2: “How do we move from homeless camps being a method of survival to a method of offensive resistance? Are the participants looking to just find a more comfortable way to live or a new way of living?”

I don’t know if there’s any relevant response to this.   The later part strikes me as nonsensical.   In either  case it’s a new way of living.   And in the former, EVERYTHING WE DO IS A METHOD OF SURVIVAL.  all of it, even resistance to existing power structures.

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I rather like this tight piece on the history behind labor day.

With that in mind, it is worth recalling President Abraham Lincoln’s words during the dark early days of the real Civil War. “Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed,” he told Congress in December 1861. “Labor is the superior of capital and deserves much the higher consideration,”

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Emotion research is now routinely referenced as a part of an evolutionary substrate. However, explicit experimental evolutionary analyses of emotions remain rare.

The implications of natural selection for several classic questions about emotions and emotional disorders should be the focus of research programs that are stagnant with 19th and early 20th Century hypotheses that cannot be proven but are failed to be dismissed by those doing research in the area marring if not diluting the term ‘social scientist’.

Emotions are NOT special modes of operation or unique states shaped by natural selection. They ARE conditioned artifacts of centuries of classical conditioning between flight or fight related contingencies that then are conditioned using conditioned products of those states to set up additional pairings that come to elicit response once related to fear, threat, escape from danger, avoidance of peril, and other euphemisms of exhaust [with all the physiological and nervous system components apparent as if a real threat or escape from isolation were present] from contingencies involving wide swings in homeostasis. They are conditioned most assuredly and supported by the environments (including people) that have notions [history in context] of similar states.

Collectively they are, or they make up, a large scale of response parameters [behavior sets] that may have or potentially do increase fitness by learned adaptations to challenging situations that occurred over the course of the individual’s history and were taught to generations over the course of that tree’s evolution. Some societies are almost devoid of emotional content while others are mired in emotional waves as a ‘tradition’ or a cultural response to the vagaries of life’s changes.

In all cases emotions are valenced.

Valence, as used here means the property along a continuum (positive – negative) of an event, object, or state. Ambivalence here would refer to no particular valance based on the context or history of the organism. No, valences are not just for humans but are represented differentially by any organism that displays changes in affectations based on behavior.

Valence is not an absolute property of any identified emotion but is relative based on context and history. Selection shapes each case where contingencies that have influenced fitness in the past shape expression. In situations that decrease fitness, negative emotions are useful and positive emotions are harmful.

Selection has partially differentiated subtypes of emotions from generic precursor states to deal with specialized situations: our communication of internal states that are not available to view by the outside world. This communication of subjective states – emotions – has resulted in untidy associations that blur across dimensions rendering the quest for simple or objectivity futile. For some social scientists this state of affairs doubles their efforts. For others, the recognition of emotions as exhaust is good enough for both communication and but also the redirection of research time and effort on things, events and states that lead to a better understanding of what’s going on in the world. Non-scientists use the same approach to make their course corrections only those sets of changes lack a unique vocabulary to allow communication and efforts to be reinforced effectively by the environment.

Selection has shaped mechanisms that control the expression of emotions on the basis of an individual’s appraised value of a state based on the past and the current context. This is the conversion of data to meaning. This meaning of events, etc. is the synthesis for the individual to use in evaluation of subsequent conditions – some of which may be related to avoidance and some of which may be related to acquisition of reinforcers whether they are goals, etc. or states of existence.

The prevalence of emotional disorders can be attributed to several conflicting values [also conditioned in us all] and valences that go with them as factors that contribute to something being a ‘disorder’ [negative] or a ‘passion’ [positive].

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I’m embarrassed to say I know next to nothing about the history of Southern California.  And it is a most fascinating history that starts with a fascinating culture – The Chumash.

You can gather the history from other sources.  What surprised me was the speed at which the Chumash population disappeared.  In 1769 a Spanish expedition arrived along the Santa Barbara coast and within 60 years this population was a mere 10% of its peak.

No, not a unique tale at that time.

What’s remarkable is that this coastline had been inhabited by  largely isolated bands of Chumash for at least 10,000 years.  In 60 years, poof.

The Chumash society was fairly complex with all the tricked out social things we “expect” – currency, division of labor, geo political systems, etc. etc.  Of particular interest is that this culture was a hunter-gather culture, not yet farming.  Again, not a totally unique tale, but certainly more rare and worthy of study to understand how various aspects of culture play out under less common contingencies.

The language is very cool and is what’s called linguistic isolate – this language was not derived from any other language.  There are many isolates (language has to start somewhere!), so that’s not unique (look at a few more from North America).  What is unique goes back to the idea that this language had basically been developed in isolation for well over 10,000 years.  Again, not unique, but rare and probably worth more intensive study.

Plenty more to research.  I’m working through the first book in this list of publications from UC Press.

Cool stuff.

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Phone rings. I pick up the phone without call identity.

A voice I don’t recognize asks for me. “This is John” I reply.

“Hi, this is Mike C…” The phone goes silent for a second or two that seems to be a lot longer. “Damn,” I respond, “it is good to hear your voice Mike, C… [repeating his name as if to reassure myself I heard it right] …Where the hell have you been?”

A little background:

We last saw each other in the early 70’s. We were raw, immortal, and passionate about everything. Bright guys who were luckily stupid or stupidly lucky…or both. We had nothing but everything in front of us and we saw clearly those who had a cloud around themselves and those that had the wind at their backs. We did things we weren’t suppose to do and we didn’t do what we should have done. He taught me early on to “go fast” – also our special word for our favorite controlled substance – and the value of ‘wishing’… “John, you can wish in one hand and spit in the other and you know which one will fill up first!” To this day my kids don’t use the term “wish” very much.

Then, for no apparent reason we went separate ways after an ice climbing experience where our friend slipped and fell several hundred feet down a razor runway of ice. We all laughed about it when we got back down but we all knew we had escaped another bullet.

Back on the phone we go back and forth to catch up on what has been 30 years of experiences. I had not seen or talked to him or his lovely wife Jane for a long time although I thought of him during that time on many occasions. We also had common friends around the country. I met people in business that knew Mike and just smiled when his name was mentioned, making sure that I knew him as well as they thought they knew him prior to sharing with me their ‘adventures’ with him. Our ice climbing friend in San Francisco recently sent his email over with his email address and I pinged Mike in the hopes of connecting again. It worked.

Jobs, adventures of my own, wives, divorces, remarriages and more adventures – both positive and those less so. We went down the check list of catch-up:

  • Children (mine, not theirs)
  • Home – past and present
  • Speed bumps encountered
  • Jobs – past and present
  • Common friends –
  • Current passions –

In all too short a time the call was over with commitments to exchange data on current locations, etc. and to keep in touch – probably with email due to his travels… Jane would follow up in the next few days while he was on his latest adventure.

I hung up and it started.

“What he hell just happened…?”

In the past we were connected in so many ways and now we were reminiscing. It was not getting older that rubbed me wrong… I was jealous that he was who he was right now… leaving me with some explaining to do to me on why that was so.

So here is the question set:

1. What was the reason for the jealousy?

2. What data was I processing that made me want to say more and listen less?

3. Did I really know him today or was he a figment of the past intense experiences?

So give me your answers…

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