Saturday, December 15, 2012

Planned Obsolescence

What if the overarching goal of our businesses was to produce the products we need in a manner so they would last as long as possible, be simple to fix when they broke down, easily upgradeable to better technologies as they arrive and designed to be fully recyclable once all of the former options expire? What if our businesses were motivated & rewarded by the degree in which the goods they produced directly benefited humanity at large as well as the health of the biosphere which our survival is dependent upon? What if the goods we all enjoy and rely on for our basic survival were distributed and shared among us in a way where all of our needs, across the globe, could readily be met and doing so using substantially less resources?

Today, as we all know too well, our businesses are not in any appreciable measure oriented toward the attainment of the former, but instead are predominantly driven by the achievement of one very simple goal – that of profit. From the perspective of business, products (or commodities) are not produced for the utility they bring to those whose hands they will come to, but created by business for their convertibility into the ultimate commodity of all: money. "Success" in business can therefore for all practical purposes be defined as producing a commodity for as little as possible, selling it for as much as possible, pocketing the difference and reinvesting as much of the proceeds back into the former to further increase the monetary "wealth" extracted – ad infinitum.

With this singular & narrow motivational framework (i.e. "capital appreciation") being our businesses' guiding beacon – and whose logic by its very nature is heedless to the longterm survivability of humanity, the limits of the biosphere and fostering a just & equitable society – one cannot be surprised by the types of odious & astoundingly wasteful practices that predominate our age and where this next documentary clearly illustrates how our present day mode of operation is now nearing its natural & calamitous endgame. How we define & produce "wealth" cannot much longer be couched in the abstract monetary symbolism which transfixes us today, but will very soon need to evolve to accurately represent the physical, social & ecological wellsprings that truly define that which supports us.

Pyramids of Waste – AKA The Lightbulb Conspiracy

... and on a related note try The Story of Stuff.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Basic Income

"A certain small income, sufficient for necessities, should be secured for all, whether they work or not." ~ Bertrand Russell, 1918

Imagine one day an envelope arrives in your mailbox and upon opening it you pull out the following letter:


As executor of the estate of [NAME OF LONG LOST RELATIVE HERE], we are writing to inform you of the unfortunate passing of your relative. As specified in the will and testament of [DECEASED RELATIVE'S NAME] you will henceforth be granted an income in an amount that will allow for the coverage of your essential living costs – food, basic shelter, medicine and other related health costs. This stipend comes with no strings attached and is a gift to do with as you may.

An account has been opened in your name and enclosed is a bank card that you can use to immediately access your first round of funds. At the beginning of each month your cost-of-living stipend for that period will be added to this account. Also note, your monthly payout will be adjusted over time to keep pace with inflation.



The Law Offices of Tobin, Samuelson and Galbraith

You take a closer peek into the envelope and lo and behold in it is indeed a bank card! After reading the letter several more times in a state of shock and with no small measure of distrust that this MUST BE SOME KIND OF SCAM, you call the number on the back of the card and after a few minutes on the phone with the representative do indeed verify the funds exist and are available to you. Still smelling a rat you contact the Offices of Tobin, Samuelson and Galbraith and after a lengthy conversation with the associate assigned to your case you indeed confirm to your elation the factuality of the letter's content and the lifelong gift you will be receiving.

If faced with a life-altering circumstance such as this what would you do next??? If employed would you quit your job? Maybe change jobs? Go back to school? Would you ever work again? Perhaps volunteer? Start a business? Just sit around and play video games for the rest of your life? Learn quantum physics? If you do decide to work – since after all the income you will receive will only grant a meager existence – how would knowing you always have this guaranteed income change the way you interact with your boss and fellow employees? Would your confidence level change? Be less likely to perform duties you dislike or find morally objectionable?

Now, expand this little thought experiment outward and imagine if this same income were not only extended to lucky you, but to every single citizen in society – with parents receiving half an adult's portion additionally for each of the children under their care. How do you feel this would alter the fabric of society around you??? Would everyone quit their jobs and thus bring the economy to a screeching halt? Does such an arrangement strike you as unjust since it would allow those who may be categorized as "freeloaders" take unfair advantage of those that do still go to work and apply themselves for monetary gain? Does the question jump into your mind how such a program could ever be funded – especially in the harsh light of the global economic meltdown we have been experiencing?

Well if such a program sounds like a fantasy, you may be interested in knowing the concept of an unconditional basic income (as it is called) is by no means a new idea and was raised long ago by individuals such as Thomas Paine, philosophers like Bertrand Russell, economists Herbert A. Simon, Friedrich Hayek, James Meade, Milton Friedman and many others.

Today, given the gulf separating the rich from the poor among other issues, the idea of a basic income is once again entering the public discourse. The subject is now in active discussion in the German Parliament*. In Brazil conditional basic income programs already provide vital life-sustaining resources to fifty million of their citizens*. If you happen to live in the U.S. state of Alaska you've been enjoying a basic income since 1976*. In addition, unconditional basic income pilot programs are currently underway and/or completing in Namibia as well as India – the both of which are raising tantalizing evidence into the potential flourishing such arrangements may unleash if widely adopted.

Regardless of how one may personally feel we may soon be arriving at a time – and as argued by individuals such as Jeremy Rifkin in his book, "The End of Work" – where we may have little choice but to enact basic income schemes, or facsimiles thereof, as a means to cope with the unremitting process of machines supplanting human labor at rates that may soon far exceed what can be absorbed by the emergence of new industries. As greater numbers are steadily pushed out the workplace door and into the unemployment lines by our more productive machine workers* – and thus being left without the wages to procure the goods to meet their survival – the "logic" of an economic arrangement that on one hand creates bounties of unprecedented magnitude while on the other denies an ever-growing portion of the population from that bounty is a system that is undeniably in a state of crises and one in desperate need of revision.

Will we all some day enjoy a basic income as a civil right? We shall see...

Grundeinkommen - ein Kulturimpuls

This 2008 German documentary – in English titled "The Basic Income – A Cultural Impulse" – lays out the mechanics and essential case for the adoption of unconditional basic incomes and provides an excellent overview for those who wish to learn more about this intriguing concept.

NOTE: For those who do not speak German, you can turn Closed Captioning on by:
  1. Start playing the video.
  2. Locate the "CC" button at the bottom of your player. If you do not see it there it may be in the popup menu available from the grey-button with the upward arrow at the bottom right corner of the video.
  3. If the "CC" button is red Closed Captioning is already on for you, else if it is gray left-click it which should turn captioning on.
  4. If subtitles appear for a language other than the one you prefer, left-click on the arrow to the left of the red "CC" button and a list of available languages should appear for you to choose.

BIEN 2012 Conference – Basic Income in India Presentation

This in-depth presentation at the BIEN (Basic Income Earth Network) 2012 conference delves into the remarkable results from a recently completed basic income pilot project funded by UNICEF in the Madhya Pradesh State of India.

News On One – Report on Basic Income Grant in Namibia

A brief report covering the promising results of an unconditional basic income pilot project in Omitara, Namibia as it was completing at the end of 2009.

Uhura Dempers – Basic Income Grant Pilot Project in Namibia

This next presentation by Uhura Dempers further explores the fascinating results coming out of the unconditional basic income pilot programs underway in Namibia.

BIEN 2010 – Basic Income as an Instrument for Justice & Peace

And lastly, these final series of presentations at the 2010 BIEN conference discusses many other aspects of basic incomes. The first presentation especially by professor Philippe Van Parijs of the Université Catholique de Louvain being a must watch for those who remain skeptical about the viability and fairness such programs can offer.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Sorry! We're Short on Inches Today.

Another perspective on money from the late Alan Watts.

Alan Watts – Money

... and for more on the topic of money try this.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

WALL-E or ED 209

Mr. Kinney vs ED 209
Robotic technology is on the rise like never before and nowhere is this trend more stark than in the military arena.

With billions-of-dollar aerial drones like the MQ-9 Reaper & MQ-1 Predator now actively deployed over the battlefield and others soon to be inhabiting the civilian skies above our heads, along with more terrestrial examples like the Foster-Miller Talon, the soon to arrive XM1219 Armed Robotic Vehicle and numerous others in testing and on the drawing board one thing is certain – the lion's share of our scientific & engineering talent on Earth today is being applied in a manner that is doing little if anything to aid the collective wellbeing of humanity and worse is siphoning untold quantities of precious & limited resources away from addressing the areas that are truly imperiling our species' survival.*

This Fault Lines special on the exponentially increasing mechanization of the battlefield – and not without coincidence the inexorable sunsetting of our men & women in uniform via technological unemployment – charts the moral & ethical minefield that is now opening before us.

Will we realize in time the folly of venturing out into such perilous territory and intelligently redirect our vast shared abilities for our mutual benefit OR blindly follow the mad logic of brinkmanship conditioned into us by our forebears that will be our inevitable undoing?

Only time will tell...

Fault Lines – Robot Wars

For more on the topic of robots, mechanization & AI see some of the amazing breakthroughs being made by Honda's ASIMO team as well as these two presentations outlining more of the dramatic shifts coming our way.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

How to Escape the Steel Box...

Okay, this is serious!

You're trapped in a reinforced steel airtight & watertight room, walls three feet thick and with only one exit – a firmly locked steel door. The door has three hinges with two screws each. In your hand is a penknife and you know if you try with all your effort it will take you a minimum of one minute to unscrew each. No problem! In a little over six minutes you know you can get them all loose, pop the door off and be safely be out of there and on your merry way to get a cappuccino.

You then look up and notice three fist-sized holes in the ceiling above you and know (don't ask me how you know, but you do) that in the next few instants ice-cold water will begin shooting through them and will fill the room completely in four minutes! You also know that the exertion you will have to expend to get the six screws loose along with the bone-chilling water will leave you so tired you will be lucky to hold your breath for a minute, let alone the two-plus more you will require to unscrew all of them and pry the door open against the immense water pressure!


To unlock the answer to this particular dilemma – and a few other wide open Pandora's Boxes of our time – Ben McLeish in this next excellent podcast discusses the attributes of a "Resource-Based Economic Model" (also known as an "Earth Economy" or "Open-Source Civilization"). McLeish also dispels the notion raised by some that such a system would necessitate some form of "central planning" or top-down authoritarian rule in order to exist. The reality is very much the opposite.

Ben McLeish – From Linear Competition to Global Collaboration

NOTE: If you wish to get the audio file of this presentation grab this mp3.

If you enjoyed this podcast and would like to hear more here is one and another from Mr. McLeish.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Who is WWWatching You?

...and on the topic. This interview with Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy in London discusses the issue of the growing threat of the global totalitarian surveillance state, among other fascinating subjects:

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Pavlov's Humans

In December 1974, The New York Times reported that the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had conducted illegal domestic activities, including experiments on U.S. citizens during the 1960s.

Later congressional investigations prompted by this report confirmed a series of covert programs under the title "Project MKUltra", that began in the early 1950s and ran all the way to 1973 and which was assigned the task of researching & developing behavioral & pharmacological "mind control" techniques.

Though much of what was performed by this program will never be known since most of the project's documents were destroyed by those directing it, what ultimately did come to light is absolutely chilling and an extreme testament for the overarching need for complete government transparency and why organizations such a Wikileaks and persecuted individuals like Bradley Manning & Julian Assange are much needed candles to unaccountable & undemocratic institutions such as these.

This revealing documentary by Scott Noble, and nephew of Nancy Noble who was a victim of CIA sponsored mind control experimentation, details the history of nefarious programs like MKUltra, others that preceded it and the type of minds in recent history who have sought the means of turning the citizenry into compliant vessels of their personal control.

One can't help but wonder what else the U.S. Intelligence & Military agencies are engaged in with the vast resources they now receive and the narrow logic of brinkmanship & authoritarianism that saturates their thinking.

Human Resources – Social Engineering In the 20th Century

If you enjoyed this documentary on related lines Adam Curtis's BBC series, "The Century of the Self" is a must watch!

Friday, August 17, 2012

How much would you pay for The Universe?

With the momentous landing of Curiosity on our sister planet Mars –  an unprecedented technological tour de' force by the NASA and JPL engineering & scientific teams – one can't but be left with a sense of the incredible potential we have when united in common purpose.

One cannot also but lament to this very same fact when looking across the world today and seeing so much of this potential locked into activities which do not serve our collective wellbeing and in many alarming instances actually acting to jeopardize our very survival.

With world-wide military expenditures ever on the rise, an economic system which rewards profit above all else, and a political structure hellbent on maintaining "the status quo" regardless of the inherent rationality & relevance of the institutions it protects, we seem to have lost touch with the real driving factors that create "value" in the deeper sense of the word – health, vitality, community, empathy, wisdom, knowledge – to name only a few.

Now that we are at the point in human history where we are able for the very first time to see ourselves as one connected species on one tiny blue-green gem floating through a vast sea of "nothingness", where is the logic of remaining divided along tribal, religious, economic & national lines where no such divisions – outside of our minds – in actuality exist?

How might we flourish as a species if instead of being in continual states of conflict & competition we united in the exploration of the unknown and directed our full creative powers for the betterment of all? What wonders may we unlock in such a shared empathetic vision and conversely what horrors are likely to be unleashed by steadfastly continuing to treat each other as adversaries?

With those questions at the forefront, these next two brief videos from astrophysicist & Director of the Hayden Planetarium, Neil deGrasse Tyson, boldly makes the case for the reinvigoration of our space programs and with it the much needed revitalization of our passions for exploration and the unleashing of the energies to triumph over the many obstacles which now stand before us.

Neil deGrasse Tyson – We Stopped Dreaming

We Stopped Dreaming – A New Perspective

If you wish to support the Penny4NASA organization or sign their petition hop here.

... and now for some FUN!

Dare Mighty Things – Curiosity on Mars

Challenges of Getting to Mars – Seven Minutes of Terror

View from the ISS at Night – Knate Myers

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Age of Thorium

Your lifetime supply of energy
In 1973 the Nixon Administration took humanity down a path that future historians may look back on as one of the most short-sighted and imperiling decisions ever made by a U.S. President. One in which if not taken may have very well prevented the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster from ever happening, removed the need today for the United States to be dependent on Middle East oil and by consequence drastically reduced the geopolitical pressures that led to tragic events such as 9-11, the U.S.'s involvement in countless military campaigns resulting in enormous civilian bloodshed, the support & funding of despotic regimes as well as the unnecessary proliferation of nuclear-weapons-grade fissile materials.

That year motivated by political as well as business pressures, President Nixon fired a man by the name of Alvin M. Weinberg from his directing position at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) for his continued advocation of a much safer & cleaner nuclear reactor alternative to the dominant Liquid Metal Fast Breeder Reactor (LMFBR) design that was being heavily backed by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), by industry and in the active process of being taken to market.

With profits & many jobs on the line for Nixon's constituents in his home state of California, an election right around the corner, pressure from the French who were bringing their reactors to market as well as the enormous government funds that had been poured into the LMFBR option, Weinberg's emphatic criticisms of this design's many shortcomings were unappreciated to say the least and why he was summarily removed from his post and all research performed by his team at ORNL scuttled.

As a result of this fateful decision and the regulatory, economic & technical barriers associated with developing nuclear technologies from that time forward the LMFBR designs became the template upon which all future commercial reactors were built and by consequence what is used across the world to this very day.

So what was Weinberg's alternative? Enter the Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor (LFTR), which as its name implies is fueled by the abundant element thorium versus the much rarer element uranium which present day reactors use as their primary fuel source. LFTRs (spoken aloud as lifters) offer up a host of advantages that when taken in combination seem almost "too good to be true" and leaves most presented the data scratching their heads and asking the question, WHY ON EARTH ARE WE NOT ALREADY DOING THIS???

These next few videos lay out the compelling case for the urgent need to reignite Weinberg's research. With fossil fuels now or very soon peaking, not to mention their inherent environmental & climatological downsides combined with the extraordinary challenges associated with replacing them with clean safe alternatives, to not wind back the clock and fully investigate the potential of LFTRs may turn out to be one of humanity's ultimate shows of hubris, close-mindedness and socioeconomic lock-in.

The Thorium Dream

The Thorium Molten-Salt Reactor – Why Didn't This Happen

This next presentation at Google by former NASA aerospace engineer Kirk Sorensen uncovers the convoluted history behind the Nixon Administration's choice to pursue "Fast Breeder" reactors over their thorium counterparts.

Dr. Kiki's Science Hour – The Nuclear Alternative

... and this excellent in-depth interview with Kirk Sorensen digs even deeper into this amazing topic.

Robert Hargraves – Aim High!

Lastly and by no means least, this presentation by Robert Hargraves at the 3rd Thorium Energy Alliance Conference in Washington D.C. dispels the notion that Thorium Reactors could not compete on price-point with the dirtier forms of energy that predominate today – namely coal.

To keep up on the developments around thorium energy feel free to visit and

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Who Gets The "Surplus"?

Imagine you are a psychologist whose job it is to analyze a particular family in order to offer the parents the best & most accurate advice for helping them improve the relationships with their two children.

You interview the first child who enters with a hop and a skip and throughout your interview has nothing but the highest of praise & glowing respect for her parents and her relationship with them. Great! With a warm feeling in your belly you think forward to the conversation you will be having with the lucky parents and imagine the happy smiles that will cross their faces at hearing the great news. :)

... and then into the room plods the second child and with a lurch the warmness you were feeling an instant before vanishes at seeing a frown of such epic proportions it seems the corners of this one's mouth are dragging along the floor. Oh, my! As you sit with this child the news only get worse from there as an entirely opposite and critical portrait of the family is elaborated to you in vast detail. :(

If faced with such a difficult & contrary set of views what might be the correct course of action to take? Would it be right in such circumstances to ignore the second child's account and seek to play into the emotional wishes of the parents OR would we have a responsibility to bring both childs' perspectives to the table so as to give the parents the most honest & accurate view of the realities at hand?

Today and throughout recent history, and especially for those of us within the United States, we are in similar circumstances as it relates to our views on the dominant political & economic arrangement of our age – Capitalism. For quite some time now when it comes to the "family" of our nation, and those similarly aligned, it seems we have chosen or have been taught that only the "happy" perspectives – those that play into the prejudices & desires of the established order – are all that we should be paying attention to while any others, be them not so flattering, be expunged or even allowed to enter our minds in the first place. In one word – "taboo".

In the hope of opening the floor to some of "those other" kids in our global family and to expand our vision accordingly, this next four-part eye-opening course from Economist Emeritus Richard Wolff about a particular Political Economist – who here in the West has certainly been branded "that bad kid with the frown" – is a must see (or listen) for anyone seeking a world built upon the pillars of brother/sisterhood, equality and liberty.

Richard Wolff – Marxian Economics – An Intensive Introduction

NOTE: If you wish to listen to this course instead it is also available in audio form.

Session 1:

Session 2:

Session 3:

Session 4:

If you are interested in more from Professor Wolff feel free to hop here.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Sunlight is the Best Disinfectant

We are entering a new age of openness & transparency that is just beginning to drive into the sunlight institutions that have managed to survive until now only by shrouding themselves in darkness, secrecy and authoritarian design.

The Federal Reserve, the White House, the World Bank, the CIA, the FBI, the Pentagon, private corporations – to name only a few – are all entities systematically losing their relevance & effectiveness as humanity moves into an era of massive borderless interconnectivity & intercommunication where cooperative open models tap into the problem-solving skills of hundreds of millions and soon billions of human beings.

It is no surprise however to see many who pervade our "institutions of old" misguidedly gripping the reigns of power and attempting to thwart humanity's progress by perverting the same technologies that now offer the potential for so much good. Be it legislation like SOPA, PIPA, Citizens United, the NDAA or the NSA's gargantuan surveillance center in Utah, the narrow-minded attempts to prop up outmoded thinking and maintain dominance not only endangers the wellbeing of those on the receiving end of these institutions' activities, but also threatens those within since such rigid top-down "command & control" structures inherently lack the capability of setting loose the creative powers of the masses and thus can only act as doorstops to unlocking the desperately needed solutions to the real & looming challenges we now collectively face here on Earth.

If we are to survive & prosper in the rapidly changing future now upon us every recess of our institutions must be bathed in the light of openness and transparency. Those that grow & bloom in such conditions will serve us well and those we find wither when stripped bare before our eyes, by definition, have no further place left to live except the pages of our history books.

Don Tapscott – Four Principles for the Open World

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Competent Democracy

"A man is none the less a slave because he is allowed to choose a new master once in a term of years." ~ Lysander Spooner

We are told we live in a "Democracy" – pardon to those readers residing within nations which label themselves otherwise – which is often most simply defined as "Government for the people by the people," but what does that really mean in the context of our individual lives and our communities as they exist today?

We are given the choice to "vote" for one set of elected officials or another, but how does this action qualify as a form of government where the people – the masses versus a small elite – are the driving force in the decision-making process? Can we really say that we live in a "Democracy" when the creation of our laws are actually authored & enacted by small highly intertwined groups whom have been delegated this power?

Is this all that Democracy is for the vast majority – simply a periodic & narrowly-defined choice of which elites will rule and nothing more???... OR can we envision more advanced & equitable forms of organization which better embody the ideals of governance "for and by the people"? Can new technologies such as the internet, social networking, "crowdsourcing", "open source" among others work in conjunction to more effectively & fairly distribute decision-making and thus vastly increase the wellbeing of society or would such attempts disintegrate into "mob rule" or "tyrannies of the masses"? Are there methodologies – be them scientific or otherwise – available to us that could stave off the dangers of the latter while strengthening the former?

All difficult question indeed, but in these times of increasing uncertainty and concentration of power, all critical to wrestle with if we expect to turn the tide and build communities which will evolve and thrive like never before.

NOTE: At this time this documentary is not available online. It may be rereleased down the road, so check back later. In the meantime feel free to try this instead.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Crisis of Civilization

"If a problem can't be solved, enlarge it." – Dwight Eisenhower

Climate Change, deforestation, Peak Oil, economic recession, the gulf between the rich & poor, depleting fisheries, top soil erosion, hunger, war, terrorism, foreclosure, sickness, rising tuition, overpopulation, bankruptcy, depression, spiraling debt...

When one tries to take in the vast array of individual issues that we now face us it is no surprise we are often left feeling utterly overwhelmed and powerless. To resolve so many issues seems almost an impossibility – especially considering the short timeline that is required of us to do so to avert disaster – but just perhaps could these issues be merely symptoms of a deeper more simple set of circumstances that if understood might open to us the key insights to tackle all of these issues simultaneously? Could our problems today be a result of our own failure to see ourselves, our communities, nations, institutions as interlocking parts of a synergistic whole?

This next documentary with Dr. Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed explores these questions and offers up some amazing insights into the divided, limited and by consequence dangerous manner in which much of the world community currently operates within.

Let's take a step outside of the box...

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Who is Edward Bernays?

Propaganda – this word in the present day conjures up images of totalitarian governments, nationalistic slogans to manipulate the masses into marching off to war and nefarious methods of mind control crafted by powerful elites to coerce the majority into patriotic obedience. This was not always the case though, and before the conclusion of the 1st World War the term had yet to have morphed into the derogatory meaning we think of today.

As a result at that time, the intellectuals on all sides of the warring nations quite openly & unabashedly used the terminology and diligently worked to perfect their "propaganda techniques" for molding the citizenry to the requirements of their respective war & political machines. In America one of these intellectuals, who was heavily inspired by his uncle: the famous psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, was a man by the name of Edward Bernays.

As might be expected, by the end of the war and the heavy use of the word for describing the manipulative tactics employed by those on the other side – the Germans in this instance – and by the untold amounts of bloodshed & misery produced by the conflict, the term transfigured in the minds of the general populace to its present uncomplimentary definition. So much for the word, but what is more important and absolutely eye-opening is the story that proceeds from there and the powerful chain of events that quite literally defines much of the fabric of society we live in today and by consequence much in the way we frame our "individual" existences.

This 2002 BBC four part series by acclaimed documentarian Adam Curtis titled, "The Century of the Self" is a must for any who value Democracy and seek to strengthen it by uncovering the techniques employed by those in recent history who have sought to undermine it. To know the story of Edward Bernays is to take an important step in inoculating yourself from the manipulations of those who exist today whom seek to use the majority as mere puppets for their self-aggrandizement and aggregation of power.

The Century of the Self

Episode 1 – Happiness Machines

Episode 2 – The Engineering of Consent

Episode 3 – There is a Policeman Inside All Our Heads...

Episode 4 – Eight People Sipping Wine in Kettering

Saturday, May 5, 2012

We Have The Technology

For those who have seen The Story of Stuff you are all too aware of the harmful & unsustainable chain of events that are linked to the great majority of goods that make their way into & out of our lives. For those who have seen The Great Disruption you are well informed to the fact that the current stories of our stuff – and much of the way we collectively operate – must radically alter if we expect to survive the myriad of ecological & economic crisis now rippling through our world communities.

So what the %#&* do we do about it?!?! Well, don't ask a dummy like me! Instead ask physicist & environmental scientist Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute, who over the course of several decades has made astounding out-of-the-box leaps in the holistic application of technology to achieve rates of efficiency far in excess of what was formerly thought of as possible and as a result now opens the door for all of humanity to finally kick its dangerous & unsustainable fossil fuel addiction.

A better world awaits! Now we just need to seize it...

Amory Lovins – A 50-Year Plan for Energy

For those who would like to see Amory's amazing super energy efficient home up in the Rockies check out this Bing video.

Advanced Energy Efficiency: Concepts & Practice

... and for those who really want to go off the deep end here is a five part week-long seminar that Lovins did at Stanford University back in 2007 where he covers the gamut of technologies that are just begging for a 21st Century upgrade.

Day 1 – Buildings

Day 2 – Industry

Day 3 – Transportation

Day 4 – Implementation

Day 5 – Implications

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Beyond Capitalism

All things we know of in existence have a beginning, a middle and an end. This as far as we can tell is an inescapable fact of the ever-evolving Universe we find ourselves in. For humans this reality can at times be a challenging truth to come to grips with given our understandable desires to seek continuity & stability in our lives, environments, social relations as well as beliefs.

In the sciences this tendency for life systems to seek stability is referred to as homeostasis. Though usually thought of in the context of how our bodies regulate themselves at a basic biological level, homeostasis spills well past that point and into the very nature of what our minds value, believe and by consequence into the social structures we collectively construct, maintain and defend. As a result, and like a hidden puppet master pulling the strings, the forces of homeostasis have wired into us primal emotions to place higher value on what we currently believe – no matter what that may be – while instinctually leading us to distrust that which falls outside of what we deem "normal" and by reflexive assumption label "correct".

Capitalism – for those of us in the United States & much of the West our cultural identification with this particular economic arrangement – our "homeostatic normal" – runs deep. It so permeates our society's mindset that the thought of this institution ever coming to an end seems an almost inconceivable notion. One must ask though, is the thought of Capitalism one day reaching a conclusion really such a far-fetched idea when taking in the long view and considering the myriad of economic, technological & governmental transitions our species has undergone over the ages and especially in the light of a future that is bringing exponentially increasing change that far outstrips anything we have experienced before?

With that question in mind, this next stasis-challenging presentation from Economics Emeritus Professor Richard Wolff turns an expert & critical eye to the dominant economic system of our age and asks the question: Can we do better than Capitalism?

Capitalism and Democracy at Work

For more excellent presentations from Professor Wolff see Capitalism Hits the Fan and Private Versus Public.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Gangster Cuddles

A must see Keiser Report with Rolling Stone journalist, Matt Taibbi.

To read Matt Taibbi's Rolling Stone article go here.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Got Free Will?

Think you have it???

This next presentation from neuroscientist & author Sam Harris may throw you for an amazing loop!

Sam Harris on "Free Will"

For more from Harris see The Moral Landscape...

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Paradise or Oblivion

"We cannot solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." ~ Albert Einstein

Those wise words are as true as ever, and as humanity continues to move into the 21st Century it is becoming abundantly clear many of the ways in which we navigated the challenges of the 20th Century – and those previous – are simply no longer working.

From the extraordinary pressures we as a species are placing on the life systems of the Earth, to the looming energy & resource crises, a projected population of over nine billion by mid-century and an economic paradigm locking us into wasteful patterns of consumption, war, poverty & unsustainable growth the time for having our eyes fixated on the past can now only bring us the most perilous of consequences. That's the downside!

On the up side, given the numerous challenges humanity has overcome we have developed a panoply of powerful social, technological & scientific capabilities that if intelligently & judiciously applied could bring about a rise in our collective wellbeing far in excess of anything we experience today. We could quite readily end all war and poverty on this planet with what we now have at our disposal. A tantalizing opportunity don't you think?!

Up or down one thing is for certain... the clock is ticking and the choice is ours – paradise or oblivion.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Mr. Robot, Please Take My Job

Since the advent of the integrated circuit in 1958, about every eighteen months computer processor speeds have doubled. How long this exponential trend will continue into the future is anyone's guess, but one thing for certain we are still far away from exploiting the pure computational power that physics is capable of delivery to us if we can only figure out how to do so.

With each jump, the feats our computational machines have been able to perform have expanded accordingly, to the point today where they are now steadily closing the gap on many tasks that were not long ago thought of as the sole domain of the human intellect. With recent examples like IBM's Watson besting the top champions of Jeopardy to Google's self-driving vehicles to ASIMO we are experiencing a transformation of unprecedented magnitude that is fundamentally redefining humanity and in a manner that is already setting off tectonic economic & societal shifts that we are only just beginning to fathom. TRANSLATION: We're in for a wild ride folks!

On the topic, these next two presentations may either fill you with delight at the incredible possibilities opening up before us or fill you with dread contemplating a future that will radically differ from the world we find ourselves in today. Either way the future will not be boring. This I guarantee you. ;)

Federico Pistono - Robots Will Steal Your Job

Jürgen Schmidhuber – When Creative Machines Overtake Man

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Government Explained

WARNING: After viewing this you might question what planet you were born on. ;)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Re-Envisioning Money

We don't usually think of it as such, but money is a technological invention. One that has been with us now for so many centuries and has infused & driven our collective consciousness to such a pervasive degree we rarely if ever stop to fully comprehend that money, when it is all said and done, is simply... an abstraction – a social agreement.

If tomorrow all of humanity woke up and believed the pieces of paper in our wallets & purses imprinted with numbers, presidents & other miscellaneous historical figures were simply that and the digits flying about in our computerized bank accounts were just that – electrons zipping through silicon – and the gold & silver coins just globs of shiny metal, the power of money from one moment to the next would cease to exist. Kinda spooky when you stop and think about it!

Well, evaporating money is not the point of this post, but is only being thrown out here to hopefully provide a bridge to viewing the stuff outside the "normal" context we typically do and to provide a little bit of space for us to hold this particular piece of technology out at arm's length and with a discerning and dispassionate eye ponder how it can be enhanced & reformed to better serve our needs.

With those thoughts in mind I leave you in the extraordinary capable and wise hands of economist & author Charles Eisenstein, whose timely message of recapturing our "gift economy" roots, but in a 21st Century context, offers many cogent solutions & values for steering humanity away from the impending social & ecological storms now bearing down upon us.

Sacred Economics – A Short Film

Interview for Money & Life Film

This film is currently in post-production and brings together several of the new groundbreaking economic thinkers from across the world. If you would like to find out more, see the preview or contribute to their efforts click here. Oh, and if you would like to be in the credits with me a tax-deductible donation of $100 or more will land your name in the film. Now that is pretty cool!

Re-Envisioning Money

For more from Charles Eisenstein and to learn about the dreaded Taotie click here.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Our Home

Behold the majesty of our precious and fragile world and contemplate what really matters.

TROM – Earth

NOTE: Some international viewers are unable to view the YouTube version of this video, but looks like the Vimeo version is working just fine – CLICK HERE TO GET IT!

Watch full screen in HD for maximum awe.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The End of Growth

War is upon us – not a war between nations, though there are plenty of examples of that, but one for the very survival of the entirety of human civilization. As estimated by the 2010 Living Planet Report we are currently using our planetary resources 50% faster than what the Earth can renew. If we extrapolate into the future from our rates of growth up to this point in history, by 2050 when populations are expected to reach an estimated 9.3 billion human beings, we will require around two and a quarter planet Earths worth of resources.

One doesn't need a PHD in mathematics – or a degree in anything for that matter – to understand that extending ourselves that far above a sustainable level with no convenient planet Earths waiting in the wings is a recipe for collective disaster and untold misery.

And for those techno enthusiasts – I counted myself as a member of this group until very recently* – who believe the ingenuity of our scientists, inventors & entrepreneurs will rise to the occasion and create an ever-increasing bounty for all (I certainly hope they pull some techno-rabbits out of their hats!) holding such beliefs in the face of what we are up against now is a dangerous position to take when considering the very large downside that more likely will come by ignoring the evidence and keeping the gas pedal pressed to the floor.

Damn, looks like another grim post from me! Sorry folks!

Considering the spine-chilling information above, all is by no means lost and why this next TED presentation from Paul Gilding is a must see for every man, woman and child on the planet – not just to fully comprehend what we are now all up against, but also what we can do together to move past our destructive adolescence and into a responsible sustainable adulthood.

Paul Gilding – The Earth is Full

* If you are wondering why my techno enthusiasm has tapered off as of late, I refer you to the extraordinary insightful blog from University of California, San Diego Physics Professor Tom Murphy who over the past few months has detailed the very stark realities & tradeoffs of moving to sustainable sources of energy. Check out these posts specifically: [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16]. ← Come on! There's not that many. You can do it!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Structural Peace or Structural War


Is war natural? Is war inevitable? Is the tendency for war hard-wired into our "human nature"? Are we inherently territorial and aggressive? Is there a "war gene"? Is war a result of "evil"? What forces drive us toward war? What systems of belief perpetuate war? What institutions & economic arrangements require war for their very survival? Which profit? How do cultures & nation states indoctrinate their citizenry to acquiesce to, participate in, take the lives of others and lay down their own lives to meet war's ends?


Is the possibility of world peace nothing more than a fantasy? Are the differences between us so great that peace will always lie outside of our grasp?  Will the drive to obtain & secure scarce resources continually thwart our efforts to come to peaceful resolutions? If mutually beneficial arrangements are a possibility what institutions, environmental frameworks and values can we adopt that can steer us toward peaceful coexistence?

Lots of annoying brain-bending questions, huh?

For those who are horrified by the sad realities of war and humanity's long relationship with it and also for those who are awakening to the realization that given our exponentially increasing weapon technologies if we do not deeply grapple with such questions and upgrade our personal & societal values in a manner that allow us to responsibly manage such vast power the possibility for catastrophe becomes almost a certainty.

With the aspiration to pull back from such perilous trends, Peter Joseph of The Zeitgeist Movement in this next lecture titled, '"Defining Peace" – Economics, The State and War' jumps head first into these critical questions, zeroing in on the root causal mechanisms that underly & feed the myriad of conflicts we see around us today as well as explores new territory & perspectives that in-turn reveal a host of vital new tools for reengineering our world in a manner where lasting peace finally has a chance to take hold. Now that's something to get excited about!

Peter Joseph – Defining Peace – Tel Aviv, Israel – Feb 6th 2012

In the pursuit of peace the wise words of Howard Zinn cannot go unheeded.