Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Jack London: More than Just Dogs

Jack London's two most famous works, The Call of the Wild and White Fang, follow their protagonists, two male sled dogs, through their exploits and experiences with rural and urban settings. Through the use of an approachable creature, a strong and faithful dog, London offers valuable insight into the growing resentment and fear of the modernization of America at the turn of the century. These popular books romanticized the appeal of the rustic life offered in Alaska and contrasted the increasing buzz of modern cities with the frontier of the Alaskan wilderness.
As the title denotes, The Call of the Wild, focuses on Buck's inherent desire to leave society and humans behind and return to the purity of nature.
Instead of tracing the journey of a domesticated dog from California to Alaska, London's follow up White Fang follows White Fangs through his domestication as a wolf dog in Alaska and eventual role as a family dog in California. White Fang's journey showcases a different side of an animals inherent desires for the freedom offered only by the wilderness.

Many students of Science, Technology and Society would turn their nose up at Jack London's "childrens books," however their lasting popularity indicates the warrants of their insight into people's desire to leave the confines of a modern city in search of the wild.

Here are some more links,
The Call of the Wild (Amazon),
White Fang (Amazon),
Jack London (Wikipedia).

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau's works have strong underpinnings of Science, Technology and Society. For those unfamiliar with the text, his most famous work, Walden, is Thoreau's personal doctrine of the rejection of modern technology in search of the simplicity of rural life. For two years, Thoreau went off the grid, to use the parlance of our times, and lived in a small cabin near Walden pond in Concord Massachusetts. During this hiatus from society, Thoreau mused about the attractiveness of a simple life, avoiding of taxes, self reliance and problems with contemporary society. Here is a recreation of the cabin that Thoreau lived in, see the resemblance to Mr. Kaczynski's dwelling in Montana?
Despite being written over 150 years ago, Walden remains the de facto manual of the rustication movement and the preferred reading of many rejeceters of technology such as Theodore Kacynski. However, Walden doesn't only influence extremists like Kacynski. In an STS class taught by visit professor Dale Potts on the history of Environmentalism, we discussed the seminal nature of Thoreau's works with regards to environmentalism as we know it today. Many scholars believe that the modern study of Science, Technology and Society was born in the turbulent decades surrounding the Vietnam War as intellectuals became more apparent of some of the negative aspects of technologies effect on society and started a large counter culture. Maybe Thoreau was a hippy born 120 years before his time?

Here are some more links,
Walden (Wiki),
Henry David Thoreau (Wiki),

Monday, May 4, 2009

BLDG Blog references Professor Fleming

A recent post on the well read blog, BLDG Blog, referenced Professor Fleming's work on the weather race during the Cold War. Here is an excert, but be sure to check out the post for more,

"In an endlessly fascinating article published two years ago in The Wilson Quarterly, historian James R. Fleming describes – among many other things – how a "weather race with the Russians" was fought on the level of climatological R&D between the U.S. and U.S.S.R. during the Cold War.
For instance, "In the 1940s," Fleming writes, "General George C. Kenney, commander of the Strategic Air Command, declared, 'The nation which first learns to plot the paths of air masses accurately and learns to control the time and place of precipitation will dominate the globe.'"

Here is the links,
BLDG Blog.