The disastrous fire in Savar, Bangladesh has prompted some of the wrong kinds of response from western media. The discussion revolves around the correct idea that western consumers are crazy to buy cheap clothes, and that retailers like Walmart, Gap, Benetton, and, here in Canada, Joe Fresh provide these by manufacturing the clothes with almost-slave labour working in unsafe Bangladeshi facilities. The proposed solution that I have heard again and again is that in the absence of more information, western consumers should simply buy western made goods.
Is this the right solution? Surely, we want the Bangladeshi economy to prosper, provided workers are safe, well-protected against labour abuses, and well-paid, relative to the local standard of living. We do not want to support people who become rich in Bangladesh by using slave labout.
Recently, Gildan Activewear (a large Canadian manufacturer of casual clothing) publicized its ethical investment in a Bangladeshi factory. The Globe and Mail reports that Gildan bought Shahriyar Fabrics in Savar for $15 million:
Rens Bod calls my attention to the disaster occuring in Timbuktu (Mali). While the barbarism of the Islamist insurgents is surely to blame most, Western neglect and -- as Bod reminds us -- European "prejudices" help explain why these manuscripts had not been digitized yet.
This NYT article on Occupy Sandy (h/t to Mark on FB) is noteworthy for highlighting a pressing problem for more-or-less anarchist strains of thought as they cross political affect.
"Occupy Wall Street has managed through its storm-related efforts not only to renew the impromptu passions of Zuccotti, but also to tap into an unfulfilled desire among the residents of the city to assist in the recovery. This altruistic urge was initially unmet by larger, more established charity groups, which seemed slow to deliver aid and turned away potential volunteers in droves during the early days of the disaster."
The question is how to institutionalize for efficiency without losing the face-to-face that helps drive empathy and altruism. I tend to take a modest evolutionary psychology angle here -- there really is something about faces for human beings and that something is plausibly an evolved predisposition for emotional resonance. Of course, the big question here is the ontological status of "predisposition."
The event of Hurricane Sandy is multi-dimensional; its sociological dimension is that people on the ground are "their own first responders," in Russel Honoré's phrase. Honoré's experience leading the militarized rescue effort in New Orleans after Katrina matches what sociologists have long demonstrated (and what Rebecca Solnit narrates in A Paradise Built in Hell): what appears in disasters is prosocial behavior, not atomized predation.
First, on a more purely cognitive line, the question is how to communicate clearly the difference between the very common use of linear projections ("if we continue on the same path ...") and the more difficult to grasp but probably more plausible postulation of positive feedback loops leading to takeoffs ("natural processes can have abrupt breaks ..."). In other words, how to explain linearity vs nonlinearity in the popular press.
But it's the second question that interests me: how do we trigger a controlled reaction to the fear provoked by predictions of ACC disaster? The tagline in the article is "hug the monster." I'll explain what that means below the fold, but first, a shoutout to my Lovecraft friends.
Deleuze's "ontological difference" between virtual multiplicity and intensive individuation processes can help us think the ontological status of "model" in its relation to the events it models. The "doubling" of difference in the post title means that the multiplicity (the model) is differential (a-centered) and that its actualizations are all different events. Translating into other terms, the second claim is that the Deleuzean scheme accounts for the "multiple realizability" of models (but please note that Deleuze would not use this term because for him the virtual is real, so individuation is actualization rather than realization).
Several folks - Jon, Catarina, Eric, etc - here have been running a series of music posts. I can't compete with them for philosophical relevance, aesthetic insight, cutting edge hipness, or cultural diversity. Though I was actually a professional musician once upon a time in a world far away - orchestral trumpet, Columbus Ohio, 1970s - I have never thought particularly hard about music, and find that mustic generally gets worse when I talk about it. But not wanting to be left out of the game, I have decided to start posting a series of unabashedly political songs. I'll make up a theme and throw out a few songs, usually starting with something famous and moving to things that are less well known. I'm not going to say much - 'cause it makes it worse, right? - just let the songs present whatever they present.
So today, we begin with the famous musical observation: "brother brother, there's far too many of you dyin'" Marvin Gaye
In the wake of the BP oil disaster, thousands of Gulf cleanup workers and residents have reported illnesses, with symptoms as tame as headaches or as violent as bloody stools and seizures. Nonprofit groups and teams of scientists are looking for answers using blood tests, surveys, maps, and soil and seafood samples. The National Institute of Health (NIH) began its "Gulf Long-Term Follow-Up Study for Oil Spill Clean Up Workers and Volunteers" (GuLF Study) to follow the health of 55,000 cleanup crew members over 10 years. It's the largest study to monitor the disaster, but it won't be treating its participants. Louisiana Bucket Brigade (LABB), a nonprofit environmental group, recently completed its survey of coastal Louisiana residents and found a dire need for medical attention. GuLF Study leader Dr. Dale Sandler says the illnesses "need to be taken seriously."
"People are sick, and they have concerns," she says. So where is the help?
And where are the criminal charges? Let's hope they are forthcoming.
Please consider sending a signed copy of the following letter to the relevant politicians. Maybe we can stop a Middlesex situation from happening to what is supposed to be the flagship school of the state of Louisiana.
Below I've got (1) links for how to contact some of the relevant poo-bahs, (2) an explanation of all the various things in Louisiana that make this such a Catch 22 (basically, the only way out of the knot is if the Legislature gives the schools the ability to raise non-tuition fees), and (3) a sample letter for people to use in crafting their own, one that I hope is likely to have resonance with people at the state and federal level who decide on the relevant policy for Louisiana.
If everyone reading this took an hour to cut-and-paste the letter into a Word document and minimally sent it to the president of the Louisiana Senate, the Governor of Louisiana, the Speaker of the Louisiana House, various federal Senators and Representatives, and anybody else you know that might make a difference, then there would be a decent chance they would actually do what they need to do instead of further destroying Higher Ed here (we've already lost several programs at LSU including German and Classics, and the philosophy program at ULL was shut down last year).
BP is doing its best to get the Gulf Oil Disaster out of public view. Figuratively, by their media manipulations, and literally, by their use of dispersants, as this link-rich post from the wide-ranging Washington's blog details.