“You see all of us go through the same doubts. We are afraid of being mad; unfortunately for us, of course, all of us are already mad.”
Carlos Castaneda

Tales of Power

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 | 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