Putting the life back in science fiction


Non-violent conflict 101
February 21, 2017, 12:35 am
Filed under: nonviolence | Tags: ,

No, I’m not an expert on the subject, and I probably never will be.  Right now, I feel like I was a TA again, barely a week ahead of the students. Still, it’s important to get this information out.

There are a lot of reasons to do so.  If you’re anything like me, your notion of how non-violent conflict works is that it’s firmly in the Gandhi/Batman/Aikido/Star Trek phaser complex of things that would be nice to do, but which  require such supernormal morality/skill/special conditions/technology that it won’t work for us mere mortals.  If we want things to change, ultimately we might believe that change requires either huge amounts of wealth and/or violence, and we feel angry and powerless as a result.  This view happens to be false.  It’s probably a symptom of how our culture deals with violence, but it’s profoundly disempowering  in that it stops us from realizing that there are other ways to achieve the same goals.

Again, there are a bunch of reasons why this matters, but I’ll start with the one that shocked me: so  far as researchers can tell, since 1900, non-violent campaigns have been roughly twice as successful at achieving their goals (fall of the USSR, anyone?) as have violent campaigns (the sample size was over 100).  This is even when people didn’t know what they were doing at first.  Even back in 1973, there were almost 200 known and used “weapons” in the non-violent arsenal, and quite a few have been created since then.  And some of them have been used against you.  Recently.  If you’re interested in learning more, read on.

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Dystopias in the time of Bannon
February 13, 2017, 12:10 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Just a quick thought and update.  There are two reasons I’m not writing much here.  One is that I’m swamped with environmental work.  With the combination of a wet spring (good for botanizing), four separate EIRs to comment on and more coming in every week, and two botanical papers to write, I haven’t been concentrating so much on climate change.  Then there’s the current political climate, which has me reading about non-violent conflict.  Yes, I’m a scholar at heart, and I respond to slow-motion crises by hitting the library first.  This second leads to my quick thought for the day:  given that we in the US have a capitol infested with wingnuts, the leader of which seems to believe in a (expletive deleted) theory of cycles of history that regenerate in cataclysms, how does one talk about the process and aftermath of severe climate change without feeding into the wingnut narrative?

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The Malthus-Boserup Ratchet
February 7, 2017, 11:05 pm
Filed under: climate change, Oceania, sustainability, Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

This is an idea I picked up from Patrick Kirch.  While it is used to explain population growth by Polynesian archaeologists, I’m starting to wonder if it can be repurposed to a wider context.  The basic idea starts with the notion that, just perhaps, Malthus was wrong.

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