“It’s the little things. There’s nothing bigger is there?”
Vanilla Sky

Christopher Alexander on Ornament


“As the whole emerges, the universe becomes ornamented by it … In this understanding a flower, or a river, or a person, or a building all have the same potential role. Each of them may be judged by the extent to which this pure blissful structure comes into being, and by the extent to which the light of the universe shines through as a result of this creation”

Christopher Alexander – The Nature of Order Book 1: The Phenomenon of Life

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Late Breakfast



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No Bird



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The Rise and Fall of .Ly


When virtual worlds and physical worlds collide – funky top level domains depend on funky (another kind) countries:

“In 2012, the US imposed sanctions on Syria, for, among other things, their occupation of Lebanon, their apparent support for terrorist groups, and an intent to pursue weapons of mass destruction …

Artsy — a social platform for sharing and purchasing art — occupied the domain Art.sy. The “.sy” in the URL is the country code for Syria. .Sy domains are ultimately registered with and purchased from a Syrian Internet authority. Although Artsy had registered Art.sy in 2011, before sanctions were imposed, Artsy’s annual payments to maintain the domain meant they were breaking sanctions …

Art.sy changed its url to Artsy.net (a change that cost them “under $50,000.”)”



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Sending Women Away


I am writing this primarily with Annelieke in heart and mind.

I talked to Andreea today. I was curious to hear about the Fairy Godmothers weekend. She was curious to hear about Portugal.

During the last part of the conversation Andreea brought up the subject of my relationship with Annelieke and my relationships in general. The context, she made direct and clear at the end of the conversation, was my well being, her wanting to see me happy. She drew a picture in which I sent Annelieke to make a home for herself, that I did not choose to go there and make a life with her … to create a home together. As I understand it, Andreea is coming from a story in which we are creators of our world … in this case … I am creating a world in which I end up alone (to simplify: I sent Andreea away, and now I am sending Annelieke away).

I shared with her, what I also shared with Annelieke and Iulia … that right now the existence that most resonates with me is that which lives inside you. I don’t mean that as an escape. That is my current experience. I don’t feel there is a place for me in the world. I feel I have tried to introduce myself to the world and to make myself available in many ways … and that hasn’t yielded fruits (yet). I don’t feel that I have the ability/energy to carve out a place in the world for myself. I haven’t encountered a space / place / context that inspired me to challenge these perceptions. What I do have is these few intimate relationships where I am me, I am welcomed as I am, I am cared for, I am listened to, I become a part of something … and that is further amplified when the people in these relationships, you, reach out into the world and touch others.

But … I agreed with her … kind of. Saying I sent Annelieke away to make a home for herself in Portugal is technically correct, but not a complete picture. For me, it would be like saying I threw salt away … without pointing out that I did that into a pot of cooking soup to bring out its flavors. However, having cleared that up, I am not dismissing what Andreea is trying to communicate to me. The thing is that she wasn’t able to help me through to make it relevant or actionable. She boiled it down to simplistic questions like (and I’m recalling them … so certainly not precisely) “Do I want Annelieke as a life partner?” or “What do I want for myself in life?”.

The first question I can’t answer. I don’t know what life-partner is. I don’t think Andreea assumes it as a simplistic and obvious term. I am assuming that she is asking it from her own current experience with Mihaela (I chose not to inquire too deeply because that was not what Andreea was trying to give me … I felt that approaching the conversation with an analytical knife would have undermined her gift to me). It did become clear as we were talking that she isn’t hinting at one person that can fulfill everything. It could, for example, be a non-sexual, purpose related relationship. So I don’t know. I DO know that I am interested in definitions. I do know that I am interested in tasting and choosing, tasting and choosing again and again … and allowing myself to arrive at something that I want. I understand that if one believes in, for example, psychology, that one could argue that in “allowing experience to unfold” I am actually allowing unconscious fears and inhibitions to shape / limit my life. I’m not going there.

The second question was more penetrating. It, had a clear answer … well two clear answers. The first answer was that I cannot see into “life” … one day at a time is a capacity that currently works for me. So in that context what I know RIGHT NOW is the last “formula” that led me to a peaceful existence (I have been out of touch with it for a month … so I have yet to confirm that it is still relevant): getting up in the morning, reading with a tea, practicing and having a late breakfast … and hopefully with something meaningful to engage after that for whatever remains of the day. Andreea insisted I look further … and I did … and there was the second clear answer. I don’t want to be … BUT … I don’t want to get into that. So the question isn’t very useful for me.

The context was Andreea caring for me. She said that saying those things to me is progress … that in the past she wasn’t able to do so without echoing her own fears … that she is glad she can finally share this with me. I am grateful for this potential and for what she shared with me. However it left me feeling heavy and disassociated. I had to take some silent time to settle.

Mostly I wanted to communicate this to Annelieke: it may look like I am throwing salt … but I AM trying to cook a good soup.


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Facebook Is Throttling Nonprofits And Activists


The title is misleading … Facebook is throttling all traffic … nonprofits and activits just happened to be there too … yet further evidence that building social capital on Facebook may be a poor investment:

“… Put simply, “organic reach” is the number of people who potentially could see any given Facebook post in their newsfeed. Long gone are the days when Facebook would simply show you everything that happened in your network in strict chronological order. Instead, algorithms filter the flood of updates, posts, photos, and stories down to the few that they calculate you would be most interested in … This means that even if I have, say, 400 friends, only a dozen or so might actually see any given thing I post … the ratio that Facebook has more-or-less publicly admitted it is ramping down to a target range of 1-2% for Pages.”

I continue to be amazed and entertained by the naivity and delusion of phrases like this:

“Facebook urgently needs to address the impact that its algorithm changes are having on nonprofits, NGOs, civil society, and political activists …”

It tells me that the author (like many people) still don’t understand the nature of Facebook. The fact that social organizing has been possible on Facebook is a side-effect they tolerate not something that is aligned with their objectives (harvesting people’s attention and converting it into money).



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D.A. Wallach


A fresh and sweet gift via Alexander Ebert:

And the overwhelming poignancy in the contrast of the lyrics and this video clip:

And his debut album:

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Christopher Alexander – It Is the Process …


” … Look at this Hispano-Moresque tile of the 15th century. When we first look at it, we see a beautiful design, harmonious, orderly, well conceived, beautiful space and color. In contemporary terms, all this would appear to be part of the design of the tile, since it is the geometry of the finished tile, it seems to us, that causes this. We think of beauty as a result of design.

But when I handled this tile … and started to ask myself how I would make a tile like this, the thing took on quite a different character …

I believe the design was made by laying thick rope into the soft clay. It is the rope which allowed the maker to form such complex shapes … In my studio my assistant went further to understand how it had been done, and made a clay impression of the tile’s surface in reverse. This reverse – a raised embossed impression taken in modeling clay – was even more impressive, and more beautiful than the tile itself. I realized that this – the negative impression – must have been the actual thing which the maker made, and that the tile was then cast from it in clay.

The further I went to understand the actual process which had been used to make the tile, the more I realized that it was this process, more than anything, which governs the beauty of the design. Perhaps nine-tenths of its character, its beauty, comes simply from the process that the maker followed. The design, what we nowadays think of as the design, followed. It as almost a residue from the all important process. The design is indeed beautiful, yes. But it can only be made as beautiful as it is within the technique, or process, used to make it. And once one uses this technique, the design … follows almost without thinking, just as a result of following the process.

… An attempt to follow the same drawing, but with different techniques, will fall flat on its face. And if I change the technique (process), then the design must change too. This design follows almost without effort from this technique. It is the process, not the design, that is doing all the hard work, and which is even paving the way for the design.

Thus the making, the physical process of shaping, carving, crying, glazing, and firing tile are the ways in which this tile gets its form, its life, even its design …

This gradual rubbing together of phenomena to get the right result, the slow process of getting things right, is almost unknown to us today.”

Christopher Alexander – The Nature of Order Book 2: The Process of Creating Life

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Yanis Varoufakis at the University of Coimbra


I am relieved to encounter this kind of intellectual and political discourse … a gift from the Greeks in their time of crisis to the rest of Europe.

… and yet I don’t feel that this goes to the heart of the transition we are facing.

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Portugal – Porto Covo


Annelieke’s father has joined us for a couple of days and a combination of spontaneity, alcohol and misguided navigation sent us on a long day that started in Vila Novo de Milfontes, continued to Porto Covo and Odemira.

The screen on my Panasonic LX3 camera died (I’m already in the process of ordering spare parts to fix it) so these images were taken with Annelieke’s Canon DSLR … which I am grateful is around, is way more bulky to carry and using it for a while has reaffirmed my preference for Nikon DSLRs (in terms of user experience, not necessarily image quality).

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Placenta and Curing Cancer


Could it be that placenta, that which nourishes life, may inspire a cure for cancer?

“The hunt for a vaccine against malaria in pregnant women has provided an unexpected side benefit …

… the malaria parasite attaches itself to in the placenta in pregnant women is identical to a carbohydrate found in cancer cells. In the laboratory, scientists have created the protein that the malaria parasite uses to adhere to the placenta and added a toxin. This combination of malaria protein and toxin seeks out the cancer cells, is absorbed, the toxin released inside, and then the cancer cells die.

… For decades, scientists have been searching for similarities between the growth of a placenta and a tumor. The placenta is an organ, which within a few months grows from only few cells into an organ weighing approx. two pounds, and it provides the embryo with oxygen and nourishment in a relatively foreign environment. In a manner of speaking, tumors do much the same, they grow aggressively in a relatively foreign environment …”

… ironically though …

“It would appear that the only snag is the fact that the treatment would not be available for pregnant women.”

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A short movie about a Japanese hotel that was founded and has been run by the same family for over 1300 years. Not much about the hotel in this movie, but so much subtle and less subtle information about Japanese culture.

Houshi (english) from Fritz Schumann on Vimeo.

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Protected: Family Visit September 2015


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Summer 2015 continues Off and On the Yoga Mat


I arrived with a steady and evolving on-the-mat practice. It came to a sudden stop when a spring allergy suddenly kicked in. It took most of July for me to settle back into a practice … and then a lower back problem started.

It felt like a muscular pain in my left-lower back … so not quite a spine issue. It started gradually but quickly became very disruptive. One morning I got on the mat and I was able to do a delicate (cikitsa version) of a practice. The next day forward bends were no longer possible. Very soon, the only comfortable position was standing up. I continued to do things that didn’t place physical load on my back and didn’t require any twisting … basically standing facing forward. Resting became an issue … I found a sitting position that I could hold for a while … but lying down was uncomfortable and I developed a fear of getting up because that required very careful manipulation and still hurt.

The peak came the morning after Annelieke arrived for a visit. I woke up early, uncomfortable and wanted to get up without disturbing her. I decided to get up in one swift movement … bad choice. It hurt a lot – though I am still not convinced there was a slower path that would have hurt less. I bit my lip to contain the pain and after a few seconds started walking towards the bench where my clothes were. I made it just in time to place a hand on the bench. Then I feinted and fell to the floor … the sound of me hitting the floor woke her up. I came to after a few seconds and was barely able to make my way back to standing. Eventually I did, and I sat on the bench … where I feinted again … this time with Annelieke holding me.

My aching back kept me off the mat for most of August. When September came around I slowly my found way back to the mat. I was surprised by the improvement I felt in my practice every day. within a week I was back to almost full mobility. There was still stiffness in my lower back and shoulders and three weeks into September those were almost gone too.

Then my family arrived for a a first visit in Romania and I was again away from the mat. Annelieke also arrived to be with my family and brough some slight illness with her. It seems I picked it up and shortly after my family left I fell ill. This was the end of September. A week later Annelieke and I traveled to Portugal – where I am now writing this post … just now starting to fell like the sickness is behind me. I may be able to find some practice time here, but I expect a stable practice will resume when I am back in Bhudeva (in about two weeks).

When I look back at these last few months I encounter two perspectives. One is of a period of sickness … too much sickness. I have become familiar with the recurring allergy period … but this continuous cycle has been unpleasant, demanding and disheartening. The other perspective is one of wonder. Though the sickness has kept me off-the-mat is hasn’t kept me from practice … maybe even practice that touches on a deep and subtle place. As always, my “patience” muscles have gotten a good workout. I have also noticed that when I do find my way back to the mat I “heal” quicker than I expect.

I am also finding that my sense of physical being gets subtly refined in every off-on cycle. By being patient with my breath during allergy my breath gets slightly better … softer, more spacious, more steady. By being caring with my back when it is hurt I am able to move it with more depth … more movement in more places, more directional support, more abdominal support. By allowing sickness time to fade and practice time to heal I feel self-trust and acceptance being reinforced. It is as if the periods of sickness-of-the-mat are not obstacles to practice but detours of subtle learning on my practice path.

I have over recent years come to realize that my aspiration is not just to return to the mat when I am away from it. It is to return to a stable and continuous practice. For example, right now I don’t feel a sense of urgency in getting back to the mat because I am here in Portugal in an unknown day-to-day setting. I may get on the mat if I want to and circumstances allow it. However I am just as content waiting to meet-the-mat only when I am back at Bhudeva. I am not interested in a one-off practice … I am interested in resuming a continuous practice. This summer has showed me that I am fairly well established in this pattern.

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A Bike Workshop in Sao Luis, Portugal


Annelieke took me to this delicious space in Sao Luis … a guy who can fix anything in a space that was once used for roller skating and dance:

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Portugal – Vila Nova de Milfontes


Wonderful weather on a walk to the beach at Vila Nova de Milfontes, 15km from Sao Luis

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Portugal – Sao Luis


I am with Annelieke in Portugal in her new home in Sao Luis … some images from a walk around the village:

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Improved Democracy Coming from Kurds in Rojava?


For context you may want to first watch this video (and if you wish others like it available online):

As I understand it Kurds in northern Syria are caught in a war and geopolitical mess. They live in three geographically separated cantons which they have declared as an autonomus entity named Rojava.

They seem to have come together (and to global attention) around the basic need to protect themselves from ISIS in the south. Their militia seems to have substantial effect on ISIS’s ability to move and spread in the region. However they also have problems from the north due to historical tensions between Kurds (both living in these regions and inside Turkey) and Turkey. According to mainstream media Turkey’s Erodgan government has been bombing Kurdish targets and in doing so strengethening ISIS positions in the area. Lacking any central government, and geographical discontinuity, the Kurds need to and are trying to self-organize.

Amidst all this comes an Introduction To The Political And Social Structures Of Democratic Autonomy In Rojava … get ready for some fascinating social / democractic innovation being implemented as you read these words … usually when I read such words they come from a western culture dreaming of better social organization in some distant future! While I have some reservations about subtle points in the view described in the article, I am impressed by what they have achieved so far.

” … the newly established institutions which under the title of the Movement for a Democratic Society (KCK, called MED-VET in Rojava) are organizing all the events and fields in Rojava … In Rojava, all roads lead to Abdullah Öcalan … the ideological leader … Öcalan proposes the idea of a democracy without a state as an alternative for the capitalistic modernity … KCK … attempts to realize a society in which everything is carried on with direct partnership …

… the first step toward forming the democratic ecologic society is to create various communes in the quarters, villages, counties and big and small cities in Rojava … Each commune has six separate committees that each committee deals with the issues related to it  … social committee, the youth committee, the women committee, the peace committee , the self-defense committee and the economic committee are the six committees which currently are active in the communes.

Communes are managed in a co-leadership manner (a man and a woman) … hold weekly sessions and record and discuss their monthly reports … The selection of the co-leaders and the committee formations are done by means of direct elections among the commune members … The time of election, depends on the need and the situation, not on a written law

Several communes in a certain region gather in another place called “People’s House” … The big decisions are made in the People’s Houses …

… In Qamishli City, there are 7 People’s Houses and 97 communes. Each communes covers about 350 families. The aim is to create more commune as dividing the society into smaller units can enhance the quality and the efficiency of their performances … there have been no communes n the Christian quarters, yet …

… sessions started with the speech on the previous sessions of the communes and then they would ask the people’s ideas about some local issues … The value of the commune signature is more that the ministry’s signature, as the minister cannot do anything if the commune does not approve it formerly, they said what clan are you from? Now everyone should ask, which commune do you belong to?

… We want to have a system that acts from base to top … The chief of the commune can apply pressure by presenting the correct education and this does not mean a negative pressure or imposition … I ask him what is it that prevents from domination, and he answers: “Ethics, not law.”

… Usually, small projects such as creating a park is done by the communes themselves, but macro projects like road building, because of the current status of Rojava, are executed either by the autonomy of the cantons or with the cooperation of cantons and the communes. For instance, currently shortage of power and electricity is an essential problem in Rojava. Each commune has bought a generator, by the money collected from the families to the extent they could afford. The autonomous cantons have also helped them in repairing the power cables and in this way, the issue has been solved.

… it was just some weeks ago, that we changed the commune chiefs of 9 communes, as they lacked the necessary capacities …  long lasting presuppositions of the former regimes [are] the main obstacle in the process of institutionalizing the communes in Rojava

… there have been many cases where two tribes had disputes on a piece of land whose legal process would had taken about 15 years, while it was resolved in less than one months in the communes … state courts of Baath Regime in some cities of Rojava, which are being closed down as of inefficiency and because most of people trust in the newly established communes more … Serious cases such as assassination or selling heavy weapons cannot be discussed in communes and are referred to public courts …

one of the commonest problems which makes people go to courts, are the cases of women being tortured by their husbands or brothers …with having institutions such as the House of Women … the women feel safer … the issue is investigated in the Peace Committee … In the next step, the issue is referred to the court … in this very short while, so many men have been called on courts and have felt remorseful for their actions, and even they have apologized from their wives in the court. He says that the new law is not based on the Islamic Sharia, and hence the Kurdish men are frightful and fear the punishments.

Of course, the communes mostly recommend and suggest rather than making decisions. Since in some cases such as assassination, criminal and judicial decisions require expertise, we should investigate the cases with especial care and accuracy based on the civil procedures …

The public law would be discussed in the Legislative Parliament in Amuda, and in which cases that are against ecology or gender freedom, will be regarded as crime

The limit of presence [representation] of women must not be below 40 percent, which means that if the Justice Bureau consists of 7 people, at least 3 of them must be women …

Cantons are a model of social and political governing which besides decentralism, insists on the empowerment of public decision-making and expanding direct democracy … Cantons have their own constitution, government, parliament, municipal, and courts whose tasks and duties are defined in the Social Contract … There is also an assembly for coordinating the three cantons of Jazira, Kobani and Afrin.

Economy cannot be left on its own as other fields, so that the profit and capital accumulation are realized in it. The autonomous economy is a model in which the profit and accumulated capital are reduced to the minimum level … the democratic autonomy is not an idea that can be practices in one day; rather, it is a process which goes on with reason and education; it is a lifelong revolution which will linger on.

… The approved laws in the cantons are filtered in the communes. Which means that the lowest levels are taking part in the macro level of making decisions, and the decision-making design is a bottom-up one. This is a developed effort in order to eliminate the governance and the role of the state, which requires the institutionalization of democracy not only among the masses, but also in the movement itself which guards the idea of communes.”

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Why Futurism Has a Cultural Blindspot


“… when it comes to culture we tend to believe … that the future will be … roughly the same … It turns out that predicting who we will be is harder than predicting what we will be able to do.

we notice what varies and changes more than what plays a larger role but doesn’t change. We rely more on water than on cell phones, but because water does not change and cell phones do, we are prone to thinking that cell phones play a larger role than they do … As Amazon experiments with aerial drone delivery, its “same day” products are being moved through New York City thanks to that 19th-century killer app: the bicycle …

… “The horse,” he writes, “made a greater contribution to Nazi conquest than the V2.” We noticed what was invented more than what was actually used

… We expect more change than actually happens in the future because we imagine our lives have changed more than they actually have …

… Ideas, not technology, have driven the biggest historical changes. When technology changes people, it is often not in the ways one might expect … The washing machine freed women from labor … and … could have sparked a revolution in gender roles and relations. But … middle-class women did not take advantage of the freed-up time … to rebel against structures or even to capitalize on their independence.” Instead … the women simply assumed the jobs once held by their servants … Take away the object from the historical view, and you lose sight of the historical behavior. Projecting the future often presents a similar problem: The object is foregrounded, while the behavioral impact is occluded.

Why is cultural change so hard to predict? For one, we have long tended to forget that it does change … and when culture does change, the precipitating events can be surprisingly random and small … one of the landmark events in the evolution of gay rights in the U.S. was a change, by the Library of Congress, from classifying books about the gay movement as “Abnormal Sexual Relations, Including Sexual Crimes,” to “Homosexuality, Lesbianism—Gay Liberation, Homophile Movement.” This seemingly minor change, much touted by activists, helped pave the way for other, larger changes … Small wins do not combine in a neat, serial form, with each step being a demonstrable step closer to some predetermined goal.”


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Ibrahim Maalouf live in Istanbul


A while back I came across this fresh and surprising piece by Ibrahim Maalouf … and then a couple of days ago I stumbled onto this full performance … it left me speechless. Such rich integration … cultures, energies, rhythms … I don’t think I’ve ever heard a trumpet played this way … and he has such a pleasant presence … and so generous … and what a band with him. So impressive in an online video … I can’t imagine what he is like live … and if I have the courage to journey to Bucharest I may not have to since he is appearing there this November.

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