Thursday, May 3, 2012

Millennial's Libertarian Leanings

As we saw in The Transformational Generation, the generations that grew up on the Internet have a different view of the future than that represented by the left-right, progressive-conservative, Democrat-Republican paradigm. We saw that play out when The Largest Libertarian Society in History took on the crony capitalism machine and sent SOPA and PIPA to the graveyard.

Most recently, we observed that The Underground is Surfacing, with people of all ages taking their destiny into their own hands, refusing to wait for solutions from an increasingly bloated and incapable political machine. And now, courtesy of the Harvard University Institute of Politics, we have data on the 18-to-29 year old generation that backs up these observations.

Although Harvard's report leads with the possible impact of their findings on the 2012 election, the real story goes far beyond November, and it's mostly bad news for the two-party system and the political machine in general. Forbes took their own look at the data and arrived at somewhat similar conclusions, although they too generally focused on the short term and the upcoming election.
These attitudes betraying both the traditional left and right fall generally within the bounds of libertarianism. Live and let live. Individual responsibility is as important as collective responsibility. Avoid military interventions. Distrust both government and corporations. Protect civil liberties.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Killer Cattle Prods

According to a new report published on Monday in the American Heart Association journal Circulation, the electrical shock delivered to the chest by a Taser can lead to cardiac arrest and sudden death.

The study, which analyzed detailed records from the cases of eight people who went into cardiac arrest after receiving shocks from a Taser X26 fired at a distance, is likely to add to the debate about the safety of the weapons. Seven of the people in the study died; one survived.

The New York Times reported the statements of two prominent doctors who concurred with the results of the study.
“This is no longer arguable,” said Dr. Byron Lee, a cardiologist and director of the electrophysiology laboratory at the University of California, San Francisco. “This is a scientific fact. The national debate should now center on whether the risk of sudden death with Tasers is low enough to warrant widespread use by law enforcement.”
Dr. Robert J. Myerburg, a professor of medicine in cardiology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, said that the study "had persuaded him that in at least some of the eight cases, the Taser shock was responsible for the cardiac arrests."

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Underground is Surfacing

So far in this series about the Phoenix Society, we've addressed the massive size and rapid growth of the underground, apolitical economy, the rising decentralization and individual empowerment in response to the ongoing failures of centralized, top-down control, detailed specifics of new technologies that hold the promise of decentralizing production, new tools for and attitudes toward collaboration, and the decentralization of production. But the story of the Phoenix Society is not only in the depth of the changes occuring at the edge of the future, but the breadth of support for these changes, even among those who have yet to realize their depth.

Stories that explore the widespread acceptance of this new decentralized paradigm are everywhere, and a number of those stories have been told here at The Tireless Agorist. In Detroit: America's Greece, we saw examples of residents reclaiming homes taken by banks and government agencies, community gardening projects, voluntary cleanup efforts, neighborhood watches, and new sorts of microbusinesses, all the result of individual initiatives, not government programs.

Accidental Agorists Rebuild A Road tells the story of a community of volunteers repairing a road vital to their well-being because the government couldn't or wouldn't get the job done and they weren't willing to set around and watch their livelihoods destroyed. Meanwhile, Tombstone, Arizona Clings to Life as the citizens still wait after more than a year for permission from the government to repair vital water systems that are in an area protected by the Wilderness Act.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Tombstone, Arizona Clings to Life

The Monument fire last June destroyed over 30,000 acres, some of it endangered species habitat, in Cochise County, Arizona. It also destroyed the primary source of water for Tombstone, Arizona, a town of 1,500 and, owing to its fame, host to more than 400,000 visitors each year. Within days of the fire being extinguished, the town already knew they had a big task on their hands. Flooding that followed the fire destroyed the catch basins as well as some of the pipeline.
As of right now Tombstone still has water thanks to some wells, but they said they're just not enough. Kern said, "Our wells can keep up but if we had a major fire or something in town that could drain our water supply really fast."

Because of that risk, workers said they're not going to let Mother Nature beat them, but fixing the mess won't be easy.

Wright said, "It's do-able. To think they did it in 1880 and did it all by hand, I guess we can find a way to put it back."

City works said they're confident they can get in here, get everything cleaned up, and build new water basins but they're going to have to wait because the flooding probably isn't done. They said if they do any work the next flood will likely wash it all away.
Now, almost a year later, the town is starved for water, forced to rely on two ground wells (one compromised by arsenic) to meet its needs, although it normally draws 50 to 80 percent of its water from springs in the Monument Fire burn area. The delay is not caused by Mother Nature, or by a technical problem.
The City of Tombstone is squaring off against the U.S. Forest Service over water rights in a fight to rescue “The Town Too Tough to Die.” Citing the Wilderness Act, the Forest Service is refusing to allow the city to repair its waterlines to mountain springs it has owned for nearly seventy years – and which date back to the 1880s. This refusal is threatening residents, private property and public safety with the risk of a total loss of fire protection and safe drinking water.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Barefoot College - Electrifying Empowerment

In some of the poorest villages of India and Africa, illiterate grandmothers are bringing the gift of light. This is the amazing story of Barefoot College, responsible not only for training illiterate solar engineers, but also water engineers, designers, communicators, midwives, architects and rural social entrepreneurs.

Barefoot College, established in 1972 by Sanjit "Bunker" Roy, has been championing a bottom-up approach to education and empowering rural poor since 1972. Roy's vision was to educate the local people, who would then be able to use the skills and knowledge to raise themselves from poverty. He initially hired what he describes as "paper-qualified urban professionals," but found they would spend only a few months at the project before leaving for positions in the cities. Beginning in 1977, he began using local people who had attended the college to do the teaching, designing the programs to use simple technology in innovative ways.
Roy's model -- educating local people through peer-to-peer learning -- is transformational in that it relies on the passing on of traditional skills and knowledge rather than an emphasis on outside educators bringing new ideas and influences. Local people are trained as doctors, teachers, engineers, architects, designers, mechanics, communicators and accountants.

Roy has disrupted the model that many NGOs and well-endowed foundations promote in the developing world, namely a top-down approach led by outside, often governmental, institutions.