As I write this on the train home, my neighbour is watching Star Wars: A New Hope on his portable DVD player. The bleeps and moans of R2D2 and Chewbacca come through clearly on his earphones. Thirty two years after its release, the movie and its myth-making are evidently still going strong. But what is … Continue reading The Four Cultures of Star Wars
Month: February 2009
The Four Cultures of Marketing Ethics
Marketing, whether of a product or an idea, can be overt or it can be covert. In the former everyone can see what's happening and can willingly consent to it. The latter, though can become out and out manipulation. Mostly, there's a big grey area in between. There's been some popular discussion of this issue … Continue reading The Four Cultures of Marketing Ethics
The Four Cultures of Science Fiction
As a genre, sci-fi is par excellence concerned with culture. What would it be like to visit an alien world? How would its inhabitants operate, and how would they differ from us? In a way it's a kind of theoretical anthropology. Think of Ursula Le Guin's inquiry into a culture of hermaphrodites in The Left … Continue reading The Four Cultures of Science Fiction
The Dam Bursts
Imagine a village nestled in a valley below a large dam. One morning the villagers look up from their houses to see very clearly that the dam has suddenly burst and a huge quantity of flood water is incontrovertibly rushing down the valley towards the defenceless settlement. It has all happened so fast there is … Continue reading The Dam Bursts
The Dark Side of Cultural Theory
Nick Naylor: Right there, looking into Joey's eyes, it all came back in a rush. Why I do what I do. Defending the defenseless, protecting the disenfranchised corporations that have been abandoned by their very own consumers: the logger, the sweatshop foreman, the oil driller, the land mine developer, the baby seal poacher... Polly Bailey: … Continue reading The Dark Side of Cultural Theory
After checking very carefully…
...it is confirmed that Fourcultures does not feature in Time Magazine's 25 Best Blogs of 2009. Still, there's always the Oscars...
Energy Efficiency: Running to stand still?
Is energy efficiency a key factor in reducing greenhouse emissions? Matthew Taylor of the RSA thinks home energy efficiency should take priority, and Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute is also very keen on large scale efficiency gains. The Jevons Paradox is the idea formulated in 1865 that making coal-burning more efficient will lead … Continue reading Energy Efficiency: Running to stand still?
Redundancy and Resilience
Redundancy is a marvellous buffer against shocks to the system. When the primary system breaks down, we need only switch to the backup with no great harm done - provided of course there is a backup. In this way, redundancy can be seen as a kind of insurance policy. The big problem for us is … Continue reading Redundancy and Resilience
Climate Disruption as policy: wisdom or folly?
Could it be in China's interests to ignore climate chance? According to the Danish 'skeptical environmentalist' Bjorn Lomborg: “Climate models show that for at least the rest of this century, China will actually benefit from global warming. Warmer temperatures will boost agricultural production and improve health. The number of lives lost in heatwaves will increase, … Continue reading Climate Disruption as policy: wisdom or folly?
Certainty: I’m fairly sure we don’t need it
Have you noticed many people tend to be pretty certain that Peak Oil either is or isn’t happening, global warming either is or isn’t happening, and so on. Guns, abortion, nanotechnology, Genetic Modification of crops, controlled burning of the Australian bush – it can be quite polarised. The preferred strategy seems to be to get … Continue reading Certainty: I’m fairly sure we don’t need it