Sunday, September 13, 2009


DA VINCI DAYS AT OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY----Celebrating and imitating the spirit of Leonardo. Big rigs camp miles away and pay big bucks. I park here---two blocks from the action---because I'm "invisible"----for the 3 day event. That's the spectacularly beautiful university in the background.
Bet you've never seen this before. And it's for real---and FREE. They take your bike and give you a ticket.
Taken here--unlocked--but under guard. Do you see the great lesson here? (pay attention you libertarians and right wing crazies) The alternative to this system is for EVERYONE to have separate locks.----Here we are POOLING our security for this event. SOME SERVICES ARE MORE EFFICIENTLY POOLED-----LIKE HEALTH CARE.
The centerpiece event is a kinetic sculpture race: Decorative, human powered vehicles capable of moving down the highway, across a sand dune, through a mud bog and down a river. Additionally, each contestant must compose a song about his work and entertain the crowd---the kind of multidimentionally Leonardo is famous for. Here's--the SLUG--one of the simpler creations.
Now this one is complex enough to catch Da Vincis' eye--lady powered and utilitarian. I asked if I could photograph its guts.
Here they are--a massive tangle of chains,gears, pulleys, transmission--linkage etc. Imagine the thought and time involved here----I think it proves something important: Challenges are more interesting than solutions. Prove this to yourself by reflecting on several movies---what comes most readily to mind is the central PROBLEM. Often, in fact, you cannot remember the conclusion.
Thirty or more entrants paraded before the race---from the tiny-----
To the huge---come tooting its own horn. Six hard pumping galley-people propelled this promethian entry. Its operation was via a unique back and forth pedal--cam system.
A "big wheel" toy grown ups could enjoy---fun and fast --AND---ready engineered for the toughest challenge --the river run-------You'll see!
Family enterprise---Is that grandma Clampett hanging off the back?
Next day each machine had a go at the mud bog. Hippypotamous had to be rescued by a gaggle of kids.
Now here's big wheel in his finest hour----no bouyancy problem at all--note the rear paddlewheel.
This little dog melted my heart---she looks so much like Molly that I cried---the owner let me play with her.
This lady stirred different emotions with her provacative dress. I resolved to engage her and succeeded-----
With the assistance of friend Paul who spirited her companion away whirling her on the grass while I got to know miss see-thru. (turned out to be the doctor in charge here)

Promoters of Da Vinci days would be exasperated with my coverage of this event---because I've not mentioned its most important purpose---to raise our awareness--draw our attention to matters ecological. Dozens of booths made clear our wastefulness---offered clever solutions---and positively indoctrinated the kids. I won't bore my readers---most are already on board that train---off the electrical grid---minimal water users--etc.


Anonymous said...

You've never shown a photo with you and a dog in it, before. Maybe you really do have a soul.

Jim said...

With NO desire to be critical -- chaulk it up to the editor devil in me -- but shouldn't the word be "multidimensionality"?
PS ~ Is there any good way of knowing IF the arguably SPLIT personality of "Anonymous" is one and the same person/entity? Or could he/she/it/they BE an amalgam of disparate entities who (for whatever bearding reason) choose to remain perpetually nameless?

japhy said...

As one of the "libertarians" you addressed, I feel somewhat compelled to point out the implied fallacy in your point about the efficiency of pooling resources. It is certainly true that, sometimes, there are efficiencies in pooling resources. What you, and many on the left I think, seem to presume is that this pooling has to take place at the hands of government. Of course, this flies in the face of hundreds of years of historical evidence that shows that well-run communal arrangements, co-ops, and other such "pooling" entities can achieve many of the same efficiencies much better than government.

You see, the benefit to private co-ops and the like, for healthcare, is that they are far less influenced by the political process. Take one example...abortion. Say government takes over a large chunk of the health care funding and, god forbid, another religious right lunatic takes office and Congress skews radically rightward. You can bet the very first thing we'll see is a de-facto outlawing of abortion by slashing coverage (funding) of abortion under government plans. And that's just one gene therapies and other "controversial" therapies come into play, we have to ask--do we REALLY want someone like George Bush having the power to alter our access to these lifesaving technologies through control of the healthcare pursestrings?

Of course, it's fair to say our healthcare system is broken in many ways and doing nothing isn't an option. But advocating for a government solution is the lazy man's approach, and short-sighted given the shifting nature of political winds. Instead, we should remove the very real barriers to private solutions which will allow like-minded communities of people to pursue the type of solutions they feel are best for them.

Anonymous said...

Well said, Japhy. Randy's dreamy infatuation with collectivism comes right out of Plato's Republic. He thinks that stronger government is necessary to impose his preferences on other people, thus making society wonderful and happy.

He never considers the possibility that somebody else is going to use government to impose their preferences and prejudices on Randy.

Randy said...

Thanks all, for your comments. We all know this subject is too big for this venue--but I'll give it a shot: To Boonie: I am charmed by collectivisn OF THE VOLUNTARY KIND as is Japhy. Where I differ with him is where COERCIVE COLLECTIVISM is needed. Libertarians waffle but generally agree we need an army, paid for by COERCIVE taxes, but hardly go beyond that.I say we also need an Interstate highway system, a disease control agency(CDC), weights and standards etc paid for by coercive taxes.
I wish for libertarians a chance to try their theories. They are a bit embarassed at the few instances societies have flirted with toothless government. (early Iceland and Somalia come to mind) Chaos decended. Smart, greedy, strong or charismatic people will rise to the status of commercial kings and maintain their status vigorusly As the Pharmacuetical companies do at present. Have nots will multiply till revolution sets in (early china) No Libertarian on earth fully realizes the consequences of greed turned loose. They see no lesson learned in the present economic mess.
Here is a thought experiment for my Libertarian friends: HOW WOULD YOU HAVE DEALT WITH CHINAS' OVERPOPULATION CRISIS WITHOUT USING COERCION? (No doubt they would wait for CONSEQUENCES to make the situation obvious to all and thus self corrective) The trouble is that SOME PROBLEMS, if allowed to proceed to that stage are UNCORRECTABLE. (Lets all say: GLOBAL WARMING)

japhy said...

Well,to begin with, I suppose we should clarify our terms since we're somewhat confusing libertarianism and anarchism. More accurately, I'm not a libertarian but rather an anarcho-capitalist. I believe in voluntary cooperative associations rather than coercive governmental structures...which, I know, is a bit odd for a lawyer. But I did want to get that out of the way.

First, I'm not sure your description of Icelandic anarchism descending into chaos is accurate. Likewise, I think you underestimate the examples of anarchism in practice. Professor Dan D'Amico of Loyola has a great blog post on just this subject where he cites to numerous examples of anarchist case studies:

Now I will say the problem with most libertarians and anarchists, and the problem with their critics in some ways, is they put the cart before the horse. They presume they will be able to mash down an anarchist or minarchist society onto our current culture. This is silly. Such a society can only sustainably evolve through evolution, and it will require a slow but pronounced changing of our culture to one that more fully embraces the notion of social responsibility, and of responsible individualism in many ways.

Now, of course, I question whether this is likely to happen in my lifetime. Probably not, but I'm not sure we shouldn't strive to it in the same way scientists strive for new technologies that won't come about until the next generation after their death. It's aspirational in that sense, so I advocate in general for any reform that tends to help advance these goals.

Now as a practical matter, when discussing the practicality of anarcho-capitalist societies, David Friedman and the Austrian economists have developed quite a large body of work directly applicable to this question. As you noted, I'm not sure this venue is large enough for a full discussion so I won't try. But I would say that even if a full anarchist society were not feasible, what reason is their to oppose finding subsets within our current society where we can apply these principles where we KNOW they work?

Randy said...

Thanks Japhy again---especially for the article with its trove of references--and for explaining anarcho capitalism. I think I understand your position---I'm wishing with you for such a world. (I'm even hopeful--consider the success of The Nature Conservancy) And note your realistic taper-in approach. Libertarians, I think will settle for a "referee" and "defense" minimalist government. Where I differ with both of you is in the use of force--I'm in favor of it--judiciously, creatively applied. It can be astonishingly effective. Imagine killing Hitler--saving 40 million lives. I like the way China is dealing with its overpopulation problem. The end justifies the means---or it doesn't. Sentimentality may be wrecking America. But we're miles away from pooling bicycle security.

NortonRyder said...

I was pleased to discover that the spirit of Hobart Brown and the Kinetic Sculpture Race is still alive in Oregon. I was involved for several years as an 'official' with the original "Great Arcata to Ferndale Kinetic Sculpture Race" back in the early '80s. The originator was the Ferndale sculptor Hobart Brown and when asked why people do this he answered 'For the Glory'. When asked to describe Glory he responded "Like when you knock a cat off of the table and he walks away like he wanted to get down anyway". It was interesting times.