Friday, May 27, 2011

We All Read a Bit of Vonnegut Each Year...

so I thought I would share Vonnegut's Chalk talk on the 'Shape of a Story' which I found on Roger Ebert's blog:

Climate and Justice Science Fair

Junior Projects Research Include:
Population Overload:
I learned about Overshoot Day - for 2010 this date is August 21st.  After that day we are using up resource reserves.  We used 150% of  of the resources that the earth can generate in one year.

The Anti- Consumption Movement:
This group organized about 30 perople who committed to reduces comsumption in their households and persona lives for a week. In one week they calculated 11,489.7 lb of CO2 reduction. Just 30 people can make a difference in electricity consumption and fuel savings.


Since the 1970's the destructive potential of these storms have increased by 50%, a direct correlation with the increase of sea surface temperatures which continue to rise.

Hold Your Breath:

We are killing ourselvs because asthma and other respiratory illness are on the rise due to buring of fossil fuels, deforestation, and putting noxious gases into the atmosphere.  The most vulnerable populations of our society are impacted:  children and the elderly.

Sinking Cities:

Rising temperatures melt glaciers, cause sea levels to rise which also causes cities to sink.  Human activity such as exploitation of ground water and mushrooming of skyscrapers also contributes to a city's land subsidence.


As defined by the UN, it is the conversion of forest to non-forest.  The main causes are trees being used for fuel, urbanization, construction, and the paper industry. Trees and rainforests are housing for 90% of animals and this deforestation is unjust to the natural habitats.  Consider supporting American Forests, a non-profit which plants trees.

Wind Energy:
Problem - Greenhouse Gasses created by burning fossil fuels pollute the air, make holes in the Ozone and increase world temperatures.  The U.S. uses 20 million barrels of crude oil per day.
Solution:  Wind energy is a safe efficient form of energy that never runs out and can be put just about anywhere.  It reduces dependence on oil and is emission free.

Acid Rain:
This is basically caused by nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide released by the burning of coal, man-made machinery emissions and also natural occurrances during volcanic eruptions and forest fires.  This is damaging to ecosystems and the food supply as it seeps into the soil.  The Clean Air Act of 1990 is devoted to the reduction of acid rain, among other things.  Emissions were reduced 41% from 1980.  This also led to the Acid Rain Program which helped reduce sulfur.  The EPA has been the driving force behind these solutions.  Until we use alternative energy sources, the problem will persist.

Composting is the process of arranging and maniulating organic wastes so that they are gradually borken down or decomposed by soil microorganisms and animals.  Compostable waster is about 700 pounds per family per year which is generally just put into landfills.  Composting waste at home reduces unnecessary transportation of waste.

"Locally Grown Food" and "Green Architecture" were also at the fair.  Did not get a chance today to explore those topics with students.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

War of Ideas About Copyright

A documentary by Brett Gaylor
about copyright and remix culture.
In RiP: A remix manifesto, Web activist and filmmaker Brett Gaylor explores issues of copyright in the information age, mashing up the media landscape of the 20th century and shattering the wall between users and producers.
The film's central protagonist is Girl Talk, a mash-up musician topping the charts with his sample-based songs. But is Girl Talk a paragon of people power or the Pied Piper of piracy? Creative Commons founder, Lawrence Lessig, Brazil's Minister of Culture Gilberto Gil and pop culture critic Cory Doctorow are also along for the ride.
“Infamous and brilliant” – Cory Doctorow, BoingBoing
“A knockout.” – Brian Johnson, McLeans
“A forceful, vibrant, and immensely entertaining call to action.” – The Globe and Mail
“A film you can dance to.” – Filmmaker Magazine
“Top Ten Music Docs of 2009” – Spin Magazine
“Brett Gaylor walks the walk.” – WIRED
“The sexiest film about copyright infringement I've ever seen.” – Jian Ghomeshi, CBC Q

Monday, May 23, 2011

The 9th Annual Human Rights Watch Film Festival

Opening night kicks off at the Museum of Contemporary Art on Wednesday May 25 at 5:30pm where a documentary film, narrated by Samuel L. Jackson In the Land of the Free will be screened.  Directed by Vadim Jean, 2009, 84 minutes.

Herman Wallace, Albert Woodfox and Robert King have spent a combined century in solitary confinement in Louisiana State Penitentiary, known as Angola, which is the infamous prison formerly an 18,000-acre former slave plantation.   Still in prison, Wallace and Woodcock were targeted by prison officials for being members of the Black Panther Party, and were convicted of murdering a prison guard. This is a verdict they continue to challenge. 

From Wikipedia:
"A 2010 memoir by Wilbert Rideau, an inmate at Angola from 1961 through 2001, states that "slavery was commonplace in Angola with perhaps a quarter of the population in bondage" throughout the 1960s and early 1970s.[103] The New York Times states that weak inmates served as slaves who were raped, gang-raped, and traded and sold like cattle. Rideau stated that "The slave's only way out was to commit suicide, escape or kill his master."[103] Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox, members of the Angola 3, arrived at Angola in the late 1960s and became active members of the prison's chapter of the Black Panther Party, where they organized petitions and hunger strikes to protest conditions at the prison and helped new inmates protect themselves from rape and enslavement.[104] C. Murray Henderson, one of the wardens brought in to clean up the prison, states in one of his memoirs that the systemic sexual slavery was sanctioned and facilitated by the prison guards."

This sounds like an amazing documentary.  If you cannot see the film on Wednesday night at the Contemporary Museum of Art, plan on going to Facets Multimedia, 1517 Fullerton, Chicago IL. 773-281-4114. Facets Cinémathèque screening:
Thurs., June 9 at 7 pm

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Annie Leonard and The Story of Stuff

Leonard has expanded on her film in a new book this year of the same title: The Story of Stuff

Why is there so much garbage, and where does it go? Rampant consumer culture is the root cause of today’s environmental crises. Leonard believes that we must calculate the full ecological and social cost of our “stuff.” She takes us through the extraction of natural resources and the production, distribution, consumption, and disposal of various products. In her book, Leonard calls for strict environmental laws, an end to over consumption, zero waste, and a new social paradigm based on quality of life, not quantity of stuff. I have recently ordered this book for the New Trier Library.


How might we "fix" our relationship with stuff? Can we?

Is this really a question of justice?

What are externalized costs? Better example?

Is consumption really the center of our American identity?

Would economic growth grind to a halt if we stopped consuming? OR

How can we still generate jobs while consuming less?

Is consumption a part of American identity? Is this really competition at its heart?

Apple Ads: "It's Here!" as if its the arrival of a Savior. Impossible to keep abreast of the pace of technological change. Even the homeless own an iphone. Our economy relies on buying more than we can afford. If you don't have the latest gadgets, you have not contributed to society.

New Trier Organic Garden