Joys of human invention
Hello, and thank you for joining me on another super special episode of Jay Wont dart's podcast.
For episode 35 I'll talk about some
I like alot of things, both living and not alive. I like birds, bees and blueberries, but also expensive technology, cars, computers and laser death rays. To reference a prior episode about the scary old hospital here, as I walked through the old ruins, its not quite like roman era marble blocks, all weathered away over the centuries, but it sure is awfully dated inside, I started to think about how cheap a lot of man made things are. Things are made to be disposable, things get outdated from how they look. Take buildings, in just 10 years a building will be seriously out of fashion really. I remember thinking Splash Palace, the fancy swimming pool here in Invercargill, it was amazingly modern, it had an expensive, and modern design, kind of swooping lines, like a split open shellfish really. Its in pastel colours too, very light red, green, maybe pink? Made in the late 90's I think, it looks kinda crappy now. The council cheaped out on a lot of the materials, to save money, I seem to remember it costing half what it initially was going to. Within the first year I think, tiles inside started to break off, coming off the walls altogether or chipping, the steam room caused storage areas behind it to rot, the wave pool was designed for kids, it has, well, wave generator machines that make artifical waves that go through the pool, that was useless to teach children how to swim in, because of its odd shape, I know, I was a swimming instructor for a couple years. During a bad storm, part of the roof over the wave pool ripped right off, it was held down with sand bags during repair. The problems dont stop there, the main pool was meant to not really need chemicals to keep the water clean, or they were to be very slight, so you wouldnt get red eyes, that filtering system never worked, so chlorine had to be dumped in, I need googles when I swim otherwise my eyes get all red and sore. Parts of the floor around the pools would get very slippery, made from tiles, and gritty cement, that felt like sandpaper really, you can grate your feet on it. The hydroslide never worked properly, it was completely made wrong, the tubing was from an old Invercargill pool, I loved that hydroslide, it was in North Invercargill, I didnt get to go often, when I did I loved the hydroslide. It was a big deal. The south Invercargill pool before Splash palace, on Connon Street by Pak n Save, it never had anything fancy like hydroslides. When the kinda dingy south invercargill, and ritzy north invercargill pools shut down, the hydroslide was to go at the new, single Invercargill pool. For some reason, they tubing never was right, and so the fancy recycled hydroslide was slow, very short and boring as hell. At first it was rough inside too, you could get deep marks from joins between tubes. I've seen some hydroslides where you need to have foam mats, like the awesome Nelson hydroslide. If you come off, you get scoured by the rough fiberglass.
So, the hydroslide didnt work. The pool needed extra seating, that had to be bolted on to one side of the building years later, it cost a huge amount of money, and the main building had to be extended out over the pavement. A learners pool was eventually made, since the wave pool sucked big time for swimming lessons.
Ok, well, my point is, this huge fancy man made building was so amazing when it opened, the opening ceremony was at night, it was on national tv, that lotto break between the big family movie on a Saturday night, about 7:30PM, where the lotto ticket numbers are announced live. I had to be in Dunedin , and watched on TV. It was a big deal, probably the best swimming pool in New Zealand! But, it was rushed through, money was saved wherever possible, and the thing started to fall apart quickly. Now, its dated looking, and I have bad memories about it. While Im picking on Splash Palace, I should probably mention when I first got to go, there were huge lines since it was new, I think we waited literally hours outside in the queue, you dont normally need to wait for ANYTHING in little old Invers. The sun was so hot, it had melted the new bitumen, fun word to say, the black tar kind of car park flooring, what roads are made from. So we got sticky tar all over our feet. Oh, and then theres that time I did the longest distance for school swimming, 1500 metres, the pool is 50 metres, split into two 25 metres lengths, so thats 30 laps there and back. I started off doing it with Chelsea in front of me, she decided not to do the full distance this time, and got out, I stopped too, to see what the problem was, I was told to carry on, so I did alone. It was weird not following someone anymore, the pool felt lonely, very quiet, and nothing to look at. It took me about an hour to do the total distance, I was going very slowly to save energy. I thought my friends would be watching from the side of the pool, cheering me on. So I had that kinda bravery in my head, like im going to get some respect for doing the 1500 Metres. When I actually had done the distance, I thought I had another two laps to go for some reason, I got smacked on the head with a kickboard, SLAP they go when they hit the water, I got hit on the head, bit my lip and hit the wall! It was the crazy old coach guy, telling me time to stop. He said something like "hmmngg good on ya lad hmmmmggaaach burhogh *COUGH*" as I stood up dazed from hitting the poolside with my smacked head. Turns out, my friends were kinda watching, and saying "hes going to stop this lap, no, this lap", placing bets about when I'd give up, not believing in me at all! Bastards! Whats worse, my two best equal friends had only done 50Metres each, thats 100 metres between the two of them! I could have done that when I were 2 years old! Scum!
This has turned into quite the Splash Palace episode huh? Ok, so what I was saying before, the pool was all cool and new, it was shiny, and the best pool in the country, it was on national primetime television for an opening by the prime minister, I think. But, within a year or two, it was falling apart, and now ten years on, its kinda shitty looking. What I'm trying to say is, often man made things break down, or go out of fashion quickly. Splash Palace was falling apart after a year or two, cutting edge for 5 years maybe, ten years on it sucks. Compare this to a bird, at the old hospital when we were taking things away, I saw some dead birds inside the old abandoned hospital wards, a sparrow that looked like it was sleeping. Its feathers were all perfect, very clean looking. Perhaps it just starved to death, trapped inside after it climbed in through a leak hole in the roof. It was close to a window, it could have been flying straight into the glass until it killed itself for all I know. I hate when birds do that, its really upsetting. Its kind of like they are in a blender.
But even with my gruesome thoughts about how it must have died, it was still so much nicer than all the things around it, this dead animal was so much prettier than any of the bedside cabinets, or the brown paper bags saying "patients belongings", or the metal bedpans old people have crapped in thousands of times. Looking at the pattern of its feathers, it was so perfectly beautiful, in a way that modern colour schemes, fads, fashions, just dont normally live up to. Using the Invercargill swimming pool again, it was dated within ten years, compared to Sparrows that have been the same for hundreds of years, maybe thousands, or even millions, and still look incredibly nice. They're not made out fancy colours like hummingbirds, they cant fly as well as a Dragonfly, and they dont quite have the same appeal as Blackbirds to me, but the dead Sparrow was so much nicer looking than the dead hospital. Just in front is the modern hospital, that was opened 5 years or so ago. Its also plagued with pastel colours, like Splash Palace, theres these painted rectangles on the sides, lavender, light green, light pink, a light blue, a purple I think. Its shitty looking! Absolute bullshit compared to the prettiness of a simple dead bird. Using only three colours, brown, grey and black, the sparrow was so much nicer than the hospital building, with all those awful bright/faded pastel fruit colours.
So, I can understand that aspect to the manmade creation haters flying spittle braying, that most buildings that are slabs of concrete, thrown together by tradesmen, they dont last over time! They are ugly compared to natural animals, or even sand dunes, mountains, waves. I totally understand that.
BUT, BUT, there are plenty of beautiful man made buildings too, things like Skyscrapers, many of those are just terrrific. My favourite that I can think of would be the Chrysler building, in New York. I like it better than the Empire State Building, The Empire State is taller and more well known, but its a more boring looking shape. The Chrysler looks thinner, its rounded at the top, with shiny steel ornamentation up to the spire. Coming off the building, on corners, are giant Eagles, based on a Chrysler car decoration at the time. The Chrysler Building was started in 1928, and finished in 1930. The Chrysler cars of the time are long gone really, and I dont like ANY american cars generally, but the building is still amazing to look at. To think, very soon Chrysler might be a forgotten name altogether, the way the American Car makers have been since the 1970's. I said to my dad recently, its funny that the only time that Americans made arguably good cars was in the 1950's, and 1960's. When the rest of the world had been at war, getting factories and millions of people blown up, and then struggling to rebuild. As soon as the Japanese and Germans had their shit together again, they kicked america firmly in the butt, I dont think theres ever been an american car as good as a German or Japanese car of the same age. If we think that american car companies got it all wrong in the 1970s, thats when America was all tangled up in Vietnam, while Japan had rebuilt and was designed cars American people wanted. Now in 2009, while America is at war in the middle east, their car companies are begging for more bailouts. Thats a good case for Pacifism if ever I heard one!
About buildings, I dont like large crowds, I'm from a city of 50,000 people. If theres a single person at the supermarket counter ahead of me, I consider it a line. If I could have the house of my dreams, I'd actually choose to live underground, somewhat like a hobbit hole. Its apparently very good for the environment, heating costs are basically nothing, its stronger, hence the reason why people were meant to hide in bunkers during the cold war, and its not an eyesore, a grassy hill with a window or two on one side is not going to date that fast, and even if it does, Im sure I can update the window cheaper than most people would spend updating an entire building. To live underground, in a warm and very light home, I think thats great. You could have the entire "roof" of your house for a garden, everyone could have all the fruit trees they needed, there would be no concrete, it would be a paradise.
I think a lot of the worlds problems must be caused by overpopulation. Reading from NPG.org, the Negative Population Growth organisation site, advocating smaller american families to reduce the number of people living in America, the worlds population was just 3 billion or less in 1950, we hit 4 billion in 1974, 5 billion in the year I myself were born, 1987, 6 billion around 1999 and we will be at 7 billion around 20 13. There will be, according to NPG.org, 7 billion people in the world, in just 4 years. Four years, and remember, as I record this episode, 2009 is older rather than newer.
We were at 3 billion in 1950, 50 years later, the year 2000 we were over 6 billion. We'd doubled in population in 50 years. In another 50 years, NPG.org says we will be at 9 billion. 100 years, 1950 to 2050, and we will have gone from under 3 billion to over 9 billion people. In that time, new oil wont have grown in useful amounts, the earth itself wont have expanded to make more livable space, the oceans havnt become deeper to provide more water....
There must be an ideal number, a world population where we are not too hot, not too cold, but just right, so sayth Goldilocks. The website I used for my statistics said america would be better at 1950's numbers, about 150 million Americans instead of 300 million as today. So, lets say the entire world should be what it were in 1950, we would have half the number of people as today, just 3 billion, not six.
I dont know about you, but I grew up just living with my mother, 2 people living in the house from what I can remember, I'd live with my dad for a weekend once every two weeks. My whole immediate family is 3 people, and most of the time I only lived with one at a time. I know my family wasnt causing the problem of overpopulation, all 3 of us. My dad grew up with 9 people in his immediate family, thats 3 times more than I had. My mother had 4 people living in her parents house, thats twice what I had.
So, if the developed countries, if you count New Zealand as developed with our slow internet access , and Southlands rolled r'ssssssssss, are declining in family size, who is making up the bulk of population growth? Third world countries? China is trying to control its population, one child per family and all that, China will soon go from number one largest country with 1.3 billion, to second behind India, which is currently somewhere around 1 billion, from having less children, and thus less people. To control other third world countries, do we need more disease and famine? Thats awful, shocking to think about, I thought people were suffering and dying nonstop, especially in poor countries, and yet we've doubled in number worldwide in just 50 years. If I wanted to be crazy, I might say this current Swine Flu deal is an American conspiracy to wipe out people worldwide, I wont go into that though.
So, if we say that with more people in the world, using more resources, making more pollution to achieve the same level of consumerism as America has had for decades, could that be the main cause of what makes things so bad today?
I asked my friend Elizabeth , of NZ Vegan podcast about what she thought about modern life. Elizabeth has lived in New York, Americas largest city, and has many friends from all around the world, so I thought she would have some inspiring things to add to this episode
Thank you to Elizabeth for being on my podcast, yo u can find NZ Vegan podcast on iTunes, just search for NZ Vegan and you will see the real, gen u whine NZ Vegan Podcast itself, as well as a few imitators, including some jerk with a Dragonfly for his podcast artwork.
I'd like to talk about the power we have now that we have never had before. Computers have given so much freedom, for people to share and talk to each other no matter where they live, or what language they speak. Its given governments and "The Man" the ability to track us, but also more ways to get around the mainstream media too. If I dont like that veganism isnt mentioned on tv, theres no Channel 6, the vegan channel, at least in New Zealand, then I can make my own podcast and talk about it, nobody can block me, well, maybe The Great Firewall of China makes things harder for my Chinese listeners, BUT, even people living in China can somewhat easily get around their government as it tries to crack down on internet access. All it takes is one person to figure something out, and boom, everyone can be told how to do it easily, a program could be made by a very smart person, and a not so sophisticated person could be told "double click this, and you'll bypass the restriction". Adam Curry mentions people linking WIFI together, if all the phone lines went down, in theory at least, people could link all their laptops etc together through wireless connections, just one person with internet access could share it through their computer to others who can wirelessly connect to each other.
I dont have a car, I dont smoke, I dont drink alcohol, I dont take drugs, I dont even eat meat. But, take away my computer? Um, thats my one vice, if you consider the greatest invention of mankind a bad thing to use on a daily basis. I always wanted an Apple computer, ever since the Principal at my primary school, St Josephs school on Eye street Invercargill got the school new iMac G3 computers. He was a mac user, and so got the school mac computers. I think each room had an iMac, and there were one or two iBook laptop computers. Some of the teachers hadnt grown up with computers and had to be taught how to use them. I remember the Principal had a top of the line iMac for himself, an iMac DV, the big difference you could tell was that it was not Bondi Blue, or Tangerine in colour, it was see through BLACK. Sure it had a good graphics card inside, but the things I noticed were that it was black, and had an Apple Pro Optical Mouse. I loved that mouse, it was the first Mouse I'd ever seen that used an optical tracking sensor instead of a rubber coated metal ball. I've now collected a few Apple Pro mice, I love the things. Growing up, its not really fair to demand a more expensive computer from your dad but as soon as I made some money of my own, I bought a secondhand PowerBook G4, the cute little 12 inch, and I love it. Its one of the coolest things I've ever seen. I'm recording this podcast on my second Apple computer, a PowerMac G5, and I cherish it every day. The first time I ever saw a G5 in the metal, its made from Aluminium, was in Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, in the north island. I saw it as my dad drove the rental car, and screamed "stop!", it was in a MagnumMac store, where Apple computers are sold.
I love all the things I can do with my computers, the information I can find, the things I can release for others worldwide to see, or listen to, its very liberating. My parents grew up in a mostly white country, now in New Zealand there are many more people of all different races, with different languages, different religions. New ideas, new ways of life. Being all one type of people breeds racism I think, people learn from rumours what other people in other countries are supposedly like, they get awful stereotypes. With the internet, or people immigrating to New Zealand , we can all learn from each other the truth. I dont think I've ever had a New Zealand European, otherwise known as "white", best friend. My closest friends are Maori, Pacific Islanders, Half Filipino/Dutch, Thai. My parents grew up only with people from the "Home nations", the british descended people who moved here a hundred years or so ago, there where Irish and Scottish people who had red hair, but basically everyone was fair skinned.
I notice the older generations saying things I consider sexist, or racist, if I bring it up, they dont see it the way I do, and think I'm just complaining for the sake of complaining. They also say things wrong, my dad will say "marry" instead of "mah ree" , and doesnt believe we need to pronounce Maori place names the proper Maori way, but that the bastardised white new zealand way of saying them should stay. Known for many years as the Wanganui River, the river's name reverted to Whanganui in 1991, according with the wishes of local iwi, an iwi is sort of a Maori community. Theres recently been a huge debate about changing the name of the city of Wanganui to the correct Whanganui, just putting an 'h' in. The mayor and many of the locals are PISSED OFF about that, I think its the right thing to do. The river was admitted to be spelt wrong, and changed in 91, why not change the city name to be correct? The current, wrongly spelt, signs would be worth a lot, they would be collectable, it would be an interesting story for people living there to talk about to their future grandchildren. "I remember when we were allowed to say wanganui, now we have to say whunga bloody nui because of some bloody minority oooooh". I think the people who dont want to correct the name tend to be older and cant admit they are wrong, they grew up in a different time where white people could choose how other races spelt the words belonging to their own language. As the world becomes more global, as we move to other countries and grow fiber optic links, the world becomes smaller and more integrated.
I'll now play a long Stephen Fry clip, he gave this talk in an Apple store, hes as big an Apple advocate as I am! I love basically everything Stephen Fry says and does. In the clip I'll play, he talks about computers liberating people, bringing us all together and how new inventions are always regarded as causing problems, and being bad for you.
I love Stephen Fry, yes that was long, but I couldnt cut it down much more, it was from an hour long podcast, I'd love to have played the full hour long clip here.
something that gets an unfairly bad reputation is Genetic Engineering. Am I glad we dont have GE food in New Zealand? Yes, I often think that normal consumers dont get benefits from GE food, its more to make it grow faster, and in larger amounts so large companies make money. There are some evil companies like Monsanto who are doing things to GE food to control people in third world nations. Thats far too big to get into in this episode. However, do I have anything against GE itself? No! Of course not! Fire must kill a million people, or more, worldwide each year. Do we ban fire? No, but we regulate it, and teach people how to be safe around it. Do we ban nuclear power plants etc? Dammit, in this crackpot country we do, oh, except for, lets say, X Rays that show how cancer is growing in people, the Nuclear Medicine that kills off the cancer, of the smoke alarms that protect us from another regulated technology, fire. Normal smoke alarms have a nuclear material inside, in a very tiny amount, on my fire alarm it says its "america-ium". Theres a story about a former Eagle Scout who got as many smoke alarms as he could, for the nuclear material, and tried to make a nuclear bomb, or nuclear power plant in a backyard shed, maybe you want to look that up on Google.
That was a comment left by H dot Aiku, haiku, on the Secret Diary of Steve Jobs blog.
I think GE can help people, sure, its not really any different than breeding dogs with long tails with each other so their puppies have long tails as well. People dont consider that "playing god", but its no different. Its selecting traits we want, so that future offspring have those. Using this on food tends to make it produce more, grow faster, etc. I'm not fond of GE food, I wouldnt eat it if I could choose, but I have nothing against genetic engineering itself.
Its mentioned that GE food is needed to feed the world, that we need more food fullstop. Other reports are that we have enough food already, and its wasted. For example, if everyone were vegan, we would need so much less grain and plant food, as currently its fed to animals like cows, to produce big muscles, for big fat steaks. This process uses lots of food, to produce a relatively tiny amount of meat at the end.
I saw an awesome comment on Slashdot that I'd like to use. The poster is QuantumG, I dont agree with him about other things, he dissed Macs and the iPhone, and so we are mortal enemies, but hes very right about how modern food is made .
I'll read QuantumG's replies to samples from the book Fast Food Nation, which critcised, among many other more shocking things, how artificial flavours are used.
Thank you to QuantumG for letting me use a comment he made on slashdot.
I could go on forever, but I should end this episode soon.
I would like to mention that I care about the environment, it should be looked after, I dont believe in child labour, or out of sight, out of mind policies such as letting China do all the worlds dirty work, while rich countries just get pretty plastic packets packed pefectly on supermarket shelves. I do have hope for the future, not a hundred thousand years from now, but the second after everyone in the world has listened to this episode of my podcast, I hope they will pick themselves up and say "wow, im going to make the world a better place". I believe there must be lots of easy ways to make the world a cleaner, greener place, to reduce pollution while still having a modern lifestyle. The world has never been perfect for everyone at the same time. There will always be people who clean the streets of dog poo, I dont expect President Obama to go door to door washing peoples dishes. I guess thats the class system alive and well, based on who has the most money. But, its not like we moved away from a better system, people moved from hand washing things to washing machines, because it was genuinely better. Could a new and better way of life than what I have come about? I have no doubt it will, and I'm prepared to change as soon as I can.
Andy Warhol had a great quote about consumerism.
"What's great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca Cola, and you know that the President drinks Coca Cola, Liz Taylor drinks Coca Cola, and just think, you can drink Coca Cola, too. A coke is a coke and no amount of money can get you a better coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the cokes are the same and all the cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it."
I think thats marvellous to think about, no matter how rich you are, you cant drink a better can of coke. I know of purists who only drink coke out of those fancy glass coca cola bottles, but theres not many of them and they get the same product anyway. Wine and other drinks have price ranges, but not coca cola, it has a tremendous brand image, its one of the most well known brands worldwide, and yet is relatively dirt cheap, for everyone.
"Quantity has a Quality all of its own", Josef Stalin.
Consumerism can fund projects, like going into space. I think its fair to say that one day the earth will be "used up" in a sense, at least maybe we will need to import raw materials from other planets, its not any different to one nation importing resources from another country to me. Japan has bugger all natural resources, no oil or iron ore, but it imports metal that cost $1 to get out of the ground, paying $10 for that, and making it into a Japanese car, and selling it as a product for $100 for every piece of that $1 metal. We can be successful even if we dont have any more of the resources we need on this planet, or if we actually need new materials that were never here in the first place, maybe moon rocks cure cancer, who knows?
I dont expect us to get to space in cotton space shuttles, running on sunflower seeds, but biodiesel has lots of potential. I just hope its not made from food crops.
Heres a fun quote about space exploration and cost.
"Space is an unexplored frontier. The fate of the Space Shuttle Columbia reminds us that those who venture beyond the Earth confront real danger. The astronauts themselves have always been mindful of the hazards. I recall attending a lecture given, back in the 1960s, by John Glenn, the first American to go into orbit. A questioner asked him what went through his mind while he was crouched in the rocket nose-cone, awaiting blastoff. He wryly replied " I was thinking that the rocket had twenty thousand components, and each was made by the lowest bidder". Glenn survived to become a US senator, as well as an inspiration to elderly Americans when he ventured into space again, at age 77."
Nuclear Power inspires me, basically how the power stations work is that nuclear fuel heats up water to make steam, the steam drives turbines which create electricity. Nuclear plants often seem to purify water, so thats an added bonus, and they always have excess heat, and steam, which is used in many places to heat houses, this is called "co generation". There are other ways to do this, like coal power stations also make the steam, its the same principle as nuclear, just less high tech, and clean! If you have ever wondered why New York has steam coming from manholes in the movies, its because New York has a steam network, steam rushes through pipes and is used both industrially and by people for heat and steam. I didnt know that myself until recently, and now maybe you have actually learnt something from my podcast :)
I think that there are many things in the world I dont like, poka music, racists, beef flavoured instant noodles. There are many amazing things too though, things that make life now as good, if not better, than its ever been. We have so many new inventions that help us stay in contact with people overseas, to make new friends in different countries. Things we take for granted would have been taken for magic if we could go back in time and show them off.
I dont believe in magic things happening, as Revolver Ocelot said in Metal Gear Solid 2
I was unsure how to end this episode with a positive song, its hard to find contemporary music that is upbeat, every generation has that really, in the 70s there were all the songs against the vietnam war etc. Happy modern music I could think of was all about consumerism, "I drinks de cognac in tha club and smacks my "female dog" in the eye", not very appropriate for my positive view of consumerism!
Instead, I'll end with a clip about the distant future, the year 2000, from some fellow New Zealanders, the Flight of the Conchords with the song Robots.
You can find the script for this episode, as well as downloads for every episode of Jay Wont darts podcast at jaywontdart.blogspot.com
If you want to contact me, even just to say you listened, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, j a y w o n t d a r t @ gmail.com, I'd appreciate it.
Have a super happy day, bye.
World Population figures
astronaut, lowest bidder