“Do not waste time idling or thinking after you have set your goals.”
Miyamoto Musashi translated by Stephen F. Kaufman

The Martial Artist’s Book of Five Rings

We are getting exhausted at maintaining an ugly world


It’s been a while since I’ve heard Charles Eisenstein talking … in The Fertile Ground of Bewilderment it feels like a fresh wave of crystallization is passing through him:

“… the core is changing … interbeing is the truth. We can only surpress it at great and growing effort, until we become exhausted. It’s like a parking lot covered in cement … if you don’t constantly maintain it in a state of ugliness then beauty will errupt. Dandelions will come up, it will crack and in fifty years it will be beautiful. And we are getting exhausted now at maintaining an ugly world.”

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Hotair Ballooning


Iulia and I joined her sister (and a couple of her friends) to visit a hot-air balloon festival which takes place regularly this year not too far from us (~2 hour drive). Fortunately (because we did not register in advance and because morning flights were cancelled due to climate conditions) we were able to get places on a balloon.

A couple of test balloons (party sized, not people sized) were released by the event organizer and it was decided that we could not take off from the festival grounds because winds would have carries us into forest areas where there is no place to land … so we got into cars and drove out ~8km … where we stopped in a field, and another test balloon was launched … and it was decided that this location wasn’t good either … we drove back a bit to  another location … apparently this a routines part of hot-air ballooning.


In the next field the 3 balloon teams started unpacking20160923_175139


and doing some  navigation planning





then out came fans which started to blow air into the balloons20160923_180509

I was too preoccupied taking pictures to help but Iulia wasn’t …





Finally, when there was enough air in it was time to activate those powerful burners


… and pretty soon the balloon was upright and we were inside it


… one balloon took of before us 20160923_181922

… then another balloon took of 20160923_182027

… and finally we were going up



… and the ground quickly started moving away


and we got a whole new perspective of the area we were in20160923_182637

We were a group of 3 balloons in radio contact. If I understood correctly navigating a balloon is done by changing altitude. Wind strength and direction is different at different altitudes. In choosing the balloon’s altitude the captain is actually choosing what winds will be carrying the balloon. Sometimes we were up and and sometimes down. Sometimes we couldn’t easily tell if a neighboring balloon was coming down or we were going up



The flight was short 20-30 minutes … a small tree (behind the balloon in the picture below) got in the way or our landing … and the spot we were in wasn’t really accessible by car … so when the driver finally arrived (found us) the team started moving the balloon down the hill … the captain was gently adding heat and the other two were dragging the balloon towards the car …





until the two were oneo again and the balloon started coming down20160923_185800


… and if like we were, you too are wondering how that thing is deflated … you can gradually folded it from the basket end … but our team had what looked like a massive twisted exhaust pipe which did the trick … though is not as easy to use as one would think it is … looked like tough work20160923_190712



and then the balloon was repacked … and that was ALMOST the end of that 20160923_191126

because the team that was flying Iulia’s sister had an even less fortunate landing that involved an oak tree that wouldn’t give … and way up the hill where their car couldnt’ reach either … so it had to be started up again and as with our balloon had to be carried a much longer way down the hill where it too was folded and packed … here it is being fired up again20160923_193308

so we arrived back at the festival grounds late and hungry … but with a sweet experience of flying in a hot-air balloon 🙂

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Basecamp Company Spinoff


A beautiful example that business CAN be made simple and sweet:

“But first, there are a million ways to spin-off a company. And most of them are fucking complicated. Complicated stuff is anathema to us at Basecamp, so anything messy, extensively lawyer-y, protracted, knotty, or otherwise elaborate was off the table. So what was simple?

… So we decided to give Claire half of it. We’d own 50%, she’d own 50%. Her 50% wouldn’t cost her anything.

We wanted her, she was up for the challenge, and the money that she would have to normally come up with to buy-in wasn’t an amount that mattered enough to us to put any hurdles in the way of making it happen. Plus, we didn’t have to mess around with silly valuations either. Why complicate things?

We’d maintain that 50/50 partnership until she generated $1,000,000 in new sales. It could take 3 weeks, it could take 3 months, it could take 3 years. The $1,000,000 was cumulative — she’d hit it whenever she hit it. And when she did, we’d flip the partnership in her favor. She’d now own 75%, and we’d own 25%. And that’s how it would run in perpetuity.”

The source post includes the actual term sheet:

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Failed Attempts at Negative Interest


First I came across this article about negative interest spotted in the wild. I was surprised to see this manifest so soon. Things seem to be moving faster.

But then I came across this even more interesting article about negative interest backfiring. Basically a person who just manages to get by from a monthly income and is trying to save for retirement, watches with worry, when any saving she is able to set aside (without investing it in any risk-related monetary tools) shrinks due to negative interest.

There seems to be a conflict between the underlying story of negative interest and the underlying story of prevalent money / economics. The latter is a story of unlimited economic growth – a growth imperative rooted in interest is built into it. Negative interest, however, comes from a story in which money is in a constant state of healthy flow – systems of either steady-state or degrowth economics. It seems that prevalent economic, in its religious clnging to the growth imperative, is trying to subvert negative interest for its own means – to induce economic growth. But apparently that is not working.

To get an idea of what an alternative “retirement fund” could be we need to look past money and to reflect about the functions we expect it to provide. Lets say that when I retire I want to know that I will have a place to live, access to good food and people who will be able to support and care for some of my needs as I become less able to do so myself. What if instead of setting aside money to be able to buy these things in the future I could invest money I currently have in social enterprises that would create infrastructure that could provide me with those services. The level of my investment in these services would determine the level of service that could be made available for me when I retire

Near zero interest rates and a destablized global economy make it very difficult to create money-based savings for retirement. Now imagine negative interest applied in such a world. Instead of worrying about future value of money or watching it lose its value sitting in a savings account would it not be a better option to invest it in social enterprises that would provide me what I would like to have when I retire?

It seems we are arriving at negative interest for wrong reasons – to extend the myth of econmoic growth. That may lead to a deeper problem: that we then dismiss negative interest as a failed tool and reject it in the future. I hope we can realize and discern that the conditions are not yet right for negative interest. That it is better understood as a tool that needs to be applied in the context of other tools and changes … in service of transforming the underlying story of money instead of prolonging the one that is currently failing us.

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Paul Romer: The Trouble With Macroeconomics


“… Macroeconomics, he argues, is like a science that has not only stalled for three decades, but has actually gone backwards in its ability to understand reality.

In the late 1970s, as the old certainties of Keynesianism collapsed, a new generation of economists moved the discipline on to the terrain of super-abstract equations. Their assumption was that the economy tends towards equilibrium, and that only unpredictable shocks from outside the system can disturb it. Since the shocks come from outside, for the purposes of these mathematical models, the economist has to imagine what they might be. In The Trouble With Macroeconomics, Romer mocks these imaginary disruptions …

Romer is a doyen of the profession, and from the heart of the US academic mainstream. His attack on some of the most esteemed and influential economists of our time is a big thing …

… Romer, scathingly, calls this “post-real” economics, and suggests a horribly simple explanation for its popularity: human frailty … over-confidence, “an unusually monolithic community”, near-religious group loyalties, a tendency to disregard results that don’t match the theory – and too little consideration of the risks of being wrong.

This is not just a problem for economics. Romer says the parallels between bad physics and bad economics suggest there might be a “general failure mode” in any discipline that becomes over-reliant on maths. Basically, the kudos goes to people at the cutting edge of designing mathematical models, not to those whose models match reality. If Romer is right, there are big implications for the way governments and central banks make policy. Instead of abstract models, you would need something much closer to reality – and, with the rise of computer simulation technologies, that is close at hand.

… In an agent-based model, you don’t try to work out whether a million people will, on aggregate, buy more bread or less bread. You create a million digital “people” and unleash them in world with digital bread and digital money.”


Paul Romer – The Trouble With Macroeconomics

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