Monday, September 27, 2010

How much does it cost to get a video camera into space?

The "2010 Brooklyn Space Program" launched a camera attached to a weather balloon that rose into the upper stratosphere and recorded the blackness of space. It came back to earth only 30 miles from the launch site, in about and hour and a half...

Some ubiquitous, simple artifacts that seem normal to us now in the midst of this technological revolution, pieced together can do things far beyond what you'd ever dream.


Best news this month.

Homemade Spacecraft from Luke Geissbuhler on Vimeo.



Friday, September 24, 2010

Utne Reader’s David Doody on Bicycles and David Byrne

Cross-posted at my BicyclingToronto Blog

Here's the free Introduction, embeded, which is also available at David Byrne's website.

David Byrne’s “Bicycle Diaries,” Podcast Style

9/15/2010 10:26:30 AM

by David Doody
David Byrne Audiobook Bicycle DiariesDavid Byrne’s successful book, Bicycle Diaries, probably would have sold just fine as a traditional audiobook, as well. However, never one for the status quo, Byrne wanted to do something a little more interesting than simply reading the book in silence and releasing it as a download or cd. Instead, he looked to other successful audio formats for inspiration, namely NPR shows that incorporate scene sounds and podcasts.


You can listen to and download the introduction, and pre-order the rest, which will be released on September 28.

Read the entire article at Utne Reader online.


Pixies - Where is my Mind - Fight Club Video Medley

Watched Fight Club (1999) last night, online in 14 parts; it's been at least five years since my last viewing. The first time I saw the film was on DVD in late August 2001... about a week later...

Youtube user Musicofhope up loaded this edit of the movie with the Pixies as soundtrack, I like this one; the way I would have done it.

The Pixies' Where is my Mind is perfect for watching buildings fall.

The film builds a montage of post modern angst, military style team building (boot camp hazing) and the loss of identity in the post industrial revolution and the associated mental illnesses - and builds a convincing portrait of our times - and then blows it up!

Love that final scene.

Surfing Youtube, using 'Fight Club' as my search, I perceive there's a large sub-culture of fans who love the film just for the fight scenes.

I saw the fight scenes as a small arch in the story, the function of which is to enable our suspension of disbelief. Aptly the violence "Stockholm Syndromes" us into identifying with the schizophrenic mind of the Edward Norton character, the narrator. Near the end of the film, as the narrator comes to terms with his multiple personality disorder, we also experience a collapse in our belief in the narratitive.

But it's not over. We're still inside a second delusion, the movie-goers suspension of disbelief. As the narrator's alter ego character, Tyler Durden is extinguished in a suicide attempt, all appears to be resolved - then the song Where is my Mind begins and the banking towers begin their controlled demolition collapse - one by one by one...

A nice, if unintended 'future metaphor' for the 2007 banking collapse?

Beautify constructed film and a great story, from the novel of the same name by Chuck Palahniuk.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

New Cartoon: Apocalypto Restaurant - experience the fear, and eat it

This month the New Yorker's Cartoon Kit Contest is titled "This Tastes Funny". Entries are accepted until October 24th.

The backdrop and many irreverent characters and props are provided, this month, by professional cartoonist Tom Cheney; you just drag and drop the icons you want, place them, re-size them, and write a funny caption - then save.

Sometimes five winners are selected, and their entries presented in a slide show.

See "FilterBlog's 'Humour' Label" to see all the submissions I've made to the New Yorker Cartoon Kit Contest - including my wining entry here in FilterBlogs or at the New Yorker. :)

Today's Cartoon at The New Yorker.


October 25th Toronto, you chose the next Mayor: loser, loser, stoolie, loser, nut job. Now pick!

A new web site is up. It's non-partisan - anyone but Rob Ford for mayor of Toronto. Go to, it's a place to access resources to spread the campaign message, Rob Ford would be very bad for the majority in this city.

They have media you can download like this neat poster:

It's also a place to contribute creative media that you've come up with.

The majority are against what Rob Ford stands for - but to stop him from being elected mayor by a small minority of red necks and terrified zombies the voters have to unite behind one candidate. To do this the web site admin. at suggests all the front runners unite. I guess that means a few would have to drop out of the race.

Well, in my humble opinion that will never happen; so how about the good people of Toronto decide who's out and who's in before we get to the polls?

"A bloc to stop the slob"

Perhaps needs to add a social networking functionality to the site - like a chat space where anyone but Rob Ford supporters (yeah - it's not fair, it's politics) can start discussions and anyone can participate - a place where the majority in this city can try and decide who we're going to unite behind.

Take your pick Toronto, swallow hard and choose. The internet might help us do this, we need to talk this out. Perhaps "A Wiki to Build a Bloc to Stop the Slob".

When a visionary like Mayor Miller exits the stage it leaves a big vacuum.

The candidates running this year, in my opinion, are all un-electable nobodies:

Or stooges of the right wing who's candidacy is only intended to divide the (woman's) vote (Sarah Thomson).

Joe Pantalone isn't on the radar, at least from this 'webbies' point of view. Although I bet his views are closest to mine; I just never hear him saying it with any panache.

Ricco Rossi latest billboard ad campaign makes him look like the Godfather - great, that's what this city needs, a strong father figure like Mussolini!

And who is George Smitherman? Oh yeah - what ever you want him to be! A little too Orwellian for my sensibilities.

Obama won by a record voter turn out...

Another thing we can do to make sure this guy doesn't win is to GET THE VOTE OUT! That might be the best tactic. Talk this up with everyone you know; organize a Monday, October 25th evening out that starts with a trip to the polls and then pool and beer at a neighbourhood pub for example, or an election party at your place, byob (bring your own ballot).

How about a pre-Halloween party where everyone comes dressed as scary candidate, Rob Ford?


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tomboyfriend - smarter than Roxy Music but not as old

Tomboyfriend is new, and you'll want to be seen listing to them. Whether it's on the subway or on your bike going to work - or at their upcoming dates around Toronto this fall in support of their new album "Don't go to School". Don't miss this chance to be cool like them kids, this could be you're last chance!

Toronto band Tomboyfriend also has a hit on their hands! Their witty rock and roll number "Almost/Always" should be rocketing up the charts with a bullet; but in these dieing days of pop music there is no chart, and no one knows what 'with a bullet' means.

We need someone to hole up at CityTV and play this video non-stop till the G20 riot police bust in and smash up the place.

My favourite line from my latest listening of the hit tune, Almost/Always,

She had
The most gorgeous set of gestures and classy schtick
A slump like him had ever seen

Reminds me of The Kinks, and that band from St Catherines with that university hit... you know, with the line Switchen to Glide? Was that it? Yeah that worked:

Youtube, The Kings - This beat Goes On / Switchin Glide.

Well, The Kings song isn't as good as I remember. Tomboyfriend is better than that, on many levels. Local media are glowing with praise too;

"A performance art whirlwind," - Eye
"A more brilliant New Pornographers" - Playground
"A more-left-wing Hidden Cameras with a crazy fun Keith Cole aesthetic." - Fab

Reviews from, Tomboyfriend/facebook

Photo of the band from, No Media Kings.

Full lyrics for "Almost/Always" at Tomboyfriend/Facebook.

From Tomboyfriend/facebook;

Tomboyfriend has the following homes.






More Press

Check out a review from March 15, 2010 of Almost/Always by Shannon Moore at Paper Trail.


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Cartoon: Oh Crap! Was that Today?

Was watching TVO's Big Ideas show, "Michael Ruse: Is Darwinism Past It's Sell-By Date?". In it Professor Michael Ruse uses this cartoon to illustrate the debate between those who understand the world through Darwin's evolution of species and those who insist on a religious metric.

I wondered how long it would take me to find it in Google image search: two searches; the caption, nope. Then the names of the icons in the picture; 'dinosaurs' + 'Noah's arc'. That did it, top row, forth image.

Via: Girl From The Hills

Cartoonist, Regan (no website).


Friday, September 17, 2010

Blu-ray's HDCP MASTER KEY - in images

Towards an open web, I contribute the following:

This set of screen shot images is of a list of icons that breaks encryption on the output side of Blu-ray digital media players - thus enabling individuals make copies of Blu-ray media they possess.

To help ensure Digital Rights Management systems of the future fail (as this one just has), to help ensure an open web, and ensure no "take down" is possible - please copy these images as a set, and spread them around. :)

Total lines: 376


Image Links

Original source:


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A personal way of coping with depression - the key is to avoid a major depression

I'm beginning to think my depression has a lot longer cycle than I had ever considered. I think the cycle may be a 2 year one - at least. Up until now I hadn't considered anything but a solar year, but with this last years experience, well it's not just the amount of light I'm being exposed to that keeps me out of a Clinical Depression. Last winter I avoided a deep depression I thought, by getting up at dawn every morning and flinging open the curtains on my easterly facing, big bay windows. According to some studies, getting a specific amount of sunlight can help prevent major depression.

But this fall as the the length of the days steadily shorten, I found myself in the most intense depression I had experienced in long time. Using all the tricks I have learned over the years, especially in the last year, I have so far avoided the most debilitating of depressions, known as Clinical Depression. This is an ongoing struggle at this time and I'm using every trick I know to keep treading water so to speak.

Writing out my personal coping mechanisms is a part of the process; I hope reading this will help others dealing with depression as well.

Coping with Depression

(click on headings to shunt down)


The Bad
The Good


Awareness of the disease - ending denial about depression
Ending depression - some anecdotal observations
Symptom #1 - Depression as a refuge
Symptom #2 - Anger as a way out

* * *


For those who don't know what Clinical Depression is, acording to the Toronto based Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (camh), Clinical Depression is "..a sad, despairing mood that persists beyond two weeks and impairs a person’s performance at work, at school or in social relationships."

My experience of the thing is characterized by lethargy, including long periods of sleeping. I once spent a month in bed: that means getting up to eat and shit and back to bed. Never going out of the house, except maybe to the closest store to get food - if necessary. You'd be surprised how long one can last on the food in one's cuboards if you're slowly starving - and not burning much protein.

I've learned to cope with my depression over the years through diet, exercise and awareness of the disease. I use this self knowledge to help me recognize the symptoms and cope with them, and consciously negate them. I have a great will to live, and a lot of things I want to accomplish before my time is up. That coupled with the end of the denial about my condition has helped me dismiss all kinds of extraneous data and focus on coping with the short term characteristics of the disease - and avoid the most disabling part of depression - a Major Depression, also known as a Clinical Depression.


One of the main fixes for me, has been being aware of what I consume.

Diet: The Bad

If I drink alcohol I know there will be a four day recovery cycle that is predictable:

Day One

Day one is characterized by lethargy and reduced mental capabilities. I usually sleep the entire day (18-24 hours).

I believe my liver and kidneys have been over whelmed by the rush of sugars and carbohydrates in the alcohol. This particular body is in a period of slow recovery, processing the remaining sugars and the toxins that were produced in the rush of sugars that the kidneys couldn't process. These "spilled" sugars affect several different organs, that in turn cause diminished function in several other associated organs. The liver and kidneys are slow in processing proteins necessary to repair damaged organs, and at the same time, sugars needed to sustain normal body functioning. The digestive tract is slow in extracting needed elements in the process due to a deficit of key amino-acids coming from overwhelmed kidneys. Unprocessed sugars that the liver cannot process are "spilling" to the liver from the kidneys, causing long term liver damage.

But the body is an amazing dialectical machine; the Cerebellum slows specific processing to match the capabilities of different organs in the system to receive elements at appropriate times - to get the job done as efficiently as possible, and as soon as possible.

Day Two

On day two, physical reductions in capability take centre stage.

Day two is characterized by incontinence. Stool is diarrhea or very close to it; colour is yellow. Just below the rib cage on both sides, just forward of centre bisect - towards the front - is a dull aching pain. It's hard to know what's going on. Large amounts of gas in the intestines? If the pain was further towards my back I would think it was the kidneys, but there is no pain there. It could be that the pressure caused by too much gas in the intestines is pressing on the swollen kidneys - which are in the same area, just behind the intestines, towards the back.

I believe there's lots of good stuff in the under processed stool, but the body couldn't deal with it due to the high volume of sugars and carbohydrates, which caused the kidneys to prioritize the synthesis of all kinds of elements that the other organs need to do their work, and the blood stream as well which supplies oxygen and glucose to every part of the body. The kidneys can only hold so much sugar and then they're forced to dump it to other organs which then have to deal with it as a poison. Muscles apparently play a huge role in this processing. As a cycle courier I was able to drink ridiculous amounts of alcohol every night and burn off the poisons by noon the next work day (about 40 km of cycling).

Image from Wikipedia article "Kidney": File:Gray1120-kidneys.png

Day Three

On the third day depression is the main symptom.

I consider this a 'withdrawal-from-sugar' depression, or hypoglycemia. Coupled with an imbalance in amino-acids and a lack of proteins, this creates low brain function.

Day three is the most important day in the recovery from the hyper-glycemic binge (my body chemistry on beer). The hypo-glycemic depression and lack of mental acuity can lead to bad decisions about diet (like drinking again - or gorging on sweets), that can lead to another depression cycle. This can cause psychological effects that make it even harder to break the cycle. If I don't pop up out of the day three depression I lose faith in my prescriptions and that leads to a general malaise - which can lead to a clinical depression.

Day Four

Day four I note thinking is back. I experience the easy synthesis of ideas. I'm happy, I want to create. Body pain is gone. I have no desire to head back to the bottle.

At one point in my life I used to drink everyday, but the physical and mental price I have to pay now as this body ages are not worth the high and the social ease that it affords. I'm happier now alone, writing, than being the maverick social animal I can be while drinking. Being a leader in a group, or just a part of a group, used to be paramount to me; but being a leader amongst regulars at a bar, or on "the drinking team with the baseball problem", in other words, a leader amongst alcoholics, is like being the captain of the Titanic. I was going down fast.

This was a conscious decision on my part and it's all wrapped up in my understanding of my physiology and my identity. When one gets older, what others in extended social groups think of you becomes less important. I'm happy and confident in who I am, I don't any longer require a constant affirmation that I am normal - I know I'm normal - and unique at the same time.

So, the above is an example of how I avoid depression through diet. Specifically things I avoid consuming, and if I do consume them, understanding their side effects on me, and developing personal ways of coping with those effects. Depressants (like alcohol and marijuana) seem to effect my mood worse than amphetamines, like the double-double coffee and tea I like to consume - a lot of.

Diet: The Good

Also there are things I need to include in my diet to maintain balance. In this personal health model, the good functioning of my brain seems to be central to avoiding a Clinical Depression. The best way I've found to do this, as I've said above, is to regulate the stuff I consume.

Plenty of water

Dehydration can lead to an all over body discomfort, an aching of all the muscles. Also, dehydration can cause swelling of the brain. Swelling of the brain is a known cause of brain dysfunction. In acute dehydration individuals end up making bad decisions which often lead to their deaths. In extreme dehydration the body dies as a result of the brain ceasing function - due to swelling.

In the case of our cultures addiction to caffeine, even though caffeine gives me that mental boost (and I love it for that), sustained slight dehydration leads to being perpetually not on my 'A' game. Stupid is as stupid does, over time adds up to just stupid.

Coffee and tea are diuretics, they cause dehydration of every cell in the body; so, I try to drink equal volumes of water as coffee/tea (I also do this when I drink alcohol, which is also a diuretic). This is only a rule of thumb I use to try and stay properly hydrated. I probably don't drink exactly equal volumes, but there is always a glass of water beside my coffee cup.

Good food in

A balanced diet of proteins, carbohydrates (both and roots and grain), and vegetables and fruits is very important for me. Most people in this culture eat too much protein and carbohydrates in relation to the amount of greens and fruits. Root vegetables seem to have key ingredients that grain carbohydrates do not; potatoes carrots, and parsnips are my favourite and are really important - but grains also have elements the body needs, individuals should determine a balance of some of each through the week. Leafy stuff also needs to a big part of my dinner plate. I try to go for 1/2 green stuff 1/4 carbohydrates and 1/4 meat.

Avoid processed foods!

The processing of food in large industrial factories seems to remove essential ingredients that the body needs to process stuff. Scientists still don't understand the complexities of the chemical vista that is the living body, and meanwhile the industrial process requires breaking everything down to essential elements to make the enterprise profitable. This disconnect is causing great stress on the health of individuals - and the health care system as well. Even if processed foods appear to have the correct amounts of each element - determined whether through ones own hard wired cultural bio feed back system, like the taste glands, or the ingredients list - the ingredients one's body needs to process the food may not be present. Thus one slowly starves while feasting. Think about what that's doing to your brains ancient hard wired functioning.



As I said above physical exercise plays a huge role in processing the poisons that result from my consumption of alcohol. Muscles have the ability to break down amino-acids, just like the liver. Amino-acids are integral in the kidneys function of filtering out poisons. They also help the stomach digest, the kidneys and the intestines 'crack' out elements that the rest of the body need in order to function. This freeing of essential elements in food helps every part of the body, it is key to health and wellness, including brain functioning.


The social aspects of playing games in groups is another thing about physical exercise that helps me avoid major depression. Playing team games exercises one's muscles but also one's brain. Sport combines physical, analytical, abstraction abilities, but more importantly, because team sports are often adversarial in structure, it also requires social skills. It's us against them; but you can't kill them, or injure them, there are very specific rules.

Most anthropologists think large group dynamics lead to increased brain size in humans (3X larger than other mammals), which concurrently lead to complex languages. So the size and structure of our brains is a function of social dynamics. Even the large part of the brain devoted to visual functioning (that is also proportionately larger in humans than in other mammals) is also likely a function of the social - as a lot of it seems to be devoted to face recognition, social ordering, recognizing one's place in a social hierarchy.

As well as physical social exercises, I like to write. Writing exercises a whole bunch of different areas of the brain.

Off the top of my head:

Memory - where did I see that before
Spelling - building new memory
Conceptualization - organizing different kinds of thoughts
Synthesis - seeing relationships between different things
Story telling - using cultural artifacts to strengthen the listen-ability, and thus cognition of a story

Awareness of the disease - ending denial about depression

Ending depression - some anecdotal observations

This is an anecdotal list of stuff - that in the writing - might allow me to see myself better, and possibly be helpful to readers also dealing with depression.

Symptom #1 - Depression as a refuge

Monday, September 20th, 2010

1) Sometimes I use the knowledge that I have a tendency to tip into depression as a defence mechanism - to avoid social situations that I find difficult.

For example, talking to people about real, personal, possibly embarrassing things is too hard for me. I know that we're all the same, but that understanding - even though I absolutely believe it is true - and act on it in all the time, isn't strong enough for me to over ride my defensiveness. During important social moments, when a person is opening up to me and it's time for me to reciprocate, I clam up, and go away inside. By giving up, walking away or changing the subject I'm confirming to myself that I am defective ---> worthless. This leads to depression, which re-enforces the belief that I am defective - a catch-22; a self supporting structure hanging in the air, it's complexity somehow obscuring the fact it is not supported by anything.

The result of my failure in these complex social situations leads to depression, the depressive episode is so frightening and all encompassing that is over shadows and confuses the real issue and any lessons that might be learned.

I realize now through writing it out, that the root of the problem is I am overly defensive. I'm shy. Ironically, I've always known this, it's not something I'm embarrassed by - in fact, in some ways I think it's kind of cute.

Now I can start to tackle the real issue - and that seems a whole lot easier than some deep defect with no name.

And that makes me happy.

Symptom #2 - Anger as a way out

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

Sometimes in the coarse of a prolonged depression I lash out at inanimate objects. It starts when my motor function seems to be off just a little, everything I touch or reach for tips over or falls to the floor.

(Neuroscientists might want to look at that - could be a way forward in understanding depression ---> Why is motor function related to a feeling of loathing about things?)

So anyway, this 'bull in a china shop syndrome' can lead to a projection, "the universe is against me". This is the height of hedonism, but when I'm in crisis, in a depression that won't abate, where I can't consciously, logically work through what is happening - what other avenue is left?

I'm not saying this is good - that one should let fly and punch walls and smash dishes; this doesn't do any good, the self loathing is just intensified while you try to focus on cleaning up what you've just smashed. AND, in the process - because your mind is elsewhere, and your still uncoordinated - you cut yourself on the glass you're cleaning up! Thus furthering the feeling of self loathing, and confirming the unhealthy projection that the universe is against you.

Fifteen years ago I saw myself going down this path and I didn't like it. I saw it as the beginning of a mechanism which could lead to hitting people; so I taught myself to recognize the adrenaline surge that precedes the violence and to stop what I was doing, breath deep and say to myself, 'stop it, this is bad for you'. That statement became associated with the reduction in adrenaline and a feeling of peace.

I still have those adrenaline surges, but they rarely end with smashing stuff. It's an on-going thing, I'm never cured of it - just happy when I over come each instance.

The only way I've discovered out of this, is talking therapy. I don't mean with a shrink - as I've never been to one - but by talking this stuff through with somebody I really trust, someone in my most intimate social network; lover, family member, best friend. There are factors other than one's conscious mental framework that contribute to depression, it's a many vectored ailment I, and the professionals don't yet understand; research continues. But the cognition of the thing, the sharing, the appreciation that one is not alone, that we all experience these things to one extent or another, and perhaps the addition of a new perspective brought to the symptoms by a trusted someone - all seem to help greatly in getting through these depressive periods.


Saturday, September 11, 2010

I quit carpentry for a life of enlightened poverty

When in the coarse of a renovating people's homes, no matter how carefully I describe the time line and the coming chaos - they end up treating the enterprise, and me as it's embodiment, as if I personally, was the coming of The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

Why is that I wonder? Just because I destroy walls, dig up parts of their floors, rip down parts of their ceilings. Just because every time they see me they know the air will shortly be filled with toxins, noise levels will rise to levels that injure hearing, and large parts of their home will become unrecognizable. Just because of that they begin to hate me for some reason. :)

Stressed smiles reveal twitches that momentarily express venal hatred. Offers of morning coffee come heaped with guilt.

"No thanks" you eventually learn to say, "I've already had one."

The less said the better. Let them alone with their coffee - they haven't slept in a month.

Is it just me? Do I hate my chosen craft so much that I project all this onto every job? I'll admit this renovation stuff is not what I had in mind when I signed on. So what was it then that I signed on for?

The craft of carpentry, of woodworking is full of meaning, especially in this western, christian culture; what did I see in the iconography of 1960's North American culture that was so attractive?

Someone says, "Jesus was a carpenter you know."

Yeah, I know, and he quit to help topple Rome; how much fun could he have been having?

I know I'm not a modern day Jesus, I'm just a modern day carpenter, but in the Bible, Jesus was a carpenter not out of happen-stance, but because of the powerful meaning that surrounds carpentry then, as now. The bible, as I read it, is chalk full of metaphors, and very strong ones, timeless ones - it's why the book remains. Carpentry is a metaphor, carpenters build shelter first - that's a metaphor for civilization, stability against the darker angels of our nature; conquest, war, famine, and death - the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

I wonder if 2,000 years ago, some technological innovation came along like for example, Ikea. Ikea took waste wood sawdust pressed into boards with glue, and combined that with a large investment in design, flat pack packaging, global marketing, and easy credit. The home furniture market is now dominated by 5-10 year disposable furniture that is made in a robotized factory with no joinery carpenters. A new kind of carpenter, a 'Machine Carpenter' now watches while machines do the work. Worse still, more and more, wood is being replaced with plastics.

I ask you, what would Jesus do?

The Ikea Prototype Carpentry/Upolstory Shop. From what I could see in the video I'd say a maximum of 5 carpenters work in a shop this size.

I was lucky when I started carpentry back in 1983, I worked under a master carpenter who's father and grand father were master carpenters. If there was a better start I can't think of one. His name was John Murphy, an exiled Irishman.

In my first job with him we ripped out a double brick structure down to the brick - and then rebuilt it. We leveled ceilings and floors, framed new walls, installed new windows, ran electrical and plumbing, dry-walled, trimmed and painted. We built flat roofs and peak roofs, decks and stairs and laid interlocking brick to complete the landscaping we'd done.

Later I worked in new home construction in Burlington Ontario, slapping up 2,000 square foot homes, one every five days with a small crew. Outside cladding in the building code dropped from plywood to press-board. It was so busy that developers were abiding yahoo crews who were working to 1/4" spec., rather than the 1/8" that is standard in new home construction. Later in downtown Toronto I worked solo in home renovations. Later still I worked under maverick, self taught master carpenter genius, Elo Jensen and learned cabinet making, film set carpentry and commercial display carpentry. Still later I taught myself joinery and ran a design and build solid wood furniture building studio where I specialized in recycling solid wood which I found in the garbage.

Maybe it was that last one that did it, the beautiful wood being blindly thrown in the garbage like it was just another five year old Ikea desk. Only it's not disposable, it's really the legacy of our forebears, who built stuff to last generations, heading for landfill to make room for the new, new.

That this culture places so little value on the skills in my hands is the reason I gave up carpentry for now - and took up my other life long love - writing; and with it the commensurate poverty.

Here's how Ikea stuff is designed, built and shipped:

Here's how it is done in a small shop somewhere in your community today.

Master Carpenter Norm Abram builds furniture, (program changes every so often) from the PBS show "The New Yankee Workshop". (sorry no embed available)

This is how it was done before the electric grid came online - 1900-1930.

PBS's "The Woodwright's Shop" with Master Carpenter Roy UnderHill

Roy UnderHill builds a Hancock Pedestal Table with water or steam power, but mostly elbow grease. (sorry no embed available)


"Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" image from the Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary Library.

Ikea 'How it's Made' video from djscubasteve55's Youtube Channel


First Earth - Ecological Architecture: Earth, Water and Straw, solid as concrete, builds strong communities

After some articles are 'put to bed' at FilterBlogs they get a Posthumous Longtail Aperitif; links to related articles published after my original post.

Fight Club (1999) first 10 minutes is a great representation of the consumerism that I talk about in this article. As an educational piece about how to better engineer cities, I thought this would be great use of the Internets ability to connect things: unfortunately Youtube has software that blocks this stream and disallows the embed no matter what use it is intended for. A great example of how DRM doesn't work and how ACTA, the international trade agreement that this censorship is a part of effects the fair use of content in situations where the content is intended to enlighten and educate, to act as an example, a cultural artifact - all of which are elements that are supposed to be exempt from the ACTA provisions, but which get caught up in a copy right fetish of protectionism in the current Zeitgeist.

Here's the Youtube refusal of my up-load request - after they've taken my up-load by the way - in other words, they now have my user generated content, but refuse to fulfill their end of the application/user agreement as they are required to as per the law.

Of coarse this is an algorythm that is parsing ones and zeros, the DRM protocals that Youtube is instituting to keep the dieing dinosoars old media happy are at fault.


I thought I was about to watch another discussion of architecture and sustainability. And, with the title First Earth, an obvious play on the Dark Green environmental movement's group "Earth First", I was sure I was in for an hour of rhetoric and hyperbole.

I was wrong.

Youtube user The Red Pharmacy has posted the film "FIRST EARTH - Uncompromising Ecological Architecture", a 12 part series, in ten languages, which argues that the ancient techniques of mud brick construction can help create sustainable economies that are good for the planet, our communities and ourselves - and that work better in many ways, than concrete or wood-frame construction.

SunRay Kelly's 'cob house' near Portland Oregon

I've seen other films on building techniques and global warming. The societies of architects around the world are quite progressive on this topic. They've been telling us for some time now that the buildings we live and work in, are really inefficient and a big part of our unsustainable economy. A stat that has been making the rounds: 40% of the greenhouse gases we release every day are the result of buildings; complex structures, artificial environments which require hot and cold feed water, sewage systems, lighting, heating, air conditioning and cooling.

Several large scale projects have built in the last ten years that have used high tech to make large office towers more efficient and cheaper to run; architects designing towards a more sustainable model and encouraging developers, though economy, to pursue the coarse. Architects found that bringing in new vectors into the design process, like efficiency, has had an unexpected side effect - buildings designed to work with the environment around them became more people friendly at the same time!

First Earth talks about how 'cob building techniques', or adobe construction that use earth water and straw as building materials, are so hands on, so human, and so hard wired to our ancient experience that the technique unveils many new starting points toward sustainability solutions, while at the same time solves the great psychological disorder of modern times - the alienation of the individual in a soul-less, commodified cookie cutter urban architecture. Every cob home or piece of cob 'urban furniture' is absolutely individual - like a vase one might make at night-school pottery class, and because the building process is labour intensive and low tech, it 'causes community' wherever it is applied.

Instead of going super high tech, elite, leading edge to solve sustainability issues, cob building addresses the issue from the other way round. Using common earth, the essence of the biosphere, cob builders use their hands and feet as tools and simply pile cob balls one on top of the other, and walls begin to be!

This is part 9 of 12 of "FIRST EARTH - Uncompromising Ecological Architecture"; it describes the grand vision. Watch this as a primer and I'm sure you'll want to go to part 1 and watch the the whole thing.

A must see.


Friday, September 10, 2010

Things we understand a little, often lead us to make mistakes

I've watched about half of the first part of First Earth, a 12 part discussion about building construction and sustainability.

Daniel Quinn, author of "Ishmael"(1992), uses the expression 'normal rate of extinction'.

There is no 'normal rate of extinction' - there are, over long periods of time, a great stability of speciation - and then there are periods of great extinction. The fear marketing of the idea, while good at focusing peoples attention on an important topic, is inaccurate.

Our understanding of the whole ecosystem is so woefully inadequate that we are unable to accurately describe this time as a great extinction. It is not LIKE anything at all; to compare it to the dinosaur extinction, caused by the arrival of a large meteor, does the subject matter a disservice.

Our man-made eco-bomb needs to be seen as unique from the few natural extinctions we are aware of. This is an artificial extinction and needs to be understood that way in my opinion. Our consumption of the resources of the planet is destroying some species habitats, while at the same time causing other habitats to flourish. We are an invasive species - we cause great change in local diversity. If we continue to view nature as something we can exploit or as Quinn says, 'something that is not us, something outside us', we will destroy habitats that support the human species.


Update: Saturday September 11, 2010 @ 1:08 AM

Speaking of 'Things we understand a little' ...

As the director began to outline the motivations behind the film in the Prologue, I had an issue with one of the authors quoted.

I stand by my take on Daniel Quinn's point on the state of the biosphere - his 'great extinction' idea isn't repeated again until the epilogue. But, in retrospect, I admit I knee jerked a blog after watching only the first couple of minutes of a film. And, that upon now having watched the entire production, I can hardily recommend that everyone see this film (and then enable the building of a mud structure in their community - perhaps a playhouse in a local park - built with the participation of neighbourhood kids and their parents).

I've written an overview of the film: "First Earth - Ecological Architecture: Earth, Water and Straw, solid as concrete, builds strong communities".


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Becoming Like Gods

In this blog, from the very beginning, I've taken what we see as obvious and attempted to prove that even if a thing, or an idea cannot be an absolute, it is at least so full of meanings that we cannot ignore it. That we are, therefore we continue.

I've tried to prove the enlightenment.

Jordan B. Peterson's Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief - "Becoming Like Gods" (part 3)  takes that idea to the Nth - very well.

Jordan B. Peterson - archive


Sunday, September 5, 2010

Daily Lunch for the Hungry

New, updated Free Lunch Page here.

Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus; AND it turns out, there IS such a thing as a free lunch too! (through the fall and winter months at any rate)

Everyday at 11:00 AM in the Beaches and Upper Beaches area of Toronto - at five different locations - in and around Queen Street East, Kingston Road and Victoria Park - there is a free lunch program at one of the areas faith centres (Catholic, United and Hebrew).

See complete info in the table below.

From Beach United Church's website:

Beach Interfaith Lunch Program and Outreach Committee

The Beach Interfaith Lunch Program is a drop-in lunch that takes place at different church locations throughout the week, offering a nutritious meal and fellowship to low income, homeless friends, or anyone who is hungry. Volunteers are always needed. Donations of non-perishable food items (especially canned tuna) are greatly appreciated and can be dropped off at the church office. The Beach Interfaith Outreach Committee consists of eight east-end places of worship who meet monthly to keep in touch with each other and share individual activities. It also provides a forum for feedback on how the drop in lunch programs are going and to bring ideas on other tasks we could take on to assist our community. Beach United Church provides lunch on Tuesdays west site and Thursdays east site, throughout the year; one day per week through the summer months.

Mondays: Corpus Christi Catholic Church
Tuesdays: Beach United Church (West)
Wednesdays: The Synagogue
Thursdays: Beach United Church (East)
Fridays: Kingston Road United Church

Update: September 13th 2010

Today I stopped by Corpus Christi Catholic Church on Queen and talked the the building superintendent and he told me the lunch program at Corpus Christi starts on Thanksgiving Day Monday, October 11th 2010. I'm not sure how late into the spring the program goes but I'll hazard a guess, March 2011.

I'll find out more as we go forward into the colder months and post better information. Also I'm going to expand this blog page to include more east end food programs. If your congregation or community group has a program and you want it included email me (michaelholloway111[at] and I'll include it in the table and build a map.

DAY           TIME            ADDRESS                NAME 
                          (click to see map)                               
Monday     11:00 - 1:00     16 LOCKWOOD RD     Corpus Christi Catholic Church 
Tuesday    11:00 - 1:00     2 BELLEFAIR AV     Beach United Church (West) 
Wednesday  11:00 - 1:00    109 KENILWORTH AV   The Synagogue 
Thursday   11:00 - 1:00     140 WINEVA AV      Beach United Church (East) 
Friday     11:00 - 1:00     975 KINGSTON RD    Kingston Road United Church


Saturday, September 4, 2010

Jordan Peterson explains the ancient hard wired human brain in a material world

In a lecture entitled, "Reality and the Sacred" - available at TVO Video - Psychology Professor Jordan B. Peterson breaks down the myths that 'create' the reality we exist in.

(Video embed from Youtube is at the bottom of this page)

He points out that the study of the humanities today is in an existential crisis. He chooses to tackle this disease though a unique understanding of modern brain science data, the quest by computer scientists to create artificial intelligence, primate and human behavior data, modern and ancient writings, ancient story telling ("the wisdom traditions"), and eastern Buddhist philosophies - combined in a convincing and original narrative.

Modern thought (I hope I correctly paraphrase), he says, is currently distorted by a myopic materialist thought process because it lacks the influence of a part of the brain where ideas like the 'sacred' are exercised. We are thus lead to a series of misreadings of our own culture, which makes it impossible for modern society to properly perceive the world, and thus create a viable future.

In my opinion, logic in all areas of study have become circular, and thus instead of leading to a point - with potential - much of our understanding of the world is slipping into a relativist trap where nothing has any real meaning - a moral, and just as importantly I think, an empirical dead end.

(Because the reason for going forward - the cultural context - is equally important as the "logical" path that technology perfected, or discovered presents to the empirical mind.)

To me Peterson's beautiful combination takes material dialectics, and brings into the matrix better than ever before, a human quality. A new and mature understanding of the human condition that has hither to been absent, or twisted to such an extent that the world view resulting is hopelessly distorted. I think a qualitatively new understanding of the world has begun to be unveiled by Psychology Professor Jordan Peterson in this talk. He adds to the progress forward in recent years, taken at the Philosophy Department at U of T, by Mark Kingwell and others.

This lecture made me smile and smile, and laugh over and over. The professor gets a couple of laughs from his young students; but older viewers will find themselves laughing in the isles. Especially, as the professor says, if you have pursued a true life path. I like to say, a balanced life, not too much evil left unconsidered - not too much denial; in other words, if you're lived a moral, honest, flexible and evolving life (if you're not a complete asshole) you'll be able to see the profound beauty and connectivity in Professor Jordan Peterson's captivating narrative.

Jordan Peterson: Reality and the Sacred

More of Jordan B. Peterson online: A 13-part series based on his book, Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief, beginning with, "The Meaning of Music"; from

Jordan B. Peterson, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, University of Toronto

Update Sunday, September 5th, 2010

Also posted at TVO is a talk by Professor Peterson concerning "the nature of evil and its distinction from tragedy" which takes a look at the subject matter in the video above, through a dissection of the Bible's Book of Genesis.


Friday, September 3, 2010

Blogger Help forum is a One Way Street

"My point is Blogger Help needs to be more a wiki and a blog; and less one of those straight jacketed answer expert places where uber-geeks become points gods on other levels than us mortals, talking down to us lowly content producers."

I had a problem; my comments to my own blog wouldn't post. That's it. No other thing wasn't working in my Firefox browser. A simple question.

I asked the question in Firefox Search which got me to Blogger Help Search.

I wrote in the search box: "I can't post a comment on my own blog"

Note the almost exact same wording gets search listed #7 -- below the fold!!

Search: "I can't post a comment on my own blog"
Result:  "I can't post a comment on MY blog"

So because Blogger Help - Search is flawed, I go to the wrong page first. This adds to the confusion coming...

Next I go to the correct page where my question has already been addressed at some unknown earlier time. I'm at a page where several self important Geeks with poor language skills are telling me slightly different things. The first one, "Martins", tells me to use another browser! I'm thinking this is 'Google' Help right? They want me to abandon the google search enabled Firefox browser? This doesn't sound right.

Of coarse Martins is eliminating possible problems starting with the simplest work around first, the browser. If the other browser does the same thing Martins knows it's the PC itself that's fcuked up - and it's off to the garbage dump we go. But he doesn't explain this clearly - brevity seems to be more important than clarity.

I say, "HA!"

Now with doubts in my mind that I'm in the right place I come across the "right" answer from the mysterious black arts practitioner "DarkUFO". (B.S. - it's only mysterious if you keep it that way)

DarkUFO gives a list of checks:

  • Do you have 3rd Party Cookies enabled in Firefox?
  • Have you tried clearing your cache?
  • Have you tried another browser like Chrome to see if it's your computer or just your Firefox?

First point is the thing, but I don't trust anyone around here. Remember, I'm convinced they're all self important weirdo's amped up on superiority amphetamines.

I go with Martins suggestion first. I open my Microsoft IE for the first time, and the comment publishes; so I know the problem is in the Firefox Browser settings. I check that my 3rd party cookies are enabled in Firefox; they are not, so I enabled them and did a test post - back to normal. I can post comments on my own blog again.

* * *

Now I want to give back. I want to relate my experience for the next guy who stupidly turns off their 3rd party permissions.

So I did, the solution to the problem with out all the cat and mouse games...

The Solution in Brief:

My point is Blogger Help needs to be more a wiki and a blog; and less one of those straight jacketed answer expert places where uber-geeks become points gods on other levels than us mortals, talking down to us lowly content producers.


Blogger Help page for: "I can't post comments on MY blog"


Thursday, September 2, 2010

New Cartoon: "Aces"

This month the New Yorker's Cartoon Kit Contest is titled "The Ball’s in Your Court,". Entries are accepted until September 19th.

The backdrop and many irreverent characters and props are provided, this month, by professional cartoonist Gahan Wilson; you just drag and drop the icons you want, place them, re-size them, and write a funny caption - then save.

Sometimes five winners are selected, and their entries presented in a slide show.

See "FilterBlog's 'Humour' Label" to see all the submissions I've made to the New Yorker Cartoon Kit Contest - including my wining entry here in FilterBlogs or at the New Yorker. :)

Today's Cartoon at The New Yorker.