by Yule Heibel on February 21, 2005

One of the things I like about using the variant of tagging allowed on Flickr‘s profile pages is indulging in vanity searches, flattering myself when I turn up really cool people who share my interest. I can mentally associate with them for brief micromoments, which is a kind of pointless indulgence, but it’s fun all the same. For example, I named some interests (including books, music, art) in my profile, creating a list which is obviously going to be a real hit-‘n-miss kind of affair, because who in all seriousness can list all their interests, or even prioritise books or music in any meaningful way, given the allotted space?

And yet….

I put down biomimicry as one of my interests. Ever since I read Janine Benyus’s book, I’ve been thinking, “Wow, if I were embarking on a career, I’d look into something like this!” I mean, talk about an area with potential! Imagine my vain surprise when I discovered that the only other person on Flickr who has put biomimicry down as an interest is Steve Jurvetson, who seems too smart to be true. And who has a must-see fry-your-head set of puzzle pics on Flickr. And is a venture capitalist (who is interested in biomimicry …hey!). Oh, and of course he has a blog

Likewise, I put down the United Future Organization as one of my musical favourites, and that links me to a young guy in Worcester, MA, CalebVsJesus (who gets a prize for original name), as well as to a really interesting woman who goes by the name hurleygurley — and wow, do her photo pages ever look cool! It’s a visual cornucopia, and clicking on her various “contacts” on Flickr is yet another exercise in seeing all these fascinating individuals pop up! Holy smoke, there are so many totally neat people out there!

There isn’t a direct benefit to this virtual (and ghostly and one-sided) hobnobbing, but it’s comforting, somehow, to realise that there are so many interesting people. For every interesting person you turn up, you can tell yourself, “Well, that’s one fewer idiot,” and that’s a comfort.

I have yet to find another fan of Stefano della Bella, however…. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The date on the Fortune article about Steve Jurvetson eludes me for some reason, but it must be about two years old. I wonder if he still holds to this vision for the future: “…he thinks small companies will be the ones doing the most exciting work. ‘When things are stable and predictable, large companies execute best,’ he says. ‘When you have a lot of radical change and disruption in the tech sector, as we do now, it’s generally a good time for startup companies.'”

Which reminded me of a tiny article I saw over the weekend in our local community newspaper. “‘We’d be the Saudi Arabia of energy if renewable energy counted for anything,’ said Scott Davis, whose organization, FORE [sorry, no working website link available], promotes co-ops as a form of community business arrangement that can offer more flexibility and provide direct environmental and financial benefits.”

So I googled Scott Davis and learn that I’ve missed some opportunities to find out more about his agenda, and that one of his biggest areas of expertise is microhydro power — which makes a ton of sense, given our geography and climate. All of a sudden, the hyperbolic “Saudi Arabia” analogy seems less weird: drought-struck and super-sunny in summer, we could harness solar energy for ~4 to 5 months of the year, but during those darker, rainy days of winter, when creeks are swollen and rushing at full force, microhydro fits the bill perfectly.

Another “microinitiative,” which has big clout elsewhere in the world (Germany, Austria, etc.) and is getting attention and support here, is biodiesel fuel. Victoria has begun fueling its buses with biodiesel, and Wise Energy, the company behind the effort, actually managed to hack into parliamentarian consciousness.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ During my walk today, I ran into a friend who told me that a couple of days ago David Anderson had a commentary in the Globe and Mail. (This paper is usually by subscription, so who knows how long this link will last…) Anderson writes:

A few decades — two or perhaps three — is all we’re likely to have before the irreversible impact of climate change radically alters human existence.

Action now will not restore our environment to what it once was, or even halt climate change entirely. What it will do is improve the chances of our way of life continuing for our grandchildren and generations beyond them. [More…]

This isn’t anything you or I didn’t already know, but it’s still a bit of an event coming from Mr. Anderson, and published in the staid old Globe and Mail. Should we cheer or weep?

I guess we could wait for some big technological intervention to save us all, but shit, that’s like waiting for God, isn’t it? Hasn’t that already been done? And done badly? So, maybe these little interventions, these microsteps, really are the better way to proceed.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ If this week weren’t going to be such a marathon (meetings, meetings, dog goes to vet for surgery, more appointments, another meeting, etc.), I would commit to going out for dinner on Friday, February 25th: the Victoria chapter of the Values-Based Business Network is having a “do” at a local hotel. I don’t have a business, but I would like to get a feel for the level of energy in Victoria surrounding sustainability; I’d like to know if it’s another case of feel-good talk/ [flip the coin]/ or/ finger-pointing at the usual suspects, or if things really are happening …at whatever scale. It is time for a change, isn’t it?


maria February 22, 2005 at 1:00 am

Oh great … more interesting links to explore! Seriously, Yule … you do find the way to the most interesting corners of the blog world. And not to mention the interesting pointers to the “meat world” goings-on in your material corner of the world!

Yule Heibel February 24, 2005 at 4:10 pm

Yes, just what we all need: more reasons to stay online! That Jurvetson fellow is really interesting, though, and his as well as so many other photos on Flickr are …well, amazing. The other day I thought, “Hey, I’ll search tags for ‘opera’ and maybe find something really neat that I can have printed and perhaps matted, for a gift for a music buff I know.” I didn’t find anything really useful under “opera,” but there were so many wild pictures under “utterly surreal” (one of the “pool” groups), that I thought, this is seriously going to put professional photographers out of business. I mean, people are posting incredible stuff here!

Kate S. February 24, 2005 at 4:49 pm

For every interesting person you turn up, you can tell yourself, “Well, that’s one fewer idiot,” and that’s a comfort.

That made me giggle. You are such a card. A precious Queen of Hearts.

I just saw a repeat of a show on PBS called Scientific American, hosted by Alan Alda and this one was on hydro power. There are so many ways for all of us to have sustainable power and wean ourselves off of oil that people have to start realizing the subtext and secret underhanded manipulations of world governments to keep us warring over this crap. I would like very much to get the hydrogen celled solar panels for the roof that work even when it is raining or cloudy, that work for any kind of light, even flourescent bulbs. And there are algae eaters that consume the air pollution coming out of smokestacks. There is no reason for pollution any more of any kind.

Ergo: there must be some other kind of plan for us put in place by the Powers That Be, a terminus, an End Game, the rules of which we are not ever going to be privvy. Idiots.

Jeff Clavier March 3, 2005 at 3:13 pm

Yes, Steve J is hyper smart and great fun to work with. The article is about 3 years old. He is 38 now.

Yule Heibel March 3, 2005 at 4:00 pm

Kate, I just saw your comment now — for some reason, it didn’t go through to my email. Checked back to this post because Jeff C’s comment did land in my email box…

So, re. conspiracy possibilities — I don’t really buy into those. I think the reason we’re still too attached to the usual m.o. is inertia and convenience and entrenched profit-making mechanisms. (Of course, some people might consider that a conspiracy, haha!) It’s pretty clear that we’ve done something in the past ~100 years that’s unique, in the sense that it has had these dramatically destabilising possibilities and consequences. I think many people are looking really hard at how to modify what we’ve done, although there’s no guarantee that reversals or changes will come quickly enough …or even in time. My kids are heading for birthdays this month and next (they’ll be 11 and 14), and it is depressing to think we’ve left them a world that’s so massively unhinged.

But overall, the gravity of the situation has left me even wearier of “alternative” and “paradigm-shifting” proposals (

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