20071011

Breakthroughs

I'm a fatalistic thinker. Every time I move apartments, every block of IKEA-tofu I purchase, every scrap of thrifted merch that I haul into my space, it occurs to me: one day, I may have to burn this for fuel. I might abandon this by the side of the road. I'll leave this behind as I speed on toward the post-apocalypse. I don't know if it's a love of minimalist living or if it's that I'm good at exit strategies or if it's just that I don't trust anything to last, but every material good seems plausibly expendable. I could always live off of less.

So anytime I see something that enables people to get by using less, or utilizes simpler technology, especially in places where people can't plug in their laptops, I just fall in love. Popular Mechanics' 2007 Breakthrough awards went to two notable ideas: one's a camper-stove design that fits the cooking pots used by the fugees living in Darfur, enabling them to save firewood (and, by extension, avoid mortal danger - every time they have to leave camp to gather firewood, they risk encounters with the Janjaweed.) Low tech and cheap. Another is a simplified, cheaper way to generate electricity from wind.

If life on earth were a giant game of Civilization, this stuff would be just what lets you win the game. (But then, I guess life on earth is exactly that.)

2 Comments:

Blogger Lee said...

i admire minimalist living . . . but keep getting further and further from it. that's not to say i'm loading my place up with random useless stuff . . . i'm actually getting rid of things i don't use or that don't have true sentimental or monetary value. but i now have a sofas, two mattresses, a dining room table . . . stuff i can't cram into my car and carry away without help. where does that deep seated feeling that it would be better to be able to carry all your possessions on your back and flee . . . it's so fiddler on the roof.

7:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, we live really different lives as moderns, don't we?

4:54 PM  

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