“It is the introspective worry itself which we might interpret as vrtta and which splits up experience into an anthill of particles.”
James Hillman

Kundalini – The Evolutionary Energy in Man

Stainless – Shinjuku

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

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Bolivia

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

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

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

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Farting Science

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fartingscience

source

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

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

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

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

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Ibrahim Maalouf

n

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


Thank you Matt

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Scientific Discovery

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evidence on the workings of scientific discovery:

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

source

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Facebook: Emotional Engineering

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

source

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Food from Spain

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Zoom in on the white space:

More ground-level images and information

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Economics for People and Earth – The Auroville Case 1968 – 2008

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I’m looking forward to living with this book which documents a 40 year ongoing economy experiment which touches the lives of 4000 people.

via P2pFoundation

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Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros – Full Concert – Sydney Australia

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The entire concert can be viewed here

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Facebook Psychology Experiment

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“Scientists at Facebook have published a paper showing that they manipulated the content seen by more than 600,000 users in an attempt to determine whether this would affect their emotional state … there was no need to ask study “participants” for consent, as they’d already given it by agreeing to Facebook’s terms of service in the first place.”

source

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Tesla Motors – Opens Electric Vehicle Patents

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On the heels of this, comes this:

“Tesla Motors was created to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport. If we clear a path to the creation of compelling electric vehicles, but then lay intellectual property landmines behind us to inhibit others, we are acting in a manner contrary to that goal. Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology.

… At Tesla, however, we felt compelled to create patents out of concern that the big car companies would copy our technology and then use their massive manufacturing, sales and marketing power to overwhelm Tesla. We couldn’t have been more wrong. The unfortunate reality is the opposite: electric car programs (or programs for any vehicle that doesn’t burn hydrocarbons) at the major manufacturers are small to non-existent, constituting an average of far less than 1% of their total vehicle sales.

… We believe that Tesla, other companies making electric cars, and the world would all benefit from a common, rapidly-evolving technology platform. “

change

 

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Weird Magic Ingredient – Quantum Computing

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Over the last 10 or 15 years I have tried numerous times to gain some laymen understanding of quantum mechanics. I’ve read articles, watched talks … and though there is something intuitive in place it is not something I feel I have integrated into my consciousness. Though I continue to be attracted to it.

In the last few years I’ve been coming across more and more articles about quantum computing. They amuse me very much because, for the most part, they are failed attempts at presenting complex theory in lay-terms. All they seem to do for me is feed into some kind of mystic understanding … which is interesting in its own right.

Most recently I read this article which I would like to be able to summarize in one sentence but I can’t because it doesn’t seem to present anything coherent. The spirit of it did leave me wondering if researchers are looking in wrong direction, a direction that is more informed by our current computing paradigms which seem limiting and irrelevant for quantum computing (whatever that is).

The tone:

“finding practical ways to control fragile quantum states … Quantum devices are extremely difficult to build because they must operate in an environment that is noise-resistant”.

What if the nature of quantum computing invites a different attitude then that of control and isolation? What if “noise” is where computing power and information actually reside? Isn’t that one of the main insights of chaos theory – that the mot miniscule differences (noise) can have far reaching effects? Could it be that unlike in determinate computing (computers that we have now are expected to always give the same result to the same problem) where noise is considering an obstacle, that in quantum computing noise is actually a valuable signal?

“The term magic refers to a particular approach to building noise-resistant quantum computers known as magic-state distillation.”

Maybe instead of “overcoming” this “magical” field is asking of us for a different paradigm? be-coming? integrating? connecting? feeding in?

Contexuality

“Contextuality was first recognized as a feature of quantum theory almost 50 years ago. The theory showed that it was impossible to explain measurements on quantum systems in the same way as classical systems … In the classical world, measurements simply reveal properties that the system had, such as colour, prior to the measurement. In the quantum world … What you observe necessarily depends on how you carried out the observation.”

This is what really got me turned on … not because I understood it (I didn’t) but because I resonated with it. Current computing is completely isolated from any context – computers only respond to what they have been programmed to respond to by their programmers. They are almost completely desensitized to the people who use them (there are some superficial efforts by the makers of computers to simulate sensitivity to users). Quantum computing seems to be inviting us into another paradigm … one in which … by definition … computing devices are hyper-sensitized to what and how their users observe.

Maybe THAT is their magic? Is “defeating” that noise going to advance quanum computing or diminish it? Are we stepping into an unknown power of quantum-computing or are we trying very hard to cripple it to fit our current understandings?

What if ultimately this is going to challenge the very foundations of the meta-structures of thought that have given birth to computing. What if strategies such as question-and-answer or problem-and-solution are limited or even faulty?

What if the difficult challenges presented by “quantum dynamics” are an invitation for us to step out of our existing thought and computing paradigms into something else? What if we are finding it hard to figure out (or describe) because are asking the wrong questions?

Then, this morning, I came across this paragraph at the end of Appendix A of Rupert Sheldrake‘s book about morphic resonance A New Science of Life:

“Can morphic fields be established in electronic machines? … If morphic fields were to come into being within such probablistic analogue systems, they would automatically have an inherent memory, without the need for special memory-storage devices like hard drives or memory chips. They would also enter into morphic resonance with similar computers around the world, without the need for communication through wires, cables or radio signals. They would share a collective memory. An entirely new technology would be born”

That sounds more like quantum computing … doesn’t it?

Imagine “quantum devices” that resonate with and amplify our observation, communication and connectivity … devices that respond to us with “that is an interesting question, keep going” instead of wrong/right/definitive results?

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Matt Mullenweg on being a CEO

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From an interview with Matt Mullenweg who is now filling the role of CEO at Automattic – this is a profit-oriented company that just raised $160m:

“… Headcount stuff, budgeting, P & L’s, I just think those don’t really matter. In some ways I’m a non-traditional executive. But part of what we do, myself and Stu the CFO, is we worry about that so no one else in the company has to.

… The majority of the company isn’t focused on making money. It’s a very small percentage. The circle gets smaller and smaller.”

change

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Five Skateboards

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Everything is Broken is a well written article about security and software … though I feel it is somewhat undermined by excess drama rooted in Quinn Norton’s activist energy.

Whey back when I worked in software analysis and design I was inspired by and specialized in UML (in it’s early years). One time I attended a talk given by Ivar Jacobson, one of the core contributors to UML, where he described writing software as a balancing act akin to riding a pile of 5 skateboards (an application on top of on OS on tops of a kernel on top of machine language on top of …).

It isn’t just security that is fragile in software, everything is. Function, purpose, performance, security, scalability … everything. I don’t know if there is another fields where there is an engineered (=man made) complexity that rivals that of software. Right now we are super-sensitized to security and this gives Quinn Norton an opportunity to pounce on the security perspective … and if nothing else it is a good opportunity to realize and appreciate how fragile software (which is so deeply embedded into our lives) really is and how much better we can make it.

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Drupal & WordPress

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I’ve been using WordPress for about 7 or 8 years. After a couple of years into it I did some research into other publishing platforms (including Drupal & Joomla). I chose to go (stay) with WordPress. In the last 8 months I’ve had two encounters with Drupal (one only as a user and one with a glimpse into the insides) and I am glad I chose to stay with WordPress. I am not an active member of the WordPress community.

This morning I came across this post (via PostStatus) written by a professional Drupal developer about getting to know WordPress. This shimmered for me:

“The WP community is focused on the user. It’s one of the ways they make decisions. While Drupal developers tend to value technical excellence and architectural flexibility — “what can I do with this as a developer?” WordPress people seem to ask the same question with the content editor or website visitor in mind. That’s refreshing.”

This statement seems to be implying that there needs to be a choice between either technical excellence or user focus, as if WordPress, because it gives priority to user experience gives less priority to technical excellence. This statement is, while technically correct, misleading (ironically that is a typical consequence of engineering mentality). There is no doubt in my mind that Drupal is dominated by an engineering mentality (while giving much less priority to users and user experience) … it is evident everywhere I’ve looked.

To me what is more interesting is that focus on user experience will likely lead engineers to technical excellence but the opposite isn’t true. You can focus on technical excellence forever without ever meeting user experience.

User experience is, in my opinion, one of the most strategic weaknesses of open-source software (though in a few cases it seems to be getting better). WordPress out-performs Drupal on user experience and at the same time I believe user experience is also a weakness of WordPress.

Ironically, WordPress and Drupal (and most open source software) are actually both user-centric – the user being the developers of the platforms (developing software for themselves – the way they’d like it to be). With Drupal that is painfully obvious, with WordPress it is more subtle, but also very dominant.

 

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I was happy there

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Shahar has revised his website and published some new materials.

This is a good way to taste Shahar:

I remember magical moments in studio exploration that seemed more evasive in performance. This is a beautiful example of what studio can birth:

I was happy there.

 

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Savage Capitlism (is back)

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From Savage capitalism is back – and it will not tame itself:

“Back in the 90s …  there was a series of assumptions everybody had to accept in order even to be allowed to enter serious public debate. They were presented like a series of self-evident equations. “The market” was equivalent to capitalism. Capitalism meant exorbitant wealth at the top, but it also meant rapid technological progress and economic growth. Growth meant increased prosperity and the rise of a middle class. The rise of a prosperous middle class, in turn, would always ultimately equal stable democratic governance. A generation later, we have learned that not one of these assumptions can any longer be assumed to be correct.

… Capitalism does not contain an inherent tendency to civilise itself. Left to its own devices, it can be expected to create rates of return on investment so much higher than overall rates of economic growth that the only possible result will be to transfer more and more wealth into the hands of a hereditary elite of investors, to the comparative impoverishment of everybody else.

… The period when capitalism seemed capable of providing broad and spreading prosperity was also, precisely, the period when capitalists felt they were not the only game in town … rather than high rates of growth allowing greater wealth for capitalists to spread around, the fact that capitalists felt the need to buy off at least some portion of the working classes placed more money in ordinary people’s hands, creating increasing consumer demand that was itself largely responsible for the remarkable rates of economic growth that marked capitalism’s “golden age”.

… The 1% are not about to expropriate themselves, even if asked nicely. And they have spent the past 30 years creating a lock on media and politics to ensure no one will do so through electoral means.”

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Fairphone: The gadget with a conscience

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An inspiring read on the story of Fairphone. A promising glimpse into what future business may look like?

The company started life as an advocacy group, initially aiming to raise awareness among Dutch consumers and telcos about the issue of conflict minerals in mobile devices and then subsequently about the sustainability of mobile supply chains as a whole.

… In January last year, it became a social enterprise, a startup with a handful of staff and the ambition to build a fairer phone — a device that put the social aspects of mobile hardware front and centre, that opened up the mobile supply chain, and that would be funded purely by the public.

… Almost a year ago, Fairphone opened up its crowdfunding appeal … it reached 10,000. And that’s when the fear kicked in.

… Nevertheless, Fairphone found a Chinese contract manufacturer … Fairphone signed a memorandum of understanding with the factory, agreeing if Fairphone managed to raise the money, the project would go forward.

… It took van Abel a month to work up the courage to press that button and send the money onto GuoHong. Only when he did, he found that a single push was not enough … and then finding out you cannot transfer more than €250,000 in one go.

… Due to the size of Fairphone’s production batches, it had to rely on other mobile makers placing similar orders to get its own device made.

… The factory management were watching the orders rack up along with Fairphone’s execs … For them it was impossible that people had paid for something we still had to produce, and that we were were taking the risk on the one hand, and that people were taking the risk on something that wasn’t there yet on the other.

… From the the beginning, the company had wanted to make sure worker wages were reasonable … The idea of a worker’s welfare fund was hatched — a scheme whereby Fairphone would stump up an extra $2.50 per device made at the factory on top of the normal production costs, and the factory would do the same … The $5 extra raised on each device ($2.50 from Fairphone and $2.50 from the factory) is put into a fund — a separate legal entity to the factory — with the workers then able to vote on how the money should be spent.

… For most phone makers, mobile operators are the keys to the market — offering discounts on hardware when consumers sign up to long term contracts, getting their sales teams to push devices to corporate customers, and putting marketing collateral in retail shops have always been understood parts of how manufacturers sell their devices.

… Earlier in 2014, the company did a small deal with KPN — the biggest mobile operator in Fairphone’s home market of the Netherlands … It’s also in talks with Deutsche Telekom, the German mobile giant with operators across Europe, as well as UK carrier Vodafone …

… Fairphone, however, decided to stick with supplies from the country, working with the Conflict Free Tin Initiative and Solutions for Hope. It did so knowing that sourcing its tantalum and tin from the DRC could mean using mines with poor working conditions or child labour … we’re going to join initiatives that put economic perspectives into the region, otherwise people will join the militia because they don’t have any work any more … Further on down the line, it hopes to expand the the amount of conflict free and fairly traded minerals that are included in the phone …

… Fairphone hopes to eventually allow other operating systems to be ported to the phone, and has been in talks with the likes of Mozilla and Ubuntu on the subject.

So far, Fairphone has taken over €7m, shipped over 25,000 phones, and is planning a second manufacturing run in 2014 that will see it put 35,000 more devices in consumers’ hands … “

I am looking forward to seeing what Fairphone produce in 2015, especially the ability to use mobile Ubuntu … maybe 2015 will be the year I “go smartphone” 🙂

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Net Neutrality: How the Internet Works

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In my reading about the current battle in the war on Internet freedom taking place in the USA I came across these two articles which provided interesting and well presented information on the engineering and business aspects of this wonderous machine we all take for granted – the Internet:

Comcast is destroying the principle that makes a competitive internet possible

Observations of an Internet Middleman

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Look up from your phone

n

I am happy to say this experience is not part of my life, but when I do venture out I see more and more of this … it isn’t new … I recall first signs of it over 10 years ago.

via Rob Hopkins

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