Friday 30 October 2009

Are Caring Economics Feasible? ??? YES!

Caring Society, Illustration by Don Baker

Illustration by Don Baker for YES! Magazine.

Imagine a world where economic systems support our real needs and aspirations: a world guided by a "caring economics" where the main investment is in caring for people and nature.

In this world, the most valued work is the work of caring for people, starting in childhood, as well as caring for our Mother Earth. Leaders recognize that, particularly in the post-industrial knowledge/information era, our most important asset is what economists call "high-quality human capital"—and that neuroscience shows this largely depends on good physical, mental, and emotional care starting at birth. Consequently, childcare in families is supported by caregiver tax-credits, stipends, paid parental leave, and social security credit for the first seven years of caring for a child—whether the caregiver is a woman or a man. Workplace rules such as flex time, and job sharing are commonplace, as businesspeople recognize that when employees feel they and their families are cared for they work better and harder. Training for childcare, primary-school teaching, and other caring professions is a top priority, as is training for elder care. And these jobs are highly respected and well-paid. Parenting education is another top priority. And so it maintaining a clean and healthy natural environment.

There is already movement in this direction, especially in Nordic Nations such as Sweden, Finland, and Norway—nations that often call themselves "caring societies." These nations were so poor at the start of the 20th century that many thousands fled famines (Minnesota was populated by these Nordic refugees). But because they invested in their people through universal healthcare, childcare, generous paid parental leave, parenting education, investment in solar and other alternative power, and other caring policies, today these nations are in the top tiers of both the UN Human Development Reports and the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Reports.

These nations show that caring pays—not only in human and environmental terms but in purely economic terms. They also show that the main obstacle to building a more caring world isn't economic, it's cultural.


These "cultural barriers" are, we sadly must realize, considerable. About a year ago I posted a blog bit to the Owen Sound Sun-Times, no great opEd opus, simply to propose that there may be some humanity of value in the content of a short clip from Brave New Films showing the amazing success of the Norwegian prison system. I was called names, I was told to leave the country, I was told to grow up ... all for only suggesting the clip was worth watching! I can only imagine what might have befallen me had I been the one who had travelled to Norway, made the film and then dared to publish it!!

The original Brave New Films clip is now gone, but here's a similar clip found on you-tube

From the many immediate and unambiguous comments to my Sun-Times blog post:

Teledyn, the negative responses to your "Prison for Life" blog speak for themselves. This is not and never will be material for your stand up comedy, unless you are a real clown.
Perhaps some day and on another planet, the good people and their kids will want to mingle with criminals and enjoy a hot dog or a hamburger on a nice day on the Northern Plains of Chryse Planitia.

but ... that was before the world-wide economic crunch, before, as I think Krishnamurti predicted, that after enough eye for an eye soon nearly everyone is blind, it was back when Owen Sound thought it a cushy and highly profitable proposition to get that massive Federal security contract to build, staff and deploy their sacred rights to inflict inhuman mistreatment on the very most 'deserving' wards of the state.

I wonder what they'd say now ...

Amazing Pollution


Lu Guang (??????) from People???s Republic of China won the $30,000 W. Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography for his documentary project ???Pollution in China.???

Tuesday 27 October 2009

Billboard - Google Books

Billboard - Google Books: "In its 114th year, Billboard remains the world's premier weekly music publication and a diverse digital, events, brand, content and data licensing platform. Billboard publishes the most trusted charts and offers unrivaled reporting about the latest music, video, gaming, media, digital and mobile entertainment issues and trends."

Tuesday 20 October 2009

Is the solution garbage?

garbage dump
Garbage dump. Waste-based biofuel could cut global emissions by over 80%. (Credit: iStockphoto/Ryerson Clark)

Converting the rubbish that fills the world???s landfills into biofuel may be the answer to both the growing energy crisis and to tackling carbon emissions, claim scientists in Singapore and Switzerland. New research published in Global Change Biology: Bioenergy, reveals how replacing gasoline with biofuel from processed waste could cut global carbon emissions by 80%.

Biofuels produced from crops have proven controversial because they require an increase in crop production which has its own severe environmental costs. However, second-generation biofuels, such as cellulosic ethanol derived from processed urban waste, may offer dramatic emissions savings without the environmental catch.

???Our results suggest that fuel from processed waste biomass, such as paper and cardboard, is a promising clean energy solution,??? said study author Associate Professor Hugh Tan of the National University of Singapore. ???If developed fully this biofuel could simultaneously meet part of the world???s energy needs, while also combating carbon emissions and fossil fuel dependency.???

The team used the United Nation???s Human Development Index to estimate the generation of waste in 173 countries. This data was then coupled to the Earthtrends database to estimate the amount of gasoline consumed in those same countries.

The team found that 82.93 billion litres of cellulosic ethanol could be produced from the world???s landfill waste and that by substituting gasoline with the resulting biofuel, global carbon emissions could be cut by figures ranging from 29.2% to 86.1% for every unit of energy produced.

???If this technology continues to improve and mature these numbers are certain to increase,??? concluded co-author Dr. Lian Pin Koh from ETH Z??rich. ???This could make cellulosic ethanol an important component of our renewable energy future.???

Child Friendly

I was prompted to post this just now, the 4 year old is happily playing with some Star Wars figures and his hotwheels cars on the carpet, and the game he is enacting at the moment consists of everyone running around (in the puppet play world) screaming in chaos and panic, "Lockdown Drill!!! Lockdown Drill!!!"

Now keep in mind, little Riordain has never experienced a Lockdown Drill because we boycott the lunacy and pull our kids from school when they are scheduled but dig: he has still picked up on what it is, and why, simply from the ambient conversations, from whatever it was his kindergarten teacher may have said to prepare her wards for 'terrorist attacks' and probably from overhearing our own conversations with parents as we trade stories of the effects of these drills on other, older children.

Did I tell you the one about the grade one little girl who didn't want to go to school because a boy had sneezed during a lockdown, and whatever it was the teacher did about it so impressed her fragile eggshell childlike mind that her dreams that night had been filled with a violence of classmates dying horribly every time they sneezed! True story, one of many I've observed while tracking the keyword on Google, and thus far, in all this time, I have not yet tracked even one actual real-world clear and present danger lockdown, only drills and over-reactions to things like highschool kids entering a school with a camera tripod.

Anyway, I got this video link from Bootsy Collins and with Riordain enacting his little tragedy drama down by my feet here on the after-school of a day that would have been his first Lockdown had he been there, it just seemed apropos to present the two together, for those who care about such things enough to stop them that is.

Sunday 18 October 2009

Toronto Jazz Orchestra - Rex Hotel - 091017

Here's the full 2nd set mp3 from last Saturday's matinee show at the Rex Hotel on Queen Street West under the artistic director Josh Grossman; I'm told this could be the TJO's first bootleg :) so if you like it, and you will like it, do check out and show 'em some love.

Download: Toronto Jazz Orchestra - Live at the Rex 091017

?? Audio : Mpeg 1 layer 3
?? Estimated Duration: 41:46.65s
?? 128 kbps?? 44100 Hz


Sunday 11 October 2009

Secret of Business Success: Build a Better World

What's this? One of the world's top 20 most influential business community futurists subscribes to my feed? That in itself was a pretty interesting happening for a Sunday morning, and following the links into @PatrickDixon's Global Change was perhaps more interesting still:
"Biggest ethical test for every culture and every nation: creating a better world, improving life for people. This core value drives every political debate, underwrites all laws, and is the basis of all team leadership. It is impossible to lead effectively for long without using this principle: will the world be a better place as a result of this activity or not? It is the key to all effective management, marketing and motivation."

Now excuse me if I'm over simplifying here, and I mentioned this yesterday on the #greenfest keynote, but if I am not mistaken the pre-occupation pre-MarshallPlan business philosophy of Imperial Japan was always to "Make sense first, then make money, if possible." This Shinto philosophy persisted even beyond the fall of the Imperial Court, driving the fantastic economic gain and infectious demeanor of Japanese culture through the 1960's right up until about 1980 ... right up until the old pre-MarshallPlan administrators and executives started to retire, handing the positions of business authority to the upcoming young execs who had been trained in the 'American' way! I'd underline that twice if I could.

As the Europeans have been lamenting since before the days of the Unsinkable Molly Brown, the 'American' way was always and explicably, "Make money first, and then make sense, if possible." and I offer as proof of that how our community halls and music/arts programs across this continent have been decimated since the post-war years on the grounds that there is no 'business plan'.

Henry Ford himself remarked to Bucky Fuller, "You can make money or you can make sense. The two are mutually exclusive." He'd said that in the context of his refusal to support the military-industrial complex and as punishment had to sit by while his inferior-product competitors were showered with juicy contracts.

And here, now, a decade in on the early twenty-first century, what do we discover? We discover to our shock and surprise and massive book-sales and conferences unprecidented that Grandma was RIGHT!! We discover that all that we should have learned we should have learned in Kindergarten. We discover horror of horrors that Greed For Money is not the business god to worship, that subservience to Quarterly Results is the fast path to a dark downward spiral, and we discovered that the Evil Empire we so sought to arrest and destroy and reform in actual fact had the keys to our own salvation from sin tucked in their kit-bags.

Wednesday 7 October 2009

The Edge of Science

Why EdgeScience? Because, contrary to public perception, scientific knowledge is still full of unknowns. What remains to be discovered???what we don't know???very likely dwarfs what we do know. And what we think we know may not be entirely correct or fully understood. Anomalies, which researchers tend to sweep under the rug, should be actively pursued as clues to potential breakthroughs and new directions in science.


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  • Doing Science Means Exploring: An Editorial by Henry Bauer

  • "Surely There's Nothing Left to Discover"
  • Just Off By a Factor of 1,000
  • A Mysterious Variation in Radioactive Decay Rates, By Peter Sturrock

  • Is the Global Mind Real?, By Roger D. Nelson
  • Pyramid Building in the Americas and Other Archeological Anomalies, By William Corliss

  • A Charged Life: Robert O. Becker and Gary Seldon's The Body Electric: Electromagnetism and the Foundation of Life, Reviewed by Thomas M. Dykstra

  • Straight From The Gut, By Patrick Huyghe
  • The SSE was founded in 1982 and has approximately 800 members in 45 countries worldwide. The SSE publishes a peer-reviewed journal, the Journal of Scientific Exploration (JSE), and holds annual meetings in the USA and biennial meetings in Europe. Associate and student memberships are available to the public, and everyone is encouraged to attend meetings and participate with the society.

    Saturday 3 October 2009

    the Ogori Mystery Caf??


    Long story short: "At this caf??, you get what the person before you ordered, the next person gets what you ordered."

    Welcome to the Ogori Caf??!

    As I sat down to enjoy my surprise Appletizer, loving this insane ideaand wondering what would happen if you tried it in America, a Japanesewoman approached the cafe. Since she could actually speak Japanese, shecould read the large sign at the front and, fortunately orunfortunately, got advance warning of what she was in for. Beforemaking a final decision on what to order, she quietly snuck up to me totry to ask me what Ihad ordered, knowing that it would be her unwavering refreshmentdestiny. The staff put a quick stop to her trickery, and I didn'tanswer.

    Of course, regardless of what she ordered, she got the orange juice Iordered a few minutes earlier. But here's one of the moments that makethis experiment cool: she actually chose orange juice, just like I did. So she got what she wanted. Ogori Caf?? synchronicity!

    Before we left, there was one last thing that had to be done:

    Mike went up to the cafe, slapped down a couple thousand yen (~$25),and ordered a little bit of everything: some ice cream, some snacks,some candy, some drinks ??? a Japanese horn-of-mysterious-plentyintentionally set up as a shocking surprise for the next luckycustomer. (After his order, Mike received a single iced coffee.)

    It was so worth it.

    The Ogori Caf?? was an unforgettable travel moment, and an ideathat has stuck with me: It was a complete surprise in our day. Itencouraged communication between total strangers or, in this case,members of the Kashiwa community and a couple of weird guys fromOregon. It forced one to "let go," just for a brief moment, of thetotal control we're so used to exerting through commerce. It led you totaste something new, that you might not normally have ordered. It was adelight.

    Then... as quickly as it appeared, the Ogori cafe was gone.