April 2010 Archives

Then and Now

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Two links from KC:

1) "Ocean chemistry changing at 'unprecedented rate'"

2) And from the always hilarious Hark! A Vagrant.franklinfinalmaybe.png

Let's See How Far We've Come

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Courtesy of KC, a retrospective on 40 years of Earth Day:

But some environmentalists who remember the first Earth Day -- and the political will that was so palpable then – say they wonder if those individual changes will be enough, considering the massive challenges facing the planet on this Earth Day.


Read more here.

Happy Earth Day! (or: RETURN OF THE SNAKEHEAD)

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My (relatively) new-found fascination with snakeheads is now shared by The New York Times.

Rachel just sent me an e-mail with a link to this article (headed by a photo of a snakehead and a guy who looks eerily like Hugh Laurie).

Key excerpt:

Sure, you could argue that we humans have abused nature far more than nature has abused us. You could also argue that these portentous nature shows are merely playing on the secret desire we all have to feel that there is still some danger, some life-or-death excitement, left in this sterilized, seat-belted, stay-on-marked-trails world.

But while you’re making these arguments, a bear may be breaking into your garage, your neighbor’s pet boa is probably making its way into your closet, and a flatworm could be laying eggs in your blood vessels. So sure, on Earth Day, all hail nature for its beauty and wonder. But remember that, as that volcano in Iceland reminds us, it’s also violent, and hungry. Very hungry.

Earth Day Observances

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Blog-lag was probably bound to happen once the performances were over. Our two remaining classes will be spent in the following fashion:

1) Having a picnic.

2) Giving our final project presentations.


Said final projects are in varying stages of research at the moment. By which I mean, instead of actually working on it, I recently found myself surfing the New York Times (as per usual and my program bio) and came across this gem:

"Ten Ways to 'Go Green' and Mark Earth Day"


Some suggestions are more substantive than others. I will let you, fair blog readers, draw your own conclusions, but, at least for me, watching "Walden: The Ballad of Thoreau" won't be the only thing I do this Earth Day. Princetonians, at least, can sign up here and pledge not to waste any food tomorrow.

"To see elements of science on stage was a wonderful thing for me."

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IMG00055-20100417-1630.jpgHere we are in the break between the two shows, during which I grab dinner, wait for the 6:00 reception, and do my blogging duty, especially in light of the recent shout-out we received during the matinee talk-back. (Hello, new readers!) Other items of note from the talk-back: Steve conducted the entire thing with the lemur (which received a longer introduction, perhaps, than the rest of the participants) in his lap, Michael explained how our class's overwhelming and sometimes contradictory statistics and notes on "average Americans' views on climate change" suggested a tango beat, and a gentleman in the audience recalled how he authored a paper on aerospace technology in the late 70s on how technology could predict the Earth's capacity, and what to do to avoid overusing our resources. No one cared to implement his suggestions, he said, and he saw some of the same frustration in some characters in the play.


Audience members seemed curious to learn what happens next. So are we all, I believe. I can only answer for the next four hours: reception, 7:30 show, and then...who knows?

This is Tech, Take 2

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Carolyn's Big Brother vibe here is not very indicative of her role in the show, but I still think it's pretty darn cool.



This is Tech

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Michael (who we are now calling Schubert to avoid confusion) and Andrea have discovered the magic of charismatic not-so-megafauna.


In other news, lights and projections have been added to the majority of Act I. The camera-trap picture of the jaguar gives me the chills, especially projected and on a large screen above the stage. Not all megafauna are as cuddly as the lemur.

Liveblogging Rehearsal!

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Today I will be liveblogging rehearsal for The Great Immensity. As the student dramaturg (and as someone who decided halfway through that going paper-free and reading the script on her laptop was the way to go), I may frequently be found in some corner or another, connected to (or eyeing up) a power source, and typing away. So, at least for today, all suspicions may be allayed. Here you have the result of said typing. I was not, in fact, working on my magnum opus (tentative title: The World's Largest Indoor Buddha). I was, instead, lovingly recording every hilarious moment, trial, tribulation, or lemur-sighting.

So here we go.


10:29 AM

No, rehearsal has not yet started. Yes, I am still in my pajamas, awaiting Princeton's brunch hours. Why these excruciatingly private details? Texture, baby, texture.

Anyway, my mother has my back, apparently. I woke up this morning to find a link to a Paul Krugman New York Times article entitled Building a Green Economy sitting in my inbox. The first paragraph could easily have come out of this play.

If you listen to climate scientists — and despite the relentless campaign to discredit their work, you should — it is long past time to do something about emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. If we continue with business as usual, they say, we are facing a rise in global temperatures that will be little short of apocalyptic. And to avoid that apocalypse, we have to wean our economy from the use of fossil fuels, coal above all.

The article goes on for ten pages. I'll probably read it paragraph by paragraph throughout the day. For now: clothes!



Lemur sightings: holding steady at 1 (sitting on the corner of a table)

Student assistant director Sophie and I have already watched Monty Python's Semaphore Wuthering Heights.

Music director Andrea is actually accomplishing something, running through "Sloth With A Moth" with Dan (aka Marcos, Charlie, Boni). I know nothing about music, and am very impressed as a result.


12:00 PM

Steve seizes the lemur. It's go time.

(For the benefit of tomorrow's class, I am happy to report that the hats are gone from the bulletin board inside the Berlind rehearsal room.)



Sophie loves blueberries (she has stolen several from the dining hall). She wants that on record.

Act II blocking continues, with songs included. (Striptease optional.)



First ten minute break of the day--people rush out the door to the WaWa. I'm not feeling New Jersey enough at the moment.



And we're back. During the break, Steve introduced Sophie and I, as well as Emily (who plays Allie and Chantal) and Catherine (Stage Manager), to Autotune the News. The Katie Couric segment is surprisingly relevant!

Also, the lemur has returned to the table corner, and is gazing balefully in Catherine's direction. More updates as they occur.



I've been working on making script changes and pasting in the song lyrics, but I took a break with Paul Krugman:

This is an article on climate economics, not climate science. But before we get to the economics, it’s worth establishing three things about the state of the scientific debate.

The first is that the planet is indeed warming. Weather fluctuates, and as a consequence it’s easy enough to point to an unusually warm year in the recent past, note that it’s cooler now and claim, “See, the planet is getting cooler, not warmer!” But if you look at the evidence the right way ­— taking averages over periods long enough to smooth out the fluctuations — the upward trend is unmistakable: each successive decade since the 1970s has been warmer than the one before.


Second, climate models predicted this well in advance, even getting the magnitude of the temperature rise roughly right. While it’s relatively easy to cook up an analysis that matches known data, it is much harder to create a model that accurately forecasts the future. So the fact that climate modelers more than 20 years ago successfully predicted the subsequent global warming gives them enormous credibility. [...]


And this brings me to my third point: models based on this research indicate that if we continue adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere as we have, we will eventually face drastic changes in the climate. Let’s be clear. We’re not talking about a few more hot days in the summer and a bit less snow in the winter; we’re talking about massively disruptive events, like the transformation of the Southwestern United States into a permanent dust bowl over the next few decades.

Unrelatedly, I now think, thanks to a brief exchange between Steve, Catherine, and Sophie, that the next Triangle Show should be about Mounties. Possibly Mounties dressed in gold lamé. Andrea, take note. A sexy Mountie kick-line has just been placed on my bucket list.



For a moment, the lemur was on Steve's head. Things have improved since then, and we're making serious progress on blocking the very last (!) scene.

...and then we had a Real Housewives of New Jersey moment. But not even physical comedy/inside joke interludes can phase this cast.



Trey (Ship Spotter, Rob, Dr. Medvedkov, Emmett) is working with Michael, Andrea, and the musicians (there's a cello!) on the last song, "The Next Forever." I think I have a new favorite song. And I also think that if anyone in the audience leaves this play smiling they have no heart.



Lunch time!



We're back. Right off the bat, I was asked to proofread my bio for the program. It wasn't as dumb as I remember it being.



The run-through for the designers is about to begin.

Carolyn is still working on her thesis in her spare moments.

The lemur is lying in wait.



As "There But Not There" drew to a close, the lights lowered themselves.

But then it disappears from view way out there in the deep.

It's there but then it isn't there.

It's there but then it isn't there.

It's there but then it isn't there.



In the five minute break between Act I and Act II, designers make notes, and actors ask questions about the songs to come. Andrea takes a break from her piano-playing to surf the internet. As do...I...



While we wait to be officially back, an excerpt from the second to last page of the Paul Krugman piece:

Finally and most important is the matter of uncertainty. We’re uncertain about the magnitude of climate change, which is inevitable, because we’re talking about reaching levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere not seen in millions of years. The recent doubling of many modelers’ predictions for 2100 is itself an illustration of the scope of that uncertainty; who knows what revisions may occur in the years ahead.

Anyone involved with this play, or any creative endeavor, knows that revision is important. So maybe we have the advantage there.



Damn. This show is depressing. (In the best possible way.)



I'm rounding out my evening by being serenaded. The production team ran off to a production meeting, leaving me with the cast and Michael, who are singing in my direction. It's not all fun and games--I'm making notes of changed lyrics--but at this moment the life of a dramaturg is particularly sweet.



The Great Immensity just became a puppet show, with the lemur dancing along to "Martha the Last Pigeon."



Wrapping things up...until Tuesday. (Except for our class tomorrow.) It's been fun serving as your host this morning/afternoon/evening.

Lurking Lemur

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IMG00038-20100409-1636.jpgCarolyn brought a lemur to rehearsal today. Steve has already found it to be somewhat therapeutic, if not downright inspirational. We'll see. Either way, it bodes well for tech this coming week.

Anything Worth Doing Once...

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It may not come as a galloping shock to the readers of this blog that we're all a little obsessed with container ships, over here in ATL/ENV/THR 496, aka The Great Immensity class. Below are some more pictures taken by Becca on her visit to Panama. What you see are two halves of the same ship, too large to be captured in one photo.



"You only get one shot"

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Andrea's friend and interviewee, Junior Humanities Major, had these words of wisdom, "in no particular order":

I don’t really pay attention to the news, you know?  I mean I think I listen more to the Mayans that the world is going to end in 2012 or whatever.  I think I listen to them more because, you know, they’ve been right about everything in the past.  But that’s like really soon, like two years.  Like right after we graduate.  And you can’t really go live your life thinking the world is gonna end in two years or whatever.

I don’t think people can live without having any meaning.  I don’t know about hope, but you know there are pestimists [sic] who think the world is gonna end, but how do you live?  They can’t just not have any meaning, because then how would they do anything?  You have to have faith that – I hate to use the word faith, it has such religious connotations, and I’m not, like, into that, but you have to believe that your life has meaning.

But I hate those people who are all about how the world is gonna end, all these terrible things are happening, but then they just shoot down every possible solution saying it’s not gonna do anything.  Because you can’t just do nothing.  You know, if the world is gonna heat up on its own, get hotter and then burn up, then that’s gonna happen, and if there are things we did to affect that, then we can change them, or at least do something, because there’s no point in doing nothing.

Well I think every culture has their big predictions, like when they think the world is gonna end.  And you only get one.  I mean the Aztecs, or was it the Mayans?  They predicted stuff like solar eclipses and stuff, but that’s not the same magnitude as predicting that the world is gonna end, you know?  That life is gonna end.  And you only get one shot.  So with stuff like solar eclipses there’s more room for error.  You know they can miss one, and people won’t remember it or think about it, and there can be all sorts of little errors and stuff, but with the world ending you only get one shot.

I think 2012 is big for us because that’s really the first big apocalypse that’s been predicted in, you know, our lifetime.  But there’s always some big prediction that the world’s gonna end.  And you can’t just live your life waiting for the world to end, you know? 

Real Estate Interlude, by KC Wade

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In case our production inspires you, consider getting closer to charismatic megafauna with this investment:



very first.jpg0.jpg1.jpg2.jpg3.jpgPanama has spent much of the past decade in a real estate boom, with prices rising quickly and a steady stream of new construction. The economic crisis may have slowed the frenzy of the market, but prices have not fallen sharply.

“There is a lot of construction going on,” said Jaime Figueroa Navarro, chief executive of Panama All In One, a real estate investment company. “There are a lot of buildings being built. Every day there are more and more cranes.”

More information may be found here.

The Arctic Bridge, and your conspiracy moment of the day

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Half of The Great Immensity's action takes place in Churchill, Canada, a small port town for whom melting ice may mean the beginning of a longer and more lucrative shipping season.

What is the Arctic bridge? Manitoba is at one end of an international Arctic shipping route connecting Churchill, Manitoba—Canada's only major international Arctic seaport—to the Port of Murmansk, Russia. The Arctic bridge offers the opportunity to shorten shipping routes, open new trade avenues for Manitoba and Canada with international partners, reaffirm Canada's sovereignty position in the Arctic, and integrate northern Manitoba into the world trade framework.

--From http://www.arcticbridge.com/

KC has this to say:

This site's video explaining the workings of Russia and Canada's new Arctic trade route cannot be viewed by us Americans. Why?

"The video contains content from the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., which has blocked it in your country on copyright grounds."

Copyright grounds... or poorly concealed territory expansion plot? Apparently we only have to wait 20 years to find out.

"Do you trust these guys?"

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KC wanted to share this, from her own interview of a "Prickly Politics Major":

I don’t think we should use all we have because it worries me. I get worried when I’m using up something, like my computer battery. I know it costs me more to keep it plugged in all the time, but it saves me the energy of having to think about it all the time, consider whether I have to take action or not.
The Chinese definitely want to have everything. I mean, logically, they’re nervous about not having, so they shouldn't be trying to use up all their resources… but they're so obsessed with being behind the West. You know, they’re coming up with technology now to make it rain on purpose before events, so the weather can't "damage national pride." I suppose it’s because they want control over everything, feel like they need to control nature. Maybe they can say that environmentalism is like democracy, not a one-size-fits-all thing.

Part of what made our interview assignments so interesting was hearing our friends and roommates say things like the above. Sometimes they felt self-conscious when we interviewed them, and sometimes they welcomed the opportunity to vent. Sometimes they distrusted our motives. Our classmate Anna Zhao (in her first blog appearance--welcome!) found a lot to like one of Steve and Michael's interviews. Taken, unavoidably, out of context:

So do you trust these guys? We’ve had SO many people come here to talk to us and they all just want to argue some point of view. They have their idea and they just want you to tell them they're right – so they take your words and they just TWIST it. There was this one man who came here who turned us into a story about HIPPIES growing their own food. It was all there what we said but then at the very end of it all he just added one thing that changed it all it made everything that came before sound different it just changed all the meaning by adding that one thing at the end there.


"Peddling Without Damage"

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Becca has these excerpts to share from an interview she conducted with a fellow Princeton undergrad:

Hmmm, are we trying to go backwards? Or are we trying to stay where we
are now and move forward? I think it’s impossible to see that and I’m
very small comparatively. When I, you know, turn off the lights, I
can’t see how that prevents something else from happening. I think the
goal should be stop more damage from happening. I think it’s
impossible to assume that we can reverse things. Even if we’re trying
to prevent damage, there are obviously things that are going to create
damage. It’s almost like peddling without damage, what’s the phrase?
It’s like we’re doing all this work to stay in the same place.


There has definitely been a push to make buildings more
sustainable. I took a class on greening Colombia actually. One thing
is that in the 19 years of my life, technology has changed drastically
which makes a huge difference. I mean, all these things were gradual,
but in my kindergarten class, were there recycling bins? I’m not sure.
Were they used all the time? I’m not sure. Were there plastic bottle
recycling bins? I don’t think so. But these things make a difference.
But it’s not anything that’s soooo drastic.

Plot Points: Flowcharts, Take II

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A few weeks ago, Erin wrote a post alluding to one of the chief preoccupations of our course: how to make a flowchart that somehow brings together the themes of The Great Immensity, and at the same time convincingly persuades its audience to, well...I've said too much already.

This Monday, we got down on the floor with large sheets of graph paper, colorful note cards, markers, and our wits and attempted to chart the unchartable. Tantalizing partial glimpses into our work can be found below. What does it all mean? (And what does Rosemary's Baby have to do with climate change?) You'll just have to see the show.



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