Justin Pickard’s Project Cascadia: a bi(bli)ography

Paul Raven @ 10-06-2011

Futurismic veterans will probably remember the name of Justin Pickard, who became a friend back in the halcyon days of the Friday Flash Fiction crew, and has been a source of challenging new ideas and frameworks ever since (not to mention a good buddy who’ll listen to me waffle my elliptical way to my own standpoints on a variety of seemingly disparate topics). Shorter version: he’s mad smart, and interested in almost all the topics that crop up on this here blog.

Why bring this up? Because Pickard has a plan: Project Cascadia, a trip to the Pacific Northwest which will turn into a book of speculative gonzo travel journalism and ethnography. He’s hustling for the the up-front funds using Ulule, which is basically a Kickstarter analog; if you’re interested in smart folk thinking orthogonal thoughts and setting them down using interesting juxtapositions of words, you might think about promising the dude a bit of cash in return for a copy (be it digital, dead-tree or both) of the end result. I’ve stumped up £25, because I’m confident that the end result will be the sort of book I’d pay similar money to buy. Go take a look at his pitch, if nothing else; the sight of his slightly manic disembodied face superimposed on a mountain range will haunt you for the rest of the day.

As a supplement to that pitch, Justin has blogged a “bi(bli)ography”: a best-of list of the texts that he’s used to baste his brain-meat over the last half-decade. I’ve read maybe a third of it myself, and know of another third by repute; I expect a lot of you will be in a similar boat. So what might be useful for Justin (and certainly for me) would be for y’all to look through this list and shout out in the comments with any articles, books or other media that you think need adding to it. If it helps, you can think of it as a crowdsourced curriculum for a self-taught pseudoMasters in a discipline yet to be named… or alternatively as “a list of interesting stuff”.

So, the list:

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Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (1983)

Arjun Appadurai, Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization (1996)

Spectral housing and urban cleansing: notes on millennial Mumbai‘, Public Culture 12:3 (2000)

Marc Augé, Non-Places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity (1992)

J. G. Ballard, Vermillion Sands (1971)

My Dream of Flying to Wake Island‘ (Guardian podcast)

Richard Barbrook, Imaginary Futures: From Thinking Machines to the Global Village (2007)

Nigel Barley, The Innocent Anthropologist: Notes From a Mud Hut (1983)

Jean Baudrillard, The Gulf War Did Not Take Place (1991)

America (1986)

Lauren Beukes, Zoo City (2010)

Moxyland (2008)

Hakim Bey, The Temporary Autonomous Zone (1991)

Gray Brechin, Imperial San Francisco: Urban Power, Earthly Ruin (2006)

John Brunner, Stand on Zanzibar (1968)

Jamais Cascio, ‘Legacy Futures, Open the Future (2008)

Three Possible Economic Models‘, Fast Company (2009)

Three Possible Economic Models, Part 2‘, Fast Company (2009)

Ernest Callenbach, Ecotopia: The Notebooks and Reports of William Weston (1975)

Michael Chabon, Maps and Legends (2008)

Jean and John Comaroff, ‘Alien-Nation: Zombies, Immigrants and Millennial Capitalism’, South Atlantic Quarterly 101:4 (2002)

Millennial Capitalism: First Thoughts on a Second Coming‘, Public Culture 12:2 (2000)

‘Occult economies and the violence of abstraction: notes from the South African postcolony’, American Ethnologist 26:2 (1999)

Douglas Coupland, ‘A radical pessimist’s guide to the next 10 years‘, Globe and Mail (2010)

Generation A (2009)

JPod (2006)

Erik Davis, TechGnosis: Myth, Magic and Mysticism in the Age of Information (2004)

Mike Davis, City of Quartz (1990)

Cory Doctorow, Makers (2009)

Keller Easterling, Enduring Innocence: Global Architecture and Its Political Masquerades (2005)

Jennifer Egan, A Visit from the Goon Squad (2010)

Warren Ellis, Shivering Sands (2009)

Matthew Gandy, ‘Cyborg Urbanization: Complexity and Monstrosity in the Contemporary City‘, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 29:1 (2005)

Bradley L. Garrett, ‘Urban explorers: quests for myth, mystery and meaning’, Geography Compass (2010) [video]

Place Hacking (2008-present)

William Gibson, ‘The Gernsback Continuum’, Burning Chrome (1986)

Zero History (2010)

Spook Country (2007)

Pattern Recognition (2003)

David Graeber, Possibilities: Essays on Hierarchy, Rebellion, and Desire (2007)

Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology (2004)

Adam Greenfield, ‘Thoughts for an eleventh September: Alvin Toffler, Hirohito, Sarah Palin‘, Speedbird (2008)

Richard Grusin, Premediation: Affect and Mediality After 9/11 (2010)

Charlie Hailey, Camps: A Guide to 21st-Century Space (2009)

Donna Haraway, When Species Meet (2007)

Modest_Witness@Second_Millennium.FemaleMan©Meets_OncoMouse™ (1997)

Simians, Cyborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature (1990)

Stefan Helmreich, Alien Ocean: Anthropological Voyages in Microbial Seas (2009)

Dan Hill, ‘The Street as Platform‘, City of Sound (2008)

Drew Jacob, ‘How to be ExPoMod‘, Most Interesting People in the Room

Sarah Kember, ‘Media, Mars and Metamorphosis‘, Culture Machine (2010)

Naomi Klein, Fences and Windows: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Globalization Debate (2002)

Alan Klima, ‘Spirits of ‘Dark Finance’: A Local Hazard for the International Moral Fund’, Cultural Dynamics (2006)

Thai Love Thai: Financing Emotion in Post-crash Thailand‘, Ethnos (2004)

Bruno Latour, We Have Never Been Modern (1991)

Ursula Le Guin, Changing Planes (2003)

The Disposessed: An Ambiguous Utopia (1974)

Charles MacKay, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds (1841)

Geoff Manaugh, The BLDGBLOG Book (2009)

Ian McDonald, The Dervish House (2010)

Brasyl (2007)

River of Gods (2004)

Suketu Mehta, Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found (2004)

China Mieville, The City & the City (2009)

Covehithe‘, The Guardian (2011)

M.R. James and the Quantum Vampire – Weird; Hauntological: Versus and/or and and/or or?‘, Collapse IV (2008)

Floating Utopias‘, In These Times (2007)

Timothy Mitchell, Rule of Experts: Egypt, Techno-Politics, Modernity (2002)

Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49 (1966)

Keith Roberts, Pavane (1968)

Jim Rossignol, This Gaming Life: Travels in Three Cities (2008)

Geoff Ryman, Air (2005)

Stephen Shaviro, Post-Cinematic Affect (2010)

Gary Shtenyngart, Super Sad True Love Story (2010)

Francis Spufford, Red Plenty (2010)

Bruce Sterling, The Caryatids (2009)

Designer Futurescape‘, Make 18 (2009)

Dispatches from the Hyperlocal Future‘, Wired (2007)

Holy Fire (1996)

Islands in the Net (1988)

State of the World, 20––‘, The Well (2001-present)

Michael Taussig, What Color is the Sacred? (2009)

Zoology, Magic, and Surrealism in the War on Terror‘, Critical Inquiry 34:S2 (2008)

Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72 (1973)

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1971)

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So, what ya got?


Blueprint for a Dying Earth: what would happen if the world stopped spinning?

Paul Raven @ 28-07-2010

I’m not sure whether I’m a sucker for outlandish “what if?” speculation because I’ve always read science fiction, or whether I read sf because I have some innate speculative itch that I need to scratch. Whichever it may be, this is the sort of thing that pushes a whole lot of my buttons: using modelling software to determine what Planet Earth would look like were it to – for some reason – stop spinning [via BoingBoing].

The lack of the centrifugal effect would result in the gravity of the earth being the only significant force controlling the extent of the oceans. Prominent celestial bodies such as the moon and sun would also play a role, but because of their distance from the earth, their impact on the extent of global oceans would be negligible.

If the earth’s gravity alone was responsible for creating a new geography, the huge bulge of oceanic water—which is now about 8 km high at the equator—would migrate to where a stationary earth’s gravity would be the strongest. This bulge is attributed to the centrifugal effect of earth’s spinning with a linear speed of 1,667 km/hour at the equator. The existing equatorial water bulge also inflates the ellipsoidal shape of the globe itself.

[…]

Today, all three world oceans are connected. This creates a global ocean with basically one sea level. As a consequence of rotational slowdown, the outline of the global ocean would continuously undergo dramatic changes. Equatorial waters would move toward polar areas, initially causing a significant reduction in depth while filling the polar basins that have much less capacity. As regions at high latitude in the northern hemisphere become submerged, the areal extent of the northern circumpolar ocean would rapidly expand, covering the vast lowlands of Siberia and northern portions of North America. The global ocean would remain one unit until the rotation of the earth decreased to the speed at which ocean separation would occur. The interaction between the inertia of huge water bodies and decreasing centrifugal force would be very complicated. As the consequence of steady slowdown of earth’s rotation, the global ocean would be gradually separated into two oceans…

Sure, so it’s pretty unlikely to ever happen… and if it did, speculating about topography would be the last of our concerns, I imagine.

But what if…?

[ As a side note, that’s a great way to virally advertise a piece of software that would otherwise only be of interest to 0.001% of the world’s population. Kudos! ]