World’s Tallest Slum

August 2nd, 2013 by Darin

A failed financial tower-cum-collective residence. This is like a lance between my collapse-loving eyes.

Good Guy British Scouts

December 5th, 2012 by Darin

From BBC News:

“The 105-year-old movement is launching a consultation to see if members would back a Scout Promise for those who feel unable to pledge a “duty to God”.

Versions of the oath already exist for the Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist faiths, but this is the first time such an adaptation has been considered.

Man, the Brits are better at Scouting than we are.


Ian Walsh on the Economy

September 5th, 2012 by Darin

Over at his blog, Ian Walsh summarizes the state of the world depression quite succinctly. Worth the 60 seconds it takes you to read it.

“Some basics on the economy”

An Eagle Scout Returns His Medal

July 20th, 2012 by Darin

Martin Cizmar, Eagle Scout, has returned his medal to the B.S.A. in protest over discriminatory practices toward homosexuality.

Update: So has Kelsey Timmerman.


July 18th, 2012 by Darin

Fig. 1: self at 15--full regalia!

For anyone who’s read Noise, it’s probably pretty clear that I was a Boy Scout—my main character categorizes his new, apocalyptic world with his own mythified memories of Scouting and adolescence to a degree that would have been difficult to fake.

In fact, I’m an Eagle Scout—the highest rank in Scouting one can achieve, and few do. Not everyone knows the distinction, but the Eagle Scout award represents the collected achievements in leadership, community service, self realization, and practical survival skills that represent the total throughput of a young man’s Scouting career. It’s a difficult award for an adolescent to achieve, especially since most earn it around the time they’re trying to fit in at high school, when it’s not particularly cool to weave lanyards and wear knee socks. In earlier days, most people knew what the Eagle Award represented: a particular young man with sticking power, gumption, and discipline. These days, there’s less awareness as the gleam of the modern age has come to outshine that medal, which, each year, looks a little smaller.

A fair degree of the ethos I live by today is informed by my time in the Scouts. I owe what success I’ve achieved and what respect I’ve earned to those years, to that award. Trustworthiness and helpfulness are among the attributes that I hold most dear. I judge others by whether or not they become liabilities in social situations, and despite my curmudgeonly exterior, I help others when I can. I know that good leaders are good followers, and I perform moral deeds for the sake of performing them—I took a sense of personal moral responsibility from the Scouts, not any religiously defined obligation.

I’d imagine I’m not a typical cross-section of your average grown Eagle Scout. As I moved into adulthood, I embraced liberal politics. I spent a lot of time in postgraduate school, earning degrees in literature and literary theory rather than applying my Eagle skills as a civic servant or outdoorsman (which is a common track for the grown Eagle). I’m an atheist, a science fiction fan, and a great lover of spirits. But, that said, my Eagle Scout award is to this day every bit as legitimate and representative as anyone else’s. Because I’ve cherished what I learned during those days, because I think discipline and respect and determination can change a young man’s life, because I think the Scouts can be better, so much better—because of all this, I’m embarrassed and ashamed by the BSA’s recent reaffirmation of their programmatic bigotry. It cheapens the integrity of those of us who still espouse the core tenets of Scouting, and it dirties the memory of the men—those giants, those scoutmasters and fathers and neighbors—who taught us how to be decent and responsible people. Who taught us how to be good men.

Let me share with you the Scout Law (U.S. version), which are the rules a scout lives by, the rules that teach him how to be a man. Most of these, I still try to practice on a daily basis. Once you memorize them, you never forget.

A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.

But endorsing an ideology of intolerance is not helpful. It’s not friendly or courteous or kind. It’s not cheerful, or thrifty, or loyal. It might be trustworthy in its steadfast bigotry, and I don’t think it’s particularly reverent since we disregard most Levitical and Old Testament law anyway.

But, worst of all, it’s not brave. That’s the hardest one for a young man to learn, to practice. And the BSA has shown its boys that inequality is okay—that they’ll be brave when it’s easier.

Maybe there aren’t enough Eagle Scouts on that Board.

“Amarnath: Journey to the shrine of a Hindu god”

July 13th, 2012 by Darin

For your consideration: “Amarnath: Journey to the shrine of a Hindu god.”

I’d say they’re onto something.

Public Enemy #1: Student Loans

July 2nd, 2012 by Darin

When I was going through graduate school, I relied on student loans in order to get by. One’s obligations to both coursework and teaching make working a traditional 9-5 job impossible. Even part time employment is tough because the typical grad student’s obligations occur at odd, intermittent intervals. I have a job now, and I’m paying those loans back (even though I break out in hives when I think about the government making a profit off of me, one of its citizens, instead of lending me the cash at 0% interest rate like it should), but the new “breakthrough” reforms that came as part of the much-celebrated bicameral, bipartisan agreement to keep student loan interest rates from doubling now make the grad school experience simply unmanageable. And any government who thinks a student is going to pop out of college and gain immediate employment in this environment is myopic at best and predatory at worst—this being a problem because this same government is eliminating grace periods for repayment that typically follow graduation.

My time in grad school has defined my outlook, both personally and professionally, and I’m sorry that the next generation behind me won’t be able to experience that. Unless they’re rich.

Oh, and all of this to keep the interest rates from rising to what they already are for most of us who graduated before the collapse and consolidated our loans. I think students would have been better off with the interest rate hike.

“Student loan changes you don’t know about”

Occupy’s Free University

May 1st, 2012 by Darin

Occupy Wall Street has set up a free university. I think this is pretty rad—in fact, a very-similar idea is central to the premise of the novel I wrote after Noise, which I wrapped up well before Occupy got going (at least, well before we all really started hearing about it). It’s a neat coincidence, even if it is a little freak-inducing.

FCC Opens White Spaces

March 30th, 2012 by Darin

From the FCC:

“Washington, D.C. – Washington, D.C. – Today, the Federal Communications Commission issued a Public Notice announcing that the Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) has approved Spectrum Bridge Inc.’s television white spaces database system, which may provide service to devices beginning January 26, 2012. OET has also approved a device by Koos Technical Services, Inc. (KTS) as the first product allowed to operate on an unlicensed basis on unused frequencies in the TV bands. The KTS device will operate in conjunction with the Spectrum Bridge TV band database.”

Here comes Salvage.

The International Labor Organization Tells It Like It Is

November 1st, 2011 by Darin

The International Labor Organization has published World of Work Report 2011: Making Markets Work for Jobs, and it’s not a heartwarming tale.

For instance, social unrest is on the rise (in perhaps larger degrees than most realize):

“Out of the 119 countries for which 2009 and 2010 Gallup survey data are available, 40 per cent of the countries show an increase in the scores for the social unrest index (the higher the score, the higher the estimated unrest).”

Part of combating these trends has to do with getting people to work, but . . .

“The global economic outlook has deteriorated significantly since 2010. The latest indicators suggest that employment growth has already begun to slow. This is the case in nearly two-thirds of advanced economies and half of the emerging and developing economies for which recent information exists. The Report shows that almost 80 million jobs need to be created over the next two years to reach pre-crisis employment rates. But the recent slowdown in economic activity suggests that the world economy is likely to only create half the number of jobs needed. As a result, on current trends, employment in advanced economies will not return to the pre-crisis situation before 2016, which is one year later than predicted in World of Work Report 2010.”

So, the burden falls to the G20 to do its best to soften the blow, but come on. You’re better off just getting ready for the apocalypse . . .

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