Blog Articles 141–145

Criticizing Automotive Transportation

Transportation takes up a huge portion of a family’s annual income. Behind housing and food, transportation is the third largest expenditure of most Americans. Many Americans live in places where having access to your own car is a prerequisite for getting a job or getting to food. Those that cannot afford a car, are usually left no other option but to use under-funded public transportation that is ill-adapted to the existing physical environment. An automobile-human cyborg quite often requires a normal-functioning human body. Anything from ADHD, vision problems, paralysis, or limited dexterity make it more dangerous -if not impossible- to drive a car. This leaves the elderly stranded in their homes, and turns neighborhoods into deadly obstacle courses.

Criticizing Other Things Like We Criticize the Internet — an inversion of certain critiques of the Internet’s impact on society to apply (rather aptly) to automobiles and their related infrastructure.

The Cost of Opting Out

Let’s continue to build gardens and live in walkable neighborhoods, but we should also recognize the sociotechnical structures that prevent fundamental change. Opting out of fast food and cars would undeniably help the environment and society, but to ask any one individual to forego the efficiencies of modern life is a demand on their own personal resources. Instead of asking individuals to give up their Facebook accounts and their cars, academics and activists need to find new ways of providing the same or comparable services that embody a different sort of politics. Build a world where Facebook is obviously the inferior mode of communication and fast food just seems gross. It means building the capacity for critical human engagement outside of the confines of capitalist notions of efficiency.

The Cost of Opting Out, on how individualistic non-participation fails as a critique and corrective of problems in modern society.

Labor mobility

Republicans’ preoccupation with the border and rule abiding-ness has distracted them from the real problem: the rigidities of our current immigration laws.

Like capital mobility, labor mobility is critical to economic prosperity. In the case of capital, prohibiting cross-border investing results in missed investment opportunities and hinders startups from accessing much-needed capital that would be readily accessible if not for an arbitrary geopolitical boundary. Similarly, restricting immigration (labor) results in fewer opportunities for workers and inhibits businesses’ ability to hire talent and thus compete in an increasingly global marketplace.

— Emily Ekins “Immigration Reinvigorates the American Dream, Some Republicans Wrongly Focus on Immigration as a Border Issue” (via jdekstrand)

Molecules and Literary Criticism

If you take a look at the progress of science, the sciences are kind of a continuum, but they’re broken up into fields. The greatest progress is in the sciences that study the simplest systems. So take, say physics — greatest progress there. But one of the reasons is that the physicists have an advantage that no other branch of sciences has. If something gets too complicated, they hand it to someone else.

If a molecule is too big, you give it to the chemists. The chemists, for them, if the molecule is too big or the system gets too big, you give it to the biologists. And if it gets too big for them, they give it to the psychologists, and finally it ends up in the hands of the literary critic, and so on.

— Noam Chomsky, in a fascinating and wide-ranging interview on cognition, language, AI, and the philosophy and history of scientific inquiry.

Immigration and Orphans

Today is Orphan Sunday, a day marked for raising awareness of orphans and opportunities to care for them throughout U.S. churches. A video our church played today said that there are almost 500,000 children in foster care in the United States.

According to an Applied Research Center report published last year, at least 5100 — more than 1% — of those children are the children of detained or deported immigrants.

U.S. immigration policy and enforcement have needlessly orphaned over 5000 children, taken them from their parents, and placed them in foster care.

Among those children are the children of Felipe Montes. Felipe is marred to a U.S. citizen, and thus qualifies for a visa, but the costs, both in application fees, travel, and lost work, are prohibitive. His wife is disabled, so he was both the breadwinner and primary caregiver for his family. He has now been deported. So far, the courts have determined that his wife is not capable of caring for the children, and gaining custody so he can take them to Mexico so they can live with their father is an uphill battle. Felipe has been deported, his wife is in prison, and his sons are in foster homes. One family, blown to as many bits as possible, in the name of “justice”.