"When I get new evidence I change my mind. What do you do?" John Maynard Keynes
- Teaching Cartoons: On Context
- Paolo Freire – Last Interview
- Complex World
- Visual Experiment: Real Voodoo #1
- Kamelmauz Update
- The Ark
- Strip Teases
- Thinking About Libraries
- Awesome Photos from the Library of Congress on Flickr
- Stephen Brookfield & the Incremental Rhythm of Learning
- Another Ladybug Moment
- Teaching Cartoon: Living At Home
- Context in Two Shakes
- Just Go For It
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- "It requires a very unusual mind to undertake the analysis of the obvious." - Alfred North Whitehead
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
- If, during the long course of ages and under varying conditions of life, organic beings vary at all in the several parts of their organization, and I think this cannot be disputed; if there be, owing to the high geometric powers of increase of each species, at some age, season or year, a severe struggle for life, and this certainly cannot be disputed; then, considering the infinite complexity of the relations of all organic beings to each other and to their conditions of existence, causing an infinite variety in structure, constitution, and habits, to be advantageous to them, I think it would be a most extraordinary fact if no variation ever had occurred useful to each being’s own welfare, in the same way as so many variations have occurred useful to man. But if variations useful to any organic being do occur, assuredly individuals thus characterized will have the best chance of being preserved in the struggle for life; and from the strong principle of inheritance they will tend to produce offspring similarly characterized. This principle of preservation, I have called, for the sake of brevity, Natural Selection. [Charles Darwin (1859) On the Origin of Species]
- “It is essential to such a government, that it be derived from the great body of the society, not from an inconsiderable proportion, or a favored class of it; otherwise a handful of tyrannical nobles, exercising their oppressions by a delegation of their powers, might aspire to the rank of republicans, and claim for their government the honorable title of republic.” James Madison
- All the property that is necessary to a Man, for the Conservation of the Individual and the Propagation of the Species, is his natural Right, which none can justly deprive him of: But all Property superfluous to such purposes is the Property of the Publick, who, by their Laws, have created it, and who may therefore by other laws dispose of it, whenever the Welfare of the Publick shall demand such Disposition. He that does not like civil Society on these Terms, let him retire and live among Savages. He can have no right to the benefits of Society, who will not pay his Club towards the Support of it. -Benjamin Franklin
Thinking Outside the Agora
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- A graph showing all the languages whose words invaded English March 11, 2014Languages are evolving, living things, a fact that this graphic that charts just which languages English has been taking its loanwords from over time makes clear.Read more... […]
- This might not be a good sign March 11, 2014We'd been having some weird weather on the east coast, but this was different. None of us had ever seen lights and flashes of metal come whirling out of the clouds before.Read more... […]
- The Proper Reading Order for the Star Trek Novels in a Handy Flowchart March 10, 2014Have you been wanting to dive into the world of Star Trek novels, but aren't sure where to start? Check out the Almighty Star Trek Lit-verse Reading Order Flowchart, which lays out which books should come earliest on your reading list.Read more... […]
- These flash science fiction stories will keep you up all night March 10, 2014The six-word science fiction stories you wrote for us this time around covered some very dark worlds, ranging from the most perfect supernatural Craigslist ad on the internet to aliens whose darkest fear is being found by us. Here are just some of our favorites:Read more... […]
- A powerful new virus is infecting computers in Ukraine March 11, 2014
- RFID Power Ups Transform Go-karting Into Mario Karting March 11, 2014
- Pouring an Aged, Concrete Coffee Table March 10, 2014
- Announcing our Third Flagship Maker Faire—London! March 10, 2014
- Building a Plotclock-Inspired Line Following Bot March 10, 2014
- Print the Legend: Exclusive First Look Preview March 9, 2014
Category Archives: serendipity
Totem For Lakewood; 2010 S.Calhoun
II. Roots of (My) Urbanology (part two of three parts)
In 1972, my mother suggested that I might find Lewis Mumford interesting. Although I was mostly concerned with–in 1972–squeezing through various doors of perception, I managed to wander through Mumford’s The Conduct of Life, along with Huxley and Laing and Watts. The Conduct of Life was written in 1951. (I suppose hardly anybody reads Mumford anymore.) A few years after returning to Cleveland in 1992, I remember revisiting Mumford in a series of conversations with my mother about Cleveland, cities, the de-industrialization of the Mid West, and, the curse of Ronald Reagan. She insisted I read The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs. (1961!) I did so. I re-read Mumford’s The City in History. I explained to my dear mother what I meant when I described Mumford to be a constructionist mystic.
In the fall of 2005, again due to the result of a remarkable fortuity, I met the Director of the Lakewood Public Library, Kenneth Warren; (to myself I noted: heck, a constructionist mystic!) I learned of the Visionary Alignment, the Lakewood Observer Project, and soon enough–even though I was a wash-a-shore–was in the thick of it. At the outset, among the suggestions I introduced to the Observer crew was a ripe and dangerous speculative question:
What would it be like to live in a city devoted to knowing itself better than any other city ever has known itself?
I didn’t really get at the time that I was both implying a name for the practical learning process of the project being unfolded by a handful of intrepid Lakewoodites and Observers, and, idealizing a highly charged constellation of conflicting fantasies about what is the very stuff of civic knowledge-seeking and civic knowing. The name/process is simple: civic self-knowledge, but the charging of the civic constellation is altogether complex, entangled, and, as we soon enough came to understand, is plain difficult.
Community, know thyself? Really? Plug into the circuit and call forth shadow, and every variety of impossible dream, and quixotic obstacle?
Lakewood Prism (demographic analysis schema)
(from a presentation by Kenneth Warren, – Lakewood Future Tools – Understanding Lakewood: Communities and Memes; March 2005) See also the pdf, Community Capacity.
(Lakewood Ohio) Place-Making with Good Neighbors on the Lake
· Flow =Quality of Life
· Increase the flow states in the community.
· Refresh the conventional sense of local living in Lakewood by engaging good neighbors.
· Cultivate the habit of good neighbors listening to one another.
· Activate through the Lake a sense of the liminal among good neighbors, that is, the threshold of physiological or psychological response to the unique energy that permeates the people and place.
· Make Lakewood permeable to new experience, ideas, mechanisms and structures among good neighbors
who are joining society to economy, conscience to knowledge.
· Obtain commitments from good neighbors to act on projects that will stretch beyond circular, selfjustified egocentric gated communities.
· Know there is a beginning point and ending point to each good neighborhood.
· Realize that a commitment to sustainability is shift in consciousness; it is not about constructing a pretty
· Understand that places and institutions can get high-jacked by interests that lie outside the particular community, i.e. absentee landlords, absentee corporations and absentee public employees.
· Construct IEDs – Improvised Economic Devises
Ken Warren, Lakewood Visionary Alignment
During the summer of 2006 I happened upon my current research focus, serendipity in adult development. Under the auspices of The Lakewood Observer and Lakewood Public Library, I devised a small project. I would quickly teach street anthropologists to conduct a survey, and then from their gathering of this data set, build out with them a very constrained ethnography focused on a single question, What brought you, [the subject,] to live in Lakewood?
For two weekends a dozen or so of us fanned out through Lakewood and conducted this survey. We then spent an afternoon debriefing the results. We never assembled the final work product, but, in reviewing the surveys on my own time, I realized an amazing quality threaded itself through many of the survey results.
I can capture this quality in one of the answers to the signal question.
My husband and I came to live in Lakewood because he had just taken a job at the hospital in Fairview Park and we were in a very temporary sublet in Rocky River. One day, at the grocery store there, I asked the gal at the cash register if she knew of any good resources for tracking down nice rentals in Rocky River. Before she could answer a woman standing behind me in the checkout line tapped me on the shoulder and told me that her sister had a first floor, two bedroom apartment available in her Lakewood house. I jotted her sister’s number down and we moved in the very next month.
Not only were the surveys littered with similar narratives, but having my nose pushed close to such stories compelled me to consider my own.
So: I had to reckon with the robber in 1974 who made it all possible by trying to kill me.
In other words, I discovered my interest in the problem of serendipity in adult development by reflecting on my apparently fortuitous encounter with a robber in 1974. This reflection itself was inspired by asking residents of Lakewood what was it that brought them to Lakewood to live.
Keynote: communities collect the results of serendipity.
(Technically speaking: communities aggregate the product of intricate conjunctions of agentic, environmental, and temporal fortuities.)
I. Home Coming (part one of three parts)
I dig Cleveland Heights; I’m from Cleveland Heights. My wife digs Cleveland Heights too, and we count ourselves blessed that after the challenging circumstances of my mother’s illness and passing, we moved from the apartment in her home in Shaker Heights we rented from her for almost five years to our new home in Cleveland Heights.
This new home is almost exactly one mile from my first family home on Ormond Road, and a tad more than a mile from the succeeding family home on East Overlook Road. It is the first home Susan and I have owned together and comes after twenty years of our being renters, most of the time in various neighborhoods of, yup, Cleveland Heights.
Personally, as an independent researcher recently concerned with the role of constructive fortuity, or serendipity, in adult development, it is worth noting three of many fortuitous events that staked me to my home town. The first was a family emergency that brought me back from Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1992, and the second was the teamwork of two realtors, and the intuition of one of them, to show us our current beloved house on the great Cleveland Heights street of Coleridge Road. Our house here is five blocks from where I went to elementary school between 1959-1961. The third lucky event is bookended by the aforementioned two: meeting my future wife and partner Susan as the result of a fix-me-up sponsored by a mutual friend. This first meeting unfolded at a September party on Grandview Road in 1993, in, sure, Cleveland Heights.
For Susan and I Cleveland Heights is congenial ‘to-the-max.’ Yet, a final fortuitous event was primarily instrumental in both my leaving Cleveland Heights, and, eighteen years later, returning. On a Thursday afternoon in June 1974, a guy walks into the record store I was assistant manager of, Music Madness. It was located next to the old CH Post Office on lee Road. He found me alone and more than willing, at gun point, to give him the contents of the cash register, and walk with him to the back room office, and give him the rest of the day’s cash. Then, after a frustrating for-us-both few minutes during which I tried to–by myself–tie up my hands, he beckoned me to lay down on the floor and once prostrated, he next shot me in the back at point blank range.
(Good ol’ Cleveland Heights; Lee Road could be a bit like the wild west in the mid seventies.)
I got the hell out of my home town, and took the bus to Vermont by the end of July.
Nevertheless, the way the very long chains of contingency, necessity, and fortuity operate to constitute the foundation of future events, the leave-taking is as necessary as the homecoming–is, in actuality, its required precedent.
Cleveland Heights news and Resources (these links will remain in the sidebar)
Cleveland Heights vCity Data
Cleveland Heights (City Hall)
Cleveland Heights Historical Society
Cleveland Heights (Plain Dealer)
Cleveland Heights Patch
Kizzy. Looking over the wash of posts oriented to the recently past political season, and the interjections of Freeplay Softball reports and a few postings of my art, I see right away the points of emphasis will soon be shifting. I don’t plan much out, still, I’ve been collecting teaching cartoons, and interesting captures from the web tubes, and, other stuff, while I neglect packing up for the big move into the new house–except I’m remaining behind in important respects until the current house is sold!
People who know me well might find it amusing to learn my preoccupations aren’t throwing me all about as they usually do. Ironically, the research project into Strategic Serendipity is on hold just as the whole field blows up on the breath of several best-selling, albeit non-technical, treatments of the subject.
Not sure the exact date of this clip from an old issue of Science; (early twenties?)
The concept of serendipity that is the most robust is found in the field, sociology of science. My opinion is that this is the only robust treatment of serendipity.
In my continuing research into what I term transformative anthropology, or, into developmental serendipity in the human life cycle, every question or speculation is worth investigation. This includes questions considered ridiculous:
“What if your parents had never met?”
To which I respond: Indeed. (So, I gently pull it into my mental lab.)
I had an opportunity this fall to pose clinical-like questions to one of my softball associates, a pediatrician, Dr. Art. What I was wondering about was whether or not it would be equally correct, given the what if you’re parents never met query, to pose a similar question: “What if your, (or my own, or anybody’s,) parents had instantiated the fertilization at some other timely point, say seconds, minutes, hours, the next day, later, other than at the time at which point you, me, anybody came to be?”
Here’s the encapsulation of my questioning of Dr. Art.
Given the chanciness of what comes together at point of fertilization, is it correct to state that the fertilization that produced me, you, anybody, exactingly reflects the outcome of a single and unique outcome of sperm meeting egg? (In other words, fertilization is not able to be comprehensively duplicated in anyway.)
Okay, so, the nature of fertilization is a spectacular instance of something, a human he or she, in its generative case, created and necessarily from this, completely unique.
Dr. Art’s answer was,
“As far as anybody can know, human fertilization causes a unique person.”
Its instance comes down to a singular event and a rapid unfolding of unique configuration. This is entirely given by the nature of the mechanics involved. A different instantiation would unfold under the slightly different conditions given by these same mechanics.
Several aspects of this (class of) instance figure into how one thinks about it–as a matter of these mechanics. Fertilization’s uniqueness is not repeatable. Nor is this like shuffling a deck of cards or rolling the dice. The unique result is singularly so. There are many many possible outcomes when the deck is shuffled. Yet, over time, and with enough shuffles, the outcomes aren’t singularly unique. Likewise if we pose such an instance as a roll of the dice. I don’t know what a rigorous mathematically-minded appreciation of the consequential uniqueness of fertilization would be, yet I suspect the analogous two dice have to have an odd, not finite, configuration.
The scale of the temporal condition is something like: instantaneous, yet this also reflects the physical conditions through which fertilization happens as a result of one sperm actor, so-to-speak, being successful against all the other actors. It’s a measurable amount of time too, this instant.
A consequence of this set-up is that the instantiation of one’s own self hangs on the slender thread of these conditions. If Marvin Gaye comes on the CD player, and one of the parties to conception gasps, “Hold On!” then the internal process will be configured differently. Yet, consider how even this kind of adjustment occurs at an almost ridiculously huge scale given how the outcome of fertilization is itself contingent on the tiny scale at which the jockeying of sperm happens.
Perhaps, say you, “So what?”
As I mentioned, I take this seriously because I’m researching the element of fortuity as it plays a part in the resolution of human development at any scale of condition or time. I’m tracking back here to what I term the primordial biological dependent contingency. This is where any map of fortuitous contingency tracks back to. However, at the same time, there is also the implicit regress, ‘what if your parents’ parents had never met?’ And, the circumstances for consequential conjoinment, and for relationship, are entangled in vast, requisite ‘narratives’ for which all the necessary human players, and time-and-space, features necessarily are in some exacting way configured by long chains of, well, fertilization!
Backing up from this, we can sift through other consequences (of primordial biological dependent contingency) at much larger scales of relationship and agency. The evolutionary perspective warrants consideration of where this all can be said to commence and how the two, at least, most primal actors came to make something like the first instance, and how the original hims and hers were instantiated in kind.
Also recognized are other perspectives and the explanations or suppositions each invokes. The idea that a unique soul animates the physical instance of fertilization is, obviously, a very ancient idea. This same idea is deeply embedded in many varieties of how persons culturally grappled with the presumably self-evident unique outcome of procreation. Actually, is there a good reason to presume even this was so? I’m willing to wager without knowing–yet–conceptions about the soul finding its physical incarnation predate ideas about every born human constituting an utterly unique instance of human being.
Obviously, fortuitous dependencies track backward from biological scales ‘down and further’ back through material and temporal scales. My main research interest lies in the other direction, long after the presumptive collapse of enjoined human wave functions (!) granted in fertilization have occurred. Still, it would remain true enough that the serendipity decisive in later human development all are in the light of the strange and implicit fragility of fertilization, and, the: “I might never have come to be!”
Except for this crucial feature: successful fertilization and thus the biological evocation of a him or her sets up this new person as a unique in stance of human being, but is not the whole story by any means.
So much for the notion that DNA determines what an organism is like; it doesn’t. There is, in principle, no one-to-one relationship, no “mapping,” from DNA sequences to characters. (Of course, we can map differences of character– like albinism or Parkinson’s disease–to species differences in DNA.) The whole process of development, from ovary- making egg to mother-making ovary, holds itself together. Each bit of information context, like the egg mechanisms, is necessary and specific for each bit of information content, like the DNA. What makes the fly, or you, is the complete process of development. All of it. Can you blame your DNA for your funny squiggly handwriting, your passion for Fats Waller and
Burmese cats, your blue eyes! Well, perhaps the last, but certainly not the others. You can’t blame the DNA for what you’ve made of yourself. You, the process, are responsible for what you are, what you do. And for what you become. (biologist Jack Cohen)