Author Archives: elin

About elin

Hi there. Is this my profile and can I change it?

NYC Subways

art from the underbelly project

art from the underbelly project

Subways! Art! Enterprise! Lawbreaking!

Paraphrased from the NY Times:

    103 street artists from around the world, painted mostly big murals directly onto the walls of an abandoned, uncompleted subway station.

I love it!! When I lived in NY I was always fascinated by the abandoned stations that flashed by the window far downtown.

I would make a fantasy for myself that secret people lived in them. I always wanted to explore the stations but they just flew by the train windows. That speed protected the secret people who lived there. The train would make the awful screech they make on a turn and the people would have time to hide if they were out on the station. They lived in the hidden parts above that wer

e clean and fixed up but still recognizable as subway stations. They used the platforms to get from one place to another.

When I was a kid our line was the Flushing El (82nd St stop). At that time they still had largeish waiting rooms, with wooden benches, that adjoined the bathrooms. At our station they had pot bellied stoves so on cold days we would wait in the ladies waiting room until we could hear the train and then scurry up to the station. On the El the station master, the bathrooms and waiting rooms were under the station and the tracks. The windows of the waiting rooms looked out over the avenue and so it seemed like, if our station were abandoned you could be there and nobody would know but you would have heat and water and electricity.

I figured it was the same for the abandoned stations but, of course, the waiting rooms and all that were above the tracks. Now, once the art is finished, the secret people who live in the stations will have beautiful walls. Maybe they will make friends with some of the artists and the artists will make the walls of the secret parts beautiful as well.

I'll have to go to NY and take a subway ride.


America catching the "British Disease"

I've been waiting for an account to make a comment on “Is America Catching the “British Disease?”” by Barry Eichengreen but it is not coming through so here's my comment.

Part of the British sickness started earlier with the electric information revolution – the information revolution that followed the introduction of trains, the telegraph, and the telephone.

The British attitude toward the telephone was captured by Sir William Preece who was the chief engineer of the British Postal Service who said:

    I fancy the descriptions we get of its use in America are a little exaggerated, though there are conditions in America which necessitate the use of such instruments more than her

    e. Here we have a superabundance of messengers, errand boys and things of that kind… The absence of servants has compelled Americans to adopt communication systems for domestic purposes. Few have worked at the telephone much more than I have. I have one in my office, but more for show. If I want to send a message – I use a sounder or employ a boy to take it.

But modern communications were necessary for the running of large scale industry and the switching network used for the telegraph and telephone inspired the first organizational chart introduced by Daniel McCallum of the Pennsylvania Railroad. It made the growth of large scale industry possible.

For more see my book in progress, “Winning Information Revolutions: Hunter/Gatherers to Internet 2.0” being posted at:


Participative justice

Crime is what is done by the criminal classes

From the Atlantic's Andrew Sullivan

    … Murder is not antisocial. If you want a demonstration that we are governed by society even when breaking its rules, homicide is one of the best and grimmest examples…

    In a remarkable 2010 study published in the American Journal of Sociology, academic Andrew Papachristos took these findings to their logical conclusion and conceptualized each murder over a three-year period in Chicago as a social interaction between groups. Surprisingly, the pattern of homicides resembled an exchange of gifts. One gang ‘presents’ a murder to another, and that group must reciprocate the ‘gift’ or risk losing their social status in the criminal underworld. From this perspective, murder is perhaps the purest of social exchanges as the individual is left in no position to reciprocate on his o


In our society it seems that crimes committed by white collar criminals are notoriously hard to prosecute and sentences are easy and served in “country club” prisons. OTOH for the “criminal classes” the book is regularly thrown hard and fast.

In addition, sentences for “low class” crime, for example, possession of crack cocaine (favored by people of color) are disproportionately high compared with sentences for powdered cocaine (favored by the upper class) (even after the Fair Sentencing Act the disparity, which used to be 100:1 is still 18:1 – meaning that the 5-year minimum sentence for trafficking 90g of powdered cocaine, is the same sentence for mere possession of 5 grams of crack).

This suggests that the “criminal classes” are not served well by mainstream law enforcement. It is unlikely that justice will be served if the members of first gang reports the first murder to the police or the courts. Thus, self policing makes more sense.

Participative justice


Patrilocal/patriarchical societies

Patrilocal/patriarchical societies are consequence of agriculture not a true reflection human past says Psychology Today in a guest post by Eric Michael Johnson.

The article reports that based on the DNA:

    …the male vs. female “effective population size,” or the percentage of males compared to females who were effectively reproducing. If polygyny were indeed the norm it would mean that most men throughout human evolution never reproduced and, in strictly genetic terms, had mysteriously vanished without a trace.

The article uses evidence of bonobos (pygmy chimps – closest to us genetically) that females mate with many males during estrous.

They postulate that like bonobos early humans – and indeed humans up until the invention of agriculture lived in a multimale-multifemale mating system – both males and females having multiple partners. The discussion is on why this would be so.

My comment:

    There is great sense in multiple mating for females, especially in a highly mobile group, since there is always the possibility that any male might be the father of any offspring then 1) the offspring becomes the concern of all members of the troop 2) females can call on all males with whom she has mated for assistance 3) to keep frustration in a troop at

    a minimum and build group cohesion and 4) if it is a group with decided male dominance in the group, (generally not true of modern hunter/gatherers) then when male dominance changes the chances are that a female already has a relationship with the newly dominant male

    We know that amongst baboons (not as genetically close to us as bonobos) newly dominant males will kill the offspring of the previously dominant male to 1) get rid of possible contenders early 2) to stop the female from nursing and thus bring her in to estrous.

    The issue of paternity doesn't become as important until the invention of scarcity that proceeded the invention of agriculture. Hunter/gatherers tend to see the world as plentiful rather than scarce so everyone shares with everyone else. Once there is scarcity then those who are bigger can take things away from those who are smaller – males can take things, including sex and children away from women. Then it becomes important for a male to know that he is the father of his children.

    Naturally this probably evolved over the couple of thousand years between the beginning of sedentary villages and the full adoption of agriculture.



against thumper theology

“If you can’t say something nice don’t say anything at all.”

From “prettying up” the language of war.

  • “Friendly fire”
  • “Collateral damage”
  • “Servicing the Target”

Making the language pretty suggests that war it isn’t about killing people and breaking things.

I would suggest that it is equally true of other relationships and is toxic to all relationships in the long run.