“To be a warrior is not a simple matter of wishing to be one. It is rather an endless struggle that will go on to the very last moment of our lives. Nobody is born a warrior, in exactly the same way that nobody is born a reasonable being. We make ourselves into one or the other.”
Carlos Castaneda

Tales of Power

Thank you Facebook

n

Something good has come out of the Facebook IPO:

“The IPO of FB [Facebook] destroyed the faith of many private investors in social networks”

Complements of the BBC.

They’re social networks, not money networks. It all comes to down to values. Facebook was setup as a money-network though it was falsely presented as a social network. Under false pretense it succeeded as a social network and in doing so undermined its true purpose of making money.  Living in a lie can be confusing.

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2012-05-27

n
  • @raymondpirouz which wrong is a designer cat-litter box? practical or ideological or both or neither? #
  • @raymondpirouz did NOT see that coming 🙂 #
  • @raymondpirouz I believe there r consequences beyond my personal likes/dislikes which I take into consideration in my actions and intentions #
  • @raymondpirouz I believe that the designers and consumers of of "designer cat litter boxes" don't see 2far beyond their own likes/dislikes #
  • @raymondpirouz communicating with you, who teaches, feels like better leverage then commenting on a YouTube video. Thank you. #
  • @raymondpirouz I'd say design it but don't make it 🙂 #
  • @raymondpirouz American banks set out to make financing a "better experience" 🙂 why are u critical of their effort? #
  • @raymondpirouz thats a mater of perspective … pesticides are killing machines thought to improve production of human food … and yet #
  • @raymondpirouz they are having a devastating effect #
  • @raymondpirouz remember the Frontline perspective … bankers set out to reduce risk = to leverage financing … the result well … #
  • @raymondpirouz since intent is also a matter of perspective … valid intentions require effort to improve perspective #
  • @raymondpirouz a mentality in which "a problem is solved (no matter how elegantly)" is blind to seeing beyond a problem #
  • @raymondpirouz how does manufacturing mountains of indulgent plastic garbage stand up against hedging nations to death? slow & fast death? #
  • space-frogger – the final frontier? http://t.co/ipcqvKW8 #
  • ahum … vested bullshit alert: "Valuing Facebook is more art than science at this stage of its development" http://t.co/BX2TXc68 #
  • @raymondpirouz that I get 🙂 #
  • @raymondpirouz "social" has been so over [intellectualized-commercialized-mechanized-hyped] that its simple & direct nature is lost on many #
  • so now we have a cat-in-the-box … saved her from our dogs … injured … but walking #
  • update: cat moved out of box sitting on some stuff in the shelves … resting #
  • update: cat seems to feel at home tucked deep inside the shelf … by the way … cat beautiful 🙂 #
  • when hostility becomes an official and publicly acknowledged government position: http://t.co/o4TDchas #
  • finally got around to writing about the Sepp Holzer style raised beds we built: http://t.co/Y0JeMKLb #

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Choosing Hostility

n

This is an official position of the UK government as it contemplates how to deal with potential illegal migration from collapsing EU countries such as Greece.

“The aim is to create here in Britain a really hostile environment for illegal migration,”

When hostility becomes an official and publiclya acknowledged government position … well … I have my reflections and I leave you to yours.

I have felt and stated that our move to a sheltered life at Bhudeva is taking place in a limited window of opportunity. Is that window closing for others?

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

Space Junk Alert

n

That’s not a title I made up … according to a BBC article space above the earth has become pollued with debris that is posing a threat to satellites, the international space station and essentially anything else operating up there. Given the speeds in which things orbit around the earth, it seems that anything the size of a baseball could do major damage … and that damage will (besides posing a threat to critical equipment and human life) generate even more dangerous debris until earth becomes trapped in a “no go” zone … in which case launching space ships may become akin to playing Frogger.

It seems that “leave it as you found it” may actually be a good idea and should be applied not just to camp grounds 🙂

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2012-05-20

n
  • we are constantly trying to make sense of a world that does not want to be made sensible #
  • cob shoes – then and now: http://t.co/WQ3GbCEc #
  • the 3rd and final part of the introduction of bees to Bhudeva: http://t.co/ZWy7E0Dh #
  • a second (small) peasant box family at Cutia Taranului http://t.co/bVOHmJ0N was snatched up in 2 days 🙂 #
  • we now have 4 broody chickens and 1 duck … I see a large flock in our future 🙂 #
  • RT @raymondpirouz cc @fredwilson The Inequality Speech That TED Won't Show You http://t.co/mlFUj5MN #
  • want to learn about meditation and commitment … watch a hen sit on a clutch of eggs for 21 days #
  • uploading the @CutiaTaranului information system for initial launch = actual use 🙂 #
  • so let me get this straight … Facebook was essentially bailed out on its first day of trading? http://t.co/L4kK5iuj #
  • @raymondpirouz another indicator of societies losing it … and another example of sensless good design. irony all over it #
  • @raymondpirouz yeah … but wouldn't be nice if people – especially designers – focused on beyond "at least" … like "at most" ? 🙂 #
  • @raymondpirouz even when the baby steps are in a wrong direction? do you believe there is a "wrong direction"? #

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Real Time Corruption: Facebook Bailed Out on Day 1

n

Yesterday Facebook went public … meaning that almost anyone on the planet can buy a stake in it. What follows is from an article from the Wall Street Journal:

Morgan Stanley, which led the platoon of 11 Wall Street banks that arranged the listing, had to dip into an emergency reserve of around 63 million Facebook shares—worth more than $2.3 billion at the offer price—to boost the price and create a floor around $38 a share …

The process is common in IPOs and works like this: The underwriters have the extra shares available to either sell or buy for a period after the IPO. If demand is strong, they sell them like all the other shares. But if the stock price falls, they can buy them back, effectively creating a floor for the price.

Facebook’s price began falling almost immediately after shares began trading. It is unclear exactly when Morgan Stanley stepped in, but traders said that the price movements throughout the day, with the shares occasionally touching the IPO price but never crossing below it, suggested the firm was active throughout much of the session …

Lead underwriter Morgan Stanley received about 38% of the IPO shares to distribute, while J.P. Morgan got 20% and Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s allotment was roughly 15%. Morgan Stanley is expected to command the largest percentage of more than $175 million in fees from the IPO.

If I understand correctly this means that trading may have ended with these large banks as owners of a large portion of the offered stocks … and that means that a major portion of the $16 billion dollars that Facebook “raised” was actually paid for by those banks … the same banks that nearly tanked the world economy and were bailed out by government taxpayers money.

So essentially, on its first day of trading, Facebook was bailed out by American taxpayer money … while greedy banks cashed in on transaction fees and Mark Zuckerberg and his friends simply cashed in. Now Zuckerberg can take some “real” fake money off the table, Facebook can afford to stumble or fail at the expense of people who can’t afford it and Zuckerberg can use his money to, say, become a venture capitalist and invest in other destructive businesses (he will probably funnel some of his money to curing some disease or feeding some hungry people or some other “worthy” cause)… repeating the cycle … indefinitely.

Please tell me again, why can’t share price fall below their target price during an IPO?

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How are they robbing us?

n

“It has become painfully obvious, even for me a 12 year old Canadian, that we are being defrauded and robbed by the banking system and a complicit government.”

Victoria Grant

Complements of Raymond Pirouz

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At Home

n

For almost three years this post was presented at the beginning of my blog. It was set there as a wish and a reminder for a change in my life. A few days ago I decided it was finally time to let it go. I am at home now. This post is here to tell you that a lot of my energy is now … at home. Though I still write here, I write much more at Bhudeva – an online reflection of our physical home. You can find me here as well as there 🙂

“One of the most joyous things we can do is to find our place, the land where we belong. Having found our place, we snuggle into it, learn about it, adapt to it, and accept it fully. We love and honor it. We rejoice in it. We cherish it. We become native to the land of our living.”

Carol Deppe

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

Then and Now

n

Many years ago I had a brief encounter with the Israeli army (like most young men and women I was recruited to regular service – though mine was atypically short). This was not a good time in my life so no fond memories are available from then. I do remember one rainy day in initial training when we were preparing to go to the shooting range. I was charged (together with someone else) with carrying a crate of ammunition. I remember lifting the crate and then a downward movement – the weight of the crate caused me to sink deeper into the mud caused by the rain. Then I remember trying to lift my foot and finding it much heavier then expected due to the huge lump of earth associated with it. Not fun at all.

Yesterday we had excellent rains … light and consistent showers which spectacularly covered the land and all of our crops.  This morning, the moist soil presented an opportunity to do some more planting (especially more potatoes). So we headed outside and had a wonderful couple of hours of work. Everything we planted is mulched (covered with plant remains to keep the soil from drying in the sun and to protect the precious biological life it houses) and just as we were finishing is started raining again.

Numerous times I found myself taking heavy steps … once again carrying healthy chunk of muddy earth with me. This time, however, I didn’t mind it at all. I was working in the mud of my own free will. This time there was a purpose. A purpose I could relate to. A purpose that shed light on the preciousness of the rains and the soil … and the graces which brought my life into this natural abundance. Its so much easier and more pleasant to live a life with a sense of purpose.

I wonder if this is how cob was discovered. The combination of clay-mud and hay makes a very resilient natural substance 🙂

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2012-05-13

n
  • @raymondpirouz somewhat chilling watching those wall street screens after the PBS Frontline special Power, Money & Wallstreet #
  • avem multa owa si nu avem kloshka … asta este 🙂 #romania #
  • I'm going to be sharing some of newfound appreciation for hebrew: http://t.co/5rsA4RnB #
  • starting with גשם – that's hebrew for "rain": http://t.co/97nZVRCn #
  • @raymondpirouz if Buffet said then … Buffet said: http://t.co/NRrv9MtI 🙂 #
  • here's what happened with our second bee standard-hive to top-bar-hive transition: http://t.co/LCjlVHw9 #
  • our neighbors have lent us a broody hen … maybe she'll get our gals into the mood 🙂 #
  • the hyper-intellectual theories of dull eyed men wearing dull colored suits are dulling humanity … off with their dullness #

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Buffet said

n

Taken from the Wall Street Journal

“Warren Buffett said recent reports of a bribery scandal at Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s (WMT) Mexico operations haven’t altered his view of investing in the retailer, he told CNBC in an interview.

Buffett said that he has always held that in general, someone at larger corporations is always doing something wrong, and that the company’s job is to get the issue corrected.”

The only way I can accept this as a truth is if I think of Buffet as a corporation (not too difficult to do) and then apply this statement to it. In which case its his job to get this issue corrected … though my hopes are not too high.

Thank you Raymond

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Rain

n

Andreea and I were having a conversation about a vision-statement for a new website we will soon be launching to support her Doula-training work in Romania. The direction we were heading in would translate roughly as (a) every woman has a right to choose how to give birth; (b) every woman has a right to support and assist other women in their birth experiences; (c) a Doula is a woman who supports another woman in realizing her birth-related wishes (to give birth as she chooses).

The phrases, once present, continued to go through a process of refinement. One such refinement was around the word “realizing” in the 3rd phrase. I was standing outside, closing up for the day, speaking to Andreea who was standing at the entry to the house and I used the Hebrew word להגשים (“lehagshim”).  However, seconds after Andreea disappeared inside I realized what a difficult task I had left her with – translating that  into Romanian.

Just then, I kid you not, it started to rain and I looked up to the sky, smiled and called Andreea to come back outside. There I was, standing in the rain, and I asked Andreea if she knew what the root word is for להגשים. She didn’t … so I looked to the sky and she soon smiled and got it.

The root word is גשמ “geshem”.

Another word that branches out of this root is גשמי (“gashmi”) which means corporeal or physical.

Or if you simply replace the last letter of the root word with a final letter (there are a few letters in Hebrew that have two variations – one used inside a word and another used at the end) you get  גשם which means “rain”.

Rain falls down to the earth. Things that come from the heavens to the earth become real … they manifest. להגשים means “to make real” … and indeed a Doula is there to support a woman as she transforms her birth-related wishes into an unforgettably real experience.

In hebrew rain, which will awaken the potential of our newly planted seeds and enable them to become mature plants that feed us, is rooted in the idea of making things real.  Helping other transform their wishes into reality …. thats sounds like a great thing to do. Andreea’s eyes sparkled with realization … however it didn’t make her task of translation any easier 🙂

Sidenote: it seems that in business lingo Rainmaker is someone who gets things done … brings in a lot of business … hmmm 🙂

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Hebrew

n

Though it was my first mother-tongue, for most of my life I hated hebrew. It is a difficult language and, like many other things, most of its vibrance was systemically destroyed by my teachers. I encountered difficulties in both language studies and bible studies (a “not–quite-religious-semi-historic-and-yet” discipline that is part of the core curiculum in the Israeli education system). I also had a parcitularly hard time with Hebrew because a good chunck of my formative years were spent away from Israel and so I had a lot of catching up to do when we returned. That was also when I picked up English as my second, though primary, mother tongue (as is apparent in this very blog).

A few weeks ago I visited Israel. I first heard a word of Hebrew from a stranger when I sat down at the airport and the first thought that came to my mind was “nope, I didn’t miss this at all”. That thought only intensified the closer I came to Israel and the more Hebrew I heard. However, during my visit I began to distinguish between Hebrew and the “People” who are associated with it. The “People” I have a hard time relating to (at best). The language, however, I have learned to appreciate and cherish.

This appreciation is relatively new – probably the last 2 or 3 years. It is a gift I was given by my Israeli Yoga teacher Ziva Kinrot. She has rare insight into both Yoga and Hebrew & Judaism and is able to draw inspiring cross-references between them. In my first years with Ziva this often annoyed me however at one point (I can’t say quite when – I can speculate but that feels like potentially an entire post) I began to appreciate her insights. I have learned to see deeper relationships and meanings – such as are not available in any other language I know of … except maybe Sanskrit … of which I simply know too little. Like Sanskrit, I believe Hebrew holds keys to spiritual insight and growth.

Now that I live far from the Land and the People associated with the Hebrew language it has begun to shimmer for me. So much so that I have decided to write about it and even open a new category for it (I haven’t opened a new category in quite some time) where I intend to share small and personal insights as they appear in my life.

I am not an academic, what follows is simply my basic understanding and perspective of Hebrew and just enough to support what will follow in the coming posts.

A few things to know about Hebrew:

  • Most words have root-words (usually three letters)  which can branch out into diverse variations, uses and meanings … yet the root is always there and always meaningful. Root words can connect and illuminate seemingly very different words.
  • There are cases where changing the orders of the letters (usually just three) of a root word creates a new root word which can further illuminate seemingly very different words.
  • There is a mathematical representation of hebrew words that can be used to give a word a numerical value.  I don’t know enough about this however I do know that there are very interesting and illuminating cross-references to be made between words that share numeric values.

There is, in my mind, a complex system of patterns (kind of like an elaborate mathematics) that describes how root-words evolve into a working language. Some of it is intuitive and fairly easy to pick up once you get used to the language however some of it is too complicated even for people born into the language. My impression was that not only are their many inter-related patterns but there were also many exception to every pattern.

I would not be surprised to learn that both the patterns and the exceptions are reflections of even deeper, spiritual relationships and insights that the language has to offer. I however have not yet had the opportunity to be amongst teachers who had access to and could share this knowledge with me. I am not sure such an opportunity will present itself in this lifetime.

I have however been given an opportunity to softly reflect and revisit this precious language and this I gratefully embrace. It is particularly interesting to reflect on the language in my new life with Andreea. Though Andreea speaks fluent hebrew it isn’t her mother tongue. Here in Romania we speak to each other in Hebrew and then we reach out and connect to other people, I in English and she in Romanian. It is enchanting time and again for us to be able to communicate so easily, richly and precisely within ourselves in Hebrew and then totogether encounter and overcome difficulties in communicating our thoughts to others who do not share our access to Hebrew.

This post and all those that may follow are respectfully dedicated to my teacher. Inspiration is hers. Mistakes are mine.

Posted in Hebrew, inside | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2012-05-06

n
  • don't say you didn't kow its simple to do home schooling in #romania … costs ~$400 a year 4 official registration in a USA umbrella school #
  • tremendously productive tractor day here at http://t.co/IgVtKdkd 🙂 raised beds are really coming along 🙂 #
  • daily http://t.co/IgVtKdkd report: market, trees, boxes, funeral, ticks and fleas … and tea 🙂 #
  • one thing that tops peeing (almost) anywhere I want is doing so naked ahhh #romania #
  • bees – second try … this time quick and painless …damn they don't like us 🙁 all stung again #
  • the bees are still hunting us down outside the front dood … can't go outside … they are also all over poor Loui (our dog) !!! #
  • rain has finally arrived (with winds) … raised beds and newly trees are getting water … and the bees will hopefully call it a day 🙂 #
  • after a storm: http://t.co/7udeCJQB #

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2012-04-29

n
  • though we aren't quite ready … we will be bringing home 2 bee families on teusday 🙂 #
  • @lifeinromania looking foarte local 🙂 #
  • back at home with two bee families 🙂 http://t.co/180jXdFR #
  • "authentic one-teacher-one-student traditions still exist in plenty … if you haven’t found them, dare I say you aren’t really looking … #
  • You need to seek them out like your life depended on it, or else, your life probably just doesn’t depend on it." http://t.co/FIUHDSOi #
  • a sudden storm delivered a lesson in resliency: http://t.co/ZiLPXYpX #
  • @lifeinromania it maybe a passive house … but at 1200 euro per sqm it has NOTHING TO DO with Romania #
  • daily http://bhudeva.or report: two new top-bar bee hives 🙂 #
  • how goes the transfer of the bees into a top-bar hive you ask? let's just say that I now know that I'm not at all allergic to bee stings #
  • @raymondpirouz scientists have very little understanding in nature http://t.co/EKO5ZicU #
  • @raymondpirouz no, most science is scientists trying to prove what they want to prove 🙂 motivation is key .. but isn't very scientific 🙂 #
  • @raymondpirouz that makes science more of a religion then an intellectual pursuit … doesn't it? #
  • @raymondpirouz "how do you tell the saviors from the degenerates?" Rober Pirsig http://t.co/vvyCbPRW #
  • @raymondpirouz Amen …. and good (local) night 🙂 #
  • @raymondpirouz "The law of gravity … one could almost define life as … organized disobedience of [it]" http://t.co/reOJ255S 🙂 #
  • this week was bee week at Bhudeva: http://t.co/fgIuMQEU 🙂 #
  • @lifeinromania "a fart in a torndao" has to be one of the greatest metaphors of all time 🙂 #
  • one of our cocks is in a frenzy … looks like he got stung (or is about to) 🙁 #
  • @raymondpirouz thanku vmuch 4that | my reflections: A Greed Assumption – from Wall Street Bankers to Romanian Peasants http://t.co/EZ5QJ7W6 #
  • @raymondpirouz a) I believe greed is based on misconception b) we've tried it and it failed … lets hope we r a learning species 🙂 #
  • @raymondpirouz nope, haven't had TV for many years and reality shows … well … lets just stop here 🙂 #
  • @raymondpirouz and we humans have been gifted with consciousness … time to bring it on 🙂 #
  • @raymondpirouz the real real world is not sensational enough to be portrayed on TV … there are beautiful things going on with humanity 🙂 #
  • @raymondpirouz there are two general directions for (as an example) quitting smoking: 1:improving your life; 2:cancer and dying #
  • @raymondpirouz 2me the challenge of understanding wall street is to bring it close to me not to some social extreme such as hoarding #
  • @raymondpirouz you and I, by our nature, are susceptible to greed … if we can see that we can better underdstand wall street #
  • @raymondpirouz 🙂 #

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A Greed Assumption: From Wall Street Bankers to Romanian Peasants

n

I just finished watching the first two parts (and looking forward to the last two) of this excellent PBS research documentary Money, Power and Wall Street. Though it is a topic and theme I’ve heard/read about numerous times, it seems like the presentations are getting better and better. I recommend it.

As I was watching it the word “greed” stuck in my mind as a recurring theme. Though it is tempting and emotionally satisfying to point a finger at people that should be blamed for our problems I feel it is an injustice to everyone because it doesn’t delve into the heart of the problem. In my mind, one of the indicators that I am moving towards the core of a problem is that it makes the “us-and-them” lines more fuzzy and becomes more of a “we” story. In this case “greed” seems to do that.

Recently we launched here in Romania a project called Cutia Taranului or in English “Peasant Box”. We are trying to help peasants establish a direct-delivery service of fresh produce to a regular customer base of people in the city. The first family, neighbors and friends, made 50 such boxes available and the boxes were snapped up within a few days. They added 10 more boxes and those too were spoken for almost instantly (for the record: according to our estimates at ~20 boxes they would have reached their current level of revenues with a much higher profit margin so 60 boxes … ).

Then word began to spread and we have been approached by more peasants and more customers all over Romania who wish to establish a similar service. Naturally, the first family also spread the word to some of their family and neighbors and through them two more peasant families have showed an interest. One family is interested in offering 30 boxes and another family just 10 boxes. When that happened the first family asked us with a sense of urgency to increase their offering to 80 boxes. They were afraid that they would lose potential customers to the two new families (this in a city of almost 400,000 people and a waiting list of people waiting to sign up when more boxes become available). In other words they got greedy. The sudden taste of potential (not a single box has been shipped – boxes only start shipping at the beginning of June when produce becomes available) success brought out greed.

It was an enlightening experience for me to witness first hand how greed is born. It has popped up again since (with other peasants). We quenched it and it will probably continue to require our attention.

Yet further reflection leads me to believe that greed is still not a root cause. Greed is a product of a deeply ingrained flawed mentality … something along the lines of “there isn’t enough for everyone”, “that more is better” … a mentality that is rooted in and manifests fear. Wall Street Bankers have simply taken that mentality (present even in Romanian peasants) to an extreme. In doing so they have done us a service. They have shown us that that mentality is wrong – it simply doesn’t work. It is a huge socio- economic platypus:

“The world comes to us in an endless stream of puzzle pieces that we would like to think all fit together somehow, but that in fact never do. There are always some pieces like platypi that don’t fit … we can ignore [them] … give them silly explanations … or we can take the whole puzzle apart and try other ways of assembling it that will include more of them”

Robert Pirsig

We shouldn’t be blaming wall street bankers. We should be thanking them for doing humanity a huge service … for conducting this awesome experiment and showing us that greed is a misconception. We can now (a) put this experiment (and its devastating consequences) to sleep and (b) re-examine the “greed assumption” and it’s socio-economic expressions and try to reassemble humanity in a better way.

Thank you again Raymond for bringing the PBS documentary to my attention.

Posted in AltEco, Business, inside, outside, Quality | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

The capitalist network that runs the world

n

From an article published at The New Scientist:

“As protest against financial power sweep the world this week, science may have confirmed the protesters’ worst fears … The work … revealed a core of 1318 companies with interlocking ownerships … although they represented 20 per cent of global operating revenues, the 1318 appeared to collectively own through their shares the majority of the world’s large blue chip and manufacturing firms – the “real” economy – representing a further 60 per cent of global revenues … When the team further untangled the web of ownership, it found much of it tracked back to a “super-entity” of 147 even more tightly knit companies … that controlled 40 per cent of the total wealth in the network … The top 20 included Barclays Bank, JPMorgan Chase & Co, and The Goldman Sachs Group … It’s disconcerting to see how connected things really are … the super-entity is unlikely to be the intentional result of a conspiracy to rule the world … Such structures are common in nature.”

My thoughts:

  • Funny how science is proud of itself for proving what is already common knowledge.
  • Funny how scientists are disconcerted by the notion that things really are connected.
  • If the top 20 players in this field include names that have that have come close to collapse … does that mean we can look forward to a collapse of “the capitalist network that runs the world” … and the birth of something better?
  • Sad how scientists have very little understanding of how things work in nature.

 

 

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2012-04-22

n
  • better gardener, better friend http://t.co/a6EQqgHf #
  • Dear @Jason no, not everyone: http://t.co/elwb5FRF cc: @raymondpirouz #
  • so sad/hillarious to read Google ranting about threats to a free Internet http://t.co/naVh5zY2 …hyprcritical times we live in #
  • if you haven't already heard of Sepp Holzer (a revolutionary Austrian farmer) you may want to take a look: http://t.co/cAgz0q6P #
  • dharma: I am working on the @CutiaTaranului information system while Andreea sitting next 2me is speaking 2a peasant who wishes 2join #
  • @lifeinromania multumesc 🙂 funny thing is I don't like writing code, but the sense of purpose (http://t.co/O6zQWm5t) is so moving 🙂 #
  • @iandstewart though u should know … greatest obstacle for me to trying '_s' is thematic … seems u r on a good role 🙂 #
  • typical romanian village alarm & deterence system: dogs; typical system override: bones 🙂 #
  • in case your faith in life has been wavering: http://t.co/AvlwP96x #
  • @lifeinromania it may be a long stretch but … cancer, inequality, #romania http://t.co/zI6wiObB #
  • a fantastic side-effect of @CutiaTaranului – reaching a younger generation: http://t.co/5ChoAKjs #
  • the last two days a working crew has been laying a 2nd layer of gravel on the road to Bhudeva … #
  • & it seems we've been gifted – as they will also b covering with a 2nd layer (we did the 1st) the last 200m stretch that comes up to us 🙂 #

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Cancer, Inequality, Romania

n

This is going to be either one of those super-long posts I’ll never complete & publish or a strange short one. I am aiming for the latter.

Cancer

I prefer to think of disease as a function rather then as a dysfunction. Disease, I believe, is a natural response to an unnatural behavior. For example you live a stressful life, eat industrialized food, smoke and behave like an ass. Then (surprisingly) cancer (or heart failure, bood pressure, diabetes, depression, obesity … ) comes along and simply stops you in your tracks. To survive cancer you are, in addition to enduring tormentful medical treatments, going to have to find a reason to live and change your values and life accordingly … big time … even then your chances are not good.

Cancer is usually a brutal intervention in life. Other illnesses (be they biological, mental, spiritual)  try to get your attention in a more subtle way … but lesser illnesses you can ignore or postpone. Cancer is like a big bully that gets in your face. Your opinion of it doesn’t really matter nor does it change the fact that is has an important function in your life.

I have embraced this into my life and I also apply it to other people I care about. It helps me make sense of things that sometimes seem senseless and it occassionaly helps people I care about see things in a different (though not necessarily comforting) light.

Inequality

John Stewart did an(other) excellent bit about inequality in the USA … its in two parts:

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
World of Class Warfare – Warren Buffett vs. Wealthy Conservatives
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog The Daily Show on Facebook
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
World of Class Warfare – The Poor’s Free Ride Is Over
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog The Daily Show on Facebook

After watching it Andreea and I embarked on a conversation. My opening position was “as much as I appreciate change, there is an unhealthy change in the world, an overreach that will lead to collapse”. Andreea’s opening position was “everything is fine with the world”. The conversation got me to rethink my position by applying my “cancer mentality” to it.

What if,  I asked myself, “inequality” is a cancer. What is its function? It is creating a gap between rich and poor … or in other words it is putting distance between them. Trying to see that as a good thing … I came up with … if indeed the world is heading for a crash, and that crash is being created and led by the rich … then maybe “inequality” is merely trying to protect the “poor” by distancing them from the “crashing rich”.

I can see this in my life … I, despite a “successful career”, failed to achieve a financially sustainable life (in other words … financially speaking … I crashed and burned). Though I came here out of free choice, from a financial perspective I was driven practically forced to explore and strive for self-sustenance by joining the ranks of Romanian peasants. Cancer struck and I made some radical life changes. I feel better with an outlook for constant improvement. Less then two years ago I felt my life on a crash-course together with the world around me. Today I feel my life moving into an absurd abundance while continuing to be a spectator watching that other world continue on its crash-course.

What if, from some large evolutionary perspective, financial inequality is actually a good thing?

Romania

Then, exiting stage left, Sam appears with his post describing a collapsing social Romanian fabric.

Yes, I know Romania is a chaotic country which inherited both the graft system of the Ottoman Empire as well as the legacy of autocratic Communism. Yes, I know it’s been at the mercy of foreign powers, financial and sovereign, for many a long year. But something new seems to be going on, or perhaps a bigger wave is surging on what was always a chaotic sea, and at the end of the day I see about 500 screaming children with pudding on their faces and not too many adults left standing. Even Daddy Mark is left to his hectoring and finger waggling off in the corner, talking magical tales of unicorn dust about how Romanians can now buy a piece of American companies on the Bucharest stock exchange and a grand total of eight fucking Apple shares were sold the first day.

Meanwhile robberies, shootings, spousal murders and suicides are up and today I saw a lady get her shit stolen by passers by two seconds after a car ran her down in Craiova.

Having recently written my own perspective on Romania as a Land of Peasants, together with the fresh “Inequality cancer” theme moving inside me … I respond “yeah, I get that”. Romania is a kind of strange hybrid experiment between “3rd world” and “modern western economics”. It wouldn’t surprise me that this historically stubborn Land of Peasants would be one of the first to “snap” … a relatively healthy “Romanian peasant society” is (relatively even if unconsciously) quick to pick up on a parasytic “economic cancer” and it is responding to it violently – doing whatever it can to shake it off and get back to is tried and true peasant life.

It’s a big what if … but what if?

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

No, Not Everyone

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Disclosure: I beieve that a free Internet is a precious resource. It has been and continues to enable me to leverage my life in a radical way. As a result, I have great respect for the technologies that make the Internet possible and a similar default respect for the people behind those technologies. This, coupled with a past software/technology career keeps me in tune with a measured trickle of technology related news.

This morning I came across a post by Jason Calcanis. I know his name vaguely as a notable player in venture capital and Internet startup-land. He wrote a post outlining a path for Apple to become a trillion dollar company (a first in the history of economics/business). His prediction is that Apple will do so by making a major move into the world of online payments. I tend to agree with his prediction … and it left me a bit fearful. I believe Apple represents a lethal combination of amazing and disastrous achievement. I would be happy to learn that Apple has stopped revolutionizing and has either moved into a less-important and static existence or into non-existence … yet that doesn’t seem to be the case.

For more background on my position (no stocks involved) in Apple: Comfort: Apple in China & Potatoes in Romania and Not Getting an iPod.

Though its tempting and somewhat satisfying to be critical of Apple, I believe that it is only a symptom. It, a typical modern-day capitalist construct, is simply doing what it is meant and designed to do – supplying a market need and doing so in a way that optimizes profit. The root cause of Apple are the needs it fulfills … and that brings us to people – many millions of people. In the words of Jason Calcanis:

In the Calacanis household we buy at least 20+ apps a month. It’s a $50 to $100 monthly addiction, and it’s getting worse and worse by the day (or better depending on how you look at it).

Apps are the new Starbucks. Apps are our new guilty pleasure.

A daily “pick me up” that gives a longer and more fulfilling dopamine rush than a frappuccino — and without the calories (y’all heard on “60 Minutes” that sugar is now toxic, right?).

If you’re going to burn $3 to $5 a day consuming something, an app is the perfect little fix.

Apple’s neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) has trained us to solve our problems with apps.

You have problems? We have solutions.

“There’s an App for that” is a cult manifesto on par with “live your best life!”

Bottom line, we’ve been programmed that “installing” the latest app will make our lives better. The progress status bar at the bottom of an app icon is an emptying syringe.

We’re all app junkies, and for good reason: they’re a delightful rush and cheap.

There’s a reason why crack and apps are the same price.

I am assuming that in “We’re all app junkies” Jason is referring to more then just his immediate junky family. That’s where Jason is wrong. I’ve never owned a smartphone, heck I’ve never used a phone that has a touch screen (during my recent visit to Israel I was amazed to see so many people using them). I have no need for one though assume that eventually I will have to get one because simple phones will just not exist any more (though I will most likely still be using it to store and dial to a handful of phone numbers) … and I am not the only one. I believe that most of the people on the planet (the majority of human kind at the expense of whom Jason and his app-junky minority live their indulgent addictive lives) are not app-junkies – they are too busy working and paid to little to afford apps … or like me, privileged to live a life that is inherently immune to app-junkiness.

However this post isn’t intended to be a rant. It is a plea. People like Jason and their ability to utilize and scale technology places them in a rare position to make a huge impact on mankind. Their impact seems to be on a destructive course … one that he himself describes using words like “addicition, guilty pleasure, dopamine rush, fix, cult, emptying syringe, junkies, rush, cheap, crack”. I started this post with a confession of what an amazing impact a free Internet has had on my life and how that impact is now spreading out and touching many others. I feel that Jason and his kin are disconnected to the point that they are deluding themselves that they are a majority on this planet. I beg you Jason … please wake up, please sober up, please reconnect with your fellow humans, please step up to the challenge you are uniquely positioned to take on. We, you and I and our worlds, need to connect instead of gravitating further and further apart.

I was prompted to write this post because I could not leave a comment on Jason’s post. To leave a comment I would have to sign up with one of four services (Facebook, Yahoo, AOL or Hotmail) I want nothing to do with. Jason, I don’t know if it’s ignorance or choice … but the end result is that I cannot join your conversation. That is a sad expression of how far apart we have grown.

 

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