Today, a truncated post; tomorrow, nothing. I may make a pattern of this. It turns out that reading this blog may be hazardous to your health. Specifically, “‘Toxic dust’ found on computer processors and monitors contains chemicals linked to reproductive and neurological disorders, according to a new study by several environmental groups.” There’s no known preventative action you can take – other than to minimize the time you spend in front of a computer monitor. Clearly, blog-reading, like all addictions, has harmful and possibly deadly side effects.
A couple days ago, Dale over at Vajrayana Practice wrote about another environmental consequence of the computer age – the loss of natural habitat and “open space” in places like the Seattle suburbs where he works. His post about about how it feels to go for a lunchtime walk in this strange, half-built exurban landscape reads like a chapter out of The Martian Chronicles.
I remember an article from a couple years ago on Santa Clara Valley, a.k.a. Silicon Valley – I think it might have been one of Ted Williams’ “Incite” columns in Audubon. It seems that this valley was once famous throughout California for its orchards and truck farms – a paradisiacal wonder, with some of the most fertile soil in the world. Now, it boasts the densest concentration of superfund sites in the United States. I’m reminded of the prophetic words of the mid-century California poet Robinson Jeffers: “Man would shit on the morning star if he could reach it.”
A memorable fancy: the solemn procession of Ivy League graduates in their caps and gowns, led by the scarlet-robed PhD candidates and followed by the black-gowned undergraduates and Masters. Phalanx after phalanx marches onto the field as the emcee announces the name of each program and college. Cheers, balloons. Finally, an almost-hush falls over the crowd as the president of the university introduces a special guest. Straight off the plane from Papua New Guinea, the commencement speaker makes his way between the columns of students like a general reviewing the troops, eyeing with an anthropologist’s detachment the bizarre accessories with which some students have chosen to decorate their mortarboards, the bird-of-paradise plumage in which the soon-to-be-doctors are bedecked. Naked save for his body paint and the penis gourd fastened circumspectly to the string around his waist, he mounts the stairs, rests his stone-tipped spear against the podium, waits for the emcee to adjust the microphone and then, in a low, deliberate voice, begins to sing.