System Domain 6: Paper Making Process

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The paper making process varies by mill and company, but the basic process is relatively uniform, as it has been for many years. Technology has simply made the process more efficient over time.

The first, and likely most obvious, step is to harvest the trees. In the modern process, paper mills oftentimes have their own private land where they plant and harvest trees specifically for paper. The method of harvesting has also become more efficient and healthy for the forest over time. Instead of clear-cutting forests, leaving no species to reseed the land, most foresters use selective cutting.

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Harvested trees waiting to be debarked and chipped in Grand Rapids, MN

The foresters run the harvested trees through a basic trimmer, ensuring that logs sent to the paper mills are relatively uniform and free from branches and needles/leaves. They’re then shipped to the paper mill, where the trees are debarked and chipped.

The chips are then broken down to pulp. The differences in this process can have a large effect on the surrounding community. Paper mills that boil down chips to pulp oftentimes release odorous waste air, which is harmless, but cause the connotation between paper towns and smell. However, some paper mills use chemical or other heated processes which do not release a smell.

The pulp is then washed, cleaned, bleached (depending on its purpose), and coated (also depending on purpose, e.g. newspaper vs. magazine paper). The pulp travels along a wire screen, creating a pulp web, which is squeezed between rollers to finish draining water and create uniform sheets. This process, which is performed in PM, or paper making, machines differs between mills and even individual machines within mills. The Fourdrinier process utilizes a single-sheet process moving along a sort-of conveyor belt, while the gap former process utilizes the gap between two sheets moving in the same direction to create a more efficient type of squeezing and heating.

The semi-dry web is then heated, sometimes during the paper making process (like in the gap former machine), then rolled in large sheets before being cut down to smaller rolls. The smaller rolls are either sent off for consumption or to a printer. Then it is consumed.

Consumed paper is sometimes recycled. The recycled paper that is eligible for the paper making process is oftentimes broken down like the wooden chips to form a pulp and mixed in with wood pulp to create new paper. The percentage indication of recycled material in paper shows how much of the pulp was from recycled material and how much was from freshly-pulped wood.

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System Domain 5: Elevator Call Mechanism

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While not every elevator system has a unified algorithm, a popular system is the Nearest Elevator or Nearest Car (NC) algorithm.

When a call button is pressed, each elevator (if more than one), or one elevator (calculated if more than one call is present) calculates the FS (figure of suitability) score.

If the elevator is moving toward the call and the requested direction is in the same direction that the elevator is moving, the FS score is (N+2)-d, with N = total number of floors -1, and d = distance (in # of floors) from elevator.

If the elevator is moving toward the call, but the requested direction is in the opposite direction of that which the elevator is moving, the FS score is (F+1)-d, with the same variables as the previous equation.

Finally, if the elevator is moving away from the call, FS = 1.

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An elevator algorithm at work: each filled dot on the elevators indicate which call the elevator is going to. Note both direction and location.

The elevator (in the case of more than one elevator in motion) or call (in the case of one elevator with multiple calls) is summoned for the call.

The elevator then moves in the direction of the next call or waits at the last floor it was called to until the next call.

Each element: the human caller, the call button which signals the location and direction of the call, the elevator and its motion, and the buttons inside to indicate future direction/location interconnect using the algorithm and mechanisms to create a (sometimes) efficient mode of vertical travel.

System Domain 4: Okunoshima

 

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I think we can all admit that we’ve seen some weird pop culture from Japan, whether it be maiden cafe, underwear vending machines, or robot sex shows. However, these are not anomalies, as strange as they seem. Japan’s pop culture is a result of unique social and cultural dynamics unlike those seen in the Western world, hence a pop culture unlike the Western world.

One of those strange examples of Japan’s pop culture is actually a result of a biological/social system: Okunoshima, better known as Rabbit Island. Its name isn’t because of a vaguely rabbit-looking geography. It is actually full of rabbits.

Bunnies Attract Tourists To A Japanese Islet Okunoshima
INFESTED WITH RABBITS!!                              (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

During World War II, Okunoshima Island was host to poison gas development and testing for Japan. It was taken off of maps and non-government officials forbidden from visiting to keep it secret. At the end of the war, the island was once again open, but its long-term secrecy meant it wasn’t ever repopulated by humans. Additionally, the poison gas testing ensured that large animals couldn’t survive, whether due to strict security protocol or, well, poison gas. This is one important element in the system that allowed this infestation to begin: no predators for any cute lil’ bunnies.

Two other elements played a role. Obviously, there have to be bunnies on the island in the first place for them to thrive without predators. It’s generally believed that rabbits were on the island for the sake of testing the poison gas, with at least a couple strays left after World War II. Finally, I think we all know the power of bunnies’ reproduction systems.

Now, we have Okunoshima. It turns out, people love islands filled with animals, especially bunnies. Cue tourists flooding into Okunoshima (aka resulting element of rabbit-infested island).

When people care about their bunnies, they want to protect those bunnies. What might normally have been considered an annoying, or at least useless, trait of an island became a tourism center. Those lucky bunnies gained economic and social protection from these tourists, basically ensuring that they would never face a predator on Okunoshima again. (It’s probably pretty fair considering their ancestors faced the trauma of being poison gas testers.)

This protection means that the bunnies will keep being their bunny-loving selves, reproducing like maniacs, and Okunoshima, at least for the near future, will continue to be bunny and bunny-loving human central.

A side element that has emerged from this system is the growth of other animal-infested islands in Japan, including both foxes and cats.

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What those poor island bunnies would have to do if not part of a feedback loop of bunny-loving tourism, surely.

 

System Domain 3: Horror Film Genre Cycle

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Film is not an isolated form of entertainment. It is a living, breathing reflection of the societies within which it is created. Additionally, film has its own systems of creation and re-creation.

An excellent example of the dynamism of film is the system of genre cycles, which define how a film genre is created.

The cycle begins in the experimental stage, where films play with new ideas, beginning to group together common themes. A couple examples in the horror movie genre are films such as The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and NosferatuPut simply, movies in the experimental stage try out different styles, themes, and characters to define what fits well in the genre.

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Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

The next stage of the cycle is the classic stage, when films within the genre begin to follow closely along the norms established in the experimental stage. For example, occult/possession films as a subgenre (to be discussed later) of horror film experienced a classic stage in the ’70s with movies such as The Exorcist and The Omen.

Then, genres enter the age of refinement. In this stage, new stylistic elements/embellishments define films within the stage. In the ’60s, with the rise of counterculture, Texas Chainsaw Massacre used elements of the Vietnam War to embellish the already-existing slasher film subgenre.

The last stage typically discussed in the genre cycle is the baroque stage, or self-reflexive stage. By this point, the genre is so established that the genre themes themselves become the topic of the films. Oftentimes they are comedic, like the Scary Movie series, but are not always, like Cabin in the Woods.

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Cabin in the Woods

However, leaving the genre “cycle” at the baroque stage would actually create a genre timeline, without re-creation of new movies under the genre. Horror as a genre would have died long ago if self-reflexive movies were the end of the genre. Instead, there is a reinforcing feedback loop to ensure its survival as a genre.

At any stage in the cycle, minor changes in the films can lead to the creation of a subgenre, entering the cycle again at the experimental stage. For example, the first slasher film, Peeping Tom, followed the horror genre’s established norms, but with enough change to create a new subgenre, which was experimented with by Alfred Hitchcock and other directors to establish it with its own norms.

This process can also occur with genre mixing, which combine elements of other genres or subgenres to create yet another subgenre. Romantic-horror movies like Warm Bodies combine elements of both the romantic genre and zombie horror subgenre.

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Warm Bodies (aka Zombie Romeo and Juliet)

Place Surrounded by Water Filled with Small Animals with Big Ears

(Explained using only the ten hundred words people use the most often)

In a place surrounded by water, there are lots of small animals with big ears.

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Once there was a big fight. People used this place, which didn’t used to have lots of small animals with big ears, to try out their killing stuff.

Then they left.

There were a couple small animals with big ears left behind because people used these animals to try out their killing stuff on them, instead of trying it out on people.

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These small animals with big ears are also really good at having babies.

Because of this, the place surrounded by water became filled with small animals with big ears.

People like these animals a lot. So they visited the place to see the animals.

They liked the animals so much, they started turning other places surrounded by water into places filled with other small animals.

Also, they wanted the small animals in the first place to keep staying on that place, so they made sure the humans didn’t kill the animals.

The animals just keep having babies and people keep seeing them, even though they once used the animals to try out their killing stuff.

System Domain 2: Alcohol in the Human Body

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Many people experience the system that occurs when a body consumes alcohol, but few understand the elements and interconnections that connect ingestion with drunken effects.

When alcohol enters the body, it goes to the stomach. Unlike other foods and beverages, however, alcohol enters the bloodstream through the stomach wall. This interconnection (alcohol –> bloodstream) can be affected by a few variables. One is the temperature of the alcoholic beverage. Warmer beverages enter the bloodstream rapidly, while colder beverages enter the bloodstream slower. Additionally, concentrated alcohol (such as hard liquors not mixed with non-alcoholic beverages), can irritate the stomach lining. The stomach lining responds by creating a mucous-y protective layer which slows down the absorption of alcohol through the stomach lining. The amount of food in the stomach can also affect this process.

Once in the bloodstream, alcohol dilutes itself depending on water volume. This can be affected by, most obviously, the amount of water in a body. However, it is also the reason that men’s and women’s bodies are affected differently by alcohol consumption. Women’s bodies contain more fat tissue than muscle tissue compared to men’s bodies. Because muscle tissue contains more water than fat tissue, men’s bodies dilute alcohol more efficiently than women’s bodies.

Then, alcohol travels to vital organs. Its effects are most pronounced on organs which contain a large water volume. The brain has a large water volume, which is why people feel “drunk” after consuming alcohol. The liver also has a large water volume, which is why alcohol consumption is connected to liver problems.

System Domain 1: Neoliberalism

 

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Brief disclaimer: this system description covers neoliberalism policy as it has been practiced in recent history in developing economies. Neoliberalist policy can be effective in developing economies the same way that communism can be effective: not in practice/not as we know it.

Neoliberalism (aliases: Washington Consensus, structural adjustment) is a policy that has dominated the world of development since the 1970s. It started after World War II, with the emergence of 1) the United Nations as a governing body, concerned about the matters of the world over the matters of individual countries, however led specifically by the “winners” of World War II, primarily UK/Europe and United States, and 2) Keynesian economics, which pushed the belief that an open market, above all else, is the key to economic success. These two elements together created a connection to neoliberalist policy in developing (formerly known as Third World) countries, initially with the purpose of increasing economic development in these countries.

However, this policy didn’t create its expected outputs. Instead, the resulting element of neoliberalist policy and fragile markets opened to the global economy was the inability of these markets to compete against foreign goods.

For the sake of conceptualization: The United States, as a developed country and UN leader, was never forced to remove tariffs/subsidies for the sake of economic development. As a result, the country had (and still has) many agricultural subsidies, causing very low cost of production of corn. In the NAFTA agreement, Mexico was forced to open its markets to the United States and Canada. However, Mexico does not have the strong subsidies as the United States. The United States then dumped all of its extraneous, subsidized corn onto Mexico’s market (as recently as the late-2000s), making it extremely difficult for Mexican corn to compete, despite its cultural importance. As a result of these policies, Mexico’s economy has suffered. Besides the lost direct economic production lost from the corn market, tax revenues dropped, and Mexico continued to be unable to protect its now nearly-nonexistent corn market. Additionally, if the United States had a spike in corn consumption, Mexico would be unable to make up the difference with its own weak market, causing shortages in corn, an important staple to Mexico’s diet.

This example of the relationship between Mexico and the United States represents the negative outcomes of neoliberalist policy as enforced upon developing countries. However, this is not simply a cause-and-effect system. You might expect that, upon discovering the negative outcomes of neoliberalist policy, the United Nations and developed countries would stop enforcing it. It didn’t.

As development policy as a whole was only just beginning with the implementation of neoliberalist policy, there was little information about the importance of monitoring the interconnection between policy and its effects. It was assumed that a well-thought-out policy would always work, so drops in a country’s economic performance were a result of other interconnections linking to performance. As a result, a reinforcing feedback loop emerged. The more neoliberalism increased, the worse countries performed (albeit slow-moving enough to not be linked to a specific policy unless directly monitored), then the more neoliberalist policies emerged to prevent slow economic performance. The false interconnection between neoliberalist policy and economic development allowed this feedback loop to continue despite the fact that the interconnection was actually negative.

That delay theoretically should have lasted about 10 years before the United Nations (now guided by the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in terms of development policy) figured out that this false interconnection. So why didn’t they stop using it when they found out?

  1. An important discovery: while neoliberalist policy didn’t help out developing countries, it sure did help the developed countries giving out loans to the countries.
  2. An even more important historical development: The lag between the inception of neoliberalist policy and the realization of its true effects meant that the Cold War was hitting peak intensity at about the same time of discovery.

The Cold War was truly an ideological war of communism vs. democracy and, tangentially, socialism vs. capitalism. It was imperative that the capitalist model of development dominated the socialist model of development to secure an ideological win for “First World” countries over “Second World” countries. There was no way that the IMF/World Bank would admit a loss before the war even truly broke out. In addition, there were economic benefits flowing in for First World countries that created the problematic loans enforcing neoliberalist policy (structural adjustment). Failing markets in Africa were an easy hit to take in the name of ideological war.

Back to brief disclosure: this didn’t always happen. A couple countries in Southeast Asia, as well as Argentina, successfully developed under neoliberalist policy. However, nearly the entirety of Africa and most other countries forced into neoliberalist policy saw a worsening of economic, developmental, and environmental performance.

The purpose of the system shifted: every world decision made by the United Nations, IMF, and World Bank was thrown under the name of a “free world.” As a result, the elements of neoliberalism as an ideology and the economic benefits of neoliberalist loans caused a new feedback loop. The more neoliberalism grew as a policy, the more the ideological and economic benefits outweighed the costs.

Despite the change in purpose, the system of neoliberalist developmental policy continued to feed into itself, with little to no to negative development in many countries.

Neoliberalist policy is clearly still a recent problem, despite the end of the Cold War. Part of that is due to the polarization of the Cold War, which created a pervasive belief in the Western world that all that is capitalism is good. Another part is that the IMF and World Bank, for a long time, continued their purpose of serving developed countries over developing countries, attempting to enforce problematic loans instead of reversing the system of structural adjustment. As a result, enough interconnections in the feedback loops which initially increased the use of neoliberalism exist to allow its continuity.

Those interconnections have just begun to break in the past 5-10 years. The IMF and World Bank have been attempting to rebrand their policies and missions, while many developing countries have been pushing back against neoliberalist policies. However, the elements that the policies created for so many years are still strong, despite the interconnections in the system breaking down. It’s safe to say that the last 40 years of development policy were “lost” years that we are only just beginning to mend.