Saturday, December 28, 2013


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A fine film of salt dries on our skin and air fills our lungs, smell sears our sinuses, bright lights and sharp sounds strike our eyes and ears for the first time: we cry. Even in utero we were on our own with our perceptions. Postpartum, with luck, we have five senses sending stimuli through the gossamer filagree of incipient mind in a growing brain in a soft skull re-forming itself from its recent passage. We are susceptible to all sorts of environmental risks, not the least of which is to whom we have been born.  Our undifferentiated perceptions feed into, amorphous thoughts reach out from motives innate and mysterious that time and maturity serve only to further obscure. Want figures large. With obvious somatic purpose, it is easy to understand want for food and shelter (eventually spawn): to the newborn, want is the only comprehensible experience. But it's avaricious, cavalier to distinguishing real needs from wonton desires. Want charms all our motives with the conceit of its own centrality, never holding itself to account; this it does from our first waking moment. Want is the minds experience of the will to be and to become, the chthonic legacy of ancient motives acting on it from its first waking. And want is minds’ everything until external feedback begins to organize and disaggregate the underlying impulses: to make meaning.

We are borne alone with our senses. Our mind is driven into the world by our bodies needs which are the basis of all meaning.

Mind is remote from the world and in learning to model it in a useful way is dependant on signals arriving from tools that measure specific properties of that world, our senses. This doesn’t make the world a construct, but it does makes us dependent on the models our senses construct for what

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Air Rights

Michael Kimmelman has an interesting front page article in the Times today.  With these questions,"do we need more public oversight when it comes to the city’s stratospheric architecture? Are we selling off our skyline to the plutocrats? Or are those who occupy these spaces serving up much needed tax revenue to the city?" he asks the most penetrating political questions to grace the front page of the Grey Lady in memory. Disregarding horse races between powerful actors, ignoring "partisan" "divisions" and instead considering what is universally obvious about the relationship of money and power to anyone who tries to live in Manhattan he asks why wealth alone should dictate the form of our shared human habitat. 

"Do we need more oversight when it comes to the city's stratospheric architecture?" is an intricately pointed question. The author appears only superficially aware of what it is he has asked. In a sane world where the origin of most useable energy was recognized to be the sun, an urban zoning envelope would look like this:
Solar Envelope: Low Tech Magazine

Alas, ours is not such a world and Mr. Kimmelman glints off the surface of this glaring reality blind to the incentive structure that zoning is, assuming underlying property rights extend logically to the stratosphere. While urban living is vastly more efficient in total energy use than our current dominant suburban form, a land use model that took energy availability and long term sustainability seriously would look at the sun and its relationship to property boundaries in a form similar to the "mineral rights" under ground. Before even this though,  the issue of oversight asks more than our current institutions can provide. Landmarks has uniquely and for the benefit of the wealthy determined their usufruct extends no higher than the aging and myopic eyes of that institution can focus: the last time I stood before that august commission, looking to modify a tiny penthouse, making it