Solar Ricardo

Solar Ricardo

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Detournement and Re-Wilding: A Discussion with Karl Schoeder

During the early part of summer 2010, I stumbled across an announcement for a Science Fiction Convention at a local hotel. Although I'm a life long reader of Sci-Fi and full-fledged geek (yes, I even used to work at Forbidden Planet, NYC's largest comic book and sci-fi store), I rarely venture out to “Cons” these days. Something on the schedule caught my eye, though. Special guest author, Canadian Karl Schroeder was slotted to do a panel on “The Politics of Climate Change”. This should be interesting, I thought- Can a room full of people dressed as Klingons, pie-eyed gamers and Aspersers sufferers have a coherent conversation about the ultimate reality?
    Although the turnout for the session was small, it was perhaps the most thoughtful discussions I have ever heard among lay-people. The group included one hard-core denier, but even he had relevant points, and minds were open on both sides of the argument.
    As for Schoeder, he lead the discussion with the deft hand of someone who understood his audience and a Canadian's perspective on what is possible when a nation is not ruled by a coporatocracy.
    Having watched a Youtube video of Schoeder at OSCON (the O'Reilly Media shindig) talking about his ideas of “re-wilding”  I was anxious to sit down with the author and talk about his ideas.  Karl was kind enough to oblige. Upon describing the theme of “Obsolete Magazine, we immediately dove into a discussion of “Detournement” the situationist idea of reuse of elements and William Gibson's early cyberpunk novels like Count Zero and Neuromancer, in which Schoeder points out that “... the characters are constantly cobbling things together out of stuff the street has abandoned- there is a tradition of that in science fiction going back at least that far and before...”

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Safety Razor

Inspired by a woodworker’s plane, the first safety razor was invented by in the late 1700's in France. The design was perfected during the 1800's by British and German companies,  but it was not until a traveling salesman from Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin,  King Camp Gillette, patented his design for the double-edged razor in 1904, that the the modern safety razor challenged the popularity of the straight razor.  By securing a contract with the U.S. Military to supply the Gillette Safety Razor to each and every G.I. during World War II, these virtually indestructible little tools became the standard issue shaving implements world-wide for decades. Wilkinson Sword, a British company, introduced the stainless steel blade in the 1960s, significantly improving blade life, as well as creating an iconic object that has become an international symbol for “danger.” Adopted by 1970's punks as a symbol of the movement, the double edged razor blade has been adapted for use as drug paraphernalia, jailhouse shiv, and professional wrestling blood-letting tool.

With the advent of the era of cheap, plastic and disposable, U.S. manufacturing of the Gillette-style safety razor has ceased, but they are still found at nearly every American drugstore or grocery. Because of the longevity of the handle as well as the steel blades, they continue to be manufactured and used around the planet, and have, arguably, the lowest environmental impact of any shaver, with the exception of the traditional straight razor.