dropping out of the blogosphere.jpg

IT MAY HAVE SEEMED THIS WAY, BECAUSE …

I haven’t published posts for a while. One reason is that I have learned over time that I’d prefer to blog in more of a community environment (which my current blog hosting does not provide), another is that it would be so much easier for me to post on dedicated blog hosting platforms - after all I am not a geek and I have no geeky friends who would selflessly sacrifice themselves to look after my technical requirements … especially not in today’s world. So, I am currently evaluating a range of blog hosting services, a process that hopefully won’t take more than a week. I then will leave my new blog address here once the first post has opened another chapter for me of life in the blogosphere ;) .

maitreya_haiku.jpgThe ancient Japanese poetry form of haiku was originally the opening verse of a longer poem, the renga. Refined by the poet Basho, it has since evolved into an independent art form. At times delicate and willowy, at times punchy and ironic, these bite-sized poems deliver maximum effect with minimum description. Kigo (season words) often set the tone:

Icy cold, brown slush
seeps stealthily through leather
finds hole in my sock

Today, the winter solstice, is National Haiku Poetry Day.

Quote: “The haiku lets meaning float; the aphorism pins it down.”

Mason Cooley

[via Spotlight @ Answers.com]

The Japanese characters and written or spoken words are are called ‘kanji’. The word kanji is from kan (the name given to a great part of China thousands of years ago, from where the language and characters were adopted by Japan) and ji, meaning language or words.

The image to the left is an example for haiku. Kanji is written from right to left and from top to bottom. The three columns on the left are the cherry blossom haiku verse; the next column of two characters represents Maitreya’s original Japanese name, Koji, which interestingly means ’supervisor of cultivation’; and the final column far left is the date, which traditionally includes the emperor’s name, hence so many characters.

Quite an interesting little clip showing i a very abbreviated form the long history of anti-western sentiment in Saudi Arabia Wahhabism, one of which Osama Bin Laden could be seen as the latest incarnation.

Recent events have exposed complex problems that are beginning to arise from humanity’s sharing the atmosphere.

Date Posted on Global Envision: September 27, 2007

Some months ago, an American astronaut accidentally let a tool escape into orbit, eliciting concern about its hazardous potential as a hurtling object that could destroy an expensive satellite or even threaten lives aloft. Shortly afterwards, China blew up one of its satellites, immediately doubling the type of fine orbiting debris that is dangerous because it is hard to track. Once again the world became aware of the strange situation emerging in our skies. The sky is a unique domain, and one that is inadequately regulated. With the advent of global pollutions and technologies, remedying this is becoming an increasingly urgent problem.

space junk.jpgIn most cases, the laws for skies mirror those governing the world’s oceans. Oceans belong to everyone except those near landmasses, which are managed in a similar manner to the country’s land-bound borders. As a result, the sky is usually conceptualized in terms of traffic. Airliners and fighter planes operate in “controlled” air close to the ground, while nationality is supposed to matter less the higher you go. Fragile treaties that cover this are enforced mostly by the fact that few nations can afford to place assets that high.

But lately, more complex problems are beginning to arise from humanity’s sharing the atmosphere. Carbon and fluorocarbons affect everyone’s children. When Chernobyl exploded, it was not Ukraine alone that inherited generations of radioactive effects. Soon nations will colonize the moon, giving rise to the same unsatisfactory and tentative situation we have in Antarctica, where nations essentially take without legally owning. A more enlightened approach to shared resources is needed, one less dependent on neo-colonial control.

Some suggest that sky governance follow the precedent set by the electromagnetic spectrum. The “airwaves” are used for a variety of communications, including government use and public access like radio. The range of usable territory - the spectrum - is administered by governments as though it were real estate, and is broken up according to wavelength, with an amount apportioned for cell phones, other bits for military pilots, and so on.

This situation would be disastrous if it could not be closely managed, because people would broadcast on top of one another. Soon, we will see the spectrum become even more active, with the merger of cell phone infrastructure and the relatively unregulated Internet.

cellphone radiation.jpgThis will likely be followed by more sophisticated means of communications based on access to the air. To some extent, everyone will benefit from this, because governments will be less able to censor information. But would it be a better model of atmospheric administration?

Perhaps not. The problem is that at least some electromagnetic waves are dangerous. Consider this: at any given moment, the average citizen in the developed world has billions of messages passing through his or her brain. It can be shown that cells are able to detect these messages, but the extent to which they affect the body is unknown.

However, it is known that bees are dying in the northern hemisphere. This is a major concern because so much food depends on bees for pollination. The primary causes of this recent epidemic are germs and mites, but these have always been with us. So why are they affecting bees now?

A German study suggests that the proliferation of cell phone towers is weakening bees’ immune systems (the study correlates towers and signal strength to bee deaths). The jury is still out, but it may be that there is no safe level of exposure to many common radiations; the more we are exposed, the more damage we do. We would see the result of this in indirect effects, such as growing rates of asthma and hyperactivity in children.

So perhaps the problem with existing regulatory models lies in the assumption that the entire atmosphere is available for unconstrained use. We have an intuitive understanding of the importance of limits when the loss of our sky is articulated in poetic terms. As light pollution covers more of the planet, we are losing one of our oldest connections to nature: the ancient ability to gaze at the stars. If dying bees do not inspire formal guidelines about how the sky should be shared, let us hope that empty space will. The sky must belong to the people. Abuse of it harms everyone, and profits from its use should benefit all as well, implying the need to establish worldwide democratic rights over what is an unarguably universal resource.

Contributed by H. T. Goranson, the Lead Scientist of Sirius-Beta Corp and formerly a Senior Scientist with the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Reprinted with permission from Project Syndicate.

To learn more about the regulation of open spaces, see The Democratic Republic of Cyberspace?