Japan Spent Mightily to Soften Nature’s Wrath, but Can It Ever Be Enough?


Excerpt from this New York Times story:

Japan, a nation grimly accustomed to natural disasters, has invested many billions of dollars in a world-class infrastructure meant to soften nature’s wrath. But with the flooding in areas across central and northern Japan in recent days, the country has been forced to examine more deeply the assumptions that undergird its flood control system.

That is raising a difficult question, for Japan and for the world: Can even the costliest systems be future-proofed in an age of storms made more powerful by climate change?

Yasuo Nihei, a professor of river engineering at the Tokyo University of Science, said that in places around Japan, “we’re observing rain of a strength that we have never experienced. When we look at the costs, I think it’s clear that flood control programs need to be accelerated.”

Even so, he said, “realistically, there will be rains you can’t defend against.”

That has not always been the view of the Japanese government. For centuries, it has seen disaster management as a problem to be solved by engineering.

After a devastating typhoon killed more than 1,200 people in the late 1950s, Japan embarked on a series of public works projects aimed at taming its many rivers. Levees and dams sprung up on nearly every river, and civil engineers sheathed long stretches of riverbeds in concrete.

While the projects have saved countless lives, they are insufficient to meet the challenge of increasingly extreme weather patterns, said Shiro Maeno, a professor of hydraulic engineering at Okayama University.

“In the current state, it wouldn’t be strange for a flood to happen anytime, anywhere,” Mr. Maeno said. “Things we never could have considered have started happening in the last few years.”

Japan Spent Mightily to Soften Nature’s Wrath, but Can It Ever Be Enough?

Speaking of DB Cooper, my favorite crime history trivia is that in the 70s so many planes were hijacked that the FBI considered…

IFTTT, Twitter, BudrykZack

(via http://twitter.com/BudrykZack/status/1184225227385065475)

Using Old Cellphones to Listen for Illegal Loggers


Excerpt from this New York Times story:

PAKAN RABAA, Indonesia — This village in West Sumatra, a lush province of volcanoes and hilly rain forests, had a problem with illegal loggers.

They were stealing valuable hardwood with impunity. At first, a group of local people put a fence across the main road leading into the forest, but it was flimsy and proved no match for the interlopers.

So, residents asked a local environmental group for camera traps or some other equipment that might help. In July, they got more than they expected: A treetop surveillance system that uses recycled cellphones and artificial intelligence software to listen for rogue loggers and catch them in the act.

“A lot of people are now afraid to take things from the forest,” Elvita Surianti, who lives in Pakan Rabaa, said days after a conservation technologist from San Francisco installed a dozen listening units by hoisting himself nearly 200 feet into the treetops. “It’s like the police are watching from above.”

The project, experts said in interviews, illustrates both the promise and perils of using artificial intelligence in the complex fight against deforestation.

“We know where the big illegal logging is happening. We can see that from satellite imagery,” said Erik Meijaard, an adjunct professor of biology at the University of Queensland in Australia and an expert on forest and wildlife management in Indonesia. “It’s in the next steps — following up, apprehending people, building a case in court and so on — where things generally go wrong.”

The outcome matters for global warming. Tropical deforestation is a major driver of climate change, accounting for about 8 percent of global emissions globally, according to the World Resources Institute, and forest-based climate mitigation accounts for a quarter of planned emissions reductions through 2030 by countries that signed the Paris climate accord, the 2015 agreement to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.

Using Old Cellphones to Listen for Illegal Loggers

New post: after 13 years as a fellow with @longnow and over a decade of teaching futures, I’m currently running a class at…

IFTTT, Twitter, futuryst

(via http://twitter.com/futuryst/status/1182383919079010309)

My sense is that changing liability dynamics due to climate change breaks the business model of PG&E. There’s some apparent…

IFTTT, Twitter, dakami

(via http://twitter.com/dakami/status/1182250896136163329)

Unusual: manuscript with square-bracket glossing that is rather late (15th century) and contains an unusual text/genre for this…

IFTTT, Twitter, erik_kwakkel

(via http://twitter.com/erik_kwakkel/status/1181962553628483584)

Try to be more like a 91-year-old getting arrested for protesting against climate change rather than a middle-aged wanker…

IFTTT, Twitter, JimMFelton

(via http://twitter.com/JimMFelton/status/1181943577477357571)

First class: get a ‘smart’ object that is broken. You have technical support to open it but you need to find out what’s wrong on…

IFTTT, Twitter, iotwatch

(via http://twitter.com/iotwatch/status/1181943469310447616)

“A similar approach is required for the analysis of experiential games such as Dear Esther or Proteus. The challenges such games…


“A similar approach is required for the analysis of experiential games such as Dear Esther or Proteus. The challenges such games offer are so minimal that successful progression is almost automatic. However, the vacuity of their moment-to-moment play is overshadowed by a compensatory complexity in the interpretive play spaces that they construct. Indeed, the very absence of immediate challenge is an important constraint in the construction of these higher-level play spaces.”

Upton, Brian. The Aesthetic of Play. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2015.

When is the last time you listened to the #desert? 🌵🌵 Currently housed in Hayden Library, the Acoustic Ecology Salon… where…

IFTTT, Twitter, ASULibraries

(via http://twitter.com/ASULibraries/status/1179906573612638209)

“Dust and Shadow,” a collaboration between @ASU faculty and @_foam founders @deziluzija and @zzkt, seeks to reimagine our…

IFTTT, Twitter, asunews

(via http://twitter.com/asunews/status/1180180783773835264)

Simple class excercise — create an instruction for a drawing, pass it to a neighbor, who makes the drawing from the…

IFTTT, Twitter, zachlieberman

(via http://twitter.com/zachlieberman/status/1179789258724446208)

“Rewilding AI” My talk on 14 October: The future is more ecological than digital. Therefore AI can: reconnect man and nature; be…

IFTTT, Twitter, johnthackara

(via http://twitter.com/johnthackara/status/1180076160295870464)

To those who question my so called “opinions”, I would once again want to refer to page 108, chapter 2 in the SR1,5 IPCC report…

IFTTT, Twitter, GretaThunberg

(via http://twitter.com/GretaThunberg/status/1179507708493471744)

A defining American trait, and the neatest bit of elite inception in history. “Socialism never took root in America because the…

IFTTT, Twitter, vgr

(via http://twitter.com/vgr/status/1178373903598542848)

“Ballooning spiders operate within this planetary electric field. When their silk leaves their bodies, it typically picks up a…

IFTTT, Twitter, honorharger

(via http://twitter.com/honorharger/status/1178161844202004481)

Desert Humanities: Attunement to the Desert Wonderful work by @deziluzija and @zzkt from @_foam and an acoustic ecology talk by…

IFTTT, Twitter, doctormickey

(via http://twitter.com/doctormickey/status/1176557022403153920)

@manimalicious introduces panel w/ @the_eco_thought Adam Nocek & Maja Kuzmanovic & Nik Gaffney of FoAM for Desert Humanities…

IFTTT, Twitter, devoneylooser

(via http://twitter.com/devoneylooser/status/1176191091155951617)

Google Alerts has been broken for a long time, but every now and then it still emails me: 1) Pirated copies of one of my books,…

IFTTT, Twitter, ibogost

(via http://twitter.com/ibogost/status/1176263508767465472)

FoAM vinyl, by @zzkt & @deziluzija ’Each record is packaged with dust, sand and detritus collected from the Sonoran, Mojave and…

IFTTT, Twitter, AmberFirefly

(via http://twitter.com/AmberFirefly/status/1176150053834186752)

"Our gradual attunement to the desert expanse, its climate, rhythms and scales. Layered time. Material wonder. Being part of the…

IFTTT, Twitter, _foam

(via http://twitter.com/_foam/status/1176148253810642946)

An Alienist is a person who fights economic cultural totalitarianism with unconventional weapons, using unconventional methods….

alienist, menifesto, alienation, methods, praxis, futures, 2017, 2019, appropriation

An Alienist is a person who fights economic cultural totalitarianism with unconventional weapons, using unconventional methods. The Alienist must be a good tactician, to compensate for the fact that the forces ranged in defence of economic cultural totalitarianism are vastly asymmetrical in nature. The Alienist’s weapons may appear inferior to the enemy’s, but from the semantic point of view the Alienist has an undeniable superiority.

(via https://alienistmanifesto.wordpress.com/ )

IMHO it’s cheap to invoke parallel worlds just to avoid a piddling little yes-and-no time travel paradox. It’s like using an…

IFTTT, Twitter, rudytheelder

(via http://twitter.com/rudytheelder/status/1175592698452959232)

Pilot project in Stockholm - photo radar cameras measure speed of passing cars. Those above the speed limit receive a fine….

IFTTT, Twitter, brent_bellamy

(via http://twitter.com/brent_bellamy/status/1174495102590435329)

Ahead of the *.wav, farmers manual und glitches, bleeps und sich wiederholende Schallwellen fließen aus den Yamaha-Türmen. Keine…

IFTTT, Twitter, farmersmanual_

(via http://twitter.com/farmersmanual_/status/1174638815903961088)

The @meaningness model of how meaning fell apart (choiceless —> systematic —> countercultural —> subcultural —> atomized)…

IFTTT, Twitter, vgr

(via http://twitter.com/vgr/status/1173667992598499329)

Earlier this summer I began noting the troublesome spike in atmospheric methane readings from Barrow AK. Someone commented they…

IFTTT, Twitter, rgatess

(via http://twitter.com/rgatess/status/1172898980415434758)

“Karl Broman is here putting forward a very interesting problem. Interesting, not only because it involves socks, but because…

statistics, tiny data, socks, prediction, Karl Broman, Rasmus Bååth, 2014

Karl Broman is here putting forward a very interesting problem. Interesting, not only because it involves socks, but because it involves what I would like to call Tiny Data™. The problem is this: Given the Tiny dataset of eleven unique socks, how many socks does Karl Broman have in his laundry in total?“

(via Rasmus Bååth)

My message to you is this: pretend that you have free will. It’s essential that you behave as if your decisions matter, even…

Ted Chiang, Nature, time, free will, reality, civilisation, self-deception

“My message to you is this: pretend that you have free will. It’s essential that you behave as if your decisions matter, even though you know that they don’t. The reality isn’t important: what’s important is your belief, and believing the lie is the only way to avoid a waking coma. Civilization now depends on self-deception. Perhaps it always has.”

Ted Chiang

Last tweaks on the new Pattern Matrix prototype for @DeutschesMuseum and @ercpenelope. It’s a tangible programming interface…

IFTTT, Twitter, AmberFirefly

(via http://twitter.com/AmberFirefly/status/1171747896896774146)

Politics-as-usual can’t fix the climate crisis. Maybe it’s time to try a citizens’ assembly | David Farrell


Excerpt from this article from The Guardian:

The climate crisis demands an urgent, realistic and sustained response from governments around the world: such a response will inevitably require sacrifices from all of us. And there lies the rub for our systems of representative democracy.

How can politicians facing short-term constraints (particularly the need to be re-elected every few years) be expected to take the necessary decisions that require long-term and, probably, quite painful change on the part of the citizens who get to vote for them?

This is where a citizens’ assembly could help, as the experience in Ireland shows. The country’s ban on abortion was an intractable problem that generation after generation of political leaders had failed to resolve. In 2016, under intense domestic and international pressure, the Irish government established a citizens’ assembly and tasked it with coming up with recommendations. It met over the course of five long weekends spread across five months. The 99 citizen members heard from expert witnesses, advocates and women who had been affected by Ireland’s abortion ban. In carefully facilitated roundtable discussions the members deliberated on the subject, producing a series of recommendations that were then sent back to parliament. A special all-party committee of parliament spent a number of months debating the recommendations. The result of this was the decision to have a referendum, which passed by a two-thirds majority in the summer of 2018.

In Britain, the Extinction Rebellion group believes that a citizens’ assemblycould play a similarly important role in addressing the climate emergency. At the heart of a citizens’ assembly is random selection: in much the same way as for jury duty, regular citizens are selected at random. They have not run for office; they are not there to represent special interests. The citizen members are there to represent themselves, and thereby the greater population, of which they are a representative sample.

This is bringing “disorganised society” into the room – giving regular citizens a voice in helping to drive debates on important public policy. These citizens, in turn, are put in the special position of informing and educating the political classes – helping our political leaders to work through the complexities of a difficult issue; informing them of aspects they might not have considered before; giving them a sense of where citizens might be prepared to go; even providing some degree of political cover.

Politics-as-usual can’t fix the climate crisis. Maybe it’s time to try a citizens’ assembly | David Farrell

Introducing Universal Adversarial Triggers Phrases that cause a specific model prediction when concatenated to 𝘢𝘯𝘺 input. Result…

IFTTT, Twitter, Eric_Wallace_

(via http://twitter.com/Eric_Wallace_/status/1168907518623571974)

Sigh. LAM came first. then Drexicya in the Bass section of Record Time in the early to mid 90s. then Elecktroids, The Other…

IFTTT, Twitter, mikeservito

(via http://twitter.com/mikeservito/status/1169019267662143488)

I’m on a quest for Hawaiian snails named after Christian missionaries and their descendants. There are just so many! Amongst the…

IFTTT, Twitter, thomvandooren

(via http://twitter.com/thomvandooren/status/1168734460633681920)