20220130

Agroecology and the Survival of Cuban Socialism (2021) Aidan Ratchford offers a glimpse to how Cubas modern (monoculture) sugar farming industry was developed into a pluralistic farming praxis. Interesting to note that the development they underwent rid the country of the binary division between urban and rural.

The resilience of maintaining its socialist principles has been crucial to this experience of degrowth; only an economy which prohibits landlordism, structural inequality, and the accumulation of private wealth and means of production, can strive for genuine degrowth. In this sense degrowth as a real life experiment has necessarily a socialist character, given that the fundamental principles of capitalism are incompatible with the above. This is not to say that capitalism will not have its own “degrowth” given the threat of climate change but this “degrowth” will be the forced underconsumption of use values by the Global Poor, not Cuba’s sundering of social wealth (i.e. use values) from capitalist valuation.

Ethics & Epistemology (1998) a nice extract from a discussion exploring  the different understandings of freedom which Hegel, Engel and Marx deployed. Particularly how Engels statement “freedom is the recognition of necessity” can be understood. The analysis investigates how the thinkers approached nature and I like the definition that of our freedom can be measured by investigating how well we achieve in the projects we undertake: Ecological sustainability is freedom! The text explains that some mistakes of the Soviet Union where a result of a misfortunate process where the Second International chose to revive Hegel’s notion of freedom as an internal state which does not demand an engagement with the world. This enabled the state to limit individual freedom so that it could compete in overall productivity with capitalist societies, so that history would complete itself – Instead of deepening an investigation to what productivity, progress and history actually are.

For both Marx and Hegel human beings realise their essence through recognising themselves in the world beyond. For Hegel this takes place in the realm of the Mind, of thought, and is essentially an act of contemplation. For Marx however, it is through activity, through interaction with the external world outside themselves that human beings realise their own nature. This involves not only work, production, that is the moulding of nature to human design, but also social interaction where people recognise in each other their own selves.

The practice of the International was to submit to ‘historical necessity’ – ‘scientific’ laws that determined the movement of society – which would of their own accord pave the way for socialism. This was the opposite of Marx’s approach, who argued that the fact that social relations could be analysed scientifically, as governed by laws that acted independently of humanity, was itself precisely the state of affairs that needed to be overcome through socialist revolution.

Working towards an Arradio FM receiver module. Sourced schematics & the pcb layout and investigated the circuitry thoroughly. The Arradio hosts a sub-module from an FM radio kit which is no longer available but there seems to be an alternative to the sub-module Steckmodul mit TDA7088 which has the same components and the 70nH & 78nH inductors, which the tda7088 schematics call for are designed into the pcb. The varicap/capacitor diode 1SV101 which handles the voltage based tuning is a rare component but not completely lost yet. There is also an AM circuit which, if I understand it correctly can piggybacks on tda7088 tuning mechanism (or CD9088CB which is the same chip).

The previous schematic also shows a 33k resistors attached to the pin1 which is defined as a “mute” toggle on the chip datasheet (other sources I’ve spotted show a 10k resistor in the same arrangement). If I understand it correctly the “mute” can be understood as a channel latching mechanism, which enables the radio to lock to strong FM signals when the chips “scan” feature is used. A post by Lui Gough defines the mute as “a frequency locked loop with internal muting of weak signals”. Disabling this “tuning lock/mute” might enable a FM receiver unit build around the chip to linger in-between channels for unbeautiful static noises. I will investigate this further as I don’t actually know how the current circuitry behaves. This post offers a thorough breakdown of the chip. I know that the mute switch on the Arradio only cuts the device power input. If my experiments are successfully I will propose (Arradio developer) that that I’d update the design so that it would support the newer fm sub-module and that the submodule control & audio amplification circuit tl074 would be made using smd components.

I’d also like to change the pot and jack-in footprints to match more common components, include reverse voltage circuitry and possible switches for the “mute” and “scan” features (while reducing a hp or two).  Eventually I’d like to try building the submodule could be build straight to the pcb. Learning KiCad!

Sourced two 1SV101s and I’m hoping to test them with the mini-FM transmitter. No idea if it would work thou.

20201005

The World the Horses Made: A South African Case Study of Writing Animals into Social History (2010) Sandra Swart. The article aims to develop social history by enriching it with inputs provided by animals. This is motivated by Lucien Fabvres call for “sensory history”. Horses are embedded in processes of “global ecological imperialism” and they have played a pivotal role for different settler societies. The role of horses is mixed, they were used as slaves (agriculture), as weapons and as status symbols. In short “[…] the horse has been the quintessential migrants laborer in southern Africa.” The starts with a strong emphasis on soundscapes.

Human understanding of sound is historical, with the ability to interpret noise (and experience it as melodious or jarring) changing over time. As [Peter A.] Coates points out, noise is to sound as stench is to smell – something dissonant and unwanted. It is tempting to assume that noise is noisier now. However, in much of the urbanized west this simple linear model of noise pollution growing worse over time is flawed, because while the ascendancy of the engine has meant a noisier world, it is worth remembering that the source of opposition to horses in urban centres and support for the horseless vehicles was the perceived need for a reduction of the racket. However, when in South Africa horses were increasingly kept out of towns in the mid-twentieth century, it was for reasons of disease and waste, rather than noise.

Swart argues that verbal communication with the horse (“horse-human patois”) was a language which white English, Sotho men and Afrikaans speakers could share. “They would have been able to understand that squeals and grunts indicated excitement; snorts signified interest or possible danger; a soft whicker was meant to reassure a foal or to express anticipation of food and a whinny meant the horse was all alone.” Horses were imported from 1652 onward and used to impress local communities and to facilitate travel. Their adaptation was hindered by diseases. Horses which came sick during lengths travels were treated with opium (this reminds me of the Soppelsa text on horse handling in Paris). Horses were kept in highlands to control their exposure to diseases.

From the seventeenth century, and gathering demographic impetus from the eighteenth century, the new settlers established themselves in places where their horses could survive. The desire to reach horse-sickness-free zones determined range of settlements.

Swart identifies this as an “unseen hand” affecting the patterns of human settlement. Animals can be useful for reading the history (finding parallels, tendencies) of many sub-altern groups but this should be done in a manner which does not trivialize suffering. She spots similar movements in animals studies and different waves of feminists thought.

Horses and women have much in common historically: both were socially integral but subordinated groups that were not always conveniently tractable. Some characteristics of a horse, especially a display of self-will, were described as particularly female, as in an Afrikaans narrative from the early twentieth century, which noted: “it is always very difficult to foresee what a chestnut horse or a woman will do.”

The history of horses looks at claimed individual (race) horses, in a similar manner as first wave feminism has focused on strong role models and horses have also been read as a silent oppressed group, whose societal importance if proofed by displaying the volume of horse who have been lost in wars etc. “Drawing on the gendered or women’s history paradigm, perhaps historians’ first step could be simply to demonstrate that animals have a history at all”.  Swart call for bringing the stories of individual horses to front. “The cordite-inured police horse, the dead-mouthed schoolmaster, the bolting ex-racehorse all reflect their individual past experiences through their reactions to current experience.” are offered as individual horse history trajectories. Hippos archives and Sukuposti.net would be great sources for this construction effort.

For example, static snapshots of the daily lives of horses in the past could be combined and run chronologically to create a picture of how an average day in the life of a horse changed over time, much as the first works on social history on women and the working class did. This underscores the point that horse’s lives can be discovered and that these lifestyles changed over time.

I think that proving that the lifestyles of horses has changed over time is difficult but very important. Change implies an intelligence, which we can witness in the performance. To proof that there has been change, is to proof there is possibility for change, is to proof that there is a future. Swart wants to bring focus to “agency” so that we may recognize that societies are made by individual actions which have been effect by the society. Typically animals are represented by humans because they’re cannot “speak”. “Marx’s formula regarding French peasants in The Eighteenth Brumaire is uncannily applicable to animals.” She underlines.

One way of addressing animal agency is to reassess the idea of agency itself. Indeed, some have argued that the failure to question agency in the telling of history actually reproduces familiar forms of power. Efforts to reassess the histories of labour, girls’, the subaltern, childhood, and so on attack prevailing hegemonic notions of agency predicated on the idea of an autonomous individual, following the imperatives of rational choice, and aware of how the world works. Instead they searched for more subversive tradition although they still tend to structure narratives around political rebellions in public spaces. Yet “agency” and resistance are not synonymous and a search for agency should not be indexed by the presence of heroic acts of conscious self-determination.

This has an interesting application to horses. As Swart details, horses are controlled with an arsenal of tools (reins etc.). When horses are used publicly we see riders and drivers yield these tools in “displays of public domination”. But we seldom read why these tools are used for horses: Their disobedience can have life threatening results. Horses protest all the time.

Asymmetric access to the technologies of power, of which horses were one, buttressed elites. Horsemen had to have some power to even possess horses and, once they did, they could seize more power and deploy it more effectively by using horses, in a military capacity or in utilizing trade networks more lucratively.

Swart argues that horses are possibly not the best companions for reaching out to the histories of the sub-altern. They were luxurious. Donkeys were more frequently used in agricultural settings. Donkeys have been blamed for erosion and killed en masse. Swart brings fort the “donkey massacre” of 1983 which she calls “a silent massacre, hidden from the official archival record.” I’m betting that accessing horses in the stable, learning how their maintenance and care has been organized might proof revealing.

The article claims that horses are not as “obsessed with territory” as humans but this is contradictory to my experiences in the pastures, in the stables and when witnessing policehorse training events. I believe that being situated is a way to communicate and negotiations on spatial positioning is an elite form of horse-human patois. It’s great for performance as minute actions such as turning ones focus impacts direction (e.g. when riding).

20190811

A US focused text but fun to read. I guess many of the arguments hold true across the globe: Gentrification Is a Feature, Not a Bug, of Capitalist Urban Planning (2019) Samuel Stein.

Capitalists have serious and specific demands of the state, without which they are unlikely to function in the long term, or even on a day-to-day basis. They want the state to make big, fixed-capital investments in infrastructures that enable their own profit-making. They also want government to ensure some degree of support for people’s social reproduction, in order to assure they have a living, breathing workforce to exploit in the first place. Without these investments — planned, paid for and coordinated by the state — they have little basis on which to operate.

[Gentrification] is surely an economic and social force, but it is also the product of the state — a planned process of channeled reinvestment and targeted displacement. […] Militant anti-gentrification movements can threaten real estate capital’s capacity to realize profits, and thus transform the housing crisis from one borne by tenants to one felt by landlords, developers, and investors. This is no easy task, but it is the one we face if we seek to unmake the real estate state.

An excerpt from Fully Automated Luxury Communism (2019) Aaron Bastani. Compared to the 2018 book “Täysin automatisoitu avaruushomoluksuskommunismi” [Fully Automated Space Gay Luxury Communism] by Pontus Purokuru this feels like an educative read. The Purokuru text felt more like the authors personal reasoning why they ought not to stress about not contributing to the present day development of the welfare state, then a manifesto for a communism to come (as it was proclaimed it to be).

While the average political commentator likes to cast Marx as an idealistic dreamer, the man himself repeatedly stated his distaste for describing what communism might actually look like – what he termed writing ‘recipes for the cook-shops of the future’.

He was certain about some features of the new society, however. One was that the arrival of communism would herald the end of any distinction between labour and leisure. More fundamentally, it would signal humanity’s exit from what he called the ‘realm of necessity’ and entrance into the ‘realm of freedom’.

[Marxs] view was that communism was only possible when our labour – how we mix our cognitive and physical efforts with the world – becomes a route to self-development rather than a means of survival. […] as information, labour, energy and resources become permanently cheaper – and work and the limits of the old world are left behind – it turns out we don’t just satisfy all of our needs, but dissolve any boundary between the useful and the beautiful. Communism is luxurious – or it isn’t communism.

20180807

Ore.e Refineries is featured on brutalistwebsites.com (here is a short interview and screen grab on flickr.com). Exchanged notes on “facebook-fuelled-complicatedness of fka. brutalist website designs” (mentioned earlier) with the site maintainer Pascal Deville.

I accidentally broke the Civil Defence Crusher. Debugged the problem (it took two days) and now it works even better! The lm386 amplifier circuit is louder then before. I think I suffered hearing damage… During the fix I send a burst of raw interference noise through the circuit to my tightly sealed headphones. I feel a constant pressure on my right ear.

Race and Capitalism – Welcoming Michael Dawson to the New School (2018) Mayra Cotta. See The Race and Capitalism project. There are podcasts too (or listen to Wu-Tang Clan – C.R.E.A.M.).

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20180719

Booked a trail riding session for next Tuesday 1pm!

Making art with plants, is abstract art – It requires an understanding of concepts and approaches derived from cell biology and theories concerning the climate (that there is oxygen etc.). People cannot build relationships to plants because our interdependency is an abstraction. You can respect a plant but the plant will never respect you – Which means that there is no mutual respect in the relationship.

Respect is a relationship, in which the well being of separate entities is rooted on a shared awareness of specific problems and skills an other entity has (face-to-horse-face). This supports the well-being of both entities: A horse needs human guidance for navigating contemporary landscapes (maps, social networks), a human needs the horses skills in moving in complicated terrain (four hooves, sensory awareness).

In this relationship both entities constantly contest each others limits, to set parameters for the collaboration. When entities work together, the work is a social process (the outcome is the surplus of a successful relationship). One entity cannot surrender decision making to the other, both must engage at all times (relaxation is an important form of engagement). This is what Arja Sulin is saying when she shouts: “Absolute focus!!!” to kids learning to ride. Following this logic it seems that people don’t necessary build relationships to each other either: Words develop institutions which make-us-make-sense of each other according to a predefined logic. This would mean that the only respectful relationships we can form are to animals with whom we cannot negotiate with using words. Weird… Lovecraftian?

Post-Capitalist Ecologies: Energy, ‘Value’ and Fetishism in the Anthropocene (2016) Alf Hornborg. The article has a chapter called “The Money Artifact as the Root of All Evil”, how cool is that? He’s citing Andreas Malm (who coined the term Capitalocene).

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