The One Wealth Approach

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution, Influenza, Revolution, Sustainable farming with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 14, 2014 by rgwallace

One Wealth 2I’ll be speaking on Structural One Health at the University of Minnesota this Wednesday, April 16, as part of the Institute on the Environment’s ‘Frontiers in the Environment’ speakers series.

If you are unable to make the talk in the flesh, you can watch it live online here.

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Global Capital and Disease Hot Spots

Rob Wallace, Visiting Scholar, Institute for Global Studies, University of Minnesota

Wednesday, April 16, 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.
IonE Seminar Room R380, Learning & Environmental Sciences Bldg., St. Paul campus, University of Minnesota

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Da-duh

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution, Revolution with tags , , , , , , , on April 10, 2014 by rgwallace

Big Data 2Data are good and why, as Neil deGrasse Tyson has been reminding us, logical empiricism is an acid that–eventually–eats through many a research question.

But I’m beginning to understand the extent to which Big Data, while capturing subtle correlations, suffers from a variety of overhead, not the least our era’s penchant for more information and less understanding.

There is, as Gary Marcus and Ernest Davis described earlier this week, the difference between pattern and process (and science and statistics) and whether said correlations are anything more than stochastic.

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Disease of Columbia

Posted in Ecological resilience, Revolution with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 8, 2014 by rgwallace

The Brown HouseSo far as Slavery is concerned, we of the south must throw ourselves on the constitution & defend our rights under [it] to the last, & when arguments will no longer suffice, we will appeal to the sword, if necessary to do so. I will be the last to yield one inch. –Zachary Taylor (1847)

There’s some rough justice in three antebellum-era presidents getting killed drinking the water at the slave-built White House.

For decades the water was drawn just seven blocks downstream from where the White House dumped its shit.

James Polk and Zachary Taylor, both of whom owned slaves during their presidencies, suffered severe gastroenteritis, Taylor dying in office and Polk three months following his term.

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Daughter and Sun

Posted in Ecological resilience, Revolution with tags , , , , , on March 19, 2014 by rgwallace

steampunk computerMy kindergartner and I are reading kids’ fantasy lit Ghoulish Song by Will Alexander, who, by our investigation, serendipitously teaches at MCAD here in Minneapolis.

In brief, a community shuns a girl as one of the undead when music splits her from her shadow. Given my interests these days, very Lacanian.

While waiting for the bus this morning we learned with the protagonist that all hands of Zombay’s Captains of the Guards–including those still alive, having traded in theirs for gearwork–are kept in the local reliquary.

Violet and I shared a smile over that passing detail, which, in a beautiful moment–sniff sniff–also allowed me to introduce her to steampunk–gear-powered computers, the future in the past, etc. Vi, putting the past into the future, declared her computers would be powered by the sun.

And so, this gray morning, from off the edge of many of our planet’s ecological boundaries, we glided onto the dystopic hope of ‘sunpunk.’

Gordon Gecko

Posted in Evolution, Revolution with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 17, 2014 by rgwallace

Americans have dissipated their racial energy in an orgy of stone breaking. In their few years they have broken more stones than did centuries of Egyptians. And they have done their work hysterically, desperately, almost as if they knew that the stones would some day break them. –Nathanael West (1933)

I must say I disagree with Slavoj Žižek’s Lacanianism that sinthomes, the deeper jouis-sens of meaning at the heart of the materiality of the written word, qualitatively differ from mathemes, their mathematical analogs. For mathemes also carry libidinal investment and are also subjectivized not only along historical trajectories long and short but by deeply personal jouissance.

That doesn’t spoil mathematics. It just makes it part of the fabric of human experience, for better and, as the strange video here demonstrates in form and content, for worse.

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The X-Men

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution, Influenza with tags , , , , , , , , on January 31, 2014 by rgwallace

X-Men Darwin 2The organism becomes a Chinese nest of boxes of qualities, and there is now seen to be no necessity for explaining change as change…Biology can then proceed to its real task, that of discovering the determined, material sequence of qualities, in each step of which organism and environment are involved as warp and woof. –Christopher Caudwell (1936/1986)

My views are mutating. I’m beginning to think that when evolutionary biologists characterize the source of variation on which natural selection operates as ‘random’ it is an attempt to impose on biologies the syllogism underlying Darwin’s ingenuous contribution: 1) heritible variation, 2) with effects on reproductive success, 3) produces natural selection.

Mutations, however, are routinely gamma-distributed across a genetic sequence; that is their mutation rates vary across sites and do so in particular directions (e.g., by transitions or transversions) and in domain-specific ways.

Take hemagglutinin, the influenza glycoprotein, characterized by a hypervariable head resistant to antibody memory surrounding a conserved core used to key the virus into target cells. Ostensibly selection operates in favor of surface hypervariability at the level of the phenotype. But we might ask whether it does so in such a way that imprints upon the mutation process itself.

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Whipsaw of Damocles

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution, Influenza, Organic agriculture, Revolution, Sustainable farming with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 21, 2014 by rgwallace

Last week I gave a talk on climate change and pandemic influenza at the University of Washington. My presentation was a part of the Biological Futures in a Globalized World series held at the Simpson Center for the Humanities.

I was initially dubious about a connection between the crises until, as these things go, I investigated further. There appear a number of mechanistic relationships tying together the two catastrophes.

There may be a number of ways out of the jams as well, as millions of farmers around the world are advancing alternate futures right out from underneath agribusiness.

UPDATE. We should add another possible connection between climate change and influenza not in the presentation.

According to Shaman and Lipsitch (2012), the last four pandemics (1918, 1957, 1968 and 2009) were preceded by La Niña conditions that, changing patterns of waterfowl migration, may have rejuxtaposed serotypes and prompted new reassortants. As Mother Jones‘ Kiera Butler points out, reporting on this year’s H1N1 (2009) influenza, climate change affects the El Niño–Southern Oscillation.

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