Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Following up on today's discussion ...

Yuriko Saito talks with a student (in her everyday habitat) via
I was doing some research for my final paper and I found a really interesting article written by Yuriko Saito, a (female) Japanese philosopher at the Rhode Island School of Design, titled 'Everyday Aesthetics'. I thought I'd share it, in case anyone remains frustrated with the fine art / nature comparison in environmental aesthetics- this might assuage your frayed nerves a bit. Evan- you know I'm talking to you.

Anyhow, after doing a little library sleuthing, I have found out that her work encompasses the relationship of aesthetic theory and environmental ethics, the moral dimensions of the Japanese aesthetic, and a critique on the primacy of the aesthetics of fine art acting as the main point of departure for applications in environmental ethics / aesthetics ... super fascinating. Here's her website at RISD for more about her.

I'm attaching a link to the article 'Everyday Aesthetics', and I have more of her essays in pdfs if you all are interested. If this doesn't work (you might have to be signed in to Cornell netid), I can email the file to anyone who wants it. Yuriko has been included in a bunch of anthologies on Environmental Ethics/Aesthetics, including the one Jim passed around today edited by Carlson and Berleant as well as having fairly recently published her own book (also called 'Everyday Aesthetics').

Thursday, April 19, 2012

hi guys, just an fyi that the lecture by Roger Pielke Jr. on his book, The Climate Fix, is now available on Pielke's website, and it has been updated to include the slides integrated into the presentation video.

Check it out at http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com/2012/04/climate-fix-lecture-with-slides.html .


Technology and Aesthetics

I was thinking about our discussion today in class, and was left wondering what role technology plays in our views/emotions towards nature.

Ritwick asked if experiencing nature first-hand is required for that emotional or spiritual connection associated with aesthetics. I personally think it is - none of us really had an emotional reaction to seeing the Double Rainbow footage in the video. Undoubtedly, double rainbow guy’s sound-effects probably took away from that intimate personal experience that we could have had, but I think that speaks to the importance of “framing” or presenting. Although he had a spiritual connection, we interpreted it as being funny and that perhaps took away from the reaction we “should’ve” had towards the double rainbow. Basically, how the natural episode is framed/presented makes a difference i.e. we’d have a different appreciation if a double rainbow was filmed on a Planet Earth special compared to on that youtube video.

Technology is certainly a great way for people who can’t otherwise experience certain places to get a feel for what that area is like; however, videotaping or taking pictures of nature subtracts from the emotional connection that the person could’ve had, in turn, disempowering that natural feature. Do you agree?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Soylent green is people!

I came across two articles today that were both disturbing and intriguing. The first article features a new method for making human based gelatin which is actually more predictable than animal based gelatin. To develop this product human gelatin genes are inserted into a strain of yeast, which can produce gelatin with controllable features. The thought of eating human protein is disturbing, yet is it really any worse than eating animal based gelatin which is composed of cow and pig ligaments and connective tissues? Here is the link to the full article:


The second article features a synthetic meat burger made from protein extracted from human feces. Japanese scientist Mitsuyuki Ikeda (pictured above) uses sewage mud one of the main ingredients in his artificial meat. The process sounds less than appetizing. The protein lipids are whipped into "meat" and make more savory by adding soya and steak sauce. Here is the link to the article:


Neither of these products sound like ones I will be eating anytime soon but it is interesting to think scientists are turning towards humans and their by products as a food source. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Thoughts on Ch.3 Sagoff Reading

I just finished reading Sagoff’s chapter, Allocation and Distribution of Resources, and I have to say that I feel a little more ashamed of myself and disturbed than before I picked up the text.

Are the rationale of our day-to-day choices actually that different from our fundamental values? Sagoff seems to think so: “I buy only disposable [bottles] now, but to soothe my conscience, I urge my state senator to outlaw one-way containers.” No question that Sagoff was trying to assuage his guilt in that situation (like mining corps do when they promise to restore the land…), but the contradiction seems unacceptable. The way I interpreted this example – let me know if you disagree – is that he’s very much in favor of regulation. Regulation, if aligned with our ethics system, eliminates the choice we’d have to make between our preferences as consumers and values as citizens i.e. “the consumer against himself as a citizen or as a member of a moral community” I never thought the two were quite so mutually exclusive...

Sunday, April 1, 2012

While I was doing some research about wind turbines, I came across this really interesting - but unrealistic - idea about floating wind turbines...a great source of renewable energy that could be moved. And more importantly, they can climb to relatively high altitudes where wind-currents are slightly more intense, so more energy can be created. Would people have a problem seeing these things floating around in a wilderness environment e.g. places in Alaska?  Check it out: http://inhabitat.com/altaeros-energies-floating-wind-turbines-tap-into-strong-high-altitude-winds/

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Calling All Carnivores: Tell Us Why It’s Ethical to Eat Meat: A Contest

The latest from the NYT Ethicist. I'm sure people in class will be interested in submitting their answers. Here is what the article says -

Ethically speaking, vegetables get all the glory. In recent years, vegetarians — and to an even greater degree vegans, their hard-core inner circle — have dominated the discussion about the ethics of eating. From the philosopher Peter Singer, whose 1975 volume “Animal Liberation” galvanized an international movement, to the novelist Jonathan Safran Foer, who wrote the 2009 best seller “Eating Animals,” those who forswear meat have made the case that what we eat is a crucial ethical decision. To be just, they say, we must put down our cheeseburgers and join their ranks. 
In response, those who love meat have had surprisingly little to say. They say, of course, that, well, they love meat or that meat is deeply ingrained in our habit or culture or cuisine or that it’s nutritious or that it’s just part of the natural order. Some of the more conscientious carnivores have devoted themselves to enhancing the lives of livestock, by improving what those animals eat, how they live and how they are killed. But few have tried to answer the fundamental ethical issue: Whether it is right to eat animals in the first place, at least when human survival is not at stake.
So today we announce a nationwide contest for the omnivorous readers of The New York Times. We invite you to make the strongest possible case for this most basic of daily practices.
We have assembled a veritable murderer’s row of judges — some of the most influential thinkers to question or condemn the eating of meat: Peter Singer, Michael Pollan, Mark Bittman, Jonathan Safran Foer and Andrew Light. If you can make it past them, we’ll put your name in lights (or at least in print). So get thinking. And get writing. You have two weeks and 600 words in which to make sense of our species’ entire dietary history. Bon app├ętit!
Rules: This is a very specific contest. Don’t tell us why you like meat, why organic trumps local or why your food is yours to choose. Just tell us why it’s ethical to eat meat.
Guidelines: Send written entries of no more than 600 words toethicist@nytimes.com. Entries are due by April 8; no late submissions will be considered.
The Prize: The best essay or essays will be published in an upcoming issue of The New York Times.
The Caveat: Feel free to bat ideas around in the comments section below, but to be considered by the judges entries must be submitted toethicist@nytimes.com.