Aadil Ayub

@aadil

Notes from readings/courses and random nuggets of thought. This is my online scrapbook.

6,944 words


Ideology as consumerism

In my teens I would live vicariously through the media I consumed. In my twenties, I'm living vicariously through the ideas I read about and the online communities I join.

Attaching myself to labels like #solarpunk #surveillancecapitalism #anarchist #metamodern (& previously, #effectivealtruist #singularitarian) is just another way to add meaning to my life without doing anything meaningful.

We internalize the simulation we are presented with, like being read into a character in a book. Our own rigid imagination guides our perception, generating predictable ideas without realizing we never created anything, just dusted something off and called it our own. Given only outmoded expressions that fail to perform even as a bland medium of a culture's desires, we have completed the recipe for empty repetition of the same old stories... Why do you wonder where culture has gone?

via mastodon

rough sketch of a whale

inktober 05

gift economics in activism and open source software development

maintainers ask politely for donations that never come, or when they do come they’re directed to already-popular projects and personalities

I see this problem in open source and also in social movements and activist communities - I suspect it's even broader! These communities tend to use gift economics because capitalist economics doesn't suit their needs: the market value of social activism is generally 0, since it produces a general social benefit rather than a specific one. The market value of free software development is similar. Since the market can't support these efforts, activists and f/oss devs just produce value freely for everyone, and hope that people voluntarily support the producers.

via %3DH+X0IvbpeN4hztbUF+E5Ygo51GOFuJah1FDdJ9UPw=.sha256 on secure scuttlebutt

"Hegemonies are often inadvertently perpetuated by well meaning, good people who are just living their lives."

Learning Log: App Architecture (Android Fundamentals)

From Lesson 4 of Developing Android Apps in Kotlin

This lesson talks about the MVVM (Model View, ViewModel) App architecture pattern. The idea is that you should break up your code into different files/classes that are each responsible for a specific job — basically, create a separation of concerns in your app, instead of doing all the logic for everything in random activities and fragments.

Separation of Concerns

Divide your code into classes, each with separate, well-defined responsibilities.

Our App Architecture

We're going to be working with three (3) different classes:

  • UI Controller: Includes activities and fragments. Responsible only for user interface and user input related tasks. You should take any decision making logic out of the UI controller. It is not responsible for the calculations or processing that decides what actual text to draw.

  • ViewModel: The purpose of the ViewModel is to hold the specific data needed to display the fragment or activity it is associated with. ViewModels may also do some simple calculations and transformations on that data so that it is ready to be displayed by the UI Controller.

  • LiveData: The ViewModel will contain instances of a third class, LiveData. LiveData classes are crucial for communicating information from the ViewModel to the UI controller that it should update and re-draw the screen.

diagram

“Ideally, what should be said to every child, repeatedly, throughout his or her school life is something like this:

'You are in the process of being indoctrinated. We have not yet evolved a system of education that is not a system of indoctrination. We are sorry, but it is the best we can do. What you are being taught here is an amalgam of current prejudice and the choices of this particular culture. The slightest look at history will show how impermanent these must be. You are being taught by people who have been able to accommodate themselves to a regime of thought laid down by their predecessors. It is a self-perpetuating system. Those of you who are more robust and individual than others will be encouraged to leave and find ways of educating yourself — educating your own judgements. Those that stay must remember, always, and all the time, that they are being moulded and patterned to fit into the narrow and particular needs of this particular society.”

― Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook

Drivers of climate change vulnerability at different scales in Karachi

I'm reading a 104 page report by Arif Hasan and two other researchers on Karachi's climate vulnerability. It was published in January 2017, so it's more than two-and-a-half years old.

Here are things I'm learning from the report as I read, and some direct quotes:

Introduction

  • Arif Hasan has been involved in Orangi Pilot Project since 1981 TODO: find out what the Orangi Pilot Project is

  • "Karachi, a city of around 20 million people, is facing a crisis of governance that is reflected in the poor state of service delivery, and unplanned and unsustainable urbanisation. The city's development shortcomings, and attendant social, economic, and environmental challenges, have created vulnerabilities at different scales that are likely to exacerbate the impacts of climate change-related weather events taking place within the city and elsewhere in the country."

Summary

  • "According to the IPCC, climate change impacts will influence flooding of settlements and infrastructure, heat related deaths, and food and water shortages in urban South Asia. This is of immense significance for Karachi, where a very large majority of its population lives in informal settlements in poorly designed housing with inadequate services."

  • "Given Karachi's economic linkages with, and importance for, the rest of Pakistan, it is hard to overstate the adverse consequences for the rest of the country when Karachi is negatively affected by climate change."

  • However, as Karachi is struggling to manage and deliver basic services for approximately 20 million residents, dedicating scarce resources to plan for uncertain climate-change related events is seen, by decision makers, as a low priority.

  • The report's warning is that climate change impacts will be amplified for those who live in informal settlements and in hazardous areas and either lack essential infrastructure and services or where there is inadequate provision for adaptation'.

Karachi's Urbanization

  • Karachi's major shortcomings in realizing the full potential of urbanization, similar to the achievements of some cities in Southeast Asia, have been its inadequate provision of infrastructure and poor quality housing, and a failure to deal with pollution.

Densification

  • Availability of land in a suitable place and at affordable cost has not been possible in Karachi because there is no enforcement of the by-laws or zoning regulations that restrict or control speculation. As a result, the land market is driven primarily by the anticipated value of land, and areas most suitable for low-income housing development are appropriated for commercially lucrative projects.

  • Case studies of settlements in the inner-city areas of Karachi and previously peripheral areas show that densities have increased from 600 persons per hectare to 4,000 persons per hectare, and from 200 persons per hectare to 1,195 persons per hectare, respectively. The extensive and unplanned densification is giving rise to a number of physical and social problems and is adversely impacting the city's ecology.

Poor Governance

  • Karachi is beset by a fragmented and disempowered governance structure, which is most visible in the dysfunctional nature of core urban systems and services. Karachi is a non-Sindhi-speaking capital city of a Sindhi majority province, while most of the city's population comprises non-Sindhi migrants. Given its economic predominance, major political entities want to exercise control over the city.

  • The Sindhi speaking majority of the province cannot control the city except through a highly centralized system, while the migrant majority of the city can only exercise control over it through a decentralized governance system. This tussle lies at heart of governance dysfunction in Karachi, which has given rise to a situation where universally accepted functions of local government have been appropriated by the provincial government.

  • In itself, this might not have been problematic were it not for the ineptitude of the provincial government on multiple counts, which has raised concerns about its capacity and intent. This situation raises serious questions about building an effective climate change adaptation capacity in an institutional environment where effective urban governance and basic service delivery have become intractable.

In-migration

  • Of the estimated 3.35 million 'illegal' immigrants in Pakistan, 75 percent (or 2.5 million) are settled in more than 100 migrant-concentrated residential areas in Karachi. Living conditions in these settlements are mostly cramped, and services such as clean drinking water, sanitation, and solid waste disposal are hard to come by ... processes and structures of unplanned rapid urbanisation, environmental change, and social exclusion reinforce urban vulnerability for migrants.

  • Adverse impacts of climate change on agriculture and food production in the rural hinterland will have serious consequences for Karachi, not only in terms of increasing food insecurity, but also for the potential increase in the number of involuntary migrants to an already crowded city struggling to provide basic services for its existing population.
    This means climate change adaptation and risk reduction will need to evolve as an interlinked process, incorporating adaptation strategies for both rural areas and the city.

Conclusions

Adaptation does not necessarily require discrete measures unrelated to current development challenges. Addressing shortcomings in basic services delivery and empowering local government and urban development institutions are necessary preconditions for meaningful climate change adaptation.

The Climate Crisis and a 'Just Transition' in South Africa

These are notes from an eco-socialist-feminist reading I had to do for a local study circle. The words that follow are not my own.

  • The climate crisis presents us with a historic opportunity because to solve it we need radical transformative change in how we produce, consume and organise our lives. It is in this sense that a ‘just transition’ from the current fossil fuel regime in South Africa could both address the climate crisis and contain the embryo of a new, democratic, eco-feminist-socialist order.

  • While there is no blueprint, all three discourses contain flashes of a vision of a post-capitalist society driven by a different energy regime and promote the solidarities necessary to drive transformative change.

  • A major difficulty is that in contemporary South Africa all three discourses are, to some extent, contaminated:

    • Feminism is widely viewed as elitist and individualist;
    • environmentalism as focused on the conservation of threatened plants, animals and wilderness areas to the neglect of social needs;
    • and socialism as productivist, authoritarian and repressive

Social Reproduction

  • This chapter argues that the concept of social reproduction is especially relevant to reclaiming these discourses.

    • Politically, a social reproduction perspective validates a wide range of struggles that directly relate to standards of living. These include wages and working conditions, a living income for all, access to housing, healthy food, and communities and households free of violence. Issues such as climate change and other environmental concerns are clearly connected, inviting alliances.
    • ...it directs us to the class-based, material realities of the everyday. As David Harvey writes, ‘the politics of everyday life is the crucible where revolutionary energies might develop’.
    • Thirdly, it focuses us on one of the most serious of the many dimensions of the climate crisis, which we face in contemporary South Africa – the impact of droughts and floods on food production and food prices. The food crisis is defined by the coexistence of hunger, extravagant overconsumption on the part of the elite, and waste.
  • The core of social reproduction is the insight from Karl Marx that ‘the most indispensable means of production’ is the worker and the ‘maintenance and reproduction of the working class remains a necessary condition for the reproduction of capital.

  • The core of the integration of Marxism and feminism lies in this concept of social reproduction. It refers to the complex tasks and processes that ensure the production and reproduction of the population on a daily and on a generational basis. It means meeting caring and provisioning needs, including child rearing, producing and preparing food. In much of this work, a reliance on fossil fuels means additional expense and health hazards.

  • While women’s work is often naturalised, obscured or trivialised as non- work, Marxist–feminist analysis has shown how women’s unpaid care work that reproduces the working class acts as a subsidy for capital. It does so by externalising the costs of social reproduction. The wage labour on which capitalism depends could not exist in the absence of domestic work.

  • Asking who does this work of social reproduction, who benefits and who bears the cost, exposes how power operates and how it is experience in people’s lives.

  • Furthermore, it is black, working-class women who are the shock absorbers of the current climate crisis, experiencing most intensely the health hazards of exposure to carbon emissions and the devastating impacts of rising food prices, water pollution and energy poverty.

Reclaiming Feminism

  • It is a broad generalisation, but feminism is widely seen as problematic and sectarian. In various encounters in the research for this chapter, feminism was described as ‘contaminated’, as ‘divisive’ by depicting ‘men as the enemy’, as linked to lesbianism and as elitist. As one informant said, ‘there is a distrust throughout the southern African region about feminism’.

  • ...intersectional analysis asserts that all forms of oppression are equally oppressive as they have an equivalent value, whereas Marxist–feminism gives a special relevance to class in capitalist society. According to Marxists, class is more than an identity category; it is a relational category, part of a system of power relations, a constituent of capitalist accumulation.

  • Reclaiming feminism and achieving gender justice means challenging capital’s dependence on women’s unpaid labour in social reproduction and experimenting with alternative social forms, institutions and practices outside of capitalism, such as collective arrangements for child-care; cooperatives; bulk buying; decentralised, community-controlled forms of renewable energy; the development of ‘people’s restaurants’; community food centres and seed sharing, to mention a few examples.

    • It means promoting solidarities with working-class women’s struggles against oppression in the work-place and beyond.
  • Current organisational initiatives with specifically feminist perspectives include WoMin (Women in Mining), a regional alliance of organisations formed in 2013 which emphasises the theme of solidarity among African women against extractivism . WAMUA, the Women’s Wing of Mining Affected Communities United in Action (MACUA), focuses on the impact of mining on livelihoods in Mpumalanga, which contains the most fertile land in the country.The Rural Women’s Assembly, formed in 2009, brings together some 500 community-based organisations working on food, energy and land issues.

    • These organisations are building solidarities, organising exchange visits across Africa, directing protest actions and promoting alternatives to fossil fuel capitalism, such as ‘food banks’ which operate as redistribution mechanisms, biogas digesters, solar heating, seed saving and agro-ecology.

Reclaiming Environmentalism

  • Analogous to ways in which feminism has been somewhat ‘contaminated’ by its associations with elitism and many activists are reluctant to call themselves ‘feminists’, ‘environmentalism’ and the label of ‘environmental activist’ also carry negative connotations from the past. Author's note: I believe these negative associations don't exist in Pakistan. However, our popular environmental discourse is reduced to discussions about planting trees and picking trash. There is also the notion that global warming and carbon emissions is more of an "international" issue and not something that is relevant in our local politics.

  • Earthlife Africa, which focuses on climate change, the impact of coal mining (especially on food security), the cost of electricity and the dangers of nuclear power, is empowering grassroots women. According to an Earthlife Africa official who founded a Women, Energy and Climate Change Forum,

    • people were having problems with pre-paid meters. The majority of people in the protest marches and memos to the authorities were women. We focused on education, on the impacts of climate change. We connected electricity with women’s everyday issues.
    • we had to demystify policy, especially climate change and energy policy which is often written in scientific, technical language. We had workshops, we went to people’s homes, we met with parliament, Eskom and government. We insisted on using our own language. So people became confident. Young women are beginning to stand up and feel confident about talking about energy issues.
  • Another initiative which is empowering grassroots women involves concretising the food–water–energy nexus through Earthlife’s Sustainable Energy and Livelihoods Project. On seven sites throughout the country, the project is establishing renewable energy technologies such as solar panels and biogas digesters, as well as tanks for rainwater harvesting and food gardens. The focus of this project is on building resilience to climate change but it also demonstrates a post-carbon future.

  • These are examples of how the Marxist–feminist stress on social reproduction validates other struggles, particularly the struggle for environmental justice. The explanation of women’s preponderance in these environmental struggles is not essentialist; it is not based on any natural affinity which women have with nature. The explanation lies in the gendered division of labour which allocates women to caring work.

  • Women’s experience in the production and provision of food could mean that they are more positioned to promote a new narrative about our relationship with nature – a revaluing of nature as something more than a store of natural resources for economic activity to be utilised for short-term gain without concern for long-term survival.

  • Millions of poor, black South Africans are exposed to what Rob Nixon (2011) has called ‘the slow violence’ of toxic pollution in a process which is insidious and largely invisible. Many black South Africans continue to live on the most damaged land, in the most polluted neighbourhoods, often adjoining working or abandoned mines, coal-fired power stations, steel mills, incinerators and waste sites or polluting industries, without adequate services of refuse removal, water, electricity and sanitation.

  • Recently, the notion of ‘environmental inequality’ has emerged ‘to encompass additional factors associated with disproportionate environmental impacts such as class and gender ...’ (Sze & London 2008: 1333). The discourse is a powerful challenge to the anodyne concept of sustainable development, and the increasing commodification and financialisation of nature, packaged as ‘the green economy’

  • It has been suggested that racism is one reason for the failure of twenty-one years of international negotiations to achieve any binding global agreement on the reduction of carbon emissions: ‘... racism is what has made it possible to systematically look away from the climate threat for more than two decades’. Furthermore, racism also makes it possible to look away from Africa, which contributes only four per cent of global carbon emissions but is the worst affected by climate change. Author's note: replace Africa with South Asia and the statement rings equally true

    • Paradoxically ‘there is no clearly identifiable, relatively unified and broadly popular environmental movement in South Africa. instead, environmentalism is fractured and diverse and much popular mobilisation is related to access to services, such as water and energy, and is localised, episodic, discontinuous and not framed as ‘environmental struggles’.
    • However, a new, embryonic environmental justice ‘movement’ could be emerging.
  • All over the world, environmental justice struggles are challenging neoliberal capitalism. The particularistic and ameliorative nature of many of these struggles means that the challenge is not immediately evident. ‘Contesting a waste dump here or rescuing an endangered species or a valued habitat there is
    in no way fatal to capital’s reproduction’ (Harvey 2014: 252). But, as an understanding of the ecologically destructive impacts of capital’s logic of expansion spreads, particularly in relation to carbon emissions, this could change.

Reclaiming Socialism

  • for many people socialism is discredited because its claims have been marred by a history of authoritarianism, productivism, human rights abuses and environmental destruction. In the Soviet Union especially, ‘productiv- ist methods, both in industry and agriculture, were imposed by totalitarian means while ecologists were marginalised or eliminated’

  • Furthermore, twentieth-century socialism denied many freedoms and rights, especially the right to disagree. The vanguardist, anti-democratic practices of the SACP illustrate this, in addition to an emphasis on indus- trialisation and economic growth that ignores environmental issues and promotes a ‘statist’ approach to social change.

  • Both globally and locally many activists now talk only of ‘anti-capitalism’ because socialism has been stripped of its earlier positive meanings. The out- come is that today, much of the global opposition to capitalism is reduced to protest rather than the formulation of alternative visions.

Trust the Hours

Wait, for now.
Distrust everything, if you have to.
But trust the hours. Haven’t they
carried you everywhere, up to now?
Personal events will become interesting again.
Hair will become interesting.
Pain will become interesting.
Buds that open out of season will become lovely again.
Second-hand gloves will become lovely again,
their memories are what give them
the need for other hands. And the desolation
of lovers is the same: that enormous emptiness
carved out of such tiny beings as we are
asks to be filled; the need
for the new love is faithfulness to the old.

Wait.
Don’t go too early.
You’re tired. But everyone’s tired.
But no one is tired enough.
Only wait a while and listen.
Music of hair,
Music of pain,
music of looms weaving all our loves again.
Be there to hear it, it will be the only time,
most of all to hear,
the flute of your whole existence,
rehearsed by the sorrows, play itself into total exhaustion.

by Galway Kinnell

Illness of the mind is real illness. It can have severe effects on the body. People who show up at the offices of their doctors complaining about stomach cramps are frequently told, "Why, there's nothing wrong with you except that you're depressed!" Depression, if it is sufficiently severe to cause stomach cramps, is actually a really bad thing to have wrong with you, and it requires treatment. If you show up complaining that your breathing is troubled, no one says to you, "Why, there's nothing wrong with you except that you have emphysema!" To the person who is experiencing them, psychosomatic complaints are as real as the stomach cramps of someone with food poisoning. They exist in the unconscious brain, and often enough the brain is sending inappropriate messages to the stomach, so they exist there as well. The diagnosis — whether something is rotten in your stomach or your appendix or your brain — matters in determining treatment and is not trivial. As organs go, the brain is quite an important one, and its malfunctions should be addressed accordingly.

  • from The Noonday Demon by Andrew Solomon

Don't Stop Learning

It is up to you to make the effort necessary. When you are struggling to follow the book, do not jump to any conclusions about your own capabilities. You are fine—you just need to keep at it.

Learning is hard work, but everything you learn is yours and will make subsequent learning easier.

from Eloquent Javascript.

I praise the dance,
for it frees people from the heaviness
of matter
and binds the isolated to community

I praise the dance, which demands everything:
health and a clear spirit and a buoyant soul.

Dance is a transformation of space, of time,
of people,
who are in constant danger of becoming
all brain,
will, or feeling

Dancing demands a whole person,
one who is firmly anchored in the center of
of his life,
who is not obsessed by lust for people and things
and the demon of isolation in his own ego.

Dancing demands a freed person,
one who vibrates with the equipoise
of all his powers.

I praise the dance.

O man, learn to dance,
or else the angels in heaven will not know
what to do with you.

Attributed to Augustine of Hippo (354 - 430 AD)

Excerpt from "The Song of The Body"

Spiritual identity cuts across religious affiliation and can be expressed in multiple and interconnected ways. Researchers suggest that the following approaches may be implemented in all areas of the curriculum:

  • Socio-centric where some feel a sense of good in helping others
  • Eco-centric where others feel a connection to nature
  • Cosmo-centric where others feels a sense of awe and wonder at the cosmos
  • Geneo-centric where some show deep feelings for their ancestors
  • Senso-centric where others are moved by a beautiful piece of art or by listening to certain kinds of music
  • Chrono-centric still others feel spiritual experience in relation to time such as significant events and
  • Transo-centric where some express their spirituality in social or ecological contents inspired by their connection to a divine source

Knowledge of these identities can heighten our own spiritual awareness and, in a dance context, provide starting points for creative work.

Spiritual experience entails a sense of awe and wonder, reflective silence, play and delight (Eaude 2005, 246). It may also include a heightened sense of energy or vitality, a sense of belonging, and an affinity with mystery (Claxton, cited in Fraser and Grootonboer 309). Delight is most likely to be displayed or experienced as dance educators lead students through valuable movement journeys from the mechanically correct to expressive movement (Kretchemar, cited in Lodewyk et al 176).

Anhedonia

I was just remembering how I can’t enjoy things as much as I used to in my teens. Experiences that used to give me a rush, like listening to music or watching movies, getting lost in a book, or even orgasms, feel unremarkable to me now. I can hardly think of anything that could make me feel excited these days. Not a concert, not learning, not food, not hanging out with a close friend.

I decided to search the Internet to see if there’s anything credible out there that describes my experience, and I found this:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anhedonia

“Anhedonia is a diverse array of deficits in hedonic function, including reduced motivation or ability to experience pleasure.

While earlier definitions of anhedonia emphasized the inability to experience pleasure, anhedonia is used by researchers to refer to reduced motivation, reduced anticipatory pleasure (wanting), reduced consummatory pleasure (liking), and deficits in reinforcement learning.

In the DSM-V, anhedonia is a component of depressive disorders, substance related disorders, psychotic disorders, and personality disorders, where it is defined by either a reduced ability to experience pleasure, or a diminished interest in engaging in pleasurable activities.”

Though I’m wary of self-diagnosis, this is a spot on description of what I've been feeling for at least 2 years.

I’m ambivalent about whether I actually have depression, but I undeniably experience some of its symptoms.

The challenges facing our world today are more complex and species-threatening than ever before in human history. The global threat of climate change and the social impacts of digitalisation and globalisation are currently far more complex than our collective capacity to comprehend. In order for us to move forward, our thinking about global problems has to evolve to match their complexity.

Our world is socially constructed in more ways than we habitually tend to think. Human beings are dependent on and connected to the natural world, but when it comes to human society we are the creators. This means that we have more power than we realise to change it.

http://whatisemerging.com/about

Excerpts from 'The Age of Surveillance Capitalism'

Sur-veil-lance Cap-i-tal-ism, n.

  1. A new economic order that claims human experience as free raw material for hidden commercial practices of extraction, prediction, and sales;

  2. A parasitic economic logic in which the production of goods and services is subordinated to a new global architecture of behavioral modification;

  3. A rogue mutation of capitalism marked by concentrations of wealth, knowledge, and power unprecedented in human history;

  4. The foundational framework of a surveillance economy;

  5. As significant a threat to human nature in the twenty-first century as industrial capitalism was to the natural world in the nineteenth and twentieth;

  6. The origin of a new instrumentarian power that asserts dominance over society and presents startling challenges to market democracy;

  7. A movement that aims to impose a new collective order based on total certainty;

  8. An expropriation of critical human rights that is best understood as a coup from above: an overthrow of the people’s sovereignty.



Surveillance capitalism runs contrary to the early digital dream, consigning the independence of cyberspace to ancient history. Instead, it strips away the illusion that the networked form has some kind of indigenous moral content, that being “connected” is somehow intrinsically pro-social, innately inclusive, or naturally tending toward the democratization of knowledge.



Just as industrial capitalism was driven to the continuous intensification of the means of production, so surveillance capitalists and their market players are now locked into the continuous intensification of the means of behavioral modification and the gathering might of instrumentarian power.



At its core, surveillance capitalism is parasitic and self-referential. It revives Karl Marx’s old image of capitalism as a vampire that feeds on labor, but with an unexpected turn. Instead of labor, surveillance capitalism feeds on every aspect of every human’s experience.

todo