Hey, over here!

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Man overboard!

I’ve packed my bags and moved everything here to my new blog on Tumblr: http://jruck.us.

I’ll post more on the logistics of moving an 8-year-old blog and all its content and comments from WordPress to Tumblr soon, which is actually a little harder than it sounds given Tumblr’s API limitations.

But in the meantime, help me in bidding farewell to the sometimes-buggy-but-usually-loveable WordPress site that first introduced me to the joys of blogging and building websites: Centripetal Notion.

Anyway enough of that, subscribe to my new feed already, or just follow me on Tumblr if that’s your thing.

Catch you on the flip side.

Prop. 8 – The Musical

I can’t stop watching this. Gotta love Jack Black as the most candid Jesus I’ve ever seen. And Neil Patrick Harris can effing sing.

Ron Paul on Meet the Press

Tim Russert is breaking Ron Paul’s balls the whole time yet Ron does a pretty good job of keeping his cool. I’d like to see an interview like this conducted over correspondence where each side has more time to consider and prepare their responses. Backing someone into a corner with an entire staff’s worth of research and misquoted soundbytes doesn’t do much good for anyone.

At one point Tim criticizes Ron for not refusing federal money from bills that he voted against on principle, yet passed regardless. That would be like me refusing A’s in college classes just because I think the American university system is broken. You either play the game or you don’t, and if you play you follow the rules, trying best you can to change them along the way. Washing your hands of a mess only makes for clean hands, and there is a surplus of clean hands in this country.

Yann Arthus-Bertrand: 6 Billion Others

6,000 interviews and 4,500 hours (450 translated and subtitled) from people in 65 countries. Bertrand conceived of the idea while traveling and shooting for The Earth From Above. The full project is forthcoming in 2008, but there is sample footage available now on the website.

Created at the beginning of 2003, “6 billion others” aims to create a sensitive and human portrait of the planet’s inhabitants.

Previously: Earth From Above, We Are Cancer

John Stewart on Bill Moyers

Probably the most poignant interview I’ve seen with John Stewart — this time on Bill Moyers Journal — discussing the role of the Daily Show, Stewart’s opinions on the war, and offering a few props to the political blogosphere.

[The war] hasn’t affected us here in the way that you would imagine a five-year-war would affect a country. (…)

The president says we’re in the fight for our way of life — this is the greatest battle of our generation, and of the generations to come. (…) Iraq has to be won, or our way of life ends, and our children and our children’s children all suffer — “so what I’m going to do is send 10,000 more troops to Baghdad.” So there’s a disconnect there between — you’re telling me this is the fight of our generation, and you’re telling me you’re going to increase troop strength by 10% — and that’s going to do it. I’m sure what he’d like to do is send 400,000 more troops there but he can’t because he doesn’t have ’em. And the way to get that would be to institute a draft, and the minute you do that, suddenly the country’s not so damn busy anymore. And then they really fight back, and then the whole thing falls apart.

So they have a really delicate balance to walk between keeping us relatively fearful, but not so fearful that we stop what we’re doing and really examine how it is that they’ve been waging this.

Things We Could Have Bought Instead of a War in Iraq

image credit: Daniel Ross

Boston.com estimates the total cost of the War in Iraq at around $456 billion. What could we have bought instead? Among other things:

According to World Bank estimates, $54 billion a year would eliminate starvation and malnutrition globally by 2015, while $30 billion would provide a year of primary education for every child on earth.

At the upper range of those estimates, the $456 billion cost of the war could have fed and educated the world’s poor for five and a half years.

Hans Rosling: Myths About the Developing World

I’ve seen Hans Rosling‘s Gapminder, a stunning interactive display of world social and economic statistics, but I’ve never taken the time to watch his presentation at TED 2006 until today. His passion for visualizing data that thus far resides in a more nebulous region of global consciousness is inspiring.

Mike Davis: Fear and Money in Dubai

image credit: Niki Atashfaraz

An excellent article about Dubai’s past, present, and future:

On the rim of the war zone, a new Mecca of conspicuous consumption and economic crime, under the iron rule of Sheikh al-Maktoum. Skyscrapers half a mile high, artificial archipelagoes, fantasy theme parks—and the indentured Asian labour force that sustains them.

image credit: Ryan Lackey

Thanks to his boundless enthusiasm for concrete and steel, the coastal desert has become a huge circuit board upon which the elite of transnational engineering firms and retail developers are invited to plug in high-tech clusters, entertainment zones, artificial islands, glass-domed ‘snow mountains’, Truman Show suburbs, cities within cities—whatever is big enough to be seen from space and bursting with architectural steroids. The result is not a hybrid but an eerie chimera: a promiscuous coupling of all the cyclopean fantasies of Barnum, Eiffel, Disney, Spielberg, Jon Jerde, Steve Wynn and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. Although compared variously to Las Vegas, Manhattan, Orlando, Monaco and Singapore, the sheikhdom is more like their collective summation and mythologization: a hallucinatory pastiche of the big, the bad and the ugly.

image credit: Hisham Binsuwaif

The lodestone of Dubai, of course, is ‘peak oil’ and each time you spend $50 to fill your tank, you are helping to irrigate al-Maktoum’s oasis. Fuel prices are currently inflated by industrial China’s soaring demand as well as growing fears of war and terrorism in the global oil patch. According to the Wall Street Journal, ‘consumers will [have paid] $1.2 trillion more in 2004 and 2005 together for oil products than they did in 2003’. As in the 1970s, a huge and disruptive transfer of wealth is taking place between oil-consuming and oil-producing nations. Already visible on the horizon, moreover, is Hubbert’s Peak, the tipping point when new petroleum reserves will no longer offset global demand, and thereafter oil prices will become truly stratospheric. In some utopian economic model, perhaps, this windfall would become an investment fund for shifting the global economy to renewable energy while reducing greenhouse gas output and raising the environmental efficiency of urban systems. In the real world of capitalism, however, it has become a subsidy for the apocalyptic luxuries that Dubai is coming to epitomize.