All posts tagged: Technology

Content dealing with the ethics of technology use.

A Boat in the Desert

Look Up: Antoine De Saint-Exupéry’s Wind, Sand and Stars

Unlike millions around the world, my first encounter with the works of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry did not involve La Petit Prince; I am ashamed to admit that I have not yet read his most famous work. What I have read, and what continues to stay with me, was the man’s memoir and the inspiration for what is arguably one of the most beloved children’s stories in history. Winner of the National Book Award and hailed by National Geographic as one of the Top Ten adventure books of all time, Wind, Sand and Stars (an English translation by Lewis Galantière of Terre des Hommes, or “Land of Men”) is a work I return to when I grow weary or unsure of life. In the brief tome I am lifted by the soaring spirit of a writer at the height of his craft, by a pioneer of an age past who saw a vaster picture and dared to ask the great questions. Within its pages, I find a soul who believed wholeheartedly in human potential, a man open to the simple joys …

orwell-thoughts-on-the-common-toad-wordle

George Orwell’s Some Thoughts on the Common Toad

As an aspiring essayist, it shames me to admit that I have only recently become familiar with the narrative and critical essays of George Orwell. While I have read his manifesto on clear writing, Politics and the English Language, I remained ignorant on the bulk of his work until a chance meeting with a shelf in a very comfortable section of the library. It was a joy to discover for the first time, Orwell’s quietly devastating account of time spent at a London workhouse in The Spike, his reflections on the ugly facets of colonialism in Shooting an Elephant, and his comment on the futility of vengeance, distilled into one waxy yellow face, in Revenge is Sour. Whatever the subject matter, Orwell had a knack for getting to its root with a concrete metaphor or an unforgettable statement. As an essayist, there is no greater skill than to be able to convey exactly what one intends, vividly and without doubt. For this is the writer’s truth, and Orwell spoke it as well as anyone. Nature appreciation …

Wall-E and Eve

Finding the Middle Ground: Pixar’s Wall-E

More than a year of Ekostories and not a single mention of Wall-E? You must think I hold some sort of vindictive grudge against cute robots. The truth is that I love Wall-E. It is a lovingly crafted tale that hits all the right notes, a rare gem that effortlessly exudes charm to audiences young and old, and represents Pixar at the height of their craft as storytellers. But Wall-E’s broad appeal makes an analysis tricky. It’s easy to see the film as simply “a kid’s movie” and to dismiss any merits its narrative may contain. It’s also easy to view it as just an “issues movie”, a pointed critique of the obesity epidemic or of consumerist culture. Such a superficial examination reduces the movie to bite-size messages: Don’t trash the world. Technology is bad. People are lazy. If that was a fair assessment of Wall-E, there would be no point in exploring it. I am not interested in narratives with such shallow roots that they can be summarized into tidy little statements; these types of parables …

Brazil Wordle 1

Escape to Happiness and Insanity: Gilliam’s Brazil

Brazil is a mess of a movie in the best possible way. Terry Gilliam’s creation is wildly original and incredibly chaotic, blending elements of comedy and drama into an unforgettable piece of cinema. Visually extravagant and thematically dense, Brazil rewards observant and repeat viewers with a barrage of imagery and subtext ripe for speculation and analysis. A story with almost too much to say, I regard Brazil as one of the most memorable explorations into the absurdities and perils of modern society, and worthy of becoming an Ekostory.

Tharu Village

Reflections of Nepal: The Tharu of the Terai

We felt a mixture of excitement and anxiety after learning the finalized details of our volunteer placement: We were to work with and learn from the Tharu people, an indigenous group who inhabited the Terai region of Nepal. Arriving after an eleven-hour bus ride to the small town of Lamahi in Dang District, we were once again reminded of the country’s spectacular geographic diversity. This land of red dust and flat farmlands, far removed from any tourist attractions, was to be home for the following three weeks. It could not be more different than the mountain vistas of the Himalayas or the congested and bustling streets of Kathmandu.Knowing next to nothing about the land and its people, we tried to be receptive and perceptive to our surroundings and our hosts. In turn, we were rewarded with a wealth of information regarding Tharu history, culture, and worldviews and how their intimate bond with place and land has profoundly shaped their past and present relationships with nature, culture, and self.

Earthrise from the Moon

Here, Home, Us: Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot

As someone fascinated by worlds real or fictional, I was ecstatic to hear about the landing of NASA’s Curiosity rover on Mars. News of the successful touchdown represents a great triumph for the downsized agency and helped to rekindle my own interest in looking to the heavens. I sometimes have trouble communicating my passion of the cosmos to others. People occasionally ask: Why is space exploration important? As an environmentalist, shouldn’t you deal with all the problems we have here on Earth before worrying about the stars? What good is it all? Fortunately, there are other much more capable and articulate communicators out there to address these legitimate questions – People like Carl Sagan. One of the world’s most well-known astronomer, astrophysicist, and science popularizer, Sagan’s ability to captivate millions with his Pulitzer-winning Cosmos and the subsequent TV series of the same name is no small feat. It takes an extraordinary storyteller to distill esoteric knowledge down to digestible form and transform it into meaningful and inspiring messages for people of different ages and backgrounds. …

Jim Henson's Dinosaurs Word Cloud

A 90’s Flashback: Dinosaurs’ Changing Nature

Television sitcoms are unlikely sources for meaningful stories about the environment. But there are exceptions. I found one of them in Jim Henson’s Dinosaurs, a puppet show that ran for four seasons from 1991 to 1994. Dinosaurs takes place in 60 million years BC and follows the lives of a typical dinosaur family: Earl Sinclair, father; Fran Sinclair, mother (voiced by Jessica Walters, for all you Arrested Development fans out there); Robbie Sinclair, son; Charlene Sinclair, daughter; Junior Sinclair, aka The Baby; and Grandmother Phillips. The show is a satirized portrayal of the American household; each episode typically features the family dealing with topical issues of the day. The LA Times described the show as a “consistently funny comedy to chew on, the only spot on television where the Mesozoic Era intersects with witty social commentary.” Many regarded the show as a unique blend of The Honeymooners, The Flintstones, and All in the Family. The series finale titled “Changing Nature” revolves around Earl’s irresponsible actions towards the environment, and provided an emotional and lasting experience …