Author: Denis Hartnett

The Risk of Working With Partners

“There is risk in working with a partner,” is probably the Butler quote that has been brought up most often in our class, but it’s amazing how it continues to be so relevant. The part of this class that I have come to admire most is how everything relates back to each other. Like we’ll read Locke or Rousseau and make it relevant to the Clay’s Ark commune. This quote has been in the front of my mind lately as we’ve been working on our final project. And it’s occurred to me that this has been the plan since the beginning.

Although the main goal of this class is analyzing what brings and binds us together, we’ve never let that quote get too far away from us and our discussions. Through almost every book we’ve read we’ve found a way to make it relevant. I think it was Veronica who said once, when we were in a cluster group, that she relates all of the work we read back to Bloodchild, which is a testament as how we’ve come to use Bloodchild as our frame of reference. For me, after reading Bloodchild, I viewed relationships in Butler’s fiction through a special lens because of the implications that were instilled in me from this quote. Everytime Butler introduced to a relationship I assumed would be important, for example Blake and his family, and Eli, I would greet it with caution because I understood the risk involved.

For this final project we’ve had to negotiate with not one but about 20 partners. There is high risk here because we’re all relying on each other for our final grade. I know at least for myself this has been different than any kind of final project I have ever done, but I feel like I’ve already taken away so much from it. It’s helped me understand what it must be like to work in government. The constant deliberation over what could be simple decisions because everyone’s opinion is different. If you asked all of us individually how we wanted to do this project I’m sure you’d get 20 different answers. Sure maybe some would be similar, but none would be exactly the same. It’s been a real lesson in compromise I think. And that’s part of the risk, when working with a partner there is always the possibility that you won’t get what you want. What we want is rarely what someone else wants, especially if it’s important to every party.

We have come so far though, as a class and as a community. I think we’ve become much more comfortable with compromise. Because while there is risk in working with a partner, if everyone puts their faith in each other, there is the possibility of high reward.

A First Responder to a Stigmergency

So a few classes ago we had the opportunity to read some blog posts in class, something I had rarely done before. But it gave me a chance to read many interesting thoughts as to what’s going on in your guy’s heads. One that particularly stuck with me was Brendan’s post called “Stigmergencies.” In it he details his thoughts on markets, as in stock not farmers, and how they are perfect examples of a stigmergy, with “each broker scurrying around the trading floor is in their own way a dutiful scavenger, each LED stock ticker a blinding chemical signal” (Mahoney).

Now I am just a humble liberal arts major and have basically no idea about anything having to do with economics, but Brendan does a good job of putting it all in a perspective that I can understand. To make it particularly easy, for those of us who know nothing, he compares them to how the Oankali see us “they contain within them a terrible power” (Mahoney). The power to make and break nations with simple numbers. And these numbers, I have always thought that they control us because in our country there’s always the argument of “oh it will wreck the economy and destroy facilitate the downfall of our country.” But Brendan put another layer onto it that I had never thought about before, he said that markets “operate by turning people into things and by turning things into numbers” (Mahoney).

Something I had never really thought of before is what happens to the people behind the numbers. The ones who give their lives in order to make other people money. Brokers that are inside all day and become less and less like people, and more like machines. They are the middlemen that live to compete to try to beat his neighbor to make the best deal possible.  Like the ants on an ant hill they scatter, following the trails of the LED stock signals to do work to help their colony. Brendan argues that the more this goes one the larger the disconnect between buyers and sellers will grow, that over time this will “reduce our ability to see the life in one another” (Mahoney). And I agree, wholeheartedly. Stigmergy creates too much of a disconnect between people and the more we work with Butler’s fiction, the more I start to appreciate people. Not just humans but people, as a society. Where humans always seem to sabotage ourselves is when we stop communicating with one another, and start making quick decisions without really being informed about what our society needs.

A common theme with Butler is the destruction of the world because of the selfishness and destructive nature of humans, something eerily similar to what we see going on in the real world today. But I always find a spark of hope in Butler’s work by how some form of humanity always survives and grows anew. Not necessarily what came before, but something that is different does not inherently mean that it is bad. I really enjoyed Brendan’s take on this subject also because of the hope he sees in it. He, and I, believe that our society could change for the better, and it all starts with us. All we need to do is decide to.

Works Cited:

Mahoney, Brendan. “Stigmergencies.” ImPossibilities. N.p., 13 Nov. 2017. Web. 29 Nov. 2017.

The Challenger Shuttle Disaster

Hey so I, and maybe some of you guys too, did not know much about the Challenger explosion that Dr. McCoy talked about on Friday. So I figured I may as well get a blog post out of it and learn a bit at the same time. In 1986 the NASA space shuttle program was still growing strong, long past the space race and the moon landing. Instead of the Apollo spacecrafts though, NASA had shifted to using space shuttles. The Challenger spacecraft itself had gone on nine missions ahead of its last on January 28, 1986. When it blasted off it was only in the air for 73 seconds before it exploded (History.com Staff).

 

Like Dr. McCoy said, everyone on board was killed including the teacher Christa McAuliffe. What’s actually super interesting is that she was going to teach lessons to kids all around the country from space (History.com Staff). Losing a family member who is an astronaut is hard. Losing anyone is hard, in any way. But I cannot imagine being a family member of Christa McAuliffe’s family after that explosion. It makes my heart hurt thinking about it. I always liked the idea of the space race, and space travel growing up. Seeking to learn more by leaving Earth is such a beautiful dream. Learning it all was about trying to be be better than the Soviet Union put a bit of a damper on that thought, but none the less it’s still beautiful for those who dream.

 

NASA ended up learning that the explosion was caused by the freezing of two O-rings that were designed to keep sections of the rocket booster separated. They had frozen because of the cold weather in the days leading up, and the day of, the launch. Engineers actually wanted to delay the launch so they could check to make sure there wouldn’t be any failure, but they were denied by superiors. President Reagan reacted like a president should, he appointed a special commission to investigate what went wrong and prevent future catastrophes from happening (History.com Staff).  

 

My first thought when Dr. McCoy explained this tragedy to me was to compare it to 9/11. They’re both an event that is visually and emotionally etched forever in the minds of those who witnessed it, whether in person or on TV. A landmark tragedy in the eyes of America that unfortunately will survive forever.

 

Works Cited:

History.com Staff. “Challenger Disaster.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 2010, www.history.com/topics/challenger-disaster.

 

Harold Washington and Being “Too Fair”

Something that really stood out to me in the podcast we listened to on Friday was the phrase “too fair.” It’s something I’ve been thinking about the past six days because how can anything or anyone be too fair. Too fair is what we should aim for, or least should be the goal on the horizon.  

I really liked how the people on the podcast kind of explained being “too fair.” To them Harold Washington was too fair as the mayor because, as the first African-American mayor of Chicago, he didn’t use his power baisley like literally all mayors beforehand did. Instead of giving projects to workers in the African-American community simply because he was apart of his community, he would give jobs to those he saw best fit for them. To me it’s funny that people get angry over situations like that because it’s what we’re, or at least I was, taught in school. The person who does the best should get the job. People’s bias amazes me that way, the fact people decide things based on anything other than that fact.  

I wish I had learned about Harold Washington before college. I feel like he should be someone we learn about in high school because for one I had no idea Chicago didn’t have an African-American mayor until the 80’s. The first time they mentioned that it really blew my mind. Thinking about it now after the fact it makes total sense. Seeing as how the civil rights movement took place through the 60’s, and change happens so goddamn slow in this country, that unfortunately it really makes sense that Chicago did not have an African-American mayor till the 80’s. And I hate that it makes sense to me, my least favorite thing about this country is the underlying racism that is always present and always has been present.  

Honestly, I think if I had learned about Harold Washington he would have been one of my hero’s. The more I learn about him the more he stands out and this is why admire him so much. In the simplest of terms he didn’t take any bullshit and really did what was right. He was “too fair” and was ridiculed for it but stuck to his guns anyway.  We could use more Harold Washington’s in the world, it’s men like him that inspire me to be better and be “too fair.”