Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Royal Pain in the Ass

For the past couple of weeks I've been living in a strange, faraway land, far from the hurricane-flooded shores where some of the world's most feckless politicians are arguing over the best way to bail out a swimming pool of red ink using teaspoons, and where my boat is moored waiting for me. It is a land where it snows a lot, and where, right now, people can't wait for the hard freeze, at which point the skies clear, the air dries out, and the scene turns into a permanent winter wonderland—until the spring melt comes some months later. (The snow is not plowed but removed, and there are never any “snow days” for school or work.)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Practice of Anarchy

In my previous three-part series on anarchy (available here, here and here) I argued, among other things, that anarchic (that is to say, non-hierarchical and self-organizing) systems are the norm in evolution and in nature and have also been the norm in human societies through much of their existence. They have a great deal to offer us as we attempt to navigate a landscape dominated by the failure of various centrally controlled, rigidly organized, explicitly codified hierarchical systems based on complex chains of command that have come to dominate human societies in recent centuries. I have also pointed out that, based on recent results from complexity theory, such hierarchical systems are collapse-prone. This is because they scale badly, increasing their metabolic cost per unit size as their size increases, which is just the opposite of how living organisms behave. This is also because, in order to continue to meet their internal maintenance requirements, they have to grow exponentially until they encounter physical limits.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

S/V Hogfish is for sale!

[UPDATE: Hogfish is under agreement as of Feb. 23, 2013. It stayed on the market all of 5 minutes. I should build a boat...]

Next week I will launch into a new series of articles about a particular brave new anarchist experiment I am thinking of launching, but in the meantime here is some housekeeping.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Meanwhie in Ireland

Last week I spent three days attending the Kilkenomics conference in sunny Kilkenny, Ireland. About an hour and a half by taxi from the Dublin Airport, Kilkenny is a smallish medieval town on a smallish non-navigable river, its skyline dominated by an impressive, gloomy castle and a few equally gloomy cathedrals of grey stone. Its narrow streets are full of mostly empty shops and pubs (the shop to pub ratio seems on the order of 3 to 1) and during daylight hours they are clogged solid with mostly empty little cars. Maybe it's because a lot of the little cars are diesels, or maybe the local brand of petrol/gasoline is heavy on aromatics, but standing in the street in Kilkenny often smells same as being downwind of a freighter. One morning, when it briefly wasn't raining, I took a walk around the town, and it could be quite lovely if it wasn't for the insane amount of street traffic and that awful damp.