Wednesday, November 01, 2006


think this is the least Halloween-ey October 31st I've ever had. I did not:
- Carve a Pumpkin
- Have a Costume
- Get Unholy Loads of Candy

- Set up Spooky Decorations
- Go to a Halloween Party of any kind.

I'm kind of okay with this. I didn't do a whole lot today, so three or four more non-done things aren't about to wreck my day.

I'm working on a cool Lego ship that I've had in mind for a few months now. It needs a LOT of work before it's done, but it's slowly coming together.

Space Empires 5 demo (I *should* get the full game. I'm hoping my dad will get over his apprehension, and let me buy it on Steam) is feeling a bit like a chore, because I haven't quite got the hang of things yet. I would just play the tutorial, but I really don't like tutorials...since they're built for the newb-est of players, there is a lot more hand-holding than someone like me needs. Oh, well.

This is one of the rare school years where I am actually swamped with work...or would be, if I were doing it all with any regularity.


I've been musing about the practicalities of civilization, a train of thought brought about by our study of [eco]systems in World Issues, for the most part. In an article concerning the relationship between humans and our environment, there was a mention of neo-primitivism. Incidentally, I have recently read a little on the subject. The basic premise is that 'civilization' is unsustainable, and the solution is to live as hunter-gatherers, using basic technology.

My $0.02 goes a little like this:

Modern society came from agriculture: when humans stopped worrying about how to kill / find / get their next meal, we found other things to fill the time. Before long, you have Militias (to protect your crops and stores) and Warlords (later government) to organize the militias. As technology decreases the land and manpower requirements of food growth, you get Builders, Tool makers, Artists, Traders, and so on. Eventually, people are separated enough from the uncertainty of earlier tribes, and they start to ask questions. Scientists and Philosophers happen. By the time you have today's society, food production is essentially marginalized. Food preparation is huge, but farming has been condensed and industrialized to the fullest extent yet possible. Look around you, dear reader: you live in a world made of things NOT FOOD: books, radio, TV, movies, computers, cars, bicycles, roads, skyscrapers, industry, and more. Now look where "they" don't want you to: garbage, sewage, deforestation, smog, greenhouse gases...the cost of our standard of living. It is also worthwhile to mention that agrarian societies are the cause of diseases/epidemics, where unfamiliar forms of viri (viruses, if you don't like Latin pluralization) migrate from livestock to humans, and take our immune system by surprise. Modern industrial farming is worse, given the proximity of livestock in enclosed factories.

What it boils down to is this: EVERY single accomplishment of our society is the result of people who suddenly had a lot of time on their hands. Civilization is a vast layer of bloat over what really matters in life: Food, Water, Shelter = Survival, Sex = Success. Or that's how some people see it. Considering that those basics can be satisfied with far less pollution and destruction, a more primitive life seems very appealing. On another note, for all it's 'civility', civilization is very shortsighted: living from paycheque to paycheque, the daily grind, the rat race, whatever you want to call it. We may be encouraged to dream, but so much of our existence is immediate. Have we come so far, then, from hunter-gatherers? Has money become like food, in that it is never a guarantee? This is more my grudge against corporate greed here: we live in a system of plenty, and yet so few control so much in terms of power and money (the same?). Sadly, communism has given us no utopias in our time, nor should we expect it to.

What really tips the balance in my mind is science, and philosophy. Humanity is a great species. We may destroy so much, but we CREATE so well, that it would be a crime to regress. Instead of looking to the past for our answers, why not look to ourselves? If properly applied, the creative resources of humanity could be used to better our planet. Look how effective innovation has been at improving our lives : written language, medicine, electricity, air travel. We have expanded our knowledge of how the universe works, and we have begun to explore it in person. Generally, I don't believe that humanity has a specific purpose, but I grew up knowing that we were destined for the stars. Returning to our original role in nature may be sustainable, and it may save the earth, but we go NOWHERE. In the same way that I find "circular history" (ie. humans do the same things over and over, always) so awful: no progress.

For the record, I don't consider people separate from nature: we are animals, with our own set of adaptations. Our adaptations happen to allow us to create what we lack in nature. Technology is our claws, it is our thick hides, and it is more. As animals, we are driven by our desires, of which the acquisition of knowledge is one (unknown if it is unique to humans, but there is a nice chemical reward for your brain when you learn). Civilization allows us to learn more, to know more. Let's not abandon it as an anathema to nature, when we have every opportunity to make it companion to nature. We could be stewards of our planet, protecting the life it supports (that which is left, I suppose. It's a long way off).

Maybe this is too idealistic. Won't stop me from hoping.

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