Essential Resources on Global Change

The following are a set of resources to help understand modern global change.

There is strong need for thoughtful discussion to return to American thinking. Whereas the news media focuses on sensational or irrelevant points they often miss the fundamentals for the sake of superficial debate. This list of essential resources is intended for the general public and presents important authors in major fields of study that everyone should know. The lectures and films are intended for more visual thinkers, while the writings and books are for intellectual readers or for those who wish to go deeper.

Resources were chosen based on their relevance to global issues, the importance of its contribution to other fields, the importance of concepts to raise public awareness, and clarity of presentation or writing to a public audience.

Field Author Media Resource
Climate Greta Thunberg Interview School Strike for Climate: 15-Year-Old Activist
Speech Writing Save the World by Changing the Rules
Womens Rights Tarana Burke Lecture Me Too is a movement, not a moment
Rituparna Bhattacharya Paper #MeToo Movement: An Awareness Campaign
Policy Alexandra Ocassio-Cortez Interview Rep. AOC Explains Why the Green New Deal is About More than Climate
House Resolution The Green New Deal
Labor Elizabeth Warren Lecture The Coming Collapse of the Middle Class
Paper The Growing Threat to Middle Class Families
City Planning Elon Musk Interview The Future we’re building – and boring (tunneling)
Computer Science Lee Sudol vs. AlphaGo Documentary Film AlphaGo (Artificial Intelligence)
Biology Marla Spivak Lecture Why bees are dissapearing
Paper The Plight of the Bees
Energy Michael Shellenberger Lecture Why renewables can’t save the planet
Book Break Through: From the Death of Environmentalism to the Politics of Possibility
Relationships Esther Perel Lecture Rethinking infidelity.. a talk for anyone who has ever loved
Miller McPherson Paper Social Isolation in America: Changes in Core Discussion Networks in over Two Decades
Education Davis Guggenheim Documentary Film Waiting for Superman
Hannh Ardent Paper The Crisis in Education

Comments or additional suggestions are welcome below.

A Practical Guide to Rudderless Sailing

by Rama Karl Hoetzlein and Andy Hacket

Full document

We are pleased to offer the full document here (CC-BY):

 A Practical Guide to Rudderless Sailing

Why sail rudderless?

We believe that rudderless sailing allows the novice sailor to improve boat balance, sail trim and centerboard control much more directly. The rudder provides a guarantee for your point of sail whereas rudderless involves maintaining your point of sail by understanding and feeling all the forces on the boat. Aside from its help in managing rudder failures, we believe that rudderless gives the sailor a better intuitive sense for how to trim and balance a boat; which is valuable for performance sailing, sail trim and general good form.

A few motivations for this guide. First, we’d like to mention Joel Brand’s e-book Rudderless Sailing from 2013 as an excellent review of rudderless sailing theory. We are also inspired by Harry Morton and Israel Smith’s youtube video “29er No rudder sailing with Dave O’Connor” from 2012 which demonstrates two-handed rudderless on a small 29’er – with a spinnaker! Pretty amazing sailing, and still one of the few videos of rudderless with tacks and jibes. This isn’t to say there aren’t many great rudderless sailors. Yet we feel the lack of examples is because it is currently viewed as an extra skill rather than as a form. We hope to change that.

The primary reason for this Practical Guide to Rudderless is to provide a starting point for any club or novice sailor to learn rudderless as a way to intuitively feel the forces on the boat. While we briefly touch on theory, our focus is on a practical guide that helps you to understand what is happening when you’re on the water. Of course nothing can replace actual sailing. So our intention is to give you an idea of what you’re likely to experience, the tools you have to respond to it, and exercises to help you gradually improve.

This was a senior project with the Cal Sailing Club in Berkeley! Thanks for their support!

Questions & comments
Both are welcome below! We’re happy to provide this and hope to improve it.



VOX3 is a stereolithographic 3D printer with a voxel-based workflow. Stereolithography, or SLA, 3D printing uses a photosensitive liquid polymer to create hardened layers of material. Whereas laser SLA exposes each layer by tracing the outline of the part with a laser, projector-based SLA exposes a single layer all at once. This process is most similar to the Formlabs desktop 3D printing process.


The unique aspect of the VOX3 is a voxel workflow based on the NVIDIA Jetson TX2. A typical workflow for 3D printing is to model a part with polygons, then load the part on a CPU host which performs voxelization and then generates either G-code or the slice images required for SLA printing.

By running GVDB Voxels on the Jetson TX2, we are able to perform advanced processing in the printer itself. The Jetson TX2 has dual video outputs, enabling it to run the slice projector and a preview monitor. Using 256 parallel CUDA cores, the Jetson TX2 can process polygonal and voxel models on the device. This workflow implies the ability to transmit, process, in-fill and slice volumetric data directly on the 3D printer.

The VOX3 workflow allows for live processing of the part during printing. Although not used in our prototype, feedback from the printer via cameras and sensors could be sent to the Jetson to make live adjustments. Additionally, re-processing can be performed since the VOX3 has full access to the original and voxelized model in printer memory. In our demo the VOX3 takes a polygonal model as input, performs full, high resolution voxelization to a sparse 3D volume, and computes each cross sections on-the-fly as needed for projection while printing.


Figure 1. Frame assembly

The VOX3 was designed as an experimental prototype. The process of bottom-up SLA printing requires a projector, a built tray, a moving build platform and a mold release mechanism. Figure 1 shows the basic frame assembly. The Z-axis and build platform are controlled with a leadscrew and a 1A stepper motor. The front mounted motor is used to tilt the build tray after each printed layer.

Figure 2. First projection test

With the frame designed as two stacked aluminum cubes, the projector is mounted in the lower cube and points upward at the build tray. Figure 2 shows the first projection test.

Figure 3. Completed VOX3 printer

The completed 3D printer is shown in Figure 3 with the Jetson TX2 (panel top left), and a Smoothieboard (panel bottom left) which controls the two stepper motors. Special UV transparent glass (center) is required so that the projector light has sufficient power density to polymerize the SLA liquid. The build tray holds the liquid, not shown in this photograph.


The VOX3 was exhibit at the 2017 GPU Technology Conference as part of the NVIDIA display on Optimized 3D Printing with the GVDB Voxels software. Since resin printing can be messy and requires refilling, the display was operated in demo mode which shows the moving printer head and 3D slices computed in real-time.

Also exhibit were 3D printed parts made by Voronoi in-filling with GVDB Voxels. The Lucy model was printed as both a solid part and with voronoi filling to demonstrate weight reduction computed interactively and entirely with voxels.

Luna: A Visual Language for Behavioral Animation



Rama Hoezlein, Ph.D Disseratation, 2010
Media Arts & Technology Program, University of California Santa Barbara
Committee: Tobias Hollerer (Computer Science), George Legrady (Media Arts), Laurie Monahan (Art History)

LUNA is a visual language for dynamic procedural modeling. Created with a custom graph-based language, LUNA adopts a tile metaphor to enable rapid experimentation with dynamic geometric operators. The data flowing through the LUNA graph consists of multimedia objects such as images, meshes, geometric instances, sounds and text. Luna was developed as a dissertation on the benefits and limitations of creativity support tools in computer graphics and media arts.



Ch 2. Tools for the Visual Media Artist: A Survey

Ch 3. LUNA: A Puzzle-Based Metaphor for Procedural Modeling

Ch 4. Procedural Modeling of Complex Objects using the GPU

Ch 5. Emergent Behavior: A Functional Analysis of Art

Ch 6. Digital Bricolage

Ch 7. Structure in Dynamic Media



Figure 1. This video shows real-time procedural control of a flocking simulation from a Microsoft Kinect device. The arm angles of the user determine the attraction force pulling the flock into a spiral. (Click video to play)


Figure 2. This video shows dynamic displacement mapping with input from a 2D wave simulation, in addition to other real-time mesh deformation effects. (Click video to play)



MAKH (c) Rama Hoetzlein, 2004


Rama Hoetzlein (c) 2004 & 2014
Machines, motors, tape players, and cinematography

MAKH is a convergence of ‘Making’ and ‘Machinima’. Making follows the makerspace movement and ethos; creation through DIY design, mechanics, and electronics. Machinima is the development of film making and narrative through the use of record video game play. MAK’H is a combination of these trends – a convergence of ad-hoc mechanics and cinematography. A central theme in makh is the democratization of film making, and the notion that anything animate, whether it be video games, animals, or machines, can lead to visual narrative. Makh re-imagines making as a process in which the completed object irrelevant (there is no finished), and re-imagines cinematography as narrative derived from anything animate.



Quanta is conceived of as a novel database for a visual internet. Developed as a prototype in 2007, this system originally explored the notion of application-style, smooth navigational interfaces and data visualizations for semantic content on the web.

How to cite this work:
2007, Hoetzlein, Rama. “The Organization of Human Knowledge: Systems for Interdisciplinary Research”. Masters Thesis. Media Arts and Technology Program, University of California Santa Barbara.

If you would like to use any images or video in other works, such as books or articles, please contact me.


As of 2014, develop of Quanta continues as a new commercial entity. Quanta will always offer a fully featured, free version of the system supporting up to 10,000 objects, suitable for individual collections, and many academic and university research projects. We hope to offer this, and commercial options soon, with online interaction and support for large data sets.


Based on interest, the conceptual and theoretical chapters of the original thesis work “The Organization of Human Knowledge: Systems for Interdisciplinary Research” are provided here slightly abridged, and published online for the first time:

 Ch 1. Introduction and Summary of Contributions

 Ch 2. Background and Context

 Ch 3. Integrative Strategies

 Ch 4. Databases and Systems

 Ch 6. Ontology and Classification

 Ch 7. Knowledge Visualization


Knowledge organization is the problem of arranging and classifying what we collectively know as a society in ways that can be easily understood and communicated to others. The issues addressed in this thesis include the representation and storage of knowledge, semiotics, ontology, classification, systems for knowledge organization, and the visualization and aesthetics of knowledge systems. The Quanta software system is presented as a generic framework for the integrated storage, organization and visualization of human knowledge in interdisciplinary contexts.

Novel contributions are made to both technical and conceptual aspects of knowledge organization. Technical contributions include a hypergraph structure for the storage and efficient representation of knowledge, comparative zoomable timelines for the visualization of events in time, circle packing with dynamic loading to visualize trees, and a distributed architecture and protocol for social knowledge systems. Conceptual contributions include a new measure of meaning in data systems, the data-semantic ratio, an analysis of the relationship between the semiotic triangle and the datainformation-knowledge triangle, and motivations for knowledge visualization as a field of study.

Topics on the philosophical, social and technical aspects of knowledge organization are considered in historical context with an emphasis on interdisciplinarity.

Yangtze River Turns Red – Explained

Figure 1. Map of the Yangtze River, showing color variations along its length. Colors selected from Google maps. Click for detailed image

Recently an article in Slashdot revealed some alarming photos of the Yangtze River Turning Red, and apparently has “baffled officials” and caused people to start collecting samples. Speculation suggests that it may be red tide or pollution.
This article will explain exactly why it’s red..

Tracing the article’s history is somewhat revealing..
1) Slashdot’s article “China’s Yangtze River Turns Red”.. which refers to..
2) International Business Times article “Yangtze River Turns Red: Photos Of China’s Once Golden, Now Scarlet Pathway”.. which refers to..
3) Daily MailOnline article (UK source), “The river that DID run red: Residents of Chinese city left baffled after Yangtze turns scarlet”which refers to..
4) Photos by ChinaFotoPress by Barcroft Medi..

Here is an example of one of the images of Chongqing city, where the Yangtze and Jialin River meet..

Chongqing city with exaggerated color, where Yangtze and Jialin River meet. Photo by ChinaFotoPress.

Shortly after these images were released, Slashdot readers discovered that several pictures had obvious artifact which revealed that the colors were painted in and manipulated. Certainly the amount of red was increased beyond what was actually photographed.

The photograph which was specifically identified as a hoax by Slashdot readers is here:

The white arrows indicate places where color bleeding is caused by a Photoshop user accidentally increasing the red color outside the area of the bottle.

Here is the location in the above photo of Chongqing as it appears in Google maps. The color in these google maps photos has not been manipulated in any way (overlay text was added for city names).

Notice the discoloration of the Yangtze river from the Jialin river photo is evident in this satellite picture, and the dramatic transition where they mix. Colors are as they appear in google maps.

Let’s zoom out and see how these rivers are colored across a larger length..

Here Chongqing is at the center, and the two rivers enter from the north (Jialin) and south (Yangtze). It is clear the difference in color is present even 20 miles upstream from Chongqing.
We can continue to trace the Yangtze river until we arrive at this point…

Here we see a clear transition in color on the Yangtze itself that takes place near the town of Longhuazhen. Downstream of the Yangtze is to the upper right (moving north), and upstream is to the lower left (coming from south west). Notice the fairly obvious change in color from blue to red. However, this location is not exactly at one of the nearest cities along the river. The color in the river change lies at point just downstream of Longhuazhen, which we can zoom into here.. and we find this..

This image is from the north bank of the Yangtze just above Longhuazhen.
Mystery solved!
What we find is a mining operation with very rich red soil. It is clear that the redness of the river is caused by discharge from mining. I don’t know what company is operating here, or what is being mined. These are interesting questions. However, it’s important to point out that this kind of blue-red transition happens several times along the Yangtze river – and in fact on most rivers in the world now. The cause is pollution.

From an environmental perspective, of course it is alarming that the Yangtze is polluted. The question here is, to what degree the river is naturally red versus polluted red by mining.. One should ask: How many tons of red soil is being released into the river by mining, and what effects does this have on fish and human health. More importantly, is anything being released which is not soil, but which are chemical additives resulting from the mining process?

It is much more alarming, in my opinion, that the article entered the mainstream because none of the major media sources bothered to investigate the validity of the original photographs. The authors saturated the red color to such a degree that they do indeed look alarming. These major media networks did not do even the minimum amount of investigative journalism.

A more interesting article would be one which reports on a scientific study of how much actual, measured pollution there is on the Yangtze compared to other rivers in the world. I’d like to know that.

So what of the news that the “Yangtze River Turns Red”? The idea itself is misleading. The Yangtze river is 3,918 miles long. Does this mean to imply the entire river has turned red? If not, then what makes this area so special? It seems none of the articles asked these rather basic questions. Most likely the redness is no more or less than it is at several blue-red transitions along the length of the river, where the cause of redness is clearly pollution after each city it passes through. The question, which I don’t know the answer to, is whether there is something unusual which is happening now with the Yangtze beyond the kind of pollution which occurs on most rivers throughout the world.

See my recent article in the Huffington Post for more details:
Yangtze River Turns Red – Biblical Curse or Industrial Pollution?

Exercising in Winter Climates

For those who living in warm climates, keeping in shape comes naturally. Just go outside for a run, bike, hike or walk whenever you feel like it. Its a lot harder to keep in shape in winter climates where it goes below freezing for months. Typically, I find that I gain 15 lbs in winter, because I spend a lot of time sitting around trying to keep warm. Weight that I then have to loose again in summer. I’d like to stay fit in winter too. Here are some tips.

1) Don’t imagine that you will run or do physical exercise outside. You might have some romantic notions of wearing sweats and jogging in the snow, but when its <20 degs its really cold. This makes your muscles tense, and lungs chill. It can be dangerous to breath freezing air deeply, as it makes you dizzy and can cause fainting. So keep it all indoors.

2) Start with light, indoor jogging. Don’t  stretch first, as your cold muscles may sprain or tighten. Jog lightly for 30 mins to warm up your whole body. You don’t need any machines, just stand in front of TV, or watch a movie, and jog for 30-40 mins.

3) Now that your body is warm, you can get warmed up.. do stretches as you normally would. In the cold this is especially important before any weight training. Stretch your legs and back especially, as these get very stiff in winter.

4) If you want, after jogging and stretching, add any weight training. I usually include some crunches, push-ups, curls and bench presses.

5) Warm down by jogging again for 30 mins. Drink lots of water afterward.

6) After exercising, see if you can find some fruits and vegetables. In the winter, produce is much harder to find, but even some apples and a banana is better than potatoes and rice which are more often consumed in cold weather. Your body wants to gain weight in winter, so starchy foods are more common. You can fight it with a healthy diet, but it must include winter weather exercising.

Having access to a gym can help, but its not really necessary. I find going to the gym takes too long, as I have to drive from work, to the gym, in the freezing snow, and then exercise, then get into cold car again and drive home. I think its much easier to have a home routine in the winter, which avoids an extra trip in the snow.