29 December 2009

Complexity Theory Link and Brief Discusson on Future Blog Entries.

While researching for literature on the “embedded” or “embodied” mind, I stumbled upon a blog that discusses the subject(http://heroesnotzombies.wordpress.com/2009/04/10/supersizing-the-mind-andy-clark/) as well as complexity science/theory (http://heroesnotzombies.wordpress.com/complex-adaptive-systems/ ). I thought that these blog entries presented a good summary of both these tenets. For my view on complexity theory, go to http://www.tamuk.edu/geo/urbana/spring2008/mcadams.pdf .
In this article, I also list and describe the basic elements of complexity science/theory. I am finding that there are many authors that are incorporating complexity theory as an umbrella for their understanding of their field. Complexity theory is at the forefront of what I believe is a paradigm shift from the cosmology of modernism.

For those interested in my development or expansion of my thoughts on complexity theory, I am contemplating the linking of the concept of agents with that of the embedded/embodied mind. Being that the concepts of urban agents and environment are crucial to my theory, the inclusion of the embedded mind should be a major alteration, giving new insights to the urban decision-making process.

26 December 2009

American Cities: Churning in a Tragic Vortex

Coming back from living in Istanbul, I can see the US afresh. Unfortunate, the urban problems have not changed. There is “churning” of the old ones: sprawl, congestion, energy, housing, poverty and economy mixed now with two relative new comers: sustainability and new urbanism; while being admirable are ill formed and idealistic. Always present is the lure of salvation from urban ills through technology. The new Obama Administration is trying to make a stab at the struggling urban environment, as indicated in their policy statement (see http://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/urban-policy ). However, this statement is certainly not one on the level of past initiatives by other Administrations. While Obama has far more experience with urban settings and more progressive than the Bush Administration, there is still something missing namely substance.

What are the elements that can bring cities back to the vibrancy that they once had? Or, is the city as we once knew it gone and transforming itself into a post-industrial “creature”, where: poverty is accepted, crime can be controlled by more police and prisons, homelessness can be created overnight., suburban development (including the “cookie cutter strip malls and covered malls) seems to be continually expanding, civic pride is only for the rich, economic segregation is increasing and the automobile continues to be forced on its residents. This “vortex” is not one that is chaotically leading to something better, but something worse. The dramatic decline in the housing market is indicative of the tragedy and the obliviousness of most of American society to the destructive nature of the forces in urban environments. There is a need for “creative destruction” (such as higher taxing on petroleum or elimination of municipal boundaries) to reverse these trends Will leaders come forth on a national or local level to bring about these changes? Or, will tragedy be the motivation for change, such as another energy crisis or bankruptcy of the national budget?

In the shadows, the element that is curtailing a transformation of cities is the burden (both monetarily and spiritually) of Iraq and Afghanistan. It is preventing the nation looking at the problems that are still existing in cities which must be partially addressed. This money if not devoted to these conflicts could have gone to ease the plight of cities. As it stands now, the debt will be crippling the ability of the Federal government to help cities for many years, maybe decades. Have we over-extended ourselves such that our national agendas are suffering? Will the US rot from the inside while the military is “protecting” it from terrorism? The latter is a looming possibility. While there are many prophets “crying in the wilderness” , including myself, no one is listening. Nevertheless, this “goddamerung” scenario is pointless and leads to melancholy on a national basis unless there is some viable options explored and initiative. Most have given up and have leaped into addictive consumerism to “inebriate” themselves, because they can not cope with these problems. In future blogs, I would like to address some of these issues in more detail and present possible solutions.