Sorry, I let myself get distracted over the past week or so writing and
revising an essay (small book really).
Here it is:
"Post-Scarcity Princeton, or, Reading between the lines of PAW for
prospective Princeton students, or, the Health Risks of Heart Disease"
"Wikipedia. GNU/Linux. WordNet. Google. These things were not on the visible
horizon to most of us even as little as twenty years ago. Now they have
remade huge aspects of how we live. Are these free-to-the-user informational
products and services all there is to be on the internet or are they the tip
of a metaphorical iceberg of free stuff and free services that is heading
our way? Or even, via projects like the RepRap 3D printer under development,
are free physical objects someday heading into our homes? If a
"post-scarcity" iceberg is coming, are our older scarcity-oriented social
institutions prepared to survive it? Or like the Titanic, will these social
institutions sink once the full force of the iceberg contacts them? And will
they start taking on water even if just dinged by little chunks of sea ice
like the cheap $100 laptops that are ahead of the main iceberg?
The fundamental issue considered in this essay is how an emerging
post-scarcity society affects the mythology by which Princeton University
defines its "brand", both as an educational institution and as an alumni
Consider a prospective Princeton student evaluating whether an elite
education at Princeton is a good investment of four years of her or his
youth -- as well as a the direct expenses and indirect opportunity cost of
lost wages. How should such a person evaluate the Princeton University
"brand" these days, given, say, Donald Rumsfeld '54 as a PU poster boy?
So, the total PU assets are probably about $20 billion. Well, that's enough
to buy 200 million $100 laptops. Is a "free as in beer" Princeton education
for a handful of students next year worth 200 million children remaining in
want and ignorance next year (or more, approaching a billion kids if four or
five children share a laptop). Essentially, if kids share OLPC laptops, the
dissolving of Princeton as a "non-profit" would educate all the billion
poorest people in the world. In that sense, the cost of just *one* elite
academic institution in the OLPC era is massive global ignorance.
Here is one approach to "reboot" Princeton for a post-scarcity world. This
is just an example. ... Rather than move books into a new "Lewis Science
Library" (as if prospectives would care about that in the internet age with
Google Books accessible from their dorms), the building could be renamed the
"Lewis Center for Post-Scarcity Studies and Economic Transcendence".
This would all make Princeton and the newly renamed Lewis Center for
Post-Scarcity Studies and Economic Transcendence the *unique* destination in
the Ivy league for any prospective interested in freedom and transcending a
market economy to a gift economy.
But I think I mostly have that out of my system now :-) and can get back to
work on the technical side of OpenVirgle/OSCOMAK. Still, if we could turn
them back away from the "dark side" (like I was turned back away :-) they
might be helpful down the road. :-) Just a long shot really.
I could not have written that document without all the new perspectives I
have gained by interacting with you and Bryan and others on the Virgle and
OpenVirgle lists, so thanks.
If you skip down to the section "Another Proposal, the Lewis Center for
Post-Scarcity Studies and Economic Transcendence" near the end, I'm curious
how you people think other high school students would react to the kind of
university suggested there? Would they want to attend such a school in
preference to more conventional ones? Has the pendulum finally started
swinging back from "greed is good"?
For the record, I just went there for the ladies. :-)
"No, no. I don't live here. I'm just here for the ladies." --Doctor Heller
But, I was probably way too picky. :-( And about the wrong things. It wasn't
obvious at the time, but looking back, I can think of several women there I
did not appreciate enough at the time. I'm lucky I ended up with someone at
all later on, let alone someone as wonderful as my wife. Nobody is perfect,
least of all me. :-)
Thanks for the feedback, I'll try to address the spoiling issue you raise
> I've always wanted to make a living off of
> plants, own a nursery and grow bonsai, maybe set up some city
> composting projects
You might consider a paid or unpaid apprenticeship right now with someone
who does that. I'd suggest stay away from florist's greenhouses that tend to
use a lot of pesticides (I know of someone who had a relative hurt that
way). Or maybe even conventional farm too. I'd suggest try the "organic"
ones. (I used to help run an organic farm certification program, so I'm
biased, of course.) You could also explain your situation to people at a
local small health foods store and see if they can recommend any farms in
the area that they buy from.
Some people make a good living from just one acre intensively farmed to
provide fresh salad greens regularly to city restaurants, too.
Marketing in key there, of course -- but a lot of that is being a friendly
and dedicated and reliable guy, which you seem to be already. :-)
How much of an investment does that really need for, say, a quarter acre
plot to start? Debt can be a trap. So can silent partners. Check out this book:
An example from a review:
"14. Going slow is a fundamental of business because it give time to get
more feedback and results in less chance of error. One should allow time to
go slow but still meet deadlines. No one accurately estimates the hidden
amounts of work to be done for a new business. When a business is open and
honest the community can take pride in activities and enjoy the benefits of
the business. "
But, as a young guy presumably without dependents, you can consider a lot of
living options if frugal to give you the flexibility to learn while being
paid (or volunteer).
Just don't let yourself get too exploited as a volunteer or intern. :-(
But a little is probably OK to see if you really like it. This summer could
be a great time to start:
"Results 1 - 10 of about 1,910,000 for organic farm colorado."
"Results 1 - 10 of about 267,000 for organic farms colorado."
It's obviously a lot of hard work and risk. Think of it as good
psychological preparation for going to Mars. :-)
Your parents undoubtedly mean well, but it is your life. Still, reading this
book first is good general advice too (at least the online parts):
"The Teenager's Guide to the Real World"
It might help you understand better where they are coming from.
My wife was discouraged by her parents from pursuing full time art studies.
Maybe they were right. But just recently she put in a small pond and it
already looks like it has been there forever -- moss, plants, salamanders
just moved in on their own, and so on. And we realized, if she had thought
of doing art as more than just drawing and sculpting, she might have had a
well paying and enjoyable (to her) career in landscape design all her life.
But no one thought to suggest that there were more ways to mix here
interests in art and biology than major in one and minor in the other.
And she then turned down a couple other good jobs she might have been happy
in (even a permanent one working at a zoo after she did a good job there one
summer) thinking she had to get advanced degrees. Believe me, after the
first hoop, there are always more people will try to get you to jump
through. A BA in agriculture? Not enough, you need an MBA to go with it. But
then you really you need a PhD in botany. Then multiple post-docs. And so
on. Till you ask yourself, many butt kissing days later, where did I go wrong?
Nothing against true "education" mind you -- you would need to learn a lot
to do what you propose. Many years of intensive learning about both plants
and the people who like them. Ask yourself, where are all the places you can
do that learning and maybe even get paid for it? :-)
I'm just some random guy on the internet, and if you were proposing being a
rock star or basketball star or just doing drugs all day, even I'd say get a
degree first. :-) All the newspapers are talking about food shortages (even
though I'd say that was from speculation, not real scarcity). So,
agriculture doesn't seem like a bad business to get into, even without
spending four or more years in an institution first. You can always go to
college later. And maybe you'd get more out of it then. And you can also
enroll part time in some colleges just for the social life (although a lot
of that is dorm-centered many places, it is true). But think on this, girls
tend to date older guys. So even a year or two sweating in the field
building up muscles may not be that much of a disadvantage later if you go
to college afterwards, if you know what I mean (assuming you care about
stuff like that, some people don't. :-)
Anyway, all this might fail spectacularly. You may decide you hate the rain.
Or discover a mold allergy. Or have a crop failure. But if you can't take a
chance on your heart's desire now, do you think it will be when you have a
baby and mortgage payments?
Working from someone else's writing is obviously a start to finding your own
voice, like translating another author's work from French to English, or in
this case translating my babbling to something sensible. :-) Or the value of
summarizing and organizing. And I see you are adding a lot; I liked your
grocery store cost example.
Here's something to think about as you write by Joel Sipress:
"Why Students Don't Get Evidence and What We Can Do About It"
"The ability to take a position on a question and argue for it is the
central skill of the discipline of history. In this course, you will put
this skill into practice in a series of argumentative essays. The goal of an
argumentative essay is to provide a persuasive answer to an important
question. An argumentative essay presents its main point (the "thesis") and
then supports that point with a well-organized argument and specific evidence.
Your essays will be graded on three criteria:
1. The thesis—do you have a clear and effective thesis? Is it clearly
stated? (Unless you have a good reason not to, the thesis should be stated
in the introduction.)
2. Organization—does the essay provide a well-organized argument in
support of the thesis? Is the point of each paragraph clear? Is the
relationship between each paragraph and the thesis clear?
3. Evidence—does the body of the essay provide sufficient evidence to
support each assertion?
Obviously, I fall down often on #2 (organization) as well as often #3 in not
going to enough primary sources. :-) Yeah, OK, maybe I don't state my thesis
(theses?) well too (#1). But I'm working on it. :-) (Joel is someone I
shared a summer apartment with at college along with two other guys. :-)
Anyway, it doesn't quite fit how I write (and I'm not a historian either),
but it is a sensible structure to think about anyway as a touchstone.
By the way, on your essay, another alternative Bob Black might suggest on
maintaining septic tanks or sewers is to reengineer the systems to avoid
them. Here is one such alternative for home use:
"The Clivus Multrum"
Also, if you like both plants *and* sewage, look into Ocean Arks and John
Todd's work: :-)
"Inspired by ecosystems as old as the earth itself, John Todd Ecological
Design, Inc. rebuilds ecological balance for clients with The ECO Machine -
a wastewater treatment system that naturally treats sewage and industrial
waste to re-use quality. Ecological function is an important consideration
as fresh water becomes one of the most important commodities in our
urbanized world. John Todd Ecological Design's ECO Machines bring advanced
wastewater treatment technology, and unsurpassed aesthetic, economic, and
environmental advantages to companies, communities, and resorts both at home
“Dr. Todd’s vision sets forth a new theory of ecological design weaving
together a set of processes - from restoration of land to geo-sequestration
of carbon, to community involvement, to long-term economic vitality - to
create a blueprint for a future for Appalachia that envisions a harmonious
self-sustaining community. This is one of the only true whole systems
projects that is place based but widely applicable.”
If you want to skip college and start working with plants and
space-habitations (sort of) right now, you might give his group a call.
By the way, not as good as Todd on plants and sewage, but closer to your
location in Colorado, you could try interning at:
"Rocky Mountain Institute"
RMI offers three-month to one-year internships, depending on the needs of
the project and the funding available. Any of the departments at RMI may
request funding for a project-related internship at any time during the
calendar year. Competition for these positions is intense. In most cases,
candidates will be required to have at least a BA or BS, be able to
demonstrate effective interpersonal and communications skills, have broad
interest in environmental and resource policy issues, and have a desire to
apply these interests to practical, real-life situations. Related work
experience is a plus. Interns are expected to be self-motivated and require
minimal supervision. Applicants must be able to function effectively in an
unusual work environment, including flexible work hours and a communal work
Duties and activities of our interns will vary with the project needs and
the intern's ability and interests. Responsibilities may include research
and writing, technical analysis, general office work (responding to
information requests, maintaining the library and resource files and
databases, copying, etc.), giving tours, or work on the RMI physical
facility (upkeep of the communal kitchen, grounds, greenhouse, etc.).
RMI has two offices — in Boulder, Colorado and in Snowmass, Colorado. RMI's
Boulder offices are located in downtown Boulder, and have excellent access
to local amenities, services, and public transportation. RMI's Snowmass
offices are in a rural area 180 miles southwest of Denver, 25 miles from
I-70 and twelve miles from the Aspen airport. The nearest public
transportation is 2.5 miles away and the area has limited amenities and
They are looking for two interns with computery skills.
Or also you can look at NASA at Stennis and the Water Hyacinth:
"Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, Florida, activated a prototype
100,000-gallon-a-day sewage treatment plant using SSC’s water hyacinth
technology. The plant is part of the Experimental Prototype Community of
Tomorrow (EPCOT), being created to provide a site for demonstration of new
technological, social and aritistic concepts. Among the sponsoring
organizations of this project-along with the Environmental Protection
Agency, the Department of Energy, NASA and private companies is the state of
Florida, which is studying the possibility of using water hyacinth
technology on a statewide scale. Florida has a need for improvement of its
rural sewage treatment procedures, and it is estimated that water hyacinth
systems could halve the $330 million cost projected for upgrading the
state’s sewage facilities by conventional means."
Maybe you might seriously want to consider a future career running (or
designing, constructing, troubleshooting, etc.) green sewage treatment
plants? (Pun intended. :-)
Anyway, great news about your site. The more the merrier. :-)
I just took that short licensing statement from elsewhere myself; I didn't
see as copying that to be any problem -- it's in the licensing documentation
somewhere anyway I think.
Your copyright notice kind of gives things away on the pen name BTW. For a
short while my wife and I used "Bronze Horse Software" as the name of our
company (derived from combining our two favorite fairy tales, the
Superlative Horse and the Bronze Pig (until we were dismayed to realize the
mythical horse was getting all the credit. :-) Also, "horse" can be
misinterpreted when you answer the phone. :-) We would have been better off
with "Superlative Pig Software" at least on that point. :-)
Portable colon replacement for exchange for food at scheduled times
while on the long spacemissions over to Googlemars and so on?