“Then what do you depend on? My own internal reactions. I read myself, not the person in front of me. I always know a lie because I want to turn my back on the liar.”
Frank Herbert

Chapter House Dune

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.

Posted in Fragments, inside, Yoga, Yoga & I | You are welcome to read 3 comments and to add yours

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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Mainstream Microbiology?


Given that only when I reached my 40’s I became aware, appreciative and interested in living soils it is great to see these three teenagers (winning 1st prize at Google Science Fair) already thinking in that direction:

… though I am also somewhat concerned about an underlying scientific / mechanistic view of simplistic intervention in hugely complicated and diverse living systems in which these girls are probably indoctrinated.

I also don’t enjoy seeing this associated with Google … still … hopeful 🙂


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Primitive Past, Corrupt Future


It seems that some Europeanans (including youth)  have been taken by Jihadi ideas and going to Syria and Iraq to join ISIS and other extremist fighting groups. But now they are starting to flow back to their home countries, freshly indoctrinated and who knows with what agendas. The UK is looking to reassert control over the situation … basically with more spying.

I believe (as I’ve already mentioned) this is probably going to be useless because the real challenge is the transporation of ideas not people. Maybe you can prevent extremist-oriented people from going to or coming back from ISIS but you can’t block off the ideas. All it takes for to transmit an idea is a phone call, email, facebook comment, youtube video … etc.

I have many weeds in my garden. I have, from early on, aborted any attempt to fight them – I don’t want to develop a fighting mentality. I believe that weeds are working for me – telling me that there are deficiencies or excesses in my soil which create ideal conditions for them to grow …. and that the weeds themselves, by being, are creating a healtheir soil (by changing its constitution). Indeed, I’ve been watching the weeds for 3 years now and every year they are different … there is a process of natural succession … the weeds of last year changed the soil conditions and made it possible for the weeds of this year to come forth and do what they need to do.

If I want to do anything about the weeds I am probably better off doing as they do instead of working against them (trying to pull them out) – as they themselves do – by changing the soil conditions so that they become less favorable for weeds and more favorable for whatever plants I want to grow.

Those who are travelling to join ISIS fighting may very well be weeds, but they are not the problem, but an important symptom. They are telling us something about the soil in which they grow … the cultures from which they come … the same cultures who are now trying to protect themselves from these “returning weeds”.

Ironically, I see a shared quality between ISIS and western cultures. They are both uncivilized. ISIS is “honest” … it expresses its incivility brutally and directly … their antiquated beliefs are proudly paraded. The west hides its incivility under an elaborate disguise of superficial civility. People dress nicely, they use words instead of bullets, socially devised legal systems instead of beheadings. But underneath that disguise is a ruthless, rotting and cannibalizing civilization where many if not most people are abused, unhealthy, hungry and spiritually bankrupted … ISIS didn’t do that.

What if what we are witnessing is a collission of ideologies. In this case two uncivilized ideologies … one coming from a primitive past the other from a corrupt future. What if their collission is an inevitable evolution? What if their collission is mutually destructive and therefore desirable?

The body fights infections by, amongst other things, developing a fever. A “good fever” changes the conditions which favor the infecting parasites into conditions which favor healing mechanisms that erradicate the infection. A “bad fever” takes out both the parasites and the host.

It looks like we are going to develop a fever … hopefully a “good fever”. This fever is caused by two parasites. Fortunately for us, these two parasites are also attacking each other. Let’s just hope that there are enough gardeners left behind to nourish what is left back to health.


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Humans Need Not Apply


Poignant video about jobs that are going or gone and not coming back:

A few thoughts came to me while watching:

  1. Despite all my following reservations – the story that is described in it is already unfolding and probably unavoidable. However
  2. Food: Not all food is created equal. Most of the industrially produced food is not considered food in my life nor in the lives of many of the people I know. Most industrially grown foods are at best deficient and often out right poisonous (they don’t kill immediately, but they do so slowly and surely .. and there is plenty to kill before the body actually dies). Quality is not part of the food equation, and I believe it is missing from many of the elements that underly the story told of the video.
  3. Scything: There was a flashing image of a man holding a scythe – exemplifying a “primitive” way of doing things in what is becoming an automated machine world. I am a proud owner of two quality scythes and am getting better at using them. I am in the midst of an ongoing project that requires scything and collecting of hay. My scything project is about building and rehabilitating soils. I resisted the temptation to hire a tractor to do the job because doing so would have caused soil compaction (which destroyes soil life). There were other choices I made which are not the default patterns of hay cutting (many of which are detrimental to soil health). These default choices are the kind that were made thousands of years ago and ultimately shaped the middle east as we know it. What other such choices are we making by relying more on automation?
  4. Horses: There is a forgone conclusion in this video thas for some reason isn’t mentioned. If horses have been in decline since 1915 (due to being phased out by machines), then shouldn’t we expect a similar decline in humans?

Self-driving cars may be better than human-drive cars. But that does not apply to food … and other things. We need to be more discerning abut Quality if we want to move towards a better future. Lack of Quality is currently shaping the job market , what effects will Quality have on it?

source: Matt Mullenweg


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The Internet with a Human Face


Text version of an excellent talk on, once again, Internet, security, privacy, advertising, etc by Maciej Cegłowski: The Internet with a Human Face

I tried to summarize excerpts from it … but that didn’t work out well … it is best consumed whole.


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

Israel and Gaza


Technical Issues

There are a couple of videos embedded in this post from an Israeli media outlet which will somewhat aggressively (and Israeli-ish) begin to automatically play when this page is loaded – I could not find a way to prevent that. I apologize for the sudden unexplained noises this may bring into your life.

If you live outside the USA and find some of the video content embedded in this post blocked you may want to checkout Hola.


This post is a collection of thoughts and reflections, some of which I’ve recently vocalized (people asking me, having lived in Israel for most of my life, about what is happening in Israel). It does not contain an integrated thesis that would clarify the Israel-Palestinian Conflict (IPC). It probably contains more questions than answers.

The following words represent my views (with some references). I offer them as reflections, not as truths.

For better context of me and my views you may want to visit my past writings on Israel.

Visiting Pietro

During my visit to Portugal war erupted in Israel (once again). It is interesting seeing it in a different perspective, somewhat through the eyes of others, mostly European eyes.

This post was born while visiting Pietro at his new house in the Portuguese countryside. I don’t remember how the subject came up but it did. Pietro spoke of a video he recently saw which shaped his current view.

The General’s Son

This is the video:

I enjoyed watching it. I felt he is offering information in an authentic way. It connected to a deeper and recurring theme of disillusionment in my life. However, I don’t trust his conclusions (I rarely trust conclusions that result in clear finger-pointing and invoke activism).

I think that to be able to relate to the Israel-Palestinian conflict in a meaningful way the context needs to be expanded.

Hatred & Weapons

The Israel-Palestinian Conflict is by no means the only such conflict in the world, and yet I don’t know of another conflict that is quite like it.

The comparison to Apartheid, while appealing, I believe, is limited. The IPC is flamed by mutual doubt and hatred. I remember that the dominant voice in Israeli society in the early 90’s was about seeking-peace. Today the dominant voice is hopelessness as told by the story “there is no-one to speak to on the other side”. Though I am confident that on both sides there are voices of reason and even peace … the dominant and doable voices on both sides are of increased (and increasing) enmity, distrust and hatred.

Add to that weapons. Israel has an advanced, modern and adaptive army. The militants on the Palestinian side are heavily armed, enough to inflict damage on civilians and to force the Israeli army to engage but not enough to face it.

Hamas (and other militants) have had very little effective opportunity to put their weapons to use against Israel. They have however been able to put it to very good use against their own people where democracy is shaped and powered by ak47-wielding-men. An Israeli general was recently interviewed for the Al Jazeera Arab network and said that Gaza is indeed an occupied territory but Hamas, not by Israel.

The Holocaust

When I left Israel to live in Romania my father said to me, not for the first time “You do know that everybody hates the Jews”. On the face of it, it is an obviously false statement. But a recent encounter in Romania made it possible for me to see it in a different light.

I was at a DIY hardware store in Cluj together with Andreea, Mihaela and Andrei. Andrei is Mihaela’s son and was at the time 3 or 4 years old. At one point he slipped on the smooth concrete floor, fell back and hit his head. He wasn’t injured but he was hurting. Mihaela took him in her arms and asked him if there is anything she can do to help him. He replied “no, this is going to hurt forever”. It was of course a childish response but it was also inspiring. I think children are more naturally present (as in the present moment) than adults. Andrei is a very present being … and so for him the pain was a complete and enveloping experience … from his point of view it really was going to last forever.

My father’s parents are Holocaust survivors. That makes my father, what is referred to in Israel as a “2nd generation Holocaust survivor”. I cannot imagine what something like the Holocaust did to my grandparents. I cannot imagine what it did to my father. I can say that I made it a point to stay away from the subject when it was explored both in my family and in schools. I felt (and still feel) that the subject of the Holocaust was used to indoctrinate and instill fear and separation in Israeli society (see below for why). It could have been (and still can be) used to do some valuable reflecting and expanding consciousness … but it isn’t.

“Everyone hates the Jews” is a result of an intense experience (the Holocaust) that was burned deep into the consciousness of those who experienced it and the generation that came after them and continues to be upheld by a subtle process of fear-based brainwashing.


The Jewish State

One of the things that came up in the conversation with Pietro (that started this post) was the topic of demographics in Israel. Pietro being a thorough academic mathematician got back to me with a link to an interesting book on the subject: Jewish Demographic Policies. Specifically he pointed me to chapter 10 which opens with:

“The State of Israel was founded to provide a definitive answer to the bimillenarian problem of the Jewish People’s lack of sovereignty. Israel’s territory significantly though not completely overlaps with the ancestral land. Israel is the only country in the world where Jews constitute a majority; in most countries of the world, Jews constitute small minorities among the total population.”

Israel is de-facto a Jewish country. It is a very poor foundation for a country (I have personally suffered for testing its tolerances) but it is all there is. Shortly after Israel was founded there was a debate about writing and enacting a constitution but that was delayed and to this day there is no constitution. Having a debate about it is pointless (like the IPC conflict) because when your startinit (g point is a “Jewish State” you can’t get very far.

Is a “Jewish State” necessary? The Jews that suffered from pogroms in Europe and later founded the Zionist movement thought so. The UN thought following the Holocaust. Israelis think so. There is evidence that the past is still present. The author of the above mentioned book claims that many nations think so too:

“In the experience of many nations the actual entity of the majority/minority ratio plays a critical role in determining the essence of society, its adherence to rules of democracy and the allocation of rights and decisional power to those who belong to different segments of society.”

But it isn’t working. Israeli society is stressed from within due to tensions between secular and religious “Jewish” citizens and a liberal/conservative tension that crosses religious camps. This is foundational and comes before: any tensions that may arise in relation to Arabs (Palestinians?) who live within undisputed borders of Israel; any tensions that may arise in relation to Arabs who live in the Palestinian territories; any tensions that may arise in relation to most of its neighboring countries.

What are the odds of integrating non-Jews into “The Jewish State” when the Jews themselves can’t get it together?

This recent article (in Hebrew)  tells a story of a reserve soldier who just returned from a month of military service in Gaza. He wants to marry his fiancée who, as it happens, converted to Judaism (wasn’t born into it). He can’t because his last name is Cohen – which according to Orthodox Judaism makes him a descendant of priests which may not be married to converts. Israel is, after all, a Jewish State … where family status is still subject to Jewish religious practices.

I believe Israel’s (lack of) identity as a state is more of a threat to it than Hamas and their rockets. It is eating at it from the inside. Fighting Hamas (or, for that matter, any other war) serves as a diversion, it gives Israeli society a fleeting sense of unity.


Qatar seems to be a key player in the area. A small, rich, extremist country with ties to almost all extremist expression in the Middle East … and apparently ties in many other places. Some information that I have been gathering with a sense of awe and wonder:

  1. Islamic law is one of the sources of legislation.
  2. It is ruled by a Monarchy that has been ruling it for … almost 200 years … “There is no independent legislature, and political parties are forbidden.”
  3. 15% of its 1.8 million population are citizens … the rest … foreign workers.
  4. It’s one of the richest countries in the world due to exploitation of natural gas reserves.
  5. FC Barcelona (soccer club) is funded by Qatar (and was pressured into replacing its charity-supporting-uniforms to ones that promote Qatar).
  6. Al Jazeera is funded by Qatar and recently gained access to American society by acquiring Al Gore’s Current TV.
  7. Qatar funded the Muslim Brotherhood  = the previous version (democractically elected – unaffected by funding?) of the government of Egypt. In return (retaliation?) the current version of Egypt (that of former general current Presidentel-Sisi) has jailed (in a farce trial) 3 AlJazeera journalists.
  8. Qatar is on the shortlist of being the largest USA weapons consumer for 2014
  9. Qatar has “purchased” (some call it corruption … but lets not mince words) the FIFA rights to the 2022 World Cup.

… oh … and Qatar funds Hamas and seems to call most of the shots!!!

for the record: I’ve encountered some very impressive journalism from Al Jazeera USA … I have no idea what goes on in their Pan-Arab network.

Cultural Differences

I tend to agree with Miko Peled (“The General’s Son”) that the cultures of Israeli’s and Palestinians are probably more similar than they are different. However I believe there ARE differences, they may be subtle ones … but they have far reaching implications.

The Middle-East is inevitably a part of a global community and so within it there are many seeds of other cultures. Such seeds can come from things like education (inhabitants of the Middle-East that get their education in other countries) … Israel itself is one such seed.

I have a feeling that Israelis like to think of themselves as “Western” or even “American” in their “way of life”. I, like Miko Peled, think they are more “Middle Eastern” or “Arabic” than “American”. However the fact that they think of themselves as “Western/American” is a key difference.

In striving for a lifestyle that is informed by what they perceive to be “Western/American” Israelis, in fact do bring a more western mentality into the middle-east. That mentality (with its pros and cons) radiates from it … not only into Jewish Israelis but also into Arab culture. For example, Arab youth who have been educated in Israel have been inevitably exposed (consciously and unconsciously) to ideas they may not have encountered (or encountered differently, or later or …) in other Arab societies.

In that view Israel brings into the Middle-East an evolutionary presence (which is a mixed bag of constructive and destructive stories) … and evolutionary forces create friction and friction can lead to violence.

Though the dominating view of the the IPC is territorial, I believe that can be misleading. It is a conflict with a few more core dimensions. Culture, I believe, is one of the core pillars.

A more pertinent war in Gaza is not the one between Israel and Hamas (that’s the more obvious war – and is more of a facade). It is within Palestinian culture. The current Palestinian Authority were, 30 years ago, the PLO – a world renowned terrorist organization. Over the last ~30 years they have (naturally) evolved – like it or not, they have become more “Israel-ized”. Now they are dealing with a more modern day terrorist organization (Hamas … and it seems that the group called ISIS that is wreaking havoc in Iraq and Syria is already challenging Hamas for the “lead terrorist organization” position in Gaza).

For example, though the Palestinian Authority may have only a rudimentary concept of democracy they do try, even if through pretending, to live with it. Hamas does not – it practices a more AK47-ish form of democracy. That is a cultural internal conflict within Palestinian society. Of course it is affected by the IPC and by oil-interests (and MTV!) … but it is also affected by ideas that have infiltrated Palestinian society through Israel.

As I write these words I came across this article:

“Former president Jimmy Carter called on the West to recognize the U.S.-designated terrorist group Hamas as a legitimate “political actor” that represents the bulk of the Palestinian population.”

That is probably a done deal (at least Hamas being de-terrorized, though I am not sure about them representing the bulk of Palestinian population). Much like the PLO became the Palestinian Authority so will Hamas evolve into a (relatively) more civil body.

They will probably not do this out of a sense of a higher calling but rather to preserve their own lives: future violence by Hamas against Israel is inevitable, as is Israeli retaliation – retaliation that may include targeted assassinations – “legitimate” recognition would provide Hamas leaders some protection. Regardless of how/why they gravitate in that direction, they will eventually find themselves having real responsibilities and issues to deal with … and the terrorist view will persist though change hands to another organization (Al Qaeda and/or ISIS seem poised to step in).

A similar conflict is, in my mind, also very apparent within Israel. I sense a similar social/intellectual primitiveness in Orthodox Jewish communities in Israel as I do in Muslim (regardless of “militancy”) societies. There is a growing split and tension between secular and orthodox societies in Israel.

“Newly married couple Aaron and Rivkeh will be alone together for the first time after their wedding ceremony. Their marriage was arranged by their families. The 18-year-olds met once to confirm the choice; since then they have been prohibited to meet or even talk.”


It seems (to me) that in Israel the various Orthodox political parties (yes that is a category in Israeli politics) are losing their hold (they used to be inevitable partners in establishing government coalitions in breaking the balance between left and right) and government is becoming more secular … but that is not yet an established pattern and can still swing back to a more primitive balance.

There are aspects of this conflict which are not going to be resolved. This is a meeting between old and new. Some of “the new” ideas are not good and are not going to survive. Some of “the old” ideas have lost their relevancy and need to leave this world … to die.

A similar cultural tension also exists in some European countries/cities. There may sometimes be conditions for beautiful and inspiring merging of cultures. Others may deteriorate into civil tensions and conflict (sometimes in very subtle ways: the rise of right-wing extremists in Europe in response to cultural tensions with is a setback for all of society, not just the parts directly targeted by hate).

In Israel it is out-right war.


I came across these words from a 27-year-old Palestinian mother of 5:

“In the two hours before the truce collapsed, Gazans had emerged from hiding in an effort to restart their lives. In Gaza City, fishermen immediately put to sea, cautiously keeping close to the shore, after nearly four weeks without working.

Streets filled quickly. Samira Attar, 27, a housewife sitting in a donkey cart with her husband, five children and three mattresses, said she was heading back to her house in Atattraa, northern Gaza. She had been staying with relatives.

“I am going back to my house for the first time for 17 days. I hope this ceasefire will hold for the whole 72 hours and longer, God willing. We don’t need more bloodshed, or more devastation. I’d like to see Israel to be defeated and broken but the circumstances were very difficult,” Attar said.”

This young woman (a mother, not a Hamas militant) is trying to bring together ideas that don’t seem to go well together: breaking Israel and doing so comfortably. She is, of course, free to explore how to bring those two ideas together. One of them can be to support Hamas. That has consequences.

That woman embodies an evolutionary process of exploration. Maybe one day a Palestinian military strike against Israel will work and Israel will break (though I don’t expect it will be comfortable for the breakers)? Maybe one day a Palestinian military strike against Israel may come close enough to “breaking” to cause a complete obliteration of Gaza (this time only about one-third of the population have become refugees)? Maybe one day she will realize that a peaceful process of reconciliation is preferable and become a peace activist and deliver an inescapable truth into the heart of both societies? Right now she is choosing what I consider to be a primitive and illogical solution.

I believe that if one was to interview the mothers of Israeli soldiers, that most would prefer impossible peace talks to sending their sons to war (and due to the dominant Israeli story of “there is no one to talk to” and “everybody hates us” end up sending their sons to war anyway).

I believe women can be a good indicator for viewing and valuing societies. How are women treated? Are they abused? Are they equals? Can they vote? Can they vote as they want to? Do they participate in leadership? Can they expose their face in public? Can they drive? Can they be beaten if they misbehave?

Israeli society has come a long way (and has a long way to go) when it comes to women (that statement does not include Orthodox Jewish communities, but there too I suspect there is some inevitable progress). An Israeli documentary TV series (I think from the 90’s) about sexuality in Israeli society described Israel’s past as one in which women were primarily walking wombs for producing soldiers. Today an Israeli former president is in Jail for sexual abuse. He grew up in a time where abusive behavior towards women was more acceptable (an almost unavoidable side-effect when a predominantly male military is a key part of national identity).

How likely is a Hamas militant (who is able to execute on whim) to be sentenced and jailed for sexual abuse? How likely is a Palestinian Authority official to be sentenced and jailed for sexual abuse? Probably more than the Hamas militant and less than an Israeli official … stages of evolution.

The Middle East

The whole region is unstable.

Syria and Iraq are undermined by a new and rising rebel group of religious militants (ISIS) and deteriorating back towards clan-based social organization.

Jordan is performing a delicate balance act keeping its borders open to refugees from the above mentioned countries and at the same time closed to the ISIS militants (the problem with ISIS is that they are an ideology more than a physical reality and borders can’t stop ideologies).

Iran and Israel find themselves with oddly shared interests to halt the progress of ISIS … while Iran funds Hizballah which is actively engaged in Syria which created the kind of instability ISIS thrives on … while Israel contemplates attacking Iran to bring to a stop its nuclear aspirations

Qatar funds both Hamas and Hizballah (and who knows, maybe ISIS too) and is hated by other Middle Eastern Arab countries … so much so that I’ve encountered an opinion piece in Israeli media that spoke of a unique opportunity for peace with Saudi Arabia.

Do the tensions between Russia (and its rapidly decaying concepts of freedom) and the USA/EU have a role in all this?

The entire region is flammable … and many factions are just looking for somebody to light an irrelevant match (“an atrocity of the Israeli army against Gaza” may do the trick) to ignite a fire that will escalate so quickly that the current war in Gaza will quickly be forgotten.

Justice: Colonialism & Conquest & Taking

How was it at all possible for the UN to decide to “award the Jewish people with the state of Israel”? Where does that “right” come from? How is it that one group of people can decide to take lands from another group of people and give it to yet another?

It is possible because the story we all inhabit of “country” or “state” is an incomplete if not outright flawed story. There too we are all on an evolutionary path trying to figure out a way to be civilized. Our history is riddled with different strategies that humans have devised to self-organize and the best we’ve come so far is what we have … quite a diversity.

And what we have is founded on some abusive if no inhumane stories such as colonialism and conquest both of which are founded on the story of controlling, manipulating and taking by force. Most of the world as we know it was in one way or another shaped by these stories. It is a story that has been and continues to both manifest & evolve AND to be challenged.

The entire conflicted Middle-East is a result of those stories come to life. Israel is no exception.

There is no justice in this story. There is an evolutionary process that comes with tensions and frictions between old and new, between more evolved and less evolved, between that which wants to evolve and that which resists evolution.

The entire “who was here first” debate about the IPC is pointless – history cannot be undone. It is misleading and offers a false promise. As demonstrated so well by Miko Peled, a strategic achievement of Israel is that a two-state solution has been made obsolete (through vast and dispersed settlement of disputed territories). There is no way to detach the West Bank from Israel. There is no way to detach the Golan Height from Israel. It was already painful and conflicting for Israeli society to give back the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt … and that was a long time ago.

As things currently stand, any resolution that does not lead to integration will result in tensions that are bound to escalate and regress the situation.

Integration can come through leaps in consciousness and efficient actions or through a long, painful, unfair and unjust struggle.

Consider this: Egypt, even though it shares a border (and to a large extent a culture) with Gaza, has never and does not want to have anything to do with it? Why is that?

Dancing and Singing

One thing that painfully stood out for me during the recent conflict … was singing and dancing … which appeared on both sides of the conflict.

When the three Israel teenagers were kidnapped there were celebrations in Gaza, sweets were handed out in the streets (I could not trace the reference article that spoke and pictures this).

During the conflict this video was published in Israeli media where you can see soldiers on a break from fighting in Gaza dancing and singing:

I can understand soldiers coming out of Gaza and looking for emotional release. But what would happen if instead there was reflection on the consequences of their actions – even if justified – they left behind suffering people and devastation. How can a human celebrate causing such suffering to another human being? My answer: ignorance, brainwashing, group-think … and the like. Maybe reflecting on such questions may weaken military resolve … and maybe that resolve needs to be tested? If nothing else … then there may be a strengthening of human bonds … strengthening of compassion.

Another video shows a group of young Israelis (with an Israeli celebrity musician) in Poland who decided to respond an anti-Israeli protest with joyous Israeli spirit – once again dancing and singing.

What does that communicate to the anti-Israeli protesters (who are probably already misinformed)? It communicates carelessness and callousness. It does nothing to create a better understanding, a deeper conversation, connection, engagement. It sows seeds of separation and hatred.

… and I wonder … were seeds such as these sown in the years that led up to the Holocaust?

Israeli Soldiers

I think that most Israelis would want nothing to do with Gaza. They would not want civilian presence there (which there was until they were withdrawn some years ago), they would not want military presence there … there’s nothing there to be had. Why would Israel want to occupy Gaza?

Like Miko and his famous-general-father, many Israeli military officers feel obliged and just in serving their country (that was the one question Miko forgot to answer at the end of his presentation). They are not looking for a fight. Their tone, when interviewed resonates with sober practicalities and consideration, very often for the safety of both their soldiers and the Palestinian population (such as can be had in a battlefield).

The tone of Hamas officers is hateful, simple minded, one track rhetoric … primitive. If they are not as primitive-thinking as they sound, if they are instead intelligent strategists, then who is their rhetoric aimed at? If they are aiming their words at Israelis then what they are doing is fueling the belief that “there is no one to talk to”. If they are aiming their words at their people, Palestinians, then they must believe they are speaking to a primitive people who will be swept by their empty rhetoric. Maybe the primary audience is the western world as it watches this conflict feeling confused, angry and helpless?

It is very likely that Israeli soldiers are brainwashed into living in an incomplete story that justifies their existence and actions. But that is true of any other military or any other nationally oriented view. We all like to believe that we are justified and good (and it helps to have another which is wrong and evil). That same limited view informs both the Israelis and Palestinians … and probably anyone else who has an opinion on this conflict.

Restorative Talks

The accumulated pain on both sides makes peace talks irrelevant. Before there can be peace talks there need to be talks … real talks … connecting … expression of grievances … finding shared experiences (surely there has been enough suffering to share that) … connecting … without pretending that this can lead to any predictable results.

This process probably needs to happen both within Israeli and Palestinian societies simultaneously if not before it can happen between them. There is a cleansing, evolving and healing that need to take place within both societies before they can come together.

Restorative talks, not peace talks.

The Fertile Crescent

The most conflicted areas in the Middle East seem to align with what is called The Fertile Crescent.

It was an area that enjoyed abundant year long agriculture … an abundance that gave birth to excess which gave birth to … civilization (or at least a noe-worthy part of it). Spare sacks of wheat could be traded, were stored in religious buildings (where there was always someone to watch over it … the birth of banks) … were represented as coins … which were easier o carry around (and steal … hence policing) … though difficult to trade with further away … etc. etc.

In more and growing circles it is becoming evident that the practices of agriculture (plowing, planting in straight lines, mono-cultures, etc.) that formed the basis of this civilization are flawed and destructive (you may want to look up desertification). Alternative methods of agriculture are still very young and unproven … but a good look at this region today should remove any doubts that something at the core of this story was wrong … it is not only an ecologically desolate place but also socially desolate. Some of the most extremes forms of primitive human violence are resurfacing … not in Gaza, not in Europe or the USA or any other western country where Muslims may be a minority  … but rather where Muslim extremists can feel at home and flourish.

There are things in this world which cannot and will not be integrated, reconciled or resolved. Some things can only kill or die. You most probably SHOULD NOT WATCH this video:

</br>Here’s to “informal expressions of faith”: Allahu Akbar – God is Great – Baruch Hashem.

What does it mean to be “Pro Israeli” or “Pro Palestinian”. Try to look beyond Israelis and Palestinians. Ask yourself what are the social/intellectual values you would want to uphold in your society … don’t pick sides … pick values.

Posted in AltEco, Intake, outside | You are welcome to read 6 comments and to add yours

The “Reality” Science Explains


“Sciences values static patterns. Its business is to search for them. When nonconformity appears it is considered an interruption of the normal rather than the presence of the normal. A deviation from a normal static pattern is something to be explained and if possible controlled. The reality science explains is that “reality” which follows mechanisms and programs. That other worthless stuff which doesn’t follow mechanisms and programs we don’t pay any attention to.

See how this works? A thing doesn’t exist because we have never observed it. The reason we have never observed it is because we have never looked for it. And the reason we have never  looked for it is that it is unimportant, it has no value and we have other better things to do.

… Naturally there is no mechanism toward which life is heading. Mechanisms are the enemy of life. The more static and unyielding the mechanisms are, the more life works to evade them or overcome them.”

Robert Pirsig – Lila: An Inquiry into Morals

For more on this manifestation of science have a look at this talk by Rupert Sheldrake

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

First Facebook now AddThis


The price of “free” internet services continues to surface. Following Facebook’s emotional engineering, AddThis (a company provides social sharing buttons for websites) is also, it seems, in the business of experimenting on the backs of the people it serves without them knowing about it:

” … Like other tracking tools, canvas fingerprints are used to build profiles of users based on the websites they visit — profiles that shape which ads, news articles, or other types of content are displayed to them.

But fingerprints are unusually hard to block: They can’t be prevented by using standard Web browser privacy settings or using anti-tracking tools such as AdBlock Plus.

… The researchers found canvas fingerprinting computer code, primarily written by a company called AddThis, on 5 percent of the top 100,000 websites. Most of the code was on websites that use AddThis’ social media sharing tools.

… Rich Harris, chief executive of AddThis, said that the company began testing canvas fingerprinting earlier this year as a possible way to replace “cookies,” the traditional way that users are tracked, via text files installed on their computers.

We’re looking for a cookie alternative,” Harris said in an interview.

Harris said the company considered the privacy implications of canvas fingerprinting before launching the test, but decided “this is well within the rules and regulations and laws and policies that we have.”

AddThis did not notify the websites on which the code was placed because “we conduct R&D projects in live environments to get the best results from testing,” according to a spokeswoman.”

I know about AddThis because I create websites and care about privacty (and therefor don’t use AddThis). However if you are an end-user who “only” browses websites and think to yourself “I don’t use AddThis”, think again. Any website that you visit that uses AddThis is enabling AddThis to use you.

source via Matt

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

Stainless – Shinjuku


Adam Magyar, Stainless – Shinjuku (excerpt) from Adam Magyar

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Every once in a while, and in what seems to be increasing frequency, I read about interesting things happening in Bolivia. It seems to be standing up and reject predatory moves from the USA and the international corporate community. It feels like government there is, beware crazy stuff ahead, taking action to better the lives of its citizens.

This recent article speaks of how it is resisting Bilateral Investment Treaties (which are wreaking havoc on many developing countries and communities) and finding that despite their withdrawal from such agreements, foreign investment keep pouring into the country.

Something good seems to be happening in Bolivia (and a few other South American countries?)

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Farting Science




and for validation … links to the sources pictured in the image:

  • University of Exeter Research Paper
  • TIME Magazine (which I found by searching for the “farty” title which is still indexed in search engines – though it seems the article has since been changed – see “correction” notice at the end of current revision)

Following is an image of the search results dominated by “farting”:

Screenshot from 2014-07-16 12:37:58

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Ibrahim Maalouf


It’s been a while since I’ve heard something so fresh!

Thank you Matt

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Scientific Discovery


evidence on the workings of scientific discovery:

“How did they make their discovery? “We were in the research lab getting very frustrated. We raced down to the pub and had a lightbulb moment.” It is interesting that even scientists searching for the deepest darkness possible think of their breakthrough as enlightenment. Presumably you need that if you are staring at the abyss every day.”


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Facebook: Emotional Engineering


“… Over 600,000 people had their Facebook newsfeeds altered to reflect more “positive” or “negative” content, in order to determine if seeing more sad messages makes a person sadder.

… Facebook can manipulate the emotions of hundreds of thousands of people just to see what happens … Nobody has ever had this sort of power before. No dictator in their wildest dreams has been able to subtly manipulate the daily emotions of more than a billion humans so effectively. There are no precedents for what Facebook is doing here. Facebook itself is the precedent. What the company does now will influence how the corporate powers of the future understand and monetise human emotion.

… Facebook went to some lengths to be as unavailable as possible for comment without directly telling me where to shove my inquiry. Facebook were unavailable for comment in the way that a man who, on hearing the doorbell, runs out of the back door and over the garden wall is not at home to visitors.

Emotional engineering is, and always has been, Facebook’s business model. It is the practice of making itself socially indispensable that has ensured that, for many millions of people, Facebook has become the default front page of the internet.

… Facebook has already manipulated the voting behaviour of its users, and bragged about it, too.

… For you and me, this is a massive secret political experiment on the creepy-totalitarian side of interesting. For a senator, or a Member of Parliament, this news means and meant much, much more. It means power. Power of a new and breathtaking kind. Power that demands to be paid attention to and courted.

Facebook’s service is not free. Facebook’s product is your information, your worldview, your memories and experience, and that is what you pay with every time you log in. That information is power of a quality that is can be traded upon and sold.

… More people live a part of their lives on Facebook than live in any single country on earth, apart from China. It is, effectively, a country itself, a country of pure information where the authorities know everything you do and can change everything you see, without even telling you first.

… If Facebook is a country, then it is a corporate dictatorship. This is not a metaphor. I believe that it is beyond time that we began to hold social networking not just to the laws of the market, but to the common laws of the societies we live in and the societies we want to see.


Posted in Business, Intake, Intellect Run Amok, outside, Tech Stuff | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

Food from Spain


Zoom in on the white space:

More ground-level images and information

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