“It is when the heart is filled with song that the child can be said to be musically gifted.”
Masanobu Fukuoka

The One-Straw Revolution

Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow

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yesterdaytodaytomorrowby Lucille Clerc

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Nonlinear warfare also known as “the news”?

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Politics is the Struggle for the Happiness of All

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“We have to run people who love money too much out of politics, they’re a danger in politics… People who love money should dedicate themselves to industry, to commerce, to multiply wealth. But politics is the struggle for the happiness of all.”

Uruguayan President José Mujica

source

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Local Currency Compliments National Currency

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via CCMagazine

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The Internet is financed by spying

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“Online companies typically make money by utilizing data gleaned from their users to sell targeted ads. If the flow of user data slows down, so does the money. A study commissioned by the Interactive Advertising Bureau with researchers from Harvard Business School underscores the point: at least half of the Internet’s economic value is based on the collection of individual user data, and nearly all commercial content on the Internet relies on advertising to some extent. Digital advertising grew to a $42.8 billion business last year, a sum that already exceeds spending on broadcast television advertising.

Digital privacy advocates, understandably, view the online ecosystem differently. They are alarmed by the growth of the surveillance economy, in which companies compile and store information about what a user reads, looks for, clicks on or buys. In this world, disclosure is fairly meaningless, because almost no one reads the terms of service that define the relationship between the customer and the company.

If the government wants to shift the Internet economy away from a “barter” system (exchanging personal data for free services) toward a subscription-based system, Congress should take charge.”

source

 

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Talking about Talking in Israel

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A couple of weeks ago a person from Israel who I consider to be a friend sent me an email. It wasn’t a personal email. It was an email sent to a group of people and it was about promoting a crowd-funding campaign. This friend lives in the area surrounding Gaza which was (has been for some time and continues to be) one of the most threatened and impacted areas in Israel during the last conflict with Gaza.

The people in that area have experienced plenty of  fear and violence. They have come to a conclusion that for them to experience peace (or even just a reduction of violence) the people of Gaza need to experience hope. The campaign was about spreading that awareness in Israeli society (many parts of which are further removed from the violence and have a less direct experience of it).

I spent some time with the campaign, watched the video, read some of the words. Though a lot of work and social collaboration went into it and it seems like a generally good idea, I felt (given my experiences and thoughts about Israel) that it was not deep enough. I felt it was treating a superficial and current (temporary) expression rather then digging deeper into the origins of the situation.

Since Israel is often on my mind and in my heart I wrote back wondering if there could be an opportunity to go deeper. I wrote an honest response giving voice to my thoughts. Within a very short while I got back a response that communicated hurt and resentment at my position and attitude (and yet the response also included a restated plea to forward the original email to my circle of friends, despite my position, so that the campaign could continue to spread and reach more people).

I started to write a reply but realized that it was not a simple reply to put in writing, that it would be much longer then I felt was appropriate but most importantly that no matter what I said and what I intended, my words would most likely further aggravate my friend. So after a while I changed my mind and replied with three Hebrew words that said: good luck, I apologize and peace.

I wanted it to end there … but it didn’t. It stayed with me and moved within me. I felt that it was a missed opportunity. It also bothered me that my attempt to give and contribute (in my way, not necessarily in the way I was asked to) resulted (once again) in hurt and frustration. But I really felt that the main thread of the conversation that I was seeing could not be carried forward without inflicting more pain and frustration on my friend.

A few days later another dimension appeared in my consciousness. I didn’t act on it … until now … in writing this post. My intention is to plant a seed that may become a useful conversation. That seed can be nourished by an open conversation using the comment thread of this post (making it possible for others to both listen in and if they wish join the conversation). I will be sending my friend an email with a link to this post and it will be up to her to decide if she wants to partake in it.

The seed came in the form of a question: if my (a friend) response evoked such hurt and objection in my friend, how will this friend respond in more demanding situations where there is a deeper divide, larger differences of opinion, opposition and outright enmity? For grounding and specifity I phrased my question in relation to my friend, but I offer the question in a wider context since I believe that this highlights a cultural phenomenon that isn’t unique to my friend. Can any meaningful conversation take place in this way?

 

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Debt: The First 5000 Years – Thoughts from chapter 5: The Moral Grounds of Economic Relations

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more thoughts inspired by Debt: The First 5000 Years.

“… one popular theory of the origins of the state, which goes back to at least to the fourteenth century North African historian Ibn Khaldun, runs precisely along these lines: nomadic raiders eventually systematize their relations with sedentary villagers; pillage turns into tribute, rape turns into the “right of the first night” or the carrying off of likely candidates as recruits for the royal harem. Conquest, untrammeled force, becomes systematized, and thus framed not as a predatory relation but as a moral one, with the lords providing protection, and the villagers, their sustenance.

… The geneaology of the modern redistributive state – with its notorious tendency to foster identity politics – can be traced back not to any sort of “primitive communism” but ultimately to violence and war.”

Reading this sent me back to thinking about Israel. Maybe the conversation should be neigther about a one-state solution nor a two-state solution. Given what we know about states in general, maybe a better way forward is to something which is beyond state? What if the moral framework of states is inherently incapable of supporting the breadth and depth of what wants is unfolding in Israel (and many other places)?

 

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Change is a struggle

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Firs this:

“Women with low-risk pregnancies are to be encouraged to have non-hospital births under new NHS guidelines, which could see almost half of mothers-to-be planning to deliver their baby away from traditional labour wards.

Guidance from National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) says that midwife-led care has been shown to be safer for women and recommends that all women with low-risk pregnancies – 45% of the total – should be advised that giving birth in a midwifery-led unit, whether attached to a hospital or not, is “particularly suitable”.

Then this:

“a waiter approached Louise Burns at Claridge’s on Monday and told her hotel policy required her to cover her breastfeeding baby with a napkin”

a recurring question is has society (in this case British society) reached a critical mass of awareness that will spill over into better being, or it will revert to something lesser but established and comfortably familiar.

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Carrot Clarinet

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It is about culture

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A while back this superficial debate took place

to which Alex Ebert responded:

“We are having the wrong debate. This isn’t about religion, this is about culture …

America has been and still is, largely, a country ruled by Christians … It was only 60 years ago that a murderous Christian terror organization called the KKK was a major force in the U.S. … The Bible didn’t change — the people who interpreted it did — the American culture did.

Polls show that a majority of the Muslim populations in the Middle East either approve of or desire Shariah Law and all of the heinous shit that comes with it … However .. Muslim approval of Militant Islamists has fallen over the past decade  …

Asked about suicide bombing as an acceptable mode of militant violence, Palestine turned in a 47 percent approval rating. This is horrible news until you consider that in 2007, Palestinian approval of suicide bombings was at 70 percent.”

That touches on what I was trying to write about.

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Apple’s commitment (ahum) to privacy

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Through Matt I learned about this statement from Apple’s Tim Cook about their commitment to privacy. There were two things I didn’t like: 1) the statement 2) that Matt seemed to like it.

It was a few days later that I came across this list of reasons not to trust Apple which closed for me the circle (of mistrust).

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Debt: The First 5000 Years – Thoughts from chapter 2: The Myth of Barter

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This is the first, in what may become a series of posts that come from reading Debt: The First 5000 Years.

Chapter 2 talks about the falseness of a core premise of almost all economic thinking that first there was barter (20 chickens for one cow), then came money (2 coin for a chicken, 40 coins for a cow) and then credit. The chapter takes this myth apart drawing on historical evidence and demonstrating that actual credit came first and only later money from which (with a slight mix of potential violence) barter usually emerged. This myth is traced back to Adam Smith who, it turns out, founded economic thought not on science but an imaginary story … a myth.

Beyond the economic argument I was fascinated by yet another example of how what we consider to be “science” is actually “myth” – a story we create to try to make sense of the world. To quote Robert Pirsig:

“The mythos is the social culture and the rhetoric which the culture must invent before philosophy becomes possible … it is the parent of our modern scientific talk.”

We tend, from our modern and relatively young view of “scientific thought” to look down at mythos, failing to appreciate that science is an evolution of myth. This lack of appreciation seems to be causing intellect and scientific thought to spin out of control.

I recently finished reading Teaming With Microbes which talks about the biological food web that makes healthy soils. One of the most destructive things we can do to disturb and diminish soil life also happens to be a pillar of modern agriculture and gardening: plowing (turning soils):

“The age-old agricultural practice of plowing the earth really picked up steam, so to speak, when lawyer Jethro Tull … noticed that vegetables did better in loosened soil and from this concluded that plant roots possessed little mouths and ate soil particles (how else could a plant ingest nutrients?). Believing that loose soil consisted of smaller particles that would more easily fit into root mouths, he developed a horse-drawn hoe to put his theory into practice. His writings later caught the attentionof gentleman farmers like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, who encouraged their fellow Americans to break up soils. The end result is that most home gardeners still break up and turn over their soil at least annually, even though we know plant roots don’t eat soil”

It is easy to laught at this when you are 400 years wiser but in its time this was sound logical thinking based on empirical observation with reproducable conclusions that yielded noticeable results. Now we know better … at least we should.

(It may be interesting to note that Jethroy Tull and Adam Smith both operated around the end of the 17th century).

That makes me wonder how much of what is now considered scientifically true will be churned into dust by the unrelenting wheels of time?

It seems that we have a story of the world. Some tangents of that story may be pointing is in a right direction. Other tangents (many? most?) will turn out to be partially wrong if not complete dead ends.

Scientific thought seems to be in high fashion. Not only does it have potential to be (very) wrong but it also seems to be marginalizing other stories which do not fit or even the challenge its paradigm. Despite all that science has provided us, there is plenty of evidence that the story of science itself needs to re-assessed and carefully integrated into a more complete story of the world.

 

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SQL Joins

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I wish I had come across something like this when I was learning SQL:

joins-1

source

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Oameni for Israel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

source

 

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Drei

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

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The Bad News About the News

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Extract from the source essay:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Damien Rice at the Michelberger Hotel

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

source

 

 

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

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

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

 

 

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Don’t Talk to Police

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

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