“In order to see truth, we must be able to tolerate it.”
August Sandler

Bernard Lietaer on Greece: Two Currencies?

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Bernard Lietaer is in a position to offer a refreshing perspective because he is both a mainstream economist who was involved in the creation of the Euro and a thought leader in the world of alternative currencies. In this interview you will hear him bring up interesting points:

  1. That the original design of the Euro did not include a change in the relationships between central banks and governments … that was a last minute addition (I wonder what political machinations brought that development about).
  2. There are examples of countries operating with two currencies. One example is Switzerland with its national currency and an 80 year old business-to-business currency called the WIR. The other example is the UK where businesses can manage their books in both pounds and euros.
  3. Iceland took another approach to the economic crisis: it allowed banks to go under, put bankers in jail and is now operating a government controlled currency (instead of a bank-debt-based currency).
  4. The ubiquity of mobile phones means that a door is open for new alternative currencies based on information technology.

Almost every answer he gives challenges the mainstream conversation and introduces outside-the-box thinking:

Posted in AltEco, Greece, Intake, Money, outside | Tagged | You are welcome to add your comment

Greece and (economic) Growth

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“… a sustainable debt reduction is only feasible if the economy grows …”

source

but what if growth is over or nearly over? even the robust German economy may be showing signs of slowing down … so what can be expected of Greece? could that also explain the position of people like the German finance minister … are they catching a glimpse of the coming storm and heading into their national shelters (and leaving Greece to fend for itself)?

Greek leaders are making an effort to reframe this crisis in a European context (which I believe is a correct effort) however what if you go beyond that and look at a global context that also goes beyond just money and finance? That is what I was hinting at when I wondered if Greek leaders are aware of the depth of the challenge they are facing. I suspect that even a complete, unconditional debt forgiveness will not qualitatively change the situation (though it may buy a delusional period of relief). I suspect that the Greeks are maybe the first to taste the end of growth and its social, political, financial and cultural implications.

Posted in AltEco, Greece, Intake, Money, outside | Tagged | You are welcome to add your comment

Nature & Shopping Malls

n

A somewhat ironic realization came to me from my experience of living close to nature. I enjoy having nature around me (much more than an urban environment). However I enjoy it more while being indoors. I don’t feel welcome in nature, I feel discomfort. Sometimes I even feel threatened by nature. Nature is not a familiar environment for me … though I am working on it (I am writing this on a new roofed deck I built where I be somewhere in between outside and inside.

That irony was amplified when I realized something about my relationship with shopping malls. My visits to the city are rare and functional … I only go when I need to do something or bring something from the city. Frequently my visits will include a stop in a shopping mall (though I avoid them if I can) due to the comfort of having several kinds of shops in one place. When I enter a shopping mall my legs become heavy and I move fast so I can leave as soon as possible. Yet at the same time there is something comfortable about it for me. The shopping mall is a familiar environment to me. Even though I don’t like it, I know how it works, I know how to make it work for me … I can get around in it.

In many ways these two realizations frame a transition I am experiencing in life. From something familiar that I dislike and distrust to something in which I feel at home but I don’t know my way around yet.

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Power of Story: Knee, Knowledge, Faith

n

Over the years I have come to believe that illness moves through my body. It may initially manifest in in place with primary symptoms and then it travels inside my body (with symptoms changing and manifesting in different places) until it leaves (often through my digestive system). I don’t visit doctors and don’t use western medications. I do, when I can, support my body through nutrition and natural products (teas, salves, etc.).

A couple of weeks ago I started feeling relief from my month of allergy (slight symptoms are still with me but reducing every day). The “travels” began when my throat and to of my mouth started feeling agitated, eating and swallowing was uncomfortable. There was a day or two of slight, barely noticeable improvement, but then the next day it was suddenly all better.

That same day something happened to my left knee. It started hurting a lot. I could move around however any movement in my knee caused immediate, sharp breath-taking pains. As long as it was still, in many positions, it was fine, but moving it, even the slightest bit, was extremely painful.

Side note: I lay down to explore the knee with some movement. When lying on my back, folding the knee and bringing it in over my chest was an impossible task. However, lying on my side, I could repeat that movement, with care, with almost no pain.

I managed to get myself through the day and bring myself to rest in the evening. It had gotten worst. When I sat down on the couch I wasn’t sure I would be able to get up again (I could, but had to avoid moving my knee doing it).

Then came night. I was still carrying a certain restlessness from many sleep deprived or disrupted nights due to the allergy. Now I had to be careful not to move … any unconscious movement resultd in immediate pain. I had many waking hours that night. During those hours my mind had to plenty of opportunity to kick in and I witnessed a fascinating dance between two stories that I apparently carry with me.

One story is the western / medical / anatomical / biological view. My Yoga training had given me enough knowledge to appreciate what an elaborate and subtle joint the knee is and what the pains I was experiencing could indicate. My speculative conclusions were frightening. I don’t trust doctors and medicine. I have no medical insurance and it would take a lot of suffering to expose myself to them especially here in Romania. I was scared.

Another story if a spiritual outlook that my body and consciousness are constantly striving towards health and wellness. I have faith in that. Faith is something else that I got from my Yoga training and practice. This story came to the surface as if to meet the first story that was scaring me.

These two stories danced inside me all night. I was fascinated by their power regardless of what was actually happening inside me and manifesting through my knee. The western story was inducing fear, worry and tension. The spiritual story as inducing faith, trust and relaxation … and I went back and forth between them all night.

I also realized that my life settings are more supportive and bringing out the spiritual story. Because I don’t have (easy) access to doctors and medical care I can’t intervene and act … the default doing is therefor caring, giving attention and waiting (instead of running to the doctor, diagnosing and intervening).

I may never know what happened to my knee. I do know that these two stories are inside me and can effect me greatly.

The next day was another day of knee pain. The following day the pains disappeared as suddenly as they came. A softer version of the pain appeared a few days ago and there is still an echo of it in my knee.

Posted in About, Expanding, inside, Myself | Tagged | You are welcome to add your comment

Society and Science through the lens of Climate Change

n

More evidence that the objectivity of science is more elusive then most people want to believe:

“… climate scientists have been so distracted and intimidated by the relentless campaign against them that they tend to avoid any statements that might get them labeled “alarmists”

The problem was that Box was now working for the Danish government, and even though Denmark may be the most progressive nation in the world on climate issues, its leaders still did not take kindly to one of its scientists distressing the populace with visions of global destruction. Convinced his job was in jeopardy only a year after he uprooted his young family and moved to a distant country, Box was summoned before the entire board of directors at his research institute. So now, when he gets an e-mail asking for a phone call to discuss his “recent gloomy statements,” he doesn’t answer it.

… ‘I think most scientists must be burying overt recognition of the awful truths of climate change in a protective layer of denial (not the same kind of denial coming from conservatives, of course)’ …

… and for their pains the scientists themselves—the cruelest blow of all—have been the targets of an unrelenting and well-organized attack that includes death threats, summonses from a hostile Congress, attempts to get them fired, legal harassment, and intrusive discovery demands so severe they had to start their own legal-defense fund, all amplified by a relentless propaganda campaign nakedly financed by the fossil-fuel companies.

… consumption and growth have become so central to our sense of personal identity and the fear of economic loss creates such numbing anxiety, we literally cannot imagine making the necessary changes. Worse, accepting the facts threatens us with a loss of faith in the fundamental order of the universe.

… there’s a growing, ever-stronger antiscience sentiment in the U. S. A. People get really angry and really nasty.”

source

Still, I believe this perspective deserves more depth. According to Robert Pirsig during the 20th century a battle was fought between social morality (superficial politeness, political correctness, etc.) and intellectual morality (acting based on what you think is right instead of based on what others think is right and as a consequence what others will think of you).

“A society that tries to restrain the truth for it’s own purpose is a lower form of evolution than a truth that restrains society for it’s own purpose. Victorians repressed the truth whenever it seemed socially unacceptable …”

Social status was supposed to be replaced by intellectual status but social moral resisted. The opposite happened … intellectual status was dragged down to social status (a PhD became more of an honorary social badge then an indicator of intellectual pursuit) leaving us with both corrupt social morals AND corrupt intellect (the hippie movement rebelled and undermined both!) … and that is where we are stuck. Caught in a corrupted, deluded intellect, feeling nice about ourselves while dangerously misinformed (and acting accordingly).

To me this isn’t just theory. It points to where actions can be best leveraged. It demonstrates that issues such as American racism and climate change have common root-causes. It indicates that we need to reject superficiality and niceties and replace them with depth and purpose. We need to respect that this kind of mental shift is more accessible earlier in life then later. I, in my early forties, who have placed my life into demanding and challenging change, can already sense, even if slight, an inclination to slow down and settle into established patterns. This means that younger generations are key to change. It isn’t political discourse, even amidst undeniable crisis, that is going to create political critical mass for change. It is in conversations over family dinners where a younger generation equipped with depth, knowledge, care and (non-violent) communication skills will replace empty, cynical, repeating political arguments with meaningful, insightful dialogue. As I write this I think of disassociated youth and realize they are a sign of progress – they are no longer buying into empty superficiality. The question is then how to introduce them to meaningful purpose … how to inspire?

However this is a double-edged sword. Intellect needs to be liberated from society, but at the same time it needs to be placed in the service of heart … otherwise intellects runs amok.

 

Posted in AltEco, Intake, Intellect Run Amok, outside | You are welcome to add your comment

Successful Customer Support

n

“… Even the most reactive, labor-intensive ticket represents an opportunity to earn goodwill with your customers. When you nail that experience you can create a ripple effect across revenue, social media, and the broader marketplace. That is customer support … Customer support, when done well, is a career. Every conversation, whether it’s reactive or proactive, is an opportunity to learn from your customers. “

Andrew Spittle via Matt Mullenweg

Posted in AltEco, Business, Intake, Open Source, outside, Tech Stuff, Wordpress | You are welcome to add your comment

Debt is Risk

n

It is amazing how this basic truth, that every capitalist knows, about debt is veiled from public consciousness when it suits creditors:

“From the beginning, Merkel and the EU have operated from the position that because Greece took on debt, Greece now needs to pay it back. That position assumed — bizarrely, in hindsight — that debt works only one way: If you lend someone money, that money is repaid.

But that is NOT how free markets work.

Debt is not a guarantee of future payments in full. Rather, it is a risk that creditors take, in hopes of maybe being paid tomorrow.

The key word there is “risk.”

If you’re willing to take the risk, you’ll get a premium — in the form of interest.

But the downside of that risk is that you lose your money. And Greece just called Germany’s bluff.”

source

Posted in Business, Greece, Intake, Money, outside | Tagged | You are welcome to add your comment

Crisis: Taking a Stance

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Though its 2 or 3 years old this talk by Maria Scordialos feels even more relevant on this day that Greece is holding its referendum. Two ideas shimmered for me in her talk:

  1. That the word for “crisis” in Greek does not mean something broken or tragic but that it means taking a stance.
  2. That the crisis Greece is experiencing is practically forcing it to become ecological … that relationships and community is being forced upon a society who’s history has nurtured separated individuals.

I discovered her yesterday in a talk with Charles Eisenstein where she raises an interesting point I have wondered about too … how conscious are the current Greek leaders of the shift in story that is manifesting through them?

Offered in respect for the hardships that Greeks have endured on behalf of us all.

Posted in AltEco, Greece, Intake, Money, outside | Tagged , | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

Obama’s Stealth Startup

n

It seems that Obama has launched an interesting information technology experiment: the United States Digital Services program. In large part thanks to the fiasco of the original Healthcare.gov launch after which a small group of Silicon Vally tech experts were hired to get the job re-done. Open-source goes to government?

via Matt Mullenweg

 

Posted in AltEco, Design, Intake, outside, Tech Stuff | You are welcome to add your comment

Euro as “Creative Destruction”

n

Can it be that the Greek (and Portugal and Spain and … ) crisis is inherently built into the design of the Eurozone?

“The euro would really do its work when crises hit … Removing a government’s control over currency would prevent nasty little elected officials from using Keynesian monetary and fiscal juice to pull a nation out of recession … It puts monetary policy out of the reach of politicians … [And] without fiscal policy, the only way nations can keep jobs is by the competitive reduction of rules on business”

from the Guardian: Robert Mundell, evil genius of the Euro

 

Posted in Greece, Intake, Intellect Run Amok, Money, outside | You are welcome to add your comment

Spring Allergy

n

Since being in Romania I’ve been dealing every year with an almost month-long period of allergy. When nature comes into abundance (and the air is filled with pollen) my body responds with disproportionate self-defense. I use faith, curiosity and loads of patience to deal with it, no medication. I am trying to signal to my body and my consciousness that everything is OK and that there is no need to respond with such intensity. I don’t use any medication. I am hoping that over the years a change will occur.

This year I arrive at my potential allergy season with a few preparations in place:

  1. I was in the midst of a continuous and quality period of practice including advances in my pranayama practices.
  2. I was in a relatively stable emotional state with less potential obstacles to effect me.
  3. I was drinking mallow tea (together with nettles and yarrow) from the day it grew enough for me to harvest, after discovering last year that it eases my breathing quite a bit.
  4. I was starting to introduce into my diet some wild weeds.

It seemed to work … there was no sign of allergy, despite plenty of flowering and pollen in the air, until the end of May. Then at the beginning of June it erupted. Though I can’t definitively correlate the two there seemed to have been a triggering event. I went out one night to a movie screening during the TIFF (Transilvania International Film Festival). It was an outdoor screening, at night (when I am usually already winding down). It was a cold night and I arrived home late at night (and the movie was the disappointing documentary about Kurt Cobain). I woke up the next morning with noticeable allergy symptoms.

It is now the end of June and the symptoms are finally winding down. The main expression of the allergy was in my breathing. My nasal passages seem to be inflamed because there is very little congestion and yet my breathing was blocked. As a result I experienced many sleepless nights. Though I was usually able, with patience and a constant flow of tea, to find some rest, there was an accumlative effect of restlessness during this period.

I quickly lost access to my on-the-mat practice. I tried holding on to it in the first days but my breath could not support a practice. Trying to practice made my breathing worst. About a week ago I started consciously sampling my breath and found that if I took a deep ujjayi breath it collapsed into coughing. Yesterday was the first time I was able to practice since this episode started. It was in the second half of the day (my morning and evening breath is still disrupted) and because of the rain I was indoors (instead of being outside working on the new deck).

My breath did NOT deteriorate into asthmatic symptoms which was a definite improvement over last year. I came close to a bit of asmathic trumpet-wheezing two or three times, but was able to softly care for and contain it so it did not escalate.

I feel there was an improvement. Next year I will try to be more caring and avoid any potential triggering events during this period of the year (which means a further increase in my already monastic tendencies). I hope my diet will continue to evolve and include more wild edibles. And I am curious to see if there is an improvement over the years.

 

Posted in About, Myself, Yoga, Yoga & I | Tagged | You are welcome to read 2 comments and to add yours

Stop Crying

n

and in my dream I was sitting on the floor, unpacking my back pack
my back was to the door but I felt him walking in behind me
in an obvious way he walked past me and into the room
he started singing and I, and others in the room, joined him
I sang fully, not in a whisper as I usually do
when we reached the words “brother, brother …” tears of surrender flowed from my eyes
those tears carried me out of my dream but only half way into waking
in that in between place I felt him come behind mehe put his hand gently on my shoulder
he said to me in his soft, ringing voice “stop crying”
it was a strange kind of soft command, not demanding, but inevitably inviting
his words completed my journey into waking
I lay in bed awake in the early dawn
I was peace

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Paul Ford – What is Code?

n

An enteraining read (warning: 38,000 words) on what code / software is –  “It’s a comedy of ego, made possible by logic gates”. My interest in the people and culture behind code pulled out this quote:

“Coding is a culture of blurters. This can yield fast decisions, but it penalizes people who need to quietly compose their thoughts, rewarding fast-twitch thinkers who harrumph efficiently. Programmer job interviews, which often include abstract and meaningless questions that must be answered immediately on a whiteboard, typify this culture. Regular meetings can become sniping matches about things that don’t matter.”

via Matt Mullenweg

Posted in Business, outside, Tech Stuff | You are welcome to add your comment

Thanks to Peacemakers

n

Fresh from Charles Eisenstein … read the entire post for the backstory:

“It has taken a journey for us to reach this place, and the future may hold new challenges … To get here, we had to let go of all kinds of victim stories, hurts and resentment, reasons why one is right and another wrong … what feels more true to me is that we are being carried by a wave of change, a wave of transcendence, a wave of peacemaking … Deep thanks to you, peacemakers … “

 

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Greece and Changing the Rules

n

It seems that the standoff between Greece and its creditors is reaching yet another critical point. What shimmered for me in this article is:

“At issue is just a €2bn financing gap between what the Greeks are prepared to offer and what the creditors are demanding, but the problem goes deeper into questions of power and rules.”

I think / hope / feel that everyone involved knows that the rules need to change but that very few can contain the extent of this (relatively simple) truth – that it is getting more and more difficult to hide the fact that debt, no matter how you shuffle it around, cannot be repaid. If the creditors do see this (in their private circles) it would mean a devastation of the world as they know it … making it reasonable for them to prefer the devastation of (just) Greece.

I have a feeling that the Greek government do see the problem. They have a unique, first hand perspective on the future outcomes of the currently dominant policies – they are speaking to the rest of the EU (and the rest of the world) from a future that potentially awaits us all. They also seem to realize that the rules can only be gradually changed for those changes to be embraced within the existing socio-political landscape. This is apparent in this post by the Greek finance-minister.

Interestingly it seems that the realities of (European, if not beyond) inter-being are acting as the cohesive and balancing elements in this situation. Greece is already on the edge of the cliff … leaning over the edge, holding on to a rope held by its creditors. Its creditors may think they are on safe ground and can let Greece fall with no harm to them. But the story of the EU may be tying a rope that binds their feet with falling Greece.

I can’t and am not interested in understanding all the financial minutae, however I noticed that the Greek minister is opting for transparency and doing so on a WordPress website (hosted on WordPress.com) and it reached me via Falco Valkenburg on Twitter. The other players seem to think they can hide within the privacy of their power trappings. That, to me is, a valuable indicator of who is siding with the future and who is siding with the past.

Most amazing to me is that this debate isn’t about changing reality itself (the reality of people living their lives) but about how we view that reality. It is a story that is changing … and that story changing is an inevitability. That is why I am more interested in who is clinging and who is changing. For me Greece, BECAUSE it is economically devastated, is a tired scout returning with valuable information about our shared future.

 

Posted in AltEco, Greece, Intake, Money, outside, Wordpress | Tagged | You are welcome to add your comment

Ambitions and Exhales

n

The Hebrew word for Inhale (she-ifa) also means ambition … and so it is that after ambition comes exhale.

 

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Why Efi?

n

Efi, the oldest chicken at Bhudeva, died. I found her unmoving but breathing yesterday and carried her outside to some soft green grass and sunshine, placed her back inside in the evening and found her dead this morning. She had a mixture of grey (her name came from the Hebrew word for gray) and white feathers.

If I remember correctly she was a Bhudeva native … she was first an egg here and then hatched in the first generation of chicks that were born here (though she may be from the initial batch of chicks that Andreea’s aunt gifted us when we moved to Bhudeva). Andreea was still here and she used to spend time with the chickens (more then I did/do). Efi was the chicken that most clearly responded to Andreea’s affections. As a result she, unlike the rest of the chickens, actually came up to people asking for attentions. When I went to give the chickens food in the morning she would come up to me so close that I would have be careful not to step on her. She let me caress her neck (and would lower her head for better access), massage her chest, she would lift her wings for some under-wing touching. More like a dog then a chicken.

Over the last two years I thought about culling her (it wasn’t personal, just flock management) … but didn’t. She hasn’t been productive for a long time. She had to be separated from the main flock because the males would be too hard on her. She had patches of missing feathers and sometimes and raw skin from the males mounting her. She spent the lat couple of months together with an old(ish) male – they became very intimate … like a couple of pensioners. I left the two of them in the barn when I moved the rest of the chickens to pasture. Sometimes I let them out for some sun and grass … but only when I was around to supervise so that they didn’t damage garden plants. He was more active. She would find a comfortable spot to sit … and just sit there. When I was around she sometimes stayed close to me.

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P1070271

Yesterday I felt she was nearing her end. This morning she was gone. I asked myself what to do with her – compost or bury? An answer came: “bury”. I asked myself where? An answer came “next to the experimental swale”. I asked myself now (I had just come out of my morning practice, I wanted to make breakfast and it was raining) or later? An answer came: “now”. So off I went …

I carried her up the hill to the swale and started digging a hole. It then came to me to plant a tree on top of her. I asked myself which tree? An answer came “the acacia tree on the path next to the house”. I started walking in that direction to dig up the tree … on the way I passed the prune orchard and asked myself “how about a prune tree?” An answer came “no”. I continued to the tree but it was too big and too established to dig out and transport. I was sent to another tree on a path that winds up behind the house. It too was established but it was willing to go. I found myself digging and working hard … the rich clay soil is saturated with water … and the tree has strong roots. I had to bring an axe to cut through some of the roots. I got it out … the root system was large with two large stems growing out of it. I dragged the tree with me to the swale and continued digging a larger hole to accommodate the large roots. It was an elongated hole. I placed Efi’s body gently in on one end, covered it with some soil, then added the tree and covered it all.

I got home tired, wet, sweaty and dirty (I had only planned to step out for a short/soft morning round). I got out of my clothes and had a short shower. I dressed in a random selection of mismatched colors. I then resumed my breakfast plans … centered around an omlette with freshly harvested after-the-rain-mushrooms, wild nettles and spinach leaves from the garden. An abundant experience … an abundance which Efi is now a part of.

During all this I was wondering – why? What was so special about Efi? I am not an animal lover … certainly not an emotional one. Why would I delay my breakfast, go out in the rain and mud, carry a dead chicken and an uprooted tree up a hill? Efi’s behavior was not a result of my caring for her … it was Andreea’s relating to her … and THAT was why. Efi was and continues to be a reminder of a quality of relationship that Andreea nurtured. A vibration I deeply appreciate. I didn’t put Efi in the compost pile (where she would have been recycled into nutrients which would have nourished the Bhudeva ecosystem) because I wanted that vibration to cycle more deeply into the ecology of Bhudeva.

An acacia tree signifies a deeper relationship than a prune tree. The prune tree may have have produced fruits for me, but the acacia tree will nurture the soil it grows on and its surrounding ecology creating longer lasting effects. The location is at an experiment of healing and restoration. The tree has two stems sticking out in a V shape … a shape of expansion that Andreea introduced into our life and Bhudeva.

All those vibrations (and more than I am conscious of) resonated through me, through Efi, through Andreea … and into the earth here at Bhudeva … on this delicate, rainy spring morning.

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Matt Mullenweg on GMO’s

n

Matt on GMO’s a comment about a pro-GMO article. I commented on it and am reposting the comment here:

If that is scientific then it would seem that science is broken … and science doesn’t seem to know it.

Science has a clear view on one aspect of climate change: the past. Scientific community is able to study effects of our past actions on the present state of climate and ecosystems. It has much less to say and even less paths-of-action to offer about how to meet and act on the climate change front (and some of what little it has to offer is ecologically even more dangerous).

GMO’s are a relatively new scientific domain. Science and scientists have no way to scientifically say much about the effects of GMO’s because there is little evidence to observe and research. In a generation or two (or ten), assuming of course that GMO’s proliferate, we may have a body of evidence with which scientists can work and draw conclusions about the effects of GMO’s.

Saying that GMO’s are safe / healthy / ecological is speculative and wishful thinking … not scientific. GMO’s are an experiment … and should be treated and presented as such. It is one thing to tell a farmer that we have developed a genetically modified plant that is pest resistant. It is another thing to tell a farmer that we have developed a GM plant that is pest resistant but that we don’t yet know its effects on human health, on soil fertility or on a wider ecosystem.

What about inquiring into why the pests are there in the first place? What if the proliferation of pests is an indication that the ecosystem is out of balance and it needs to be treated. What if that is a signal for us to change our relationship with land and ecology? The GMO intervention, regardless of its biological merit, represents an attitude of manipulating, controlling and overpowering.

That attitude also treats weeds as “pests” … but what makes them weeds is the fact that they are growing where we don’t want them to grow or we want to grow something else. A different view of weeds is that they serve two complementary and valuable functions. First they are indicating that the soil ecology is out of balance… there is too little or too much of something(s) … looking at weeds can tell a knowledgeable about the condition of soil and the life in it. Second they are, by growing in those conditions, working to create a healthier soil ecology by adding missing elements and removing excesses.

It gets even more interesting when you learn that some of those weeds are edible and much more nutritious then cultivated foods. In my climate, at this time of year (early spring) there is still very little cultivated food and what is available comes from greenhouses. However I can go outside and pick a salad from 4 or 5 different “weeds” that are growing abundantly … without me having to plant a single plant.

That shift in attitude toward “weeds” represents a shift away from a deeply rooted underlying mentality of control, manipulation and subversion of nature (and ourselves!) to our will, towards a mentality of co-creation. Working with nature rather then dominating it.

There is scientific evidence that we have been mistreating our soils for a long time. A long time ago someone realized that plowing fields resulted in better yields (the “scientific explanation” was that plants have little mouths and the broken up soil is easier for them to eat). Over the years it became clear that the initial improvement was a short term effect … that the yields did not improve the same way year after year … they actually got worst. So we invented more and more technological interventions to increase yields. Modern agriculture is this stack of interventions … one technological patch on top of another … leading up to petrochemical fertilizers and pesticides … and now that those are failing we are applying more force in the form of genetic modification.

Since then (but fairly recently) microbiology has revealed that plants get their nutrition in chemical exchanges with life in the soil (fungi, bacteria, etc … there is an entire living food chain in soils.). Microbiology also teaches us that every time we plow our soils we injure the life in it. Most agricultural cycles are therefor cycles of soil fertility depletion … and whatever we are giving back (such as cow manure is some of my neighbors do) is not enough … or even causing further destruction of soil life (as is the case with petro-chemical fertilizers).

We are doing something similar to ourselves. I recall that you once posted about research into bacteria. It turns out that our excess technological intervention in our own ecosystem (a living bacterial pool) via antibiotics have left us bacteriologically deficient. Your post linked to a long research paper which, if I remember correctly, stated that because of a drastic increase in c-section, births there is a generation of human beings which are bacteriologically deficient because they have been deprived of exposure to bacteria that takes place during vaginal birth. A technological solution was of course promised … someone will develop a magic pill filled with missing bacteria. Another approach would be to inquire why we are drifting away from natural birth, is that a direction we want to go and if not can we change course?

I worry about GMO not so much because of genetic modification (for which we have little evidence either way) but because of the underlying attitude that leads to simplistic manipulation of complex ecosystems which we are just beginning to grasp. If scientific truth is inherently temporary (science is a process of constantly challenging our theories and replacing them with better ones) … why do we like to treat it as permanent with “truths” such as “GMO’s are safe” or “plowing increases yields” or “antibiotics are god”. Doing so is scientifically wrong!

… and there are other expressions to the GMO story that are worth addressing. A social one … for example: thecompanies that are lading the way in GMO’s are also working to lock in their discoveries with patents. They are trying to take over one of the most obvious commons resource we have been gifted with … nature and food. There are places (like here in Romania) where they are also actively working to pass legislation that will outlaw traditional seed saving and trading. They are working to create a world where it would be illegal for me to save seeds from my own tomatoes and grow tomatoes from them next year. They want to force everyone to buy seeds from them … and those seeds cannot be saved because they have been genetically modified not to grow from second generation seeds AND they (the seeds) are patented and “legally” owned by their producers.

There are other solutions to care for the health and livelihood of peasants in poor countries. Solutions that come with long term vision of human, social and ecological well (and inter)being. A mono-culture crop of a genetically modified plant is one of the poorest technological solutions that mankind has to offer.

… for more on the systemic faults in science I recommend Rupert Sheldrake and The Science Delusion:

… for more on the transformation from a story of controlling and manipulating nature (and ourselves) to a story of interbeing I recommend Charles Eisenstein and Sacred Economics:

“In our journey of separation, we have developed amazing creative tools of technology and culture that would never have existed had we not departed from our original wholeness. Now it remains to recover that wholeness and bring it to a new realm, to create with nanotechnology and social media things of the same life, beauty, and soul that the old masters created with adzes and song. Let us insist on nothing less. For what purpose have our forebears sacrificed, if not to create a beautiful world?”

I also believe that there are interesting examples of how these worlds come together in the ecosystem that makes and is WordPress … but I think I’ll stop here.

Posted in AltEco, Intake, Intellect Run Amok, Open Source, outside, Tech Stuff, Wordpress | You are welcome to add your comment

Decades of Introverts

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In this interesting commentary on Mozilla’s intention to deprecating non-secure HTTP I came across this example of a “developer profile’:

 “In the last couple of decades, the answer to the introvert’s dilemma was easy: get a computer and learn to code. Like a novelist (another popular introvert career path), you can create a new world using only words. Being an introvert is even beneficial here, because writing good code is time-intensive and you don’t have idle socialization competing for your time.

This is where I was as a kid. I couldn’t build physical things, because I’m a klutz and we didn’t have the money for parts. I was socially inept, to say the least. But I could spend time at the school computer lab, and I could borrow time on the PC of a friend who probably only put up with me because we’re both named Ben.

I sometimes worry that I’m stuck in fifth grade, where I got lots of positive feedback for being good at solving little problems and writing code-like things. I certainly still spend most of my time doing things along those lines.

Posted in Intake, Open Source, outside, Tech Stuff | You are welcome to add your comment

Is Social Change (in the USA) Accelerating?

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from This Is How Fast America Changes Its Mind
speedofsocialchange

via Matt Mullenweg

Posted in AltEco, Intake, outside | You are welcome to add your comment