Archive for the ‘Opportunity’ Category

Your Unique Self and The Only Thing That Matters

Monday, October 29th, 2012 Positive — Timothy Wilken writes: I am currently reading two new books that may be among the most important books ever written to address our changing times. Even though I haven’t yet finished either book, I am so excited that I had to tell you a little bit about them.

The first is the latest book from a teacher of mine, Marc Gafni. It is called Your Unique Self. I am about half way through and am finding it to be of great value. Marc believes that enlightenment is a human behavior that is available to any human who takes the time to understand and work the process. This makes it one of the most optimistic books every written. …

I have also started reading a new book by Neal Donald Walsch called The Only Thing That Matters. There is an enormous amount of wisdom in both Walsh’s and Gafni’s books, and I am not yet finished, I am hopeful that both of these books can communicate effectively with my brothers and sisters on the path. I have purchased extra copies of both books for my family and friends. (10/29/12)


Taxing the Rich to make Investments that grow the Middle Class

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

Read more here. (09/23/12)

Oneness Peace Festival

Friday, September 14th, 2012

Join the Reality Party

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012 of Minds — James Howard Kunstler writes: Meet the new third party in national politics: Reality.

Reality is the only party with an agenda consistent with what is actually happening in the world. Reality doesn’t need to drum up dollar donations from anyone. Reality doesn’t have to pander to any interest group or subscribe to any inane belief system. Reality doesn’t even need your vote. Reality will be the winner of the 2012 election no matter what the ballot returns appear to say about the bids of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney to lead the executive branch of the government.

In the vicious vacuum that national party politics has become, the Republicans and Democrats are already dead. They choked to death on the toxic fumes of their own excreta. They are empty, hollow institutions animated only by the parasites that feed on and squirm over the residue of decomposing tissue within the dissolving membranes of their legitimacy. Think of the fabled Koch brothers as botfly larvae and the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association PAC (SIFMA PAC) as a mass of writhing maggots.

These are desperate days in the republic. Between the two empty spectacles of the official party nominating conventions, a terrible nausea rises in the collective gorge of the swindled body politic. The putative contest of ideas is a dumbshow in a hall of mirrors. None of it avails to reduce, mitigate, or even acknowledge, the tensions that may tear this country apart, in particular the web of fraud that shrouds all the operations of money and banking – which is to say: the fate of everything the nation thinks it has invested in itself and its future. In the USA of 2012, anything goes and nothing matters. Reality has a different view of where this all ends and how it will work out.

Compare and contrast the platforms of the Republicans and Democrats with the Reality Party:

The two major parties both propose that the colossal machine of everyday life in America can not only run indefinitely, but continue expanding, and include ever more member people who trade ever more schwag. All that is required, they say, is twiddling the settings of the machine, to get it back to running smoothly as it did in the good old days before the mystifying crash of 2008. They disagree slightly on which dials to twiddle. Reality knows we have entered along-term compressive economic contraction; that there is no way we can persist in the current living arrangement; and that the necessary outcome to avoid immense human suffering can be described as the downscaling and re-localizing of everything we do.

The two major parties regard the rule of law as optional, especially in money matters. Neither party has any will to interfere with a broad array of financial rackets that range from the blatant manipulation of markets, interest rates, and currencies to computerized front-running thievery, traffic in booby-trapped derivatives and counterfeit shorts, pervasive accounting fraud, channel stuffing, irregularities in central bank bullion leasing, flagrant confiscation of private accounts, municipal bond-rigging flimflams, “private equity” looting operations, offshore banking dodges, and untold other scams, rip-offs, and cons that have crippled the basic functions of finance, namely: price discovery, currency as a reliable store of value, and the allocation of surplus wealth for productive purpose. Reality knows that the absence of the rule of law is suicidal. Reality is incapable of pretending that it doesn’t matter. Reality provides work-arounds for intractably dishonest political arrangements: civil war and revolution. Both are invoked out of extreme desperation and have unpredictable outcomes. Like Reality itself, they are what they are. (09/11/12)


Everything Won’t Be Alright

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012 Automatic Earth — Ashvin Pandurangi writes: Looking around at those… around me – family, friends, acquaintances and random faces in the crowd of apathy – the level of complacency is so concentrated I can taste it, yet I can’t even describe how bad it tastes. I’m not really talking about the understanding people lack about the numerous predicaments we face as a species – that’s definitely there too… but what I’m talking about is even worse. It’s the assumption that we can just go about our day to day lives, doing our day to day work, having our day to day fun… and humanity will eventually heal itself, no matter how bad the injuries sustained.

This is a cultural phenomenon that has infested the Western world, and refuses to be eradicated. It is where many of us ultimately place our hope and stake our lives, sometimes without even realizing we are doing it. We previously discussed the entertainment enemas that have penetrated modern culture (and the lives of deluded teenagers) in Culturally Programmed Myths of Omnipotence. They have given us the vision that we can always become bigger, “better” and stronger as individuals and nations, evolving towards God-like glory, no matter what obstacles are in our way – all of the stories about superheroes, vampires, werewolves, wizards, robots and aliens – it’s all about the propaganda of pernicious power.

We even see this mentality taking root in academia and scientific research through the field of “transhumanism” (very well portrayed in the documentary, TechnoCalyps). As you can probably guess from the name, transhumanism tells us that we are on the way to becoming something more, something other, than human beings. Forget random mutation and natural selection, the transhumanist says – we can circumvent all of the slow evolutionary nonsense that we only theorized about a century ago. Now we can transform ourselves into a new species over the course of a few decades with the help of modern technology and “intelligent designers”. Just a little bit ironic, don’t you think? …

Most importantly, though, I am here to make clear that no one is immune from the mentality that “everything is alright” or “everything can be alright”, including me. I have my own personal beliefs about how humanity can be preserved and even perfected, and I don’t believe there is anything inherently wrong with that. What’s wrong is when I forget to remind myself where those beliefs come from and where they are truly leading me. Do they simply make me feel good and comfortable and “enlightened”? Am I simply willing to swallow the red pill because someone slick tells me it will “open my eyes”?

Or is there something more fundamentally true about why I have deep concerns and why I have ultimate hope. What sacrifices are really required of myself and others to reach our maximum human potentials? I believe these are questions we must repeatedly ask ourselves, because the moment we become too comfortable and too uncritical of our beliefs, or the beliefs of others around us, is the moment that we become apathetic and willing to go wherever the world takes us. It is only when we confront the umcomfortable truths of our situation in this world that we will be able to become the best we can possibly be. (09/11/12)


The Top American Science Questions in 2012

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

Future Positive — Thomas Jefferson wrote: “Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government.”

Science now affects every aspect of life and is an increasingly important topic in national policymaking. invited thousands of scientists, engineers and concerned citizens to submit what they felt were the the most important science questions facing the nation that the candidates for president should be debating on the campaign trail.

ScienceDebate then worked with a number of  the leading US science and engineering organizations to refine the questions and arrive at a universal consensus on what the most important science policy questions facing the United States are in 2012. Here is their answer:

1. Innovation and the Economy.  Science and technology have been responsible for over half of the growth of the U.S. economy since WWII, when the federal government first prioritized peacetime science mobilization. But several recent reports question America’s continued leadership in these vital areas. What policies will best ensure that America remains a world leader in innovation?

2. Climate Change.  The Earth’s climate is changing and there is concern about the potentially adverse effects of these changes on life on the planet. What is your position on cap-and-trade, carbon taxes, and other policies proposed to address global climate change—and what steps can we take to improve our ability to tackle challenges like climate change that cross national boundaries?

3. Research and the Future.  Federally funded research has helped to produce America’s major postwar economies and to ensure our national security, but today the UK, Singapore, China, and Korea are making competitive investments in research.  Given that the next Congress will face spending constraints, what priority would you give to investment in research in your upcoming budgets?

4. Pandemics and Biosecurity.  Recent experiments show how Avian flu may become transmissible among mammals. In an era of constant and rapid international travel, what steps should the United States take to protect our population from emerging diseases, global pandemics and/or deliberate biological attacks?

5. Education.  Increasingly, the global economy is driven by science, technology, engineering and math, but a recent comparison of 15-year-olds in 65 countries found that average science scores among U.S. students ranked 23rd, while average U.S. math scores ranked 31st.  In your view, why have American students fallen behind over the last three decades, and what role should the federal government play to better prepare students of all ages for the science and technology-driven global economy? (07/23/12)


Titanic Banks Hit Libor Iceberg

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

CommUnity of Minds — Ellen Brown writes: At one time, calling the large multinational banks a “cartel” branded you as a conspiracy theorist.   Today the banking giants are being called that and worse, not just in the major media but in court documents intended to prove the allegations as facts.  Charges include racketeering (organized crime under the U.S. Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act or RICO), antitrust violations, wire fraud, bid-rigging, and price-fixing.  Damning charges have already been proven, and major damages and penalties assessed.  Conspiracy theory has become established fact.

In an article in the July 3rd Guardian titled “Private Banks Have Failed – We Need a Public Solution”, Seumas Milne writes of the LIBOR rate-rigging scandal admitted to by Barclays Bank:

It’s already clear that the rate rigging, which depends on collusion, goes far beyond Barclays, and indeed the City of London. This is one of multiple scams that have become endemic in a disastrously deregulated system with inbuilt incentives for cartels to manipulate the core price of finance.

. . . It could of course have happened only in a private-dominated financial sector, and makes a nonsense of the bankrupt free-market ideology that still holds sway in public life.

. . . A crucial part of the explanation is the unmuzzled political and economic power of the City. . . . Finance has usurped democracy. …

If the last quarter century of U.S. banking history proves anything, it is that our private banking system turns malignant and feeds off the public when it is deregulated.  It also shows that a parasitic private banking system will NOT be tamed by regulation, as the banks’ control over the money power always allows them to circumvent the rules.  We the People must transparently own and run the nation’s central and regional banks for the good of the nation, or the system will be abused and run for private power and profit as it so clearly is today, bringing our nation to crisis again and again while enriching the few. (07/23/12)


Trapped in Illusions

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

CommUnity of Minds Archives — Arthur Noll writing in 2004: Money and markets are not the only illusionary way of looking at the world that has destroyed civilizations, the more basic cause of the trouble is human nature, which grabs hold of these illusionary ways of thought because it feels good to them.  There are many ways to see the world wrong, money and markets is one of the most insidious, because it looks rational on the surface.  No one on the surface of things is expecting mystical beliefs to come true to satisfy the sustainable working of markets, what is mystical about trading this bit of paper for that product?  It is tangible, involves real things.  But when you look a little deeper, magical expectations are exactly what you find.  Markets inherently drive towards infinite growth, infinite substitutions, the expectation of this coming true requires magic.

Is there no better system than money?  I thought about this for years and came up with nothing.  All the advantages you talk about, yes, I’ve gone over them repeatedly and came up with nothing better, yet the flaws of the system drove me back to keep looking.  And I found it, found it right in front of my eyes and yet had not seen it. I’ve written of it before, I’ll repeat it again.  We can organize and work as a single body works. Does your stomach demand payment before it sends it’s work to the small intestine?  Does the small intestine hold out for cash or credit before nutrients go into the bloodstream? No, a thousand times no.  Stuff is simply freely passed around.  The brain must make calculations of Energy Returned On Energy Invested (EROEI), considering the problems of the whole body, coordinating it’s movements, to get the stuff in the first place. If the brain is smart, it may also consider whether that EROEI is sustainable.  Society can operate the same way.  We figure the EROEI of the actions of that society, and the sustainability of that EROEI, and within those limits, resources are as freely passed around within the group as they are passed around in the body.  If a part of your body doesn’t work right anymore, has a negative EROEI, you may consider very seriously cutting it off.  The same can happen to people in this society.

Done in this way, the disadvantages of barter are gone, and the advantages of money are also gone. You do not worry about getting what you need for what you have made on a specific exchange, the problem with barter. You simply take what you need from where it is made, and give what you made to whoever wants it. Even without considering the long term problems of the market, money is a far more cumbersome system compared to this, think again of my example of the various organs demanding payment. Your body would work like a herky jerk puppet if it worked at all, on such a system. And I think current society has that same herky jerky quality to it.  There has not been a better system in human consciousness before, but now I give you one. The “body society” should be able to grow to be much smoother in it’s immediate actions as well as having advantages for making plans for the long term. Evaluation of resources and the actions of people making up the body of society can be done without the distortions of and problems of barter, money or mysticism, they can be done on the basis of EROEI for the whole group and the sustainability of that EROEI.

I see no problem to having such a system grow to many higher levels of complexity, just as living organisms have many layers of complexity, yet this basic principle applies across the board. (07/23/12)


The Earth is Finite

Friday, June 1st, 2012 of Minds — Timothy Wilken, MD writes: Imagine you own a comfortable 3000 square foot home with four bedrooms, three bathrooms, a big  family room, and a three car garage located on over an acre of land. Your home provides very comfortable shelter for you, your spouse and your three kids.

Then your spouse’s brother loses his job. Soon he and his wife can’t make their mortgage payments, and so they move in with their two kids. Now your home is less comfortable with nine people living there, but with some creative scheduling, it is livable.

But the economy continues to worsen, more family members lose their jobs, and suddenly you have twenty people living in the house. With this four-fold increase in population, living conditions in your home have changed from being livable to being nearly intolerable.

You are reaching the limits of your home’s ability to shelter you. After all the home is finite — it is limited to 3000 square feet.

Now humanity’s home is the Earth. While the Earth is quite large, it is still finite.  As in the example above, living on Earth was comfortable when the number in the human family was under one billion. Our species, Homo Sapiens, has existed for over 200,000  years on the planet. For 199,790 of those years, our population remained under one billion.

We reached 1 billion humans in 1800. By 1900, the world population was 1.5 billion. At that time, my grandfather was a young man raising his family that would eventual include 8 children. I was born in 1945, and would be one of three children. When I was a freshman in high school in 1960, the world’s population had doubled to 3 billion. Today, as I write this essay the World census is estimated to be 6.8 billion.

Humanity’s home, the Earth, is getting full. Our human population has increased over four-fold since 1900. We are reaching the limits of the planet. This is what really lies at the heart of our current world economic crisis. We are encountering Peak Oil, Peak Water, Peak Soil and Peak Food as a result of overpopulation, and the political-economic policy of over-consumption in order to maximize corporate profits.

Modern humans are no longer called people, they are consumers. Remember, when George W. Bush called on the American people to: “Go out and buy something.” Peak does not mean we are out of oil, water, soil or food. It means we are reaching the Peak of possible production for these necessities of life on a global basis.

Our current system of Market Capitalism, which is based on the premise of unlimited growth, has collided with the reality of a finite planet.

Things must change. We can expect no help from Big Government, the long term for Government is the length of time before the next election, and all political decisions are based on one dollar = one vote. We can expect no help from Big Business, they are only interested in the bottom line of their Profit and Loss Balance Sheets, and they clearly own our government directing it to base every political decision on what will increase the bottom line. Remember, “What is good for business is good for the nation.”

It will be up to us ordinary humans to solve our own problems by ourselves, and despite the actions of our government and corporations.

So, what can we do?

Imagine, if every human limited themselves to having only one child, the total population could be reduced dramatically within a few generations. This is something we can do voluntarily, if we choose to. Human reproduction remains in the control of ordinary humans.

In the meantime, there are lots of very practical things that can also be done. Today’s author shares two proposals that you can begin implementing tomorrow. (06/01/12)


Camera Can Snap Now, Focus Later

Monday, October 31st, 2011 Technology — A digital camera that allows photographers to focus their pictures after taking them has gone on sale. Rather than recording a single version of an image, the Lytro captures data about the intensity and direction of all the light entering its lenses.

That information can be reorganised later with the option to change which parts are blurred and which are sharp. The “light field” technology was developed by company founder Ren Ng while he was at Stanford University.

It is, in some ways, analogous to the practice of shooting RAW images with a current generation digital camera. In that example, the device records all of the light falling on its sensor without running it through processes such as colour balancing or sharpening. These can be applied later on a computer. Similarly, by recording the light field passing through many tiny micro-lenses in the Lytro, the action of merging these to create a single flat image can be applied as a post-production effect.

The phrase light field was coined by Russian scientist Alexander Gershun in 1936. Work on developing capture mechanisms began to gain momentum during the 1980s and 1990s.

On its website, Lytro has published Mr Ng’s 2006 university PhD thesis outlining his approach, which ultimately led to the commercial product. In a press statement, Mr Ng said: “Light field photography was once only possible with 100 cameras tethered to a supercomputer in a lab. (10/31/11)