“A warrior, on the other hand, is a hunter. He calculates everything. That’s control. But once his calculations are over he acts. He lets go. That’s abandon.”
Carlos Castaneda

Journey to Ixtlan

Oameni for Israel


A few days ago I read The One State Reality and beyond being a good read something from it stuck with me.

It used to be said (though I’ve heard it less and less over the years) that if you took away the politicians, extremists and religious zealots in the area you would end with people who have more similarities than differences. If that is still an underlying truth …

  • What would happen if the people of the area pretended to be one nation.
  • If they could have an ongoing conversation about what kind of life they would like to live and how to go about getting there.
  • If community leaders were given a systemic opportunity to speak out and help educate and shape public opinion.
  • If they could identify areas of action where they are already able to make changes.
  • If they could elect defacto thought leaders to be pretend governing leaders.

Would it be possible, by actively focusing on an image of practical unity to actually move away from the political debates which only serve to preserve the current social divisiveness?

Thats the story of Oameni, I originally envisioned in the context of Romania, but after that article and other recent reflections … I wonder what would happen if such a game were played in that part of the world.

I am also imagining that if such a game were played in different parts of the world … how each part, given its unique dominant challenges could contribute to a global intelligence about how to shape, maintain and direct society.

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Switzerland’s government set to discuss $2,600 a month basic income


“The idea of a living wage has been brewing in the country for over a year and last month, supporters of the movement dumped a truckload of eight million coins outside the Parliament building in Bern. The publicity stunt, which included a five-cent coin for every citizen, came attached with 125,000 signatures. Only 100,000 are necessary for any constitutional amendment to be put to a national vote, since Switzerland is a direct democracy.

… Similar plans have been proposed in the past. In 1968, American economist Milton Friedman discussed the idea of a negative income tax …

… ‘What would you do if you had that income?'”



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I haven’t seen the movie yet, but the opening minute of the trailer is stunning:

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The Bad News About the News


Extract from the source essay:

“Only about a third of Americans under 35 look at a newspaper even once a week, and the percentage declines every year. A large portion of today’s readers of the few remaining good newspapers are much closer to the grave than to high school.

… At the height of their success, all the best news organizations shared two important qualities: a strong sense of responsibility about their roles as providers of news and analysis, and plenty of money to spend on those missions.

… The money allowed for an extravagant approach to news … Editors and producers pursued stories that interested them, without much concern for how readers or viewers might react to the journalism that resulted.

… “How would this look on the front page of The Washington Post?” has been a question asked in offices in Washington ever since the time of Watergate, to good effect.

… The best journalism has most often been produced by those news organizations that have both the resources and the courage to defend their best work when it offends or alarms powerful institutions and individuals. The public may perceive journalism as an individualistic enterprise carried out by lone rangers of rectitude, but this is rarely the case. The best work is usually done by a team that has the backing of an organization committed to maintaining the highest standards of seriousness and integrity, and to nurturing talented reporters and editors … News organizations that can afford to support such teams are now at risk.

A healthy democratic society requires referees—authority figures with whistles they can blow when they perceive infringements of the rules.

… The Internet promotes fragmentation by encouraging the development of like-minded communities … The news media are fragmenting just as American society is fragmenting

… Even when journalists are allowed to pursue traditional reporting, the requirements of online journalism limit their opportunities to do so … There is much less time available to dig into a story and discover its ramifications … scores of city halls and state legislatures get virtually no coverage by any substantive news organizations.

… thanks to Internet offerings, the quantity of American journalism has never been greater.

A group of young people could be working in a Silicon Valley garage right now on an idea that could re-establish a healthy revenue stream for major news organizations … Efforts to save serious journalism enjoy one natural advantage: smart people playing influential roles in society know that they need good information about many subjects. It is conceivable that these citizens, who are a significant audience albeit a small fraction of the total population, will be willing to pay the full cost of the journalism they consume.

… Then in March 2011, The New York Times announced a paywall that required regular online readers to pay for its journalism, a risky gambit that has proven remarkably successful … It suggests at least the possibility that over time, consumers of news might follow the path of television viewers, who once thought—before the arrival of cable television—that TV was free, but eventually got used to paying substantial monthly cable bills.

… News as we know it is at risk. So is democratic governance, which depends on an effective watchdog news media.”

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Damien Rice at the Michelberger Hotel


Damien rice has resurfaced with a beautiful and moving new album (you can listen to the album, at least for a while, on NPR) and with intimate performances popping up here and there. Here is one … I don’t think I’ve heard his voice so … :




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The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz


If you, as I expect most people in my world, are not as invested as I in subjects discussed in this film … I urge you to watch until this story of how early Pancreatic Cancer detection is mentioned (which is very near the end).

Also Quinn Norton’s words starting at ~55:20 were haunting after recently watching this.



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Don’t Talk to Police


Lots of interesting information on how law and policing work … at least in the USA … probably in other similarly cultured/structured societies:

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Martin Luther King on Israel


Remarkable foresight for a man seemingly far removed from this conflict:

“The Six Day War shocks the world … Doc [Martin Luther King Jr.] is a staunch supporter of Israel … Amongst his closest colleagues, though, he expresses concern that the very nature of sweeping victory – and the fact that Israel has occupied the Sinai, the Golan Heights, and the West Bank of the Jordan River – could injure the soul of the Jewish state. The captured land gives Israel a defensive buffer against its sworn enemies. But now some six hundred thousand Arabs will be living in the West Bank under Israeli control. ‘Israel‘, Doc tells his confidantes, ‘faces the danger of being smug and unyielding.’

Once seen as the underdog fighting for its very survival, Israel is suddenly transformed into a military power of unprecedented effectiveness. The nation is now an occupying power. And while the lightning victory has emboldened the spirits of Jews worldwide and, in the aftermath of Hitler’s Holocaust, given credence to the cry ‘Never again!,’ Doc worries about an impact on the antiwar movement in America. As he says to Stanley Levison, ‘It has given [Lyndon] Johnson the little respite he wanted from Vietnam.’

… When asked to comment on the Middle East, he asserts, ‘All people of good will must respect the territorial integrity of Israel … We must see what Israel has done for the world. It is a marvelous demonstration of what people together in unity and with rugged determination can do in transforming almost a desert land into an oasis. But the other side is that peace in the Middle East means something else … The Arab world is part of that third world of poverty and militancy and disease and it is time now to have a Marshall Plan for the Middle East … We must see that there is a grave refugee problem that the Arabs have. “

By Tavis Smiley from Death of a King

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Budgets are Moral Documents


“But now Doc [Martin Luther King Jr.] is demanding that we reexamine our economic priorities. He insists that budgets are moral documents … In no uncertain terms he brings home the point: bombs being dropped in Vietnam are landing in the ghettoes of America”

By Tavis Smiley from Death of a King

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Keeper of Story


Over the past year Annelieke has introduced me to Transition Network . In recent months I’ve participated in a few online meetings about information technology to test the water and see if I can take part and contribute. This is the first continuous social interaction I’ve been in touch with since retreating to life at Bhudeva. I have been impressed by some of the normative social dynamics that have been established in Transition and that make such meetings possible.

One of the strategies employed are that of “keepers”. In every meeting three people volunteer to fill three “keeper” roles (as well as a facilitator).These are (as I understand them):

  1. Keeper of Record: cares for documentation of the meeting.
  2. Keeper of Time: cares for the schedule and progress of the meeting.
  3. Keeper of Heart: cares for the well-being of the participants within the context of the meeting.

The group I am participating in has had a bumpy beginning (and still bumpy road ahead) as it struggles to find a clear identity and purpose. That struggle has manifested in numerous ways – including frustration. I am fascinated and appreciative that Transition culture invites real-time expression of such feelings, that participants have are skilled at expressing it dispassionately and that the group is able to hold and contain it … and that there is a keeper of the heart which will hopefully prevent it from being missed, ignored or being swept under the carpet.

My experience is limited to this one group and a short series of meetings that we’ve had. I don’t know what goes on in other groups, but I am assuming that such experiences are not uncommon.

The group was formed to do something that turned out (for the time being) to be at best unclear and maybe even not do-able. The more we tried to do the undo-able the more frustration came up and spread. As we worked our way through the first few meetings, a story carrying purpose came to the surface. It seemed to ease some frustration and to bring some freshness.

This got me wondering about another possible role in such meetings: “Keeper of Story”. A person who acts as a kind of navigator that may alert a group when it is steering off course, when undercurrents alter its intended path, when it has lost touch with its purpose. This person may recognize valuable information that is carried by and expressed through frustrations. This person may sense when the group begins to gravitate in a direction that may lead into frustration.

It may be a less spontaneous and more specialized role amongst the “keepers”. Almost anyone can keep time, some people can create good documentation, some are more sensitized to vibrations of heart. Few, I suspect, are able to hold and tell a story. I believe every sustainable group has a story … without a story there would not be a group.

A Keeper of Story may also require a specialized agreement and vocabulary to be able to support a group. A Keeper of Story may see and speak from a place which isn’t immediately intelligible and as such may need to be exempt, for example, from forms of debate and explanation. A Keeper of Story channels inspiration more than understanding. A Keeper of Story may redirect a group into silence rather than into another channel of conversation .. re-setting the group so that it may re-find its path.

To benefit from a Keeper of Story a group needs to have a respect for story and a story worthy of respect.

A Keeper of Story holds in her heart a clear sense of purpose and vision. She is a story-teller. Her first priority is story. A group may choose to have their Keeper of Story participate in the opening of every meeting, even if briefly, to re-state the obvious … re-tell the story which the group serves. When she is present she may rarely need to be heard. Her presence may be more powerful than her words.






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A lot of people would need to be convinced


This dialogue between Thomas Piketty  (author of Capital in the 21st Century) and David Graeber (author of Debt: The First 5000 Years) is supposedly about economics. But what shimmered for me was another subtle aspect. At one point Piketty says:

“Part of our role as intellectuals is to say what collective institutions we want to construct.”

A statement that seems to imply that if intellectuals can just say “what they we want” the rest of society can simply “construct” it … obviously. Then a bit later Graeber challenges this assumption with an example:

“For thirty years a combination of the IMF, the World Trade Organization (WTO), the financial institutions that came out of Bretton Woods, the investment banks, the multinationals, and the international NGOs has constituted an international bureaucracy of global scope. And unlike the United Nations, this bureaucracy has the means to enforce its decisions. Since this whole structure was explicitly put in place in order to defend the interests of financiers and creditors, how might it be politically possible to transform it in such a way as to have it do the exact opposite of what it was designed to do?

To which Piketty replies:

“All I can say is that a lot of people would need to be convinced!”

Piketty … and the “intellect” he represents is at a loss … facing an impossible task … rendering all the “smart” ideas useless.

  • How many people is “a lot”?
  • Is convincing a right way to go about it?
  • Do we have the ability to “convince” … and “a lot” of people at that?
  • Who will do the “convincing”?
  • Even if “everyone” would be convinced would that be enough to divert the existing systemic inertia?

All Piketty can say is … nothing!

It is going to take more than intellect to digest and partake in the coming changes.

via Cory Doctorow

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The Sharing Economy’s ‘First Strike’


A good read about a brewing conflict between Uber and their drivers.

A few things came to me reading this:

  1. There needs to be discernment between the Sharing Economy and the parasitic tech-bubble that grew alongside it. What has struck out is the greedy-tech, not the spirit of sharing.
  2. The strike came very quickly – 3 or 4 years … what may have in previous evolutionary cycles taken 30 or 40 years.
  3. The “technology” being used to meet this challenge is old and obsolete … unionizing and striking. A more relevant and modern technology is … a better technology.

The comrpomised underlying values of Uber (parasitical profiteering) have emerged very quickly and its faults and shortcoming outline an opportunity for another group of entrepreneurs to iterate and produce a better implementation.

Maybe what will happen to Uber will be something like this.

I am enjoying seeing the motivation for profit succmbing to itself.


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Why Clay Shirky Banned Laptops, Tablets and Phones from His Classroom


Last year, when I attended the EdgeRyders event I witnessed for the first time (having been mostly away from conference-like social situations) how far along the presence of digital devices has come in contaminating the social space. In some sessions many (if not most) people were looking at and engaging digital devices (laptops, smart-phones, tablets, etc.). Some of it was supposedly in service of a noble cause: creating a live feed and documentation so that other people, not attending the event in person, could partake.

I felt that the devices were breaking up the presence of the room, both of individuals and as a group. By trying to “bring in” people who were not in the room resulted in the people who were physicall in the room to not be present in it. These distraction, I felt, didn’t effect just those who were engaging their devices, but the entire group and space. We had all made time, traveled and spent money on coming together … and then, in my mind, compromised our togetherness … a self-defeating act. But I also felt that my feelings on this were not shared by the majority of people there.

Reading Why Clay Shirky Banned Laptops, Tablets and Phones from His Classroom sent me back to that experience and brought me some relief. Apparently it isn’t just me and my feelings … there is research too!

On multitasking:

“We’ve known for some time that multi-tasking is bad for the quality of cognitive work, and is especially punishing of the kind of cognitive work we ask of college students … even when multi-tasking doesn’t significantly degrade immediate performance, it can have negative long-term effects on “declarative memory,” the kind of focused recall that lets people characterize and use what they learned from earlier studying … A study from Stanford reports that heavy multi-taskers are worse at choosing which task to focus on. (“They are suckers for irrelevancy,” as Cliff Nass, one of the researchers put it.)”

On social media:

“… on top of the general incentive for any service to be verbose about its value, social information is immediately and emotionally engaging. Both the form and the content of a Facebook update are almost irresistibly distracting, especially compared with the hard slog of coursework … The form and content of a Facebook update may be almost irresistible, but when combined with a visual alert in your immediate peripheral vision, it is — really, actually, biologically — impossible to resist … In the classroom, it’s me against a brilliant and well-funded army (including, sharper than a serpent’s tooth, many of my former students). These designers and engineers have every incentive to capture as much of my students’ attention as they possibly can, without regard for any commitment those students may have made to me or to themselves about keeping on task.”

On how other people are effected by one distracted person:

” … screens generate distraction in a manner akin to second-hand smoke … multitasking on a laptop poses a significant distraction to both users and fellow students and can be detrimental to comprehension of lecture content … Allowing laptop use in class is like allowing boombox use in class — it lets each person choose whether to degrade the experience of those around them … The smallest loss of focus can snowball, the impulse to check WeChat quickly and then put the phone away leading to just one message that needs a reply right now, and then, wait, what happened last night??? … Anyone distracted in class doesn’t just lose out on the content of the discussion, they create a sense of permission that opting out is OK and, worse, a haze of second-hand distraction for their peers.”

On focus:

“I’m coming to see student focus as a collaborative process. It’s me and them working to create a classroom where the students who want to focus have the best shot at it, in a world increasingly hostile to that goal.”


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Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free


Another very sharp presentation by Cory Doctorow on information, privacy, security … the talk is 40 minutes with excellent followup Q&A.

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Copying Brings Prosperity


Illegal Copying Has Always Created Jobs, Growth, And Prosperity:

“In the late 1700s, the United Kingdom was the empire that established laws on the globe …

The UK had a strictly protectionist view of trade: all raw materials must come to England, and all luxury goods must be made from those materials while in the UK, to be exported to the rest of the world. Long story short, the UK was where the value was to be created.

Laws were written to lock in this effect. Bringing the ability to refine materials somewhere else, the mere knowledge, was illegal. “Illegal copying”, more precisely.

The heart of the problem is this: those who decide what is “illegal” to copy do so from a basis of not wanting to get outcompeted, and never from any kind of moral high ground. It’s just pure industrial protectionism.

… Copying brings prosperity at the national and the individual levels. Those who would seek to outlaw it, or obey such unjust bans against copying, have no moral high ground whatsoever”

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Bryan Stevenson – Just Mercy


As I watched this interview I sensed valuable parallels between the race-conflict discussed and the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

Pietro and our ongoing dialogue came to my mind at 3:26 in Part2:

“It doesn’t matter who did what to whom, it matters that we deal with the carnage, with the legacy of that injury … “

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A while back I came across an Israeli company that sells shaving razors: XBlade (<– warning: site is in Hebrew and automatically plays an annoying video). In an article about them their founders talk about taking on Gillette – the international brand market leader who’s blades are obscenely expensive. I liked the idea and one particular detail caught my attention – the blades are manufactured in Germany … in a old and established company called Feintechnik.

Since I don’t live in Israel anymore I began a search to fin Feintechnik blades in Europe where I can easily get my hands on them. My research led me to Harry’s. Harrys tells a similar story – taking on Gillette … but there the story takes on an interesting twist. Apparently one of the founders of Harrys is also one of the founders of WarbyParker – a company I read about who took on the establised market of prescriptions glasses … I was impressed by their story at the time. The story of Harry’s is just as impressive.

The founders apparently raised ~$120m venture capital of which ~$100m went to buying an established German company … Feintechnik. The rest seems to have gone to creating …  Harrys. Everything I have met from them has been immaculate: a simple and effective product line, a clean and sharp web presence with some excellent purposeful user experience design. I was really excited … but they are only available in the USA. So I wrote them (seeing how they now own Feintechnik AND knowing that other sub-brands, like XBlade, exist) to ask about similar products that may be available in Europe. I got a friendly and genuinely caring response within a few hours.

I was moved and impressed … and not just about the response and shaving products (shaving is a very small part of my life). As someone who lives closer to nature and having become more aware of ecology and sustainability I tend to be exposed to a lot of negative information (we aren’t doing a very good job in relating to and caring about the environment in which we all live together) which can sometimes be challenging to contain without being overwhelmed. In that context Harry’s is a glimpse of an exciting and promising future. This is a new generation of business and business people. They are demonstrating that quality can be made in an affordable and caring way. They are evidence that there is hope for new flavors of doing  founded on care and being in service (rather than pushing cheap products with shiny branding for abusive prices).

I was also  entertained and moved in witnessing the different cultural biases between XBlade (the Israeli brand) and Harry’s. I was aligned with the affordable-razors-anti-Gillette story of the Israeli brand but turned off by, what I perceived to be, its blunt and crude cultural settings. I was relieved by the ambience at Harry’s. That too speaks, at least potentially, to an evolutionary story. I doubt that the designers of either brand consciously set out on an evolutionary journey. But when the two are seen side by side (and you know Hebrew) they scream an evolutionary story.

The representative from Harry’s still hasn’t found a European brand for me. But amazingly she is still trying. It’s been almost a month and I still get an occassional email from her reminding me that she is still searching. Meanwhile I am looking forward to getting my hands on Harry’s products via a contact in the USA 🙂

Well done Harry’s … inspiring work!



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Three Day Reset


There seems to be a recurring pattern in a kind of energy cycle that I occassionaly to through.

The day before yesterday a heaviness and boredom set in me. I felt tired and unmotivated to do anything … to be. I didn’te’t fight it. I stayed with it and witnessed it … I waited to see if there is anything that wants to be. I wondered if some movement outside would do me good so I cut some wood and it was ok but the slightly refreshng effect didn’t last long. It was primarily an emotional experience.

Then yesterday it became physical. I spent most of the day with a slight-enough-to-annoy headache coming from somewhere in my right temple. It came with a general sense of agitation and restlesness. The overall sensation was of an unpleasant experience inhabiting my own body. That triggers an old emotional pattern – wanting to die. It leads to an ironically integrative emotional experience. On the one hand this emotional voice “wanting to die” and on the other hand a seemingly sober second voice that knows the temporariness of the first voice. Still I feel I need to live witin a delicate balance on such days. A downward emotional spiral can be triggered.

I woke up in the early hours of this morning with my right temple throbbing. It required what seemed liked a long period of time to be able to contain not just the pain but the impulses to act wrongly on it. Eventually I found sleep again and woke up later feeling better … even refreshed. Refreshed enough to write!I can speculate about what triggers this but I can’t really know. I sometimes wonder it the trigger comes from my own life. I do know that it is a recurring pattern. It is an unpleasant experience and yet it feels, especially in retrospect like a cleansing. As if a subtle disturbance finds its way out of my energy system. It almost always occupies that same time frame (three days from disturbance to clarity). It can take on different physical manifestations – a backache, a headache, lack of appetitate or digestive disturbance … but it always finds a physical way out.

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Give a man a gun …


“give a man a gun and he can rob  a bank,
give a man a bank and he can rob the world”

tumblr_mn4lllZ4qj1qkpdido1_500from Heather Paterson  via JamesWallbank

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This is a tech-talk on amazing vulnerability of USB devices … but I also made a note of it to exemplify an agitated energy body laguage of many tech people:

via James Wallbank

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