At first the principles of “Leave No Trace” (“pack it in, pack it out,” etc.; hikers’ jargon) seemed to fit well with the “cradle to cradle” design principles, but after I thought about it a little, I realized “cradle to cradle” actually works more like natural selection. “Leave No Trace” is impossible in any larger context, such as civilization. A backpacker may be able to carry out everything that was carried in, doing no damage and making no changes in the area traveled through, but no civilization has those options. Civilizations immediately affect their environments, and they are shaped by their environments. A civilization is much more deeply involved in its environment than any hiker, any caver, diver, or other adventurer. A civilization—and we come closer to having just One Big One all the time—is an ecosystem. A hiker is a person with appropriate shoes.

Cory Doctorow considers Boing Boing to be an outside-his-head collection of what’s in his head.

Philip Dhingra thinks Cory’s part of an in-crowd set nestled at the center of the blogosphere.

Links helpfully point out the other stars. Joining is easy; becoming one of the players . . . well, it takes some doing. How do people know Instapundit is as celebrated as bloggers get?

A related question: Were E. M. Cioran, Georg Lichtenberg, Nietzsche, or Elias Canetti to be writing today, would they blog?


In the past I’ve noticed I treat my body’s need for food differently than other people—in particular Cecilia Nguyen, Jeanette Ward, Laura Grant, and Jenny Doyle—seem to do. Where hunger dramatically overwhelms some people, I get hungry but can and do forestall eating more or less indefinitely with few ill effects. Twenty-four hours fasting hardly affects me.

The question here is, how long would it take to figure out the mechanics behind my stoic (?) hunger, as compared to Jenny’s “tapeworm” hunger? Would it be worth the time? It’s nutritional science, I guess. There’s some anatomy, some physiology, some organic chemistry, and some basic physics. If I could write it in a few pages . . . would that be worth doing?

Encyclopædia Britannica’s nutrition article looks like a good place to start. Bringing nutritional thinking “into line with other branches of science and using joules as the unit of energy” instead of kilocalories (Calories) is a good frickin’ idea, enabling easier conversions between all areas of knowledge and integrating ourselves into the natural sciences, where we ought to have been all along.

We can gain an effective sense of how much energy the body uses to maintain itself by comparing that amount with something we find more familiar, such as a 100-watt light bulb. Spend an hour or so tonight working out the conversions.

Marshall Brain may not be a mathematician, but he can certainly do the math. His quick analyses of human nutritional requirements and perfect food, U.S. per-capita tiger distribution, prescription drug costs and the U.S. return-on-investment for the Iraqi reconstruction effort all rely on nothing more complicated than basic arithmetic, and all of them say interesting things besides.

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