Thursday, December 29, 2011

Structural Classism

Some statistics for those of us in the United States to reflect upon:

  • This 2011 Holiday season the top seven banks are expected to give record bonuses totaling $156 billion. [source]  
  • Goldman Sachs compensation this year for its 38,900 workers averages to $362,862 per employee. ← I somehow suspect the copy-boy didn't receive this tidy sum. [source] 
  • Jaimie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, compensation last year came to $20.8 billion. That is an hourly wage of $10,400. [source]
  • 1.6 million children in the U.S. were homeless in 2010. [source]
  • At the height of the Roman Empire the top 1% controlled 16% of the wealth. [source]
  • Today in the U.S. the 1% control 40% of the nation's wealth. [source]
  • Total net worth of the bottom 60% of the U.S. is less than Forbes 400 richest. [source]
  • The net worth of the six heirs of Walmart equals the bottom 30% of the country. [source]

Just how did these grim numbers come about? Are they simply a result of "greed"? An inescapable fact of "human nature"? Too much government intervention???... OR just maybe is there something else going on that is the driving force behind these incredible distortions of wealth distribution?

Peter Joseph of the Zeitgeist Movement, in this next lecture/podcast persuasively argues what we are experiencing today is strongly influenced by something called "Structural Classism" ~ a powerful term worth getting a handle on since it reveals key insight into how we landed in our current predicament as well as offers up clues on where we can go from here to turn back the tide of inequity.

Peter Joseph – Structural Classism

NOTE: If time is of essence you can skip the preamble and directly jump to the lecture starting at: 20:04.

NOTE: If your browser is not picking up the audio player above here is the YouTube version.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Three Holy Wars

Is there such a thing as a "just war"?

Three wars in American history in this respect are considered "good" – The Revolutionary War, The Civil War and World War II. The first, this nation's battle for "independence" from an occupying empire, the second to "end slavery" & "protect the union" and the third to overthrow fascism & spread "democracy" throughout the world.

Do these historical accounts however fairly summarize the messy realities that befell the peoples who lived through these times? Was war really the only choice? Who benefitted from these conflicts and who shouldered the heaviest of burdens? Who with their own lives?

Of greater importance in this day and age of "terrorism", "rogue states", nuclear brinkmanship and seemingly endless conflict how does our cultural relationship with war feed this sad state of affairs and imperil our collective survival? How do our beliefs surrounding these "good" wars provide the rhetorical ammunition for our leaders to engage in yet more bloodshed?

Howard Zinn ~ historian, playwright, WWII Air Force bomber and author of numerous books including, "A People's History of the United States" ~ throughout a lifetime of deep and uncompromising inquiry reveals for us a wider historical context surrounding these wars and with it an entirely new more balanced picture comes to light – one which should make anyone of conscience take serious pause before joining the drumbeat of militarism.

Howard Zinn – Myth of the Good Wars

Howard Zinn – Three Holy Wars

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Occupy Our Resources...

Occupy Venice this last week invited Peter Joseph, Jason Lord and Jen Wilding of the Zeitgeist Movement for an excellent Q & A session that covers a myriad of subjects. Great mind-expanding material for these changing times!

Some topics of discussion:
  • What is next for Occupy?
  • The "differential advantage game" that we must all play.
  • Traditional assumptions and how they clash with our emergent reality.
  • The economic system - the greatest religion of all time!
  • Understanding that our problems are technical and global.
  • Transitional elements toward a Resourced-Based & environmentally sustainable economic model.
  • The current economic model is based on service not resolution.
  • What does "leadership" mean in a leaderless movement.
  • Do we have an overpopulation problem?
  • On an individual level how can we NOT play the game?
  • The tyranny of "divide and conquer".
  • The "stories" we have that are holding us back. 
  • Parallel sustainable communities?

Occupy Venice Talks with The Zeitgeist Movement LA

NOTE: The audio of some of the questions at times are on the low side. Just turn up the volume a bit and you oughta be okay. :)

If you wish to watch the speech Joseph gave at Occupy LA in October that is mentioned at the beginning of the Q & A here it is:

Peter Joseph | Occupy LA | Oct 15th 2011

For more on this topic try this.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Print Me a What??? A House!!!

Okay folks! 3D Printing is about to go colossal!!

Scientist & professor Behrokh Khoshnevis of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering is now working with Caterpillar Inc. to perfect the technology so at the press of a button we can literally print our own homes – foundation, walls, plumbing, electrical, insulation, roof, etc. – with the whole process unfolding in hours. 

If that weren't enough, this new technology (called "Contour Crafting") does so with dramatically reduced waste, less environmental damage and high safety – which is of great importance considering construction related jobs are some of the most dangerous professions to be engaged in.

... and here come the questions!
  • What is going to happen when construction jobs are rapidly replaced by these better almost entirely automated methods?
  • Where will the hundreds of millions of workers across the world go when their jobs can be managed by a relatively few engineers and computer technicians?
  • With such powerful & freeing technology at our disposal how much sense does it make to chain oneself to a thirty year mortgage when the home you reside in can be constructed in such an easy and abundant manner?
  • With such abundance could we really any longer justify anyone – regardless of their circumstances – being left out in the cold? 
I'll let you answer those. 

One thing for certain humanity is now entering a fundamental & never-before encountered phase change (much like ice going to water) where the rules we have been accustomed to our whole lives are now melting away. 

We have a choice: Keep wearing those heavy ice skates and let them drag us to the bottom of the lake OR slap on our bathing suits, snorkel and flippers and happily embrace all this new more expansive & abundant realm has to offer.

Home Contour Crafting

Future of Construction Process: 3D Concrete Printing

More on the topic from the researchers at Loughborough University in the UK...

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Economic Hitmen

The United States currently represents 5% of the world's population yet consumes 25% of the world's resources.

How did we manage to "talk" the rest of the world into handing over that extra 20%???

Enter the Economic Hitmen! ...among others

John Perkins, author of the book "Confessions of an Economic Hitman" and former Economic Hitman himself pulls aside the curtain on the government/corporate cabal of the 1% that has been systematically and relentlessly enslaving a better part of the world since the end of the second World War.

In this fully exposing 2008 Greek documentary by director Stelios Koul, Perkin's life is laid bare for the whole world to see and along with it the systemic corruption that goes to the very core of the economic system we were born into.

Apologies of an Economic Hitman

If you enjoyed the documentary (or are the type to skip ahead) here are a couple more excellent interviews with Perkins:

John Perkins – "Zeitgeist: Addendum" Extended Interview

Confessions of an Economic Hitman – Part I

Confessions of an Economic Hitman – Part II

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Mixed Greens!

Okay, got a collection of related leafy good videos for you to sink your roots into.

Do we have the agricultural technology and resources to feed every human being on Earth and in a manner that does not destroy our environment? 

Well, major advances over the last ten years in hydroponics, aeroponics, LED lighting systems, renewable energy sources and indoor vertical-based methods of crop production – to name only a few – are now offering us the opportunity to unlock a treasure trove of bountiful pesticide free organic food for the whole of humanity to enjoy. What is more incredible is by fully leveraging our capability not only can we feed every man, woman and child on the planet we can do so while simultaneously returning huge tracts of acreage back to nature and therefore provide the Earth's biosphere the desperately needed habitat to pull itself from the brink of collapse and conveniently save our hides along with it. 

All we require now is action and the determination to sweep aside a few hundred years of outmoded economic dogmatism and a century worth of industrial-era chemical & fossil fuel intensive farming practices and the pale blue dot we find ourselves on can again glimmer emerald green. 

Like a tossed salad these videos are mixed up for your viewing pleasure...

The OmegaGarden Rotating Hydroponic Garden with LEDs

First up is an amazing new rotating hydroponic garden you could actually have at home!

OmegaGarden's Farmdominium 

... on a larger scale take the rotating LED garden above and scale it up to a building and you can feed an entire community!

Dutch PlantLab Plant Production Unit

The Dutch given their colder climates are now heavily researching food production in skyscrapers, buildings and even underground. Amazing!

For more on this see this article.

Dickson Despommier – The Vertical Farm

This TED talk from Columbia microbiology professor Dickson Despommier eloquently lays out the case why we no longer have any choice but to fully adopt vertical & underground farming techniques if we expect to survive and flourish as a species.

For more info from Despmmier his website is here.

Paignton Zoo's Vertical Farm

Damn! These animals eat better than I do!

Brita Riley – A Garden in my Apartment

Lastly, this TED talk from Britta Riley discusses the new and exciting Open Source community that has sprung up around creating hydroponic food gardens for urban windows. Everyone can do their small part in the new paradigm and have a lot of fun in the process!

For more on upgrading our food systems check out these fish.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

What Motivates Us?

How does money motivate us? This is one of the most important questions to ask given its predominance in all our lives.

If you haven't seen Dan Pink's presentation below then you may be surprised by the latest scientific findings and how they overturn decades and even centuries of belief on money's role as the primary mover in our advancement as a species.

Turns out money is only a good motivator for tasks that require basic mechanical skills – lifting boxes, ringing up merchandise on the cash register and the like – exactly the types of jobs that are now being rapidly automated away by mechanization that Ben McLeish and others speak about. Once tasks require even rudimentary cognitive skills money counterintuitively hinders performance.

This is an interesting state of affairs and one that is fundamentally redefining our conceptions on how to best tap the vast capability we collectively possess and in so doing how we can most effectively transition from a society based on scarcity to one of abundance.

The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Fish: A Love Story!

It's not everyday you fall in love with a fish (let alone two!) so this TED talk from Dan Barber is one you won't want to miss...

Our current intensive and unsustainable industrial-era fishing practices have stressed the ecosystems of the seas well past the breaking point and why seeking more intelligent options is critical if we have any hope of staving off irreversible & cataclysmic damage to the web of ocean life and therefore all life on Earth.

Fortunately, two billion years of evolution is here to the rescue if we have the foresight, wisdom and humility to learn from it. A few are...

Dan Barber – How I Fell in Love with a Fish

Monday, November 21, 2011

Occupy Your Heart

"...only joint creativity and gifts create intimacy and connection."

Occupy Wall Street – The Revolution Is Love

If the words of Charles Eisenstein resonate with you here is more of his timely wisdom.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

"Collateral Damage"

Ben McLeish in this fascinating August 2011 podcast peels back the layers of Doublespeak which permeate our culture and blind us from deeper truths that are critical to see if we ever expect to reach an ecologically sustainable and thriving world community.

Among other topics, McLeish also delves into the economic realities that are currently unfolding as automation of labor continues its inexorable process – thus collapsing the income-for-labor mechanism at the very heart of the monetary/market system.

This is a must listen for anyone who wants to get a clearer picture on the impending challenges & opportunities at humanity's doorstep.

NOTE: If your browser is not picking up the audio player try this YouTube version.

If you would like to get more from McLeish here is a another great interview.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Punishment Does Not Prevent Violence...

Crime rates in the United States are five to ten times higher than any of the other developed countries on the planet. Why is that?

Recidivism rates in U.S. prisons currently average around 65% within three years of release. Why is that?

Is it possible to achieve recidivism rates of less than one percent with release periods as long as 25 to 30 years? If such outcomes are possible why on Earth would we not adopt them?

Renowned violence expert James Gilligan in this very interesting series of short videos delves into these questions and unveils the surprising evidence that our current punitive mindset is actually at the very heart of the sicknesses we are seeing reflected around us.

Punishment Does Not Prevent Violence

No One is Hopeless

How Prison Worsens Violence

James Gilligan on Violence

On a related topic see Richard Wilkinson's presentation on the societal harm caused by economic inequality.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Middle Class? What's That???

The Middle Class over the course of the last generation has steadily been pushed toward the precipice and in ever-growing numbers over it and into the abyss. We are going from a three-class society – upper, middle and lower – to a two-class society – a minority up top and everyone else a weak exploitable underclass to serve them. Understanding the underlying factors that has lead to this sad state of affairs is critical if we ever expect to reorient our national and world priorities to halt this appalling trend.

Harvard Law Professor Elizabeth Warren in this next presentation and interview from January 2008 blows through the myth that today's Middle Class in America is in such dire straights as a result of overconsumption and fiscal irresponsibility. Looking at the hard numbers an entirely different picture comes to light...

The Coming Collapse of the Middle Class

Conversations with History: Elizabeth Warren

Related to the topics discussed by Warren I highly recommend checking out these presentations from Richard D. Wolff.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Capitalism Hits the Fan!

Are we experiencing a "financial crisis"? Before looking about at the state of the economy and rubber stamping this label on what we see going on today, perhaps we need to take pause and ponder if the problems we are experiencing actually run much deeper and expose flaws at the very core of the Capitalistic system we find ourselves in.

These next two presentations from Richard D. Wolff ~ Professor of Economics Emeritus from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst ~ lucidly and powerfully lays out the arc of history over the last thirty-plus years for how we arrived at a society with such massive concentrations of power, wealth and corruption. You will not get a more hard-hitting and eye-opening presentation on the topic than presented here.

Capitalism Hits the Fan | Dec 2009

Opposition to Paying for Capitalism's Crisis | April 2011

P.S. If you enjoyed these videos then I also recommend tuning into Professor Wolff's amazing weekly radio program Economic Update on WBAI New York.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Story of Broke

Are we broke or simply directing our precious resources into obsolete, non-productive and outright destructive pursuits? The Story of Broke takes off where The Story of Stuff ends and potently makes the case why our current dinosaur economy needs to go.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Moral Landscape

Neuroscientist and author Sam Harris challenges head on the prevailing notion that facts and values are somehow distinct non-overlapping magisteria and therefore science – since it presumably only operates in the sphere of facts – is incapable of informing and guiding us along the journey to higher levels of moral enlightenment. Harris brings forth the notion that not only is science up to the task, but more importantly provides us the framework and empirical foundation that no other "moral" system invented over the course of human history has and now tantalizingly offers us the toolset to allow humanity to bridge the cultural, religious and nationalistic barriers that are keeping us divided, weak and in constant states of conflict.

Depending on the depth you wish to proceed on the topic you can (1) watch the shorter TED presentation Harris gave in February 2010, (2) then move to the second video Harris gave later that year where he was given much more stage time than the limited timeframe provided by TED and lastly (3), if you still want more, then I highly recommend picking up a copy of Harris's book, "The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values". I did and it is an amazing mind-expanding read. Two thumbs and two toes up!


Sam Harris – Science Can Answer Moral Questions

Sam Harris – The Moral Landscape

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Great Dictator Speaks!

It's been seventy years since Charlie Chaplin issued the call for humanity to unite with the shared ethos of peaceful coexistence. I can't think of a better time than the present to take up that call.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Future is Open...

QUESTION: What would a drug company do if one of their researchers happened to stumble upon a promising drug for a particular disease? 

ANSWER: They would keep it a closely guarded secret until the prototype drug could be turned into an active pharmacological substance that could be patented – thus giving the corporation full control in its application to maximize profit.

QUESTION: What would happen instead if this promising drug were instead freely shared with a broad array of interdisciplinary & interconnected researchers spanning the globe?

ANSWER: Jay Bradner ~ research scientist and chemist at Harvard and Dana Farber Cancer Institute, did exactly that with a particular molecule engineered at his lab to treat a rare form of cancer. The results of utilizing this alternative open methodology turns out to be nothing short of miraculous and should make us pause and wonder what other areas of investigation would flower if removed from the darkness of proprietary corporate vaults.

Jay Bradner – Open-Source Cancer Research 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

With Equality Comes Health...

Richard Wilkinson ~ Professor Emeritus of social epidemiology at the University of Nottingham, in this very revealing TED talk presents the latest scientific evidence of just how much we suffer – at all income levels – when living in societies with high degrees of income inequality. Even the wealthy lose in such circumstances and why it is so important we collectively evolve toward economic systems fundamentally built upon the bedrock of egalitarianism.

Richard Wilkinson – How Economic Inequality Harms Societies

There are no leaders. There is only Humanity.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Sunday, October 23, 2011

As we do unto others, so we do unto ourselves.

You hungry little guy?

In Chinese legend there exists a mythological beast called the Taotie. This creature is unlike all others in that it possesses a ravenous and inexhaustible appetite and therefore cannot prevent itself from eating. As the legend goes this monster if left unchecked eventually consumes everything surrounding it and then faced with no other sources of food and still wracked with ceaseless pangs of hunger has no other alternative than to cannibalize itself – first its tail, then toes, fingers, feet, hands, legs, arms and finally its own torso until all that is left is its head which then perishes leaving in its wake a wasteland.

The Taotie is an allegory and warning for the dangers of greed and where it can take us if we allow it to do so. It is also a great analogy for any processes which are fundamentally dependent on endless growth.

Today we have our own Taotie and it comes in the form of our debt-based currency system – a system that cannot survive without infinite growth and therefore must descend into every possible corner of the biosphere and even ourselves for opportunities to convert what is in its path to monetizable assets. The problem of course – which we are beginning to wake to as the world economy continues to shudder – is such a process cannot go on forever when living in a finite and delicately balanced system such as the one here on Earth.

This next two-part presentation by Charles Eisenstein – author of the Book "Ascent of Humanity" among others – is a must for those who wish to see our species achieve an ecologically sustainable and socially healthy society – thus starving the Taotie and in-turn preventing us from ending our days in its belly.

Charles Eisenstein, "Money and the Turning of the Age"

Part 1:

Part 2:

P.S. Click here for his YouTube Channel if you are interested in more on this topic and a myriad of others.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

No Pony For You!

A phenomenal article on the looming challenges we collectively face with our energy infrastructure by Tom Murphy ~ Associate professor of physics at the University of California, San Diego:

Sustainable Means Bunkty to Me
Excerpt – "A child who wants a pony might first be asked to demonstrate that he or she can feed and take care of a gerbil, then graduate to a kitten, a puppy, a goat, and finally a pony. Currently, we’re not taking care of our gerbil, so we have not demonstrated that we deserve a pony. Perhaps we also don’t deserve to be brandishing the term “sustainable” for chicken-scratch contributions."

How bout a Gerbil-Pony instead?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Simple Rules | Remarkable Truths!

Feynman's curiosity is infectious!

P.S. Watch full screen in HD for maximum awe!

The honour is the kick of discovery!

Richard Feynman on honours...

P.S. Watch full screen in HD for maximum impact!

The Beauty of Science...

The late Nobel Prize winning physicist Richard Feynman reflects on the beauty to be found through the lense of science.

P.S. Watch full screen in HD for maximum wonder!

Some statistics every person on Earth should know...

Just learned these pleasant statistics recently:
  • Combined world military spending in 2010 came to 1.63 trillion dollars (The U.S. alone representing 45% of this total.) That is $233 for each man, woman and child in the world.
  • 80% of the world population lives on less than $10 a day (almost half living on less than $2.50 a day.) 

Stuff to ponder as humanity moves forward. Pass this on if you are as shocked as I am by this.

Can I borrow some seashells?

As we all look around these days, one thing that seems to be lurking around almost every corner and inundating our lives at a fundamental level is debt. We see it almost everywhere in society today – credit cards, school loans, auto loans, payday loans, mortgages, small businesses loans, municipal, State & Federal bonds, IMF (International Monetary Fund) loans to other countries, Credit Default Swaps... the list goes on and on. As we look upon the world today, it seems there is more of it than ever before and in actuality this – as a matter of fact – is true. There has never been a time in all of human history where there has been so much debt and strangely as we move into the future this trend will be accelerating. Why? ...Well, I don't want to give away the punchline of this next presentation, but for those of you who have already had a chance to view the documentary, Zeitgeist: Moving Forward you may already know the answer. For those who haven't then I highly recommend taking the time to see it, since it will challenge many of your basic assumptions, offer a myriad of new insights on where a great deal of today's societal ills originate from and more importantly bring fresh ideas & solutions to their resolution. 

In any case, thought you might enjoy this next presentation, which after a brief introduction begins with an interesting story of seashells on a secluded island and with it offers us a new vantage on the state of affairs we find ourselves in on our own little island called Planet Earth.

The Story of Stuff...

Every consumer product we own today comes with a fascinating story. This video is a MUST watch!

To see where the tale goes from here check out the Story of Broke...

The Free World Charter

A short video to contemplate:

Can you smell the hypocrisy???

Excellent short film on the Occupy Movement:

The United States of Feudalism

Hey fellow peasants!

You'll like this:

Finding The Root Causes...

As we watch the economic systems of the world continue to fracture, contort and collapse all around us a few visionaries out there are zeroing in on the root causes of the mess we find ourselves in and with it offer fresh insights into where we can all go from here to put such misery behind us. Ben McLeish is one of them. 

This excerpt from an upcoming British documentary interviewing McLeish is absolutely eye-opening:

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Democratic & Republican Parties are Two Sides of the Same 1% Coin...

Extra! Extra! Read all about it...

Want to get the real scoop on the Occupy movement? Don't look to corporate media. Get it direct from the 99%...

The Occupied Wall Street Journal 

Issue #1:

Saturday, October 8th issue #2:

To download the PDFs in the "Scribd" toolbar at the bottom of the PDF viewer click on the button that looks like a cloud with a down arrow in it.


We know why!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Two-Dimensional Thinking in a Multi-Dimensional World...

In 1884 a book called "Flatland" was published that explored what life might be like in an imaginary two-dimensional world where its citizens could go left, right, forward and back but had no idea of the third dimension that surrounded them. The people of this world merrily went about their business constructing their society within the confines of this limited planar view. Since all they knew was constrained to this surface over generations this notion of reality was ingrained into the very fabric of their culture – their traditions, beliefs and institutions all reflected back to them this singular vision.

Then one day something new happened when a little at first but then with greater frequency objects from the third dimension (cubes, sphere, cones...) began to pass through and occupy their space – from the Flatlanders' perspective popping into and out of existence and creating all kinds of bizarre shapes as they spun and rolled about. At first the Flatlanders simply laughed at these events or turned away in horror since such things completely defied what was deemed possible; and what years of flat-tradition and flat-academic insight told them could never be.

As time rolled by however a few began to question the old ways – since what they were experiencing could no longer be "squared" with this new emerging reality – and with much concerted effort (and a bit of luck) these stalwarts finally managed to hit the jackpot and the theory of the "Third Dimension" was born! Of course, when this grand discovery was enthusiastically shared with the rest of Flatlander society the discovers were branded infidels and locked in a 2D-tower ( looks like this: ====[> ) for the rest of their days. THE END. 

...well not really. A few generations later – since those damn cubes and spheres kept showing up – eventually the theory of the Third Dimension came to dominate and almost everyone came around – except a minority in the F.O.P. (Flat Old Party).

Well, I hope everyone enjoyed this lame story and saw the not very subtle analogy embedded between the bad puns – namely that today we all are trapped one way or another in our own cultural "two-dimensional" planes and why this next video offers a fascinating peek outwards into the emerging realities now impinging on our world:

Peter Joseph  |  "When Normality Becomes Distortion"

What's "dirty" is the system we are all chained to – not the Occupy protestors.