Odds and Sods
I just finished the 1000 page tome by David Foster Wallace called Infinite Jest. I got exposed to it through seeing the film, End of the Tour that features a literary and oratory voyage between Wallace and his Rolling Stone Interviewer David Lipsky that occurs sometime after the book was published and became a best seller (how it became a best seller is a mystery to me).
I can honestly say it was the most difficult book I have ever read and I have read many difficult books in my lifetime. Written in 1996, it is a hallucinatory multi dimensional experience with a dysfunctional family, a tennis academy, independent film production, Canada and addiction as some of its core material.
For example, he describes back in 1996 the reason why the video phone never really took off back then; the reason was that many people thought they did not look their best and therefore started creating masks of themselves (now called Avatars) so they would appear more presentable to callers. Also, it was easier to take a call without video especially if you are still in your underwear or some other compromising position.
Today, we have all these “Selfies”, Face Time, Skype, WebEx video conferencing, etc. The premise of how we look in these calls is very important to this day, even as the technology expands. I find that I must hold the phone up high to take a Selfie otherwise I look absolutely horrible. I have never resorted to an Avatar but understand why people do use them. Wallace understood this early on and that is only one of his many perceptive assessments of our society, along with his beautiful imagery in describing a number of his scenarios throughout this somewhat non-linear and highly intellectual book.
It is not recommended unless you want to devote several months of your time, eschew reading other stuff and become immersed in a brilliant yet troubled mind (Wallace committed suicide in 2008 at the age of 46). I consider myself someone with a better than average vocabulary and I can honestly say that there was at least one word on every one of its 981 pages (plus 100+ pages of footnotes in the back of the book that you had to refer to with a degree of difficulty due to the girth of the book) that I had never heard of so I had to either look up the word or be satisfied that I did not know its meaning and move on. Infinite Jest is the main reason I have not written in this blog for about six weeks and now that is over I am somewhat relieved. I think maybe Wallace felt the same way about his entire life.
On May 7th, I will be giving a 3.35 mile walk of lower Manhattan as part of the Municipal Art Society’s Jane’s Walks that is a national and perhaps even international phenomenon (Jane is for Jane Jacobs, the grassroots Urbanist who fought Robert Moses (the bureaucrat who shaped much of New York City’s transportation system) to save Greenwich Village in Manhattan back in the 1950s).
I call the walk, the BIG U Returns, as the City has recently agreed to re-brand the climate resilience measures they are starting to design and eventually implement on a stretch of the perimeter of the Island from 23rd Street on the east side to now Harrison Street on the west side; this creates more of a “J” than a “U” around lower Manhattan but the City’s end objective is to effectively create a “U” to protect most of the lower portion of Manhattan against future weather events. https://vimeo.com/11730327
The City called the first phase from 23rd Street to Montgomery Street The East Side Coastal Resilience Project (ESCR) and I did a walk last year of that stretch and we and others had called the project at that time — The Dryline. I have decided to shelve our Friends of the Dryline Initiative for now as the City has implemented a number of our advocacy requests and is in good faith proceeding in the proverbial right direction… Here is a link to the walk — I do hope some of you can join us and please forward the link to as many social media avenues as possible. http://bit.ly/23iHw0Q
An advocacy issue that is very important to me and is going to require a lot of political will is to effectively re-develop the Con Ed Power Plant at 14th Street and the FDR into a renewable energy plant as part of the 80% renewable energy goal by 2050 (the City agrees with my position concerning the Con Ed plant). This ambitious goal is going to be impossible to achieve unless utility scale projects are not poised to become renewable in no longer than the medium term. Here is a link to some of the public comment statements I made late last year about the ESCR: http://bit.ly/1N9cgXi
I have many other fish to fry — in late May I will be on a panel discussing climate resilience and the private efforts surrounding the subject. This conference is being sponsored by the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF) that is a part of the International Development Bank (IDB) and is co-sponsored by the Nordic Fund. That conference will be held in Cartagena, Colombia and I am excited to travel to that part of the planet again. The overall conference is a part of the ProAdapt concept that my friends at the IDB have developed. ProAdapt includes a focus on how the private sector can create “for profit” opportunities in the omnipresent ramifications of our changing climate patterns world wide. Tomorrow I will be filmed by SquintOpera, the excellent video production company who did the BIG U video (that video link is referenced above) concerning the ProAdapt initiative.
The notion of corporate resiliency departments we developed late last year in a White Paper that was stimulated by a meeting with Alice Hill, the head of Resilience for the National Security Council that is part of the U.S. Federal Government. She basically advocated that Fortune 500 companies had to lead the way with resilience measures similar to the corporate social responsibility departments (CSR) that have been set up in many companies. Here is a link to that white paper: http://bit.ly/Corporate_Resiliency_Departments_white_paper
Finally, if there are tech savvy people that can help me get this blog more exposure it would help me immensely. Thank you in advance for taking time to read my writings.
President, The Natural Resilience Fund, Inc.
Nyack, New York