“The music is in effect telling us about a future existence in which love and cooperation have replaced strife and oppression. Once we have achieved a glimpse of that future state, our present mode of life becomes increasingly intolerable: who could be satisified with prison after having breathed the sweet air of true freedom?”
Frank Kofsky

Coltrane: The Story of a Sound

Armies as Market Makers

n

In Debt: The First 5000 Years David Graeber highlights a recurring historical pattern that emerged in different cultures around the world: armies as market-makers. When  a conquering army is sent out it needs a lot of supplies to keep it going. Instead of having to provide supplies kings / emperors / what-nots would 1) pay the soldiers with coins; 2) require peasants (food suppliers) to pay taxes using only those coins; 3) which would force the peasants to provide supplies to soldiers who would pay with said coin which could then be used to pay taxes. As a result, successful conquering armies were correlated with control of mines which would provide the metals needed to press coins.

Then it includes this quote from Kautilya‘s Arthashastra (over 2000 years old):

“The treasury is based upon mining, the army upon the treasury; he who army and treasury may conquer the whole wide earth”

That neatly summed up why I feel Bitcoin is a failed currency from its inception. Bitcoin is a highly centralized system where the kings are engineers. It is bound to become more centralized as mediators such as online-exchanges make the technology available compete for added-value market share.

But more then than, I feel that the most challenging aspect of currency (mainstream or alternative) is the question of backing. I feel it is the most neglected aspect of innovative new currencies. What backs a currency? Time-banking exemplified a good answer (hours of work can be exchanged) but limited in its application because it tramples value (not all hours are equal).

 

Posted in AltEco, Money, outside, Tech Stuff | Tagged | You are welcome to add your comment

Greece: The End of Austerity?

n

It is a somewhat refreshing video … maybe a preview of what is coming when social and political systems are pushed to extremes? There is hope in it … but I also have doubts. Nationalism makes me uncomfortable, passion and slogans don’t last long … but the effects of separation that are built when they are used in politics do accumulate and last.

I don’t trust solutions that are based on an us and them mentality. Us of the south and them of the north … is not a good starting point … and probably incorrect. If there is an us and them in this story … them is more likely to be IMF and other hostile banking institutions that exist beyond nationality. They are hostile everywhere (north and south) and they have vested partners with vested interests everywhere (north and south). And if we are shifting from a nationalistic view to an economic them … then we are all in this together … we are all participants and co-creators (even if passively and by default) of the economic system. As tempting as it may be to think of an “evil them” … I don’t believe that can lead to substantial change.

I would like to see a new kind of awakening. An awakening that is soft-spoken, that looks inwards, that takes responsibility, that sees connection and relatedness, that demands inner change (in addition to outer change). Can existing socio-political systems manifest and carry such expression? I don’t know.

One thing is for sure … what is happening in Greece may be a potential beginning of an end to austerity … at best.

GREECE: THE END OF AUSTERITY? from Theopi Skarlatos on Vimeo.

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

A Glimpse into the Dark Web

n

From Deep Web Marketplaces

“One user put down the address of his local post office as a shipping address instead of his home. As a recipient, instead of his name he submitted “Holder of Federal Reserve Note number #NNNNN”, #NNNNN being the serial number of a dollar bill in his possession. Apparently he went to the post office holding the bill, correctly identifying himself as the holder of that federal reserve note, and was given the package”

I don’t think this is a glimpse of the future. It’s a glimpse of what the future may look like if we stay on the course we are on now. I hope that course will change and the future with it.

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

Love and Pain

n

My grandmother finally parted with her body on Tuesday the 20th of January 2014. She suffered a lot, not just in her last years, but over the course of her life … is it alright to say too much? She was a fighter, a strong woman … and in the end that strength worked against her. It colluded with her fear of dying and kept her fiercely attached to a withering body.

I don’t have access to childhood memories (I am not a very good rememberer at all). I was her first grandchild and she was with me a lot during my early years … when my parents were still getting started in their own adult lives and had me too. I don’t remember that. I do remember that in my teen years, she brought it up … a lot … too much. At one point I got the impression that she (and my grandfather) were doing some kind of accounting … that their investment in my early life was supposed to pay off in my mature life. That accounting turned me off. It also came during a time of intense and painful awakening … and so I distanced myself. I did not want to be in an accounting relationship.

I was never a “good grandson” … I was never a “good anything”. I was raw. Later, with time and distance I also became present and honest. Later, direct. She loved me, she loved my eyes. She didn’t know how to say it … she always said, with a cynical twist on love that “she hated me so much”.

I saw her only a few times in recent years, she living in Israel, me in Romania. My parents often spoke of her deteriorating clarity, though that was not my impression when I communicated with her. She became more distant, conversations were shorter, there was less outwards moving interest … but I did not feel less clarity. I felt her present, I felt her joking … I felt her fear … I felt her pain.

A few months ago, during a Skype conversation, I asked her how she felt. The only answers she had to give were about her physical condition. Feeling, as in what is in your heart, was not part of her story and expression. The last time I saw her was ~10 months ago. As her situation continued to deteriorate my parents asked /suggested that I come and see her. Whenever I held that question inside the answer was no. I am not keen on travelling, I am not keen on travelling to Israel … but mostly I felt connected to my grandmother. I was with her, she was with me. Whenever I passed air through the Shakuhachi it was with her, for her … a vibration I sent out to the cosmos as a bookmark … so that we may find each other again. I felt that going to Israel would have narrowed that experience down to a limited physical interaction.

She was a powerful spirit. Though she could not speak her heart, in the 24 hours that came before she left her body her spirit traveled the planet and touched her kin. She visited my older sister in the night. She asked Andreea to light a candle. She removed from my younger sister’s neck a necklace she gave her that my sister never takes off. She summoned her son, my father’s brother (my father is a more mind-centered person like his father was, his brother is a more heart-centered person like his mother was) to a short “unplanned” visit to her bedside which is when she exhaled for the last time, with him at her side.

The evening before (or possible the evening before that) I felt compelled to listen to music in hebrew … specifically to this song:

Empires Fall Slowly

A child sits in the living room doing his homework
He doesn’t hear the doorbell ringing
At the same time that Athens invades Troy
Father arrives holding a box of cookies and a newspaper

Mother whispers secrets in father’s ear
A child picks up fragments of the conversation
Alexander the great has conquered half the continent
Father says that half of the salary has gone

And in the pages of time that has been lost
People end suddenly
Empires fall slowly

everything will be OK Father assures
Mother responds with a smile
An empire’s soldier has arrived at the edge of the continent
A child dreams of battles that have been and battles that have yet to come

And in the pages of time that has been lost
People end suddenly
Empires fall slowly

It’s a song that has always touched me yet this time tears started pouring … leaving my drained and settled. The next day Annelieke and I were outside cutting wood and my phone rang. My phone rarely rings. It was from Israel, it was my grandmother’s home phone. I knew it wasn’t her. My father was on the other end of the line already supported by the technicalities of dying,  police had just walked into the apartment so he was brief, he said to me “grandmother isn’t suffering anymore”.

In a time where I feel found inside and lost in the world, my grandmother’s passing is making feel a little bit lost inside and a little bit found in the world. All I could / can think of when connecting with my grandmother since is Andreea and Ma’ayan.

Posted in Expanding, inside, Israel, Romania, Shakuhachi | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

What causes addiction?

n

“The experiment is simple. Put a rat in a cage, alone, with two water bottles. One is just water. The other is water laced with heroin or cocaine. Almost every time you run this experiment, the rat will become obsessed with the drugged water, and keep coming back for more and more, until it kills itself.

But in the 1970s, a professor of Psychology in Vancouver called Bruce Alexander noticed something odd about this experiment. The rat is put in the cage all alone. It has nothing to do but take the drugs. What would happen, he wondered, if we tried this differently? So Professor Alexander built Rat Park. It is a lush cage where the rats would have colored balls and the best rat-food and tunnels to scamper down and plenty of friends: everything a rat about town could want. What, Alexander wanted to know, will happen then?

In Rat Park, all the rats obviously tried both water bottles, because they didn’t know what was in them. But what happened next was startling.

The rats with good lives didn’t like the drugged water. They mostly shunned it, consuming less than a quarter of the drugs the isolated rats used. None of them died. While all the rats who were alone and unhappy became heavy users, none of the rats who had a happy environment did.

After the first phase of Rat Park, Professor Alexander then took this test further. He reran the early experiments, where the rats were left alone, and became compulsive users of the drug. He let them use for fifty-seven days — if anything can hook you, it’s that. Then he took them out of isolation, and placed them in Rat Park. He wanted to know, if you fall into that state of addiction, is your brain hijacked, so you can’t recover? Do the drugs take you over? What happened is — again — striking. The rats seemed to have a few twitches of withdrawal, but they soon stopped their heavy use, and went back to having a normal life. The good cage saved them.”

source

 

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

Charlie Hebdo

n

I was still living at home … late teens or early twenties. It was a Saturday morning. I was still in bed in my room. I could hear my father helping my younger sister with her math homework. He was explaining vigorously (both my sisters and I ended up crying more than once under the burden of my fathers helping explanations) and she wasn’t getting it. It was escalating. I heard him raise his voice, almost shouting to her something like “how can you not understand?” It concluded with my sister not understanding … and crying. I jumped out of bed, sped out of my room and went to yell at my father. I was angry at him for attacking her.

HE was the more mature, more knowledgeable, more experienced, more responsible, more evolved human being. HE wanted to help her. HE failed to do so … he couldn’t find an explanation she could understand. HE was confused and frustrated because she wasn’t understanding him. HE chose to escalate, using more force thinking that would lead to understanding. HE chose to blame her for not understanding. HE failed to take responsibility for not being able to explain himself. HE tried to blame a young girl for his failure.

Almost all the views I’ve met (from what little media I consume) about the recent attack on Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris seems to dance around Islam. I’d never heard of Charlie Hebdo before so the first time I had a taste of some of its published works was in this article. I was disturbed by the images … not of the attack … but of the cartoons.

In my reflections on Israel I have stated that I believe that a cultural struggle is taking place. It isn’t just between Muslims and Jews. In Israel itself I see it between orthodox Judaism and secular people too. In my current village I see different flavors of Christianity as a limiting force (brings thought and debate to dead-ends). Islam seems to be gathering more attention on the global stage than other religions (though that may be a function of global attention rather then Islam), but the struggle that is taking place is beyond religion. It is also not about civilization (as this article frames it) … but about older civilizations and newer civilizations.

I believe the makers of Charlie Hebdo come from a newer and better civilization than the civilization that the three murderers came from. I do believe that a civilization that upholds free speech is better than a civilization that does not (and that a civilization that uses free speech responsibly is better than a civilization that uses it callously). I also believe that a more advanced civilization has a responsibility towards a less advanced civilization. I believe it is the more developed civilization that is responsible for caring for the less developed. It is up to the people who have learned the value of free speech to communicate it to those who have not.

The cartoons of Charlie Hebdo tell me that responsibility was neglected. Their cartoons are a violent form of communication. It doesn’t matter how true or noble or valuable their ideas are if they are violently communicated. It didn’t matter that my father knew mathematics, it did matter that he was unable to communicate his knowledge to my sister.

The struggle that is represented in this tragic event is very real. It is a battle between ideas and the outcome is inevitable … old, obsolete, irrelevant ideas are going to die. But does this struggle have to be violent, do we have to live within violent metaphors of war?

Can we choose to live in a story where we are all part of a continuous evolution of human society? Can we choose to treat each other (especially those less privileged to live in circumstances that induce evolution) with respect? Can we collectively remember that the more advanced forms of civilization we are striving for rest on the shoulders of the civilization we are leaving behind? Can we care for our older ideas (as we care of our elders) and put them to rest peacefully instead of murdering them violently?

When I posted this image I did not know it related to the Charlie Hebdo incident … I thought it was a good metaphor for much of what is breaking in the world.

yesterdaytodaytomorrow

It seems to be a popular meme  that a pencil is mightier than a gun. If that is the case then can it be that a cartoon that murders an idea is as if not more violent than a gun that murders a man?

“Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth.”

Pema Chödrön

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

Information in Transition (IIT) Workshop

n

This workshop was an idea that Annelieke and I wanted to bring to life during my visit to Portugal in the summer of 2014. It didn’t take place. However this document continues to tell a story that has been slowly circulating in email channels. It is published here to make it more accessible and relatable.

Click here to download a PDF version

A 3-day workshop exploring how to support information communication in our local and national Transition hubs. Bringing together “Transitionists” and “Technologists” in service of our community.

Context

Flow of information is at the heart of Transition. Local hubs generate information that travels both within a community and to other national and international hubs.
Currently information flows sporadically and inefficiently, much like rainfall washes over a desolate landscape:

  • Powered by gravity – information flows mostly when an outside force dictates necessity (application, fund-raising, etc.)
  • Following a path of least resistance – information is collected and stored on separate computers (usually on those in which it is created) in diverse document formats (word processors, spread-sheets, etc.)
  • Draining away rapidly – documents are quickly forgotten and archived , fading out of memory and consciousness.
  • Carrying away precious soil fertility – those who create the information are worn down by a recurring and inefficient effort of having to recollect and recreate lost information.

Strategic water design involves:

  • Capturing water – harvesting information when it is fresh and vital.
  • Slowing it down – providing information a controlled path towards safe storage.
  • Storing it – keeping information where it can be organized and easily accessed.
  • Directing it when and where it is needed – making information easy to find when it is needed.
  • Giving it time to absorb into the soil – presenting information in effective and diverse way to different people in different contexts.

As water is at the heart of landscaping, so information is at the heart of Transition. Correct harvesting, storage, absorption and delivery of information can lead to a healthy and vibrant ecosystem.

Objective

To bring together diverse skills from within our community (members of Transition, web developers and designers) into a focused workshop during which a co-creative information process will be born.

The workshop will explore how an existing and abundant information flow can be harvested and utilized in service of the purposes of local and national Transition hubs.

Landscape design is founded on a view in which a designated purpose for that landscape brings it into harmony with its inhabitants (people and wildlife). In a similar way an information landscape design requires a similar foundational view of purpose and people. We will explore this idea of “People & Purpose” to guide us in forming and executing an information strategy.

Purpose: Coming Together

When it comes to information and information technologies there seems to be a divide between those who create & consume it (namely “transitioners”) and those who are able to manipulate it (namely: “developers”).

“Transitioners” interact mostly with people and nature, dealing with malleable and unpredictable dynamics. “Developers” work mostly with computers and code, dealing with well structured, well behaved and predictable dynamics. “Transitioners” drown in information. “Developers” contain and organise information.

These worlds do not mix well on a functional level. Is isn’t for lack of motivation. It is more like oil and water (that have nothing against each other) that are of different qualities. Yet when making a delicious soup it is not uncommon to find oil and water “collaborating”.

What if instead of trying to get “developers” to understand “transitionerts” or vice versa we could find a way to come together around shared interests to which we can all relate (and make a great soup)? We do not have to be confined to a view in which “transitioners” organise community projects” and “developers build websites”.

We can choose to be members and co-creators of our community collaborating towards a shared purpose. We can evolve to be “transitioniers” who appreciate how well-structured information can support our efforts. We can evolve to be “developers” who appreciate how structured information has no value unless it serves a purpose.

That is the gift of purpose. If you are reading this document then you probably have an active interest in your community, specifically about making your community better, more pleasant and more resilient.

During this workshop we will explore how clear, shared and stated purpose can transform our differences into valuable complementary assets.

Format

Each day will be made up of sessions. Each session will include:

  • Introduction of (a) task(s) and a discussion about how to approach the task.
  • Separating into groups who will take on the task(s).
  • Regrouping, presenting, integrating and prioritising results.

Over the course of the workshop we will explore:

  • Personas: who are the people we wish to support using information technology.
  • Purposes: what roles do these people fill in our community and how do we perceive their purpose in the context of Transition.
  • Information Structures: viewing information as building blocks.
  • WordPress: introducing WordPress and how it views information.
  • Website or websites?
  • Information sources: how and where is information generated.
  • Information uses: how and where is information applied.

Outcomes

  • Working website(s) for local and national hubs.
  • Content strategy & knowledge how to use it.
  • Raising mutual awareness and appreciation among Transitioners and developers.
  • Establishing collaborative processes which can support a continued process of refinement and evolution.
  • Exploring technological innovation as a community building activity.

Participants

The workshop is an invitation for diverse skills from within the Transition movement to come and work together:

  • Transition members
  • WordPress developers
  • Web designers

It is open to people who are committed, driven by purpose, have good collaborative and communication skills. Participants are asked to make themselves fully available for the entire 3 day workshop and to bring with them clarity and enthusiasm.

A few places are available for observers from other social activist circles who wish to witness and learn from the process.

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

Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow

n

yesterdaytodaytomorrowby Lucille Clerc

Posted in Enjoy, Expanding, inside | You are welcome to add your comment

Nonlinear warfare also known as “the news”?

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

Politics is the Struggle for the Happiness of All

n

“We have to run people who love money too much out of politics, they’re a danger in politics… People who love money should dedicate themselves to industry, to commerce, to multiply wealth. But politics is the struggle for the happiness of all.”

Uruguayan President José Mujica

source

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

Local Currency Compliments National Currency

n

via CCMagazine

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

The Internet is financed by spying

n

“Online companies typically make money by utilizing data gleaned from their users to sell targeted ads. If the flow of user data slows down, so does the money. A study commissioned by the Interactive Advertising Bureau with researchers from Harvard Business School underscores the point: at least half of the Internet’s economic value is based on the collection of individual user data, and nearly all commercial content on the Internet relies on advertising to some extent. Digital advertising grew to a $42.8 billion business last year, a sum that already exceeds spending on broadcast television advertising.

Digital privacy advocates, understandably, view the online ecosystem differently. They are alarmed by the growth of the surveillance economy, in which companies compile and store information about what a user reads, looks for, clicks on or buys. In this world, disclosure is fairly meaningless, because almost no one reads the terms of service that define the relationship between the customer and the company.

If the government wants to shift the Internet economy away from a “barter” system (exchanging personal data for free services) toward a subscription-based system, Congress should take charge.”

source

 

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

Talking about Talking in Israel

n

A couple of weeks ago a person from Israel who I consider to be a friend sent me an email. It wasn’t a personal email. It was an email sent to a group of people and it was about promoting a crowd-funding campaign. This friend lives in the area surrounding Gaza which was (has been for some time and continues to be) one of the most threatened and impacted areas in Israel during the last conflict with Gaza.

The people in that area have experienced plenty of  fear and violence. They have come to a conclusion that for them to experience peace (or even just a reduction of violence) the people of Gaza need to experience hope. The campaign was about spreading that awareness in Israeli society (many parts of which are further removed from the violence and have a less direct experience of it).

I spent some time with the campaign, watched the video, read some of the words. Though a lot of work and social collaboration went into it and it seems like a generally good idea, I felt (given my experiences and thoughts about Israel) that it was not deep enough. I felt it was treating a superficial and current (temporary) expression rather then digging deeper into the origins of the situation.

Since Israel is often on my mind and in my heart I wrote back wondering if there could be an opportunity to go deeper. I wrote an honest response giving voice to my thoughts. Within a very short while I got back a response that communicated hurt and resentment at my position and attitude (and yet the response also included a restated plea to forward the original email to my circle of friends, despite my position, so that the campaign could continue to spread and reach more people).

I started to write a reply but realized that it was not a simple reply to put in writing, that it would be much longer then I felt was appropriate but most importantly that no matter what I said and what I intended, my words would most likely further aggravate my friend. So after a while I changed my mind and replied with three Hebrew words that said: good luck, I apologize and peace.

I wanted it to end there … but it didn’t. It stayed with me and moved within me. I felt that it was a missed opportunity. It also bothered me that my attempt to give and contribute (in my way, not necessarily in the way I was asked to) resulted (once again) in hurt and frustration. But I really felt that the main thread of the conversation that I was seeing could not be carried forward without inflicting more pain and frustration on my friend.

A few days later another dimension appeared in my consciousness. I didn’t act on it … until now … in writing this post. My intention is to plant a seed that may become a useful conversation. That seed can be nourished by an open conversation using the comment thread of this post (making it possible for others to both listen in and if they wish join the conversation). I will be sending my friend an email with a link to this post and it will be up to her to decide if she wants to partake in it.

The seed came in the form of a question: if my (a friend) response evoked such hurt and objection in my friend, how will this friend respond in more demanding situations where there is a deeper divide, larger differences of opinion, opposition and outright enmity? For grounding and specifity I phrased my question in relation to my friend, but I offer the question in a wider context since I believe that this highlights a cultural phenomenon that isn’t unique to my friend. Can any meaningful conversation take place in this way?

 

Posted in inside, Israel | You are welcome to add your comment

Debt: The First 5000 Years – Thoughts from chapter 5: The Moral Grounds of Economic Relations

n

more thoughts inspired by Debt: The First 5000 Years.

“… one popular theory of the origins of the state, which goes back to at least to the fourteenth century North African historian Ibn Khaldun, runs precisely along these lines: nomadic raiders eventually systematize their relations with sedentary villagers; pillage turns into tribute, rape turns into the “right of the first night” or the carrying off of likely candidates as recruits for the royal harem. Conquest, untrammeled force, becomes systematized, and thus framed not as a predatory relation but as a moral one, with the lords providing protection, and the villagers, their sustenance.

… The geneaology of the modern redistributive state – with its notorious tendency to foster identity politics – can be traced back not to any sort of “primitive communism” but ultimately to violence and war.”

Reading this sent me back to thinking about Israel. Maybe the conversation should be neigther about a one-state solution nor a two-state solution. Given what we know about states in general, maybe a better way forward is to something which is beyond state? What if the moral framework of states is inherently incapable of supporting the breadth and depth of what wants is unfolding in Israel (and many other places)?

 

Posted in inside, Israel | You are welcome to add your comment

Change is a struggle

n

Firs this:

“Women with low-risk pregnancies are to be encouraged to have non-hospital births under new NHS guidelines, which could see almost half of mothers-to-be planning to deliver their baby away from traditional labour wards.

Guidance from National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) says that midwife-led care has been shown to be safer for women and recommends that all women with low-risk pregnancies – 45% of the total – should be advised that giving birth in a midwifery-led unit, whether attached to a hospital or not, is “particularly suitable”.

Then this:

“a waiter approached Louise Burns at Claridge’s on Monday and told her hotel policy required her to cover her breastfeeding baby with a napkin”

a recurring question is has society (in this case British society) reached a critical mass of awareness that will spill over into better being, or it will revert to something lesser but established and comfortably familiar.

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

Carrot Clarinet

n
Posted in Enjoy, inside | You are welcome to add your comment

It is about culture

n

A while back this superficial debate took place

to which Alex Ebert responded:

“We are having the wrong debate. This isn’t about religion, this is about culture …

America has been and still is, largely, a country ruled by Christians … It was only 60 years ago that a murderous Christian terror organization called the KKK was a major force in the U.S. … The Bible didn’t change — the people who interpreted it did — the American culture did.

Polls show that a majority of the Muslim populations in the Middle East either approve of or desire Shariah Law and all of the heinous shit that comes with it … However .. Muslim approval of Militant Islamists has fallen over the past decade  …

Asked about suicide bombing as an acceptable mode of militant violence, Palestine turned in a 47 percent approval rating. This is horrible news until you consider that in 2007, Palestinian approval of suicide bombings was at 70 percent.”

That touches on what I was trying to write about.

Posted in inside, Intake, Israel, outside | Tagged | You are welcome to add your comment

Apple’s commitment (ahum) to privacy

n

Through Matt I learned about this statement from Apple’s Tim Cook about their commitment to privacy. There were two things I didn’t like: 1) the statement 2) that Matt seemed to like it.

It was a few days later that I came across this list of reasons not to trust Apple which closed for me the circle (of mistrust).

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

Debt: The First 5000 Years – Thoughts from chapter 2: The Myth of Barter

n

This is the first, in what may become a series of posts that come from reading Debt: The First 5000 Years.

Chapter 2 talks about the falseness of a core premise of almost all economic thinking that first there was barter (20 chickens for one cow), then came money (2 coin for a chicken, 40 coins for a cow) and then credit. The chapter takes this myth apart drawing on historical evidence and demonstrating that actual credit came first and only later money from which (with a slight mix of potential violence) barter usually emerged. This myth is traced back to Adam Smith who, it turns out, founded economic thought not on science but an imaginary story … a myth.

Beyond the economic argument I was fascinated by yet another example of how what we consider to be “science” is actually “myth” – a story we create to try to make sense of the world. To quote Robert Pirsig:

“The mythos is the social culture and the rhetoric which the culture must invent before philosophy becomes possible … it is the parent of our modern scientific talk.”

We tend, from our modern and relatively young view of “scientific thought” to look down at mythos, failing to appreciate that science is an evolution of myth. This lack of appreciation seems to be causing intellect and scientific thought to spin out of control.

I recently finished reading Teaming With Microbes which talks about the biological food web that makes healthy soils. One of the most destructive things we can do to disturb and diminish soil life also happens to be a pillar of modern agriculture and gardening: plowing (turning soils):

“The age-old agricultural practice of plowing the earth really picked up steam, so to speak, when lawyer Jethro Tull … noticed that vegetables did better in loosened soil and from this concluded that plant roots possessed little mouths and ate soil particles (how else could a plant ingest nutrients?). Believing that loose soil consisted of smaller particles that would more easily fit into root mouths, he developed a horse-drawn hoe to put his theory into practice. His writings later caught the attentionof gentleman farmers like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, who encouraged their fellow Americans to break up soils. The end result is that most home gardeners still break up and turn over their soil at least annually, even though we know plant roots don’t eat soil”

It is easy to laught at this when you are 400 years wiser but in its time this was sound logical thinking based on empirical observation with reproducable conclusions that yielded noticeable results. Now we know better … at least we should.

(It may be interesting to note that Jethroy Tull and Adam Smith both operated around the end of the 17th century).

That makes me wonder how much of what is now considered scientifically true will be churned into dust by the unrelenting wheels of time?

It seems that we have a story of the world. Some tangents of that story may be pointing is in a right direction. Other tangents (many? most?) will turn out to be partially wrong if not complete dead ends.

Scientific thought seems to be in high fashion. Not only does it have potential to be (very) wrong but it also seems to be marginalizing other stories which do not fit or even the challenge its paradigm. Despite all that science has provided us, there is plenty of evidence that the story of science itself needs to re-assessed and carefully integrated into a more complete story of the world.

 

Posted in AltEco, Intellect Run Amok, outside | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

SQL Joins

n

I wish I had come across something like this when I was learning SQL:

joins-1

source

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