2013 Theme - Cargo Cult - thoughts?

Cargo Cult - Who is John Frum? He is known to us by many names, this Visitor from Elsewhere, dispenser of endless abundance and wielder of mysterious technologies: John Frum, Quetzalcoatl, Osiris, "Bob." His cargo is splendid, his generosity boundless, his motives beyond our understanding. But across the ages and around the world, the stories all agree: one day he will return, bearing great gifts. Our theme this year asks three related questions; who is John Frum, where is he really from, and where, on spaceship Earth, are we all going?
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Re: 2013 Theme - Cargo Cult - thoughts?

Postby Wrath » Sun Dec 02, 2012 7:48 pm

Simon of the Playa wrote:
Will there be culturally insensitive people and art on the playa this year? Absolutely. Just as there were lots of white people in 2012 with "native american" trappings, headdresses and feather mohawks at a $20 million festival held in the heart of impoverished native communities.


SO... MUCH... YES...

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Re: 2013 Theme - Cargo Cult - thoughts?

Postby moonwookie » Sun Dec 02, 2012 7:51 pm

And if I might make so bold as to put into words that have probably been repeated over and over what the real truth is - the more steps exist between us and the things we use and consume, the more primitive WE are. Just out of curiousity, since I was looking at some LED Christmas lights I plan to reuse next year, I looked up how to make them work without using a battery bought in a store. A simple battery is relatively easy to make, with a strip of aluminum from a can, a strip of copper, some wire, and a container with a weak acid like vinegar or Coke. But then I ask myself - could you mine, refine, and extrude the copper and aluminum? Do you even know how to make vinegar?

As for the concept of cargo, I have reduced myself down to what I can carry on my back twice in my life, and each time it taught me different lessons.

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Re: 2013 Theme - Cargo Cult - thoughts?

Postby Wrath » Sun Dec 02, 2012 7:56 pm

yellowrose wrote:I am in agreement with the folks who have expressed concerns about the racist/colonial tones of the theme.

We are interested in creating a petition in solidarity with other camps who have concerns. Please let me know if you have any ideas for what should be written on the petition, and if your camp wants to join. We are not experts on this topic, simply concerned burners. Link below.

https://www.change.org/petitions/burnin ... -man-theme


Solid first post! Welcome to ePlaya!

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Re: 2013 Theme - Cargo Cult - thoughts?

Postby BAS » Sun Dec 02, 2012 8:01 pm

Vinegar is probably the easiest. (I've created it a number of times leaving apple cider in the refrigerator too long.)

Refining aluminum is really difficult from what I understand-- which is why recycling it caught on so early. I actually looked up how aluminum is refined once, probably more than 30 years ago, and don't remember much at all.

Of course, these days all of those components could probably easily be scavenged, at least in North America.
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Re: 2013 Theme - Cargo Cult - thoughts?

Postby moonwookie » Sun Dec 02, 2012 8:10 pm

I did look up copper mining, since over the centuries it has blighted quite a few landscapes. I never realized the ratio of metal to ore was so bloody LOW! 2%!

As for the battery, starting completely from scratch, can you make the containers the vinegar sits in? Can you make the container the juice sits it while it becomes vinegar? Never mind plastic - who knows how to make glass? Could you make a watertight container using nothing but what you'd find on the side of the road? I know I sure as hell couldn't. Nearly everything I know of "survival" skills IS just scavenging. Purify water without aid of modern technology!

I find myself fascinated by the concept of this year's theme. What do you consider yourself to know? How deep is that knowledge and how quickly would you be rendered helpless without something as basic as the electricity that flows through the wires in your home? Apocalyptic scenarios are a hobby of mine, both in popular culture and in antiquity.

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Re: 2013 Theme - Cargo Cult - thoughts?

Postby Aurelia » Sun Dec 02, 2012 8:12 pm

Pepomint this is a time for you to populate not disintegrate
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Re: 2013 Theme - Cargo Cult - thoughts?

Postby BAS » Sun Dec 02, 2012 10:01 pm

Well, opening it up to what you find alongside the road actually makes the odds of finding a watertight container pretty good, since a lot of trash collects along the road, including bottles of piss, empty fast food glasses, plastic buckets, and other such savory containers. An empty plastic large drink glass from McDonalds sealed with a scrap of plastic held in place with a rubber band, length of string, or something else to keep it tightly in place would probably be sufficient. Now a water tight container without access to trash would be more difficult. (Which could happen after a group of people doing their community service have gone through.) Or, finding something I would want to drink out of as is would also be difficult.

Starting completely from scratch would be difficult, even for the vinegar. First the fruit would need to be located. This far north at this time of the year is most definitely not fruit season, with all of the trees and bushes bare. So, it would have to be the right season. Squeezing out the juice would require a work surface, which in nature might be a large, flat rock, a way to capture the juice as it runs off. Then there would need to be a container, sealed to keep it from evaporating/being drunk by something or someone. (Of course, fruit DOES ferment on the vine, so the aging part might not be so hard. Just watch for birds which can't fly straight after feasting on some berries, and pick those for the juice.) Etc.

Vinegar might be the easiest step, but, without tools and technology, that doesn't make it easy.

Also, getting a battery of the proper voltage would also be tricky. In this age of electronic devices of all descriptions, we also have batteries of nearly as many descriptions and voltages. Hearing aid batteries have their own display at the local drug store. And there are stores which sell nothing BUT batteries.

Due to lack of funds, I did get to experience living without electricity earlier this year. Light bulbs are a definite improvement over candles and even flash lights. (I also learned that Food Stamps cover ice, but ice doesn't keep all that frozen stuff purchased with Food Stamps the day before the power went off as frozen as well as I would like.) Living without the electric company is possible, but most definitely not as nice as with it.


Ooops! Past my bed time. Good night!
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Re: 2013 Theme - Cargo Cult - thoughts?

Postby Simon of the Playa » Sun Dec 02, 2012 10:50 pm

"we are all naked under our clothes"

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Re: 2013 Theme - Cargo Cult - thoughts?

Postby 5280MeV » Mon Dec 03, 2012 5:25 am

You don't need vinegar for a primitive battery, brine works just fine and you can make that by evaporating seawater. I would imagine that pottery would be the simplest form of airtight container to make.

Aluminum is basically impossible to smelt, and is typically isolated through electrochemical reactions. So basically, you need to already have a battery or current source to make aluminum in order to have a better battery.

Your best bet for the cathode and anode would be copper and zinc. So long as you can get a reasonable furnace going and dig up some ore, this is not impossible. I have seen pictures of hobbyists who dredge ore out of a lake bed and build a furnace out in the woods to cast simple tools or knives. You could in principle use gold for the cathode, if you can find enough, and that would not require any metallurgical skill. The anode, however, is going to require smelting.

The voltage is actually quite forgiving. For example, an alkaline AA battery is 1.5 volts, and a rechargeable AA is around 1.2. Both work for powering most devices. When I used to make primitive copper-aluminum-saltwater cells, they would run something like 0.7 volts. So I could in principle just use two of those for every 1 AA required.

Getting a good amount of current is very difficult with these simple means. You basically need a lot of surface area on the metals. So you would be using a lot of metal and resources to get enough current to light a single bulb. Truthfully, I think that you would be better off just making candles.

-----------------------

Forget making LEDs. That requires gallium, indium, aluminum, all sorts of hard to isolate materials. Even if you did manage to figure it out, it is a very refined process to make LEDs that give off enough light to do work by.

Consider even a simple modern incandescent bulb. Look at the quality of the fabrication of the glass. Look at how thinly constructed the tungsten wire is.

You just can't DIY all this stuff - there are too many different skills, too many tools, too many processes, too many resources required from all over the globe. Even though all of the information is all technically available, it is simply not possible for a single person to really understand how all of it works.

*We* like to use phrases like "we understand how an airplane works". Well *I* don't understand how a Boeing 777 works, and I don't think anyone else completely understands all the systems involved to make it so I can fly safely across the pacific and choose between 100 movies on my flat-screen entertainment computer. I don't even understand what sort of plastics were used to make my rolling bag with a telescoping handle. I don't know how 4G communications work, and I have no idea what my smart phone looks like on the inside.

I fly on a magic bird carrying magic cargo.

-------------

Why does Burning Man work? What mechanisms provide the delivery of his cargo - 'life changing experiences' and a 'return home'?

Something seems to work for some people out there. Sometimes it stops working for some people. Do we know why? How big does that communal fire need to be? Does it need to happen on Saturday? What do the ten enumerated principles actually serve? Some say the experiment worked before writing them down, and some say that it still works after.

Does anyone really understand any of this? The experiment has been running in the same fashion for the last decade or two? Has anyone tried adjustments, controls?
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Re: 2013 Theme - Cargo Cult - thoughts?

Postby AntiM » Mon Dec 03, 2012 7:22 am

Having been an electronics tech, I have some understanding of how the guts of techy things work. I still think the dance of the electrons is magic. We can make the venues for them to do their thing, but how do atoms know how to do what they do? Fucking magic I tell you.
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Re: 2013 Theme - Cargo Cult - thoughts?

Postby Ugly Dougly » Mon Dec 03, 2012 9:24 am

moonwookie wrote:... the real truth is - the more steps exist between us and the things we use and consume, the more primitive WE are.


Moonwookie, I do believe your heart is in the right place.
But I think you are trying use the word "primitive" in a derogative sense. I think that's on the wrong track.
"Primitive" means "back to the basics" or "returning to the source".
Ironically I think that it means the opposite of what you are trying to get across. :)
Anyway, we are on the same page.

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Re: 2013 Theme - Cargo Cult - thoughts?

Postby Ugly Dougly » Mon Dec 03, 2012 9:30 am

BAS wrote:Vinegar might be the easiest step, but, without tools and technology, that doesn't make it easy.


The Baghdad Battery, I understand, used a ceramic pot.
Image
Before you make a battery, you have other concerns: shelter, water, food, fire, nudity, beer.
Probably simpler to make some wine first and let it turn to vinegar.

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Re: 2013 Theme - Cargo Cult - thoughts?

Postby Bob » Mon Dec 03, 2012 9:48 am

Vinegar?

Piss, clearly.
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Re: 2013 Theme - Cargo Cult - thoughts?

Postby ladyasteria » Mon Dec 03, 2012 9:57 am

Why the fuck are we talking about making batteries in a thread about the 2013 theme? Get off your tangents, silly Burners.

Personally, I see anyone in Black Rock City as a 'Native'. Us Burners ARE the 'brown' (playa-colored?) people!
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Re: 2013 Theme - Cargo Cult - thoughts?

Postby graidawg » Mon Dec 03, 2012 10:35 am

I personally love this years theme, not as much as rites of passage was personally, but hell its got me all excited again, or perhaps more so as i never really stop being at least a little excited about being part of this club cult group
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Re: 2013 Theme - Cargo Cult - thoughts?

Postby Patamon » Mon Dec 03, 2012 11:08 am

I don't see this theme racist at all, if you find racism in this theme, then you're probably the type that finds racism in almost everything.

Cargo Cults have existed throughout history, all over the world.

I think if anything, it makes fun of Modern American society, which is the whole point. We've become this huge ass "Cargo Cult" that worships Cargo (i.e. consumer goods). Examples: Fan Boys lining up at Apple Stores for Iphones, Black Friday stampedes, Cyber Monday, etc.

Its an AWESOME theme, maybe one of the best themes ever, yet some people look for the negative in anything; because Cargo Cults are thought of as a more recently phenomenon in the Pacific post WW2, they think the point is to make fun of Pacific Islanders, which its not.

If anyone should be offended it should be the 21st century American Consumer, in my mind, this theme, and perhaps the event itself, is a giant blasphemous juxtaposition against what most Americans consider patriotic, righteous and "normal".

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Re: 2013 Theme - Cargo Cult - thoughts?

Postby tamarakay » Mon Dec 03, 2012 1:01 pm

I've thoughtfully read this thread and the opinions expressed. I've read and read and read everything I can get my hands on regarding Cargo Cults and am still researching. Still just scratching my head on the racist thing. I don't see it. Still researching and looking, but stumped at this point.
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Re: 2013 Theme - Cargo Cult - thoughts?

Postby Roberto Dobbisano » Mon Dec 03, 2012 1:06 pm

"10 principles? you cant HANDLE the 10 principles..."

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Re: 2013 Theme - Cargo Cult - thoughts?

Postby Simon of the Playa » Mon Dec 03, 2012 1:21 pm

"The upshot: Surprisingly strong fireworks sales, with business that extended for weeks after the Fourth of July holiday."




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Re: 2013 Theme - Cargo Cult - thoughts?

Postby Roberto Dobbisano » Mon Dec 03, 2012 1:37 pm

"you have no Knife?"

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"10 principles? you cant HANDLE the 10 principles..."

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Re: 2013 Theme - Cargo Cult - thoughts?

Postby Playa Hater » Mon Dec 03, 2012 2:33 pm

I think this may be my favorite theme so far. Very excited.

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Re: 2013 Theme - Cargo Cult - thoughts?

Postby Simon of the Playa » Mon Dec 03, 2012 2:42 pm

me too...

[media]
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Re: 2013 Theme - Cargo Cult - thoughts?

Postby Aurelia » Mon Dec 03, 2012 3:33 pm

Froggy said it well. first with technical discussion and then description of US ..WE .
We are morphing , hopefully we will be graceful burners.
And yes my knees still hurt from dancing but that is fine .
Why be racist .Just dont . It is up to you to grow attitude.

I will think about all my pockets to fill this year and gift away my carabiner loaded belt..thinking as a genuine elder Sparkleponie .
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Re: 2013 Theme - Cargo Cult - thoughts?

Postby BeachBum » Mon Dec 03, 2012 3:42 pm

I really like the theme! There are so many cool things that can be done with this theme on a camp or art basis! Thank you, Larry, for doing a theme that is so easy to work within!

I like the analogy made by the theme, that the "Cargo Cults" to their temporary visitors, whether in WWII or otherwise, are as we would be to a temporary visitation by a civilization far advanced to us. Also, I like the "worship of materialism" factor of the theme, possibly fun and pranky in a Cacophony type manner, similar to the previous worship of an oil derrick. Our camp is already thinking about ways to implement the theme, whereas we really haven't cared much about themes before.

I also like that the theme is not self-promotional of Burning Man. Very distinct from themes such as the "Metropolis", "Rites of Passage", and "Fertility 2.0" being promotional of the Black Rock City, the passages/phases of BM, and fertilizing BM into the world through regionals.

I see how the Cargo Cult theme could be misinterpreted in a racial manner, even though that interpretation is far, far from the intent of the theme. It takes an intentional misinterpretation to even possibly view this theme in a racial light. Maybe a couple tweaks to the theme's description to discourage any intentional misinterpretation in this manner?

Whatever, in my opinion, I consider the theme to be far less racially charged than the animation of President Obama on this board craning his neck back and forth in a stereotypical "shucking and jiving" motion. Even if this animation may unintentionally infer this interpretation, it's still very insensitive, especially considering the "shucking and jiving" controversy a couple months ago.

Again, GREAT THEME!

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Re: 2013 Theme - Cargo Cult - thoughts?

Postby Savannah » Mon Dec 03, 2012 3:48 pm

BeachBum wrote:
Whatever, in my opinion, I consider the theme to be far less racially charged than the animation of President Obama on this board craning his neck back and forth in a stereotypical "shucking and jiving" motion. Even if this animation may unintentionally infer this interpretation, it's still very insensitive, especially considering the "shucking and jiving" controversy a couple months ago.



Heh! It just goes to show you . . . there's lots of room for interpretation, isn't there?

I viewed BBadger's animated Obama avatar as an ooontz ooontz ooontz raver sort of thing, and interpreted it as a dance of triumph. (I'm pretty sure he started using that avatar the morning after Obama was re-elected.) I think it's cute. :lol:

I've danced like the Night at the Roxbury guys more than once (okay, maybe several dozen times) and no one would mistake it for anything else. But I guess it's in the eye of the beholder.
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Re: 2013 Theme - Cargo Cult - thoughts?

Postby MacGlenver » Mon Dec 03, 2012 6:48 pm

Didn't RTFA. This is all about the love of cargo shorts, right?
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Re: 2013 Theme - Cargo Cult - thoughts?

Postby theCryptofishist » Mon Dec 03, 2012 7:21 pm

I can't find the post that sparked it, but I remember one Cargo Cult I've been involved with, with much pain and embarrassment about it to this day. That cargo cult you may form when a romantic relationship goes south. You may not build air strips (what will the Spaceport bring to this?), but you might try to recreate the conditions that prevailed at the beginning. Or you might try and be who replaced you.
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Re: 2013 Theme - Cargo Cult - thoughts?

Postby theCryptofishist » Mon Dec 03, 2012 7:31 pm

What I really want to see, however, is a cargo cult sound camp, with "John Frum" style headphones on the dj.
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Re: 2013 Theme - Cargo Cult - thoughts?

Postby BBadger » Mon Dec 03, 2012 7:47 pm

Shucking and jiving? I've never even heard of that or the "controversy" that supposedly happened a few months ago. I literally had to look the term up and I'm still not sure what it really entails.

Sometimes there's such a thing as being too sensitive. All it does is empower the things you want to avoid.

The correct interpretation: Obama is totally celebrating his victory over Romney like a raver. Some DJ is laying down some beats and the good times are a'rollin'!
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Re: 2013 Theme - Cargo Cult - thoughts?

Postby BAS » Mon Dec 03, 2012 7:52 pm

It only bothers me because, well, do you know how much your neck would hurt after doing that much head bobbing, that vigorously, for any length of time?!?
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Do things that have never been done."
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