Category Archives: 7 Holonics and LOHAS

The list you don’t want to be on.

Capital punishment is a sign of failure.

Failure is a part of learning and improvement, but if you continue to fail in the same endeavour, there is a problem indicating that the system needs to change.  So, capital punishment should have long been expunged from a system that is “civilised”, “advanced”, “modern”,  “space age”, “rich”, “successful” or other similar descriptions of our world.  But it is still rife.

You might offer a bit of leniency to societies which are resource poor, where food is scare and technology scarcer, but you should be disgusted if a leading society is behaving in a primitive way.

Is your society on this ranking of executions?

It is sad that such rich nations are on this list.  Countries like China, US, Saudi Arabia, Japan need to get themselves off this list now.  System change is necessary.

Number of executions

China - 1000+

Iran - 369+

Iraq – 169+

Saudi Arabia – 79+

United States – 39

Somalia – 34+

Sudan – 21+

Yemen – 13+

Japan – 8

Vietnam – 7

Taiwan – 6

Indonesia – 5

Kuwait – 5

South Sudan – 4+

Nigeria – 4

Palestinian Authority (Gaza) – 3+

Afghanistan - 2

Bangladesh – 2

Malaysia – 2

Botswana – 1

India – 1

Other countries may have performed executions but a lack of information meant that Amnesty were unable to verify reports.

Source: Amnesty International

BBC: Rise in number of global executions

Whoops! A big picture story.

A story about the search for truth, the meaning of life and the answer to everything.  Finally an edition that is readable.  It might have a few typos which will be removed as we find them, but the important bits read well enough.

Enjoy free chapters on-line:

The Meaning of Life

Clarifying the Big Picture

And buy the pdf of the whole book for € 5 here.

Initial reader’s comments include:

Wow!

Intense!

Makes you think.

 

 

Being angry can kill you.

Well, I’m an angry man, and so this comes from the heart.

Anger is stressful and that stress can kill you.  It killed my friend Gerry.  He was trying to help, trying to do the right thing, but someone wouldn’t listen.  Again and again.  Then after a morning of stubbornness from those he was helping, he lost his temper, had a heart attack and died.  I still miss his counsel and friendship.

Take a breath and walk away.  Then come back to the problem.  If it’s bad traffic, just sit and breath.  If it’s noisy brats, just walk away, and breath.  After a while alternative solutions will present themselves and your heart will be better for it.

The message is mostly for men, though women can suffer too.  So guys – chill out, and girls – don’t be like guys!

Here are some of the usual tips:

  • Eat healthily
  • Exercise regularly
  • Keep a healthy weight
  • Give up smoking
  • Don’t drink too much alcohol

BBC: Angry people ‘risking heart attacks’

Sad but true: Violence against females is pervasive.

A broad based survey indicates that 1/3 of women in the EU are affected by violence.   That should surprise you, but if you’re female, maybe it doesn’t.

Clearly unfair prejudices still dominate modern, rich cultures.  For example, it is saddening to still see and hear behaviour which puts down women.  Clearly there are economic differences as female professionals are still paid significantly less than males and are pigeon holed in to women’s work.  This is galling in a world of universal education and the plainly observable fact that females are more competent than males in a range of important skills, such as multi-tasking, dealing with stress and cooperating.

Prejudice is costly enough, but violence is shameful.  It might go both ways, a bit.  And there might be times when anger is understandable, even thought not justified.  But the evidence that gender bias, prejudice and violence is so pervasive is a warning that cultural maturity is far from being achieved, despite technological advances.

Investment in education and cultural enlightenment would help more than subsidising polluting industries like agriculture and fossil fuel consumption.

BBC: Violence against women: One-third of EU women affected – survey

There’s nothing wrong with hard work, unless …

Working hard is fine, and many people have to work hard just to get by, but whether it’s by choice or necessity when it makes you sick, stressed, stupid, off-balance and disengaged, the balance is wrong.

The Washington Post offers 5 reasons why you shouldn’t work too hard, at least from an American perspective.

What working like crazy and taking no time off really gets us:

1. Sick. Americans spend almost twice as much on health care per person than people in other advanced nations – paying out of pocket, while other countries pool resources — and we suffer more injuries and illnesses and die younger, the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine report.

2. Stressed. America may be the richest nation on earth, but the World Health Organization has found it is also the most anxious, with nearly one-third of all Americans likely to suffer from anxiety in their lifetime.

3. Stupid. In a study of brains using functional MRI technology, scientists at the Yale Stress Center have found that subjects who both lived through stressful events (and who hasn’t?) and felt stressed out had smaller brain volumes than less-stressed subjects in critical areas of the prefrontal cortex that govern thinking, planning, decision making, learning and remembering.

4. Off Balance. The United States ranks toward the bottom of the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development’s work-life balance scale. And a growing number of Americans report feeling rushed, pressed for time, that they don’t spend enough time with their families, and at the end of the day, haven’t gotten to all the things they needed to do, much less wanted to do.

5. Disengaged. Gallup estimates that 70 percent of all workers are disengaged from their jobs, costing between $450-$550 billion each year in productivity. And although American productivity looks mighty in international comparisons, slice that productivity by hours worked, and the United States falls several rungs – in some years even below those countries whose workers stroll home in the evening after a shorter, more intense work day, stop by a café and take the entire month of August off. Off.

Well that would be a bit French.  Ha ha.

But seriously, jobs and work lives can be designed to be interesting, stimulating, enjoyable, educational, social as well as remunerative instead.  It must be possible, after all, “we can fly to the moon”.

Open management.

Being an advocate of open management systems, an article by Inc. Magazine: Why You Should Let Your Employees Do Whatever They Want, drew attention.

Caution, however, was raised by the tag line: “Focus and discipline are relics of 20th century business. Here’s what’s taking their place in the virtual, open source era”.  No, sadly, that would be foolish.

The author is focussed (see) on creativity, innovation and marketing, so the article’s tone is understandable.  But the message is garbled; “open source” is a reference to software used inappropriately in the sub-title.

Nevertheless, the essence of open management systems is captured when it says, “By letting your team do whatever they want, you’ll attract the best people with the best ideas.”

Yes, move to open management systems, but it is not an invitation to chaos and free loading.  Sometimes focus is important and discipline is welcome in any endeavour.

Show love! Philanthropy doesn’t match wealth growth.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy notes that “Gifts surge from US donors“.  That’s good, especially in difficult times.  But BloombergBusinessWeek read between the lines and saw that “Billionaires’ Wealth Is Skyrocketing. Their Philanthropy Is Not“.  Sadly.

It is unfortunate because this is another sign of a widening wealth gap between the top and everyone else, between the owners of capital and everybody else.  We would not want to legislate philanthropy, aka higher taxes, but an unjust system, in which the benefits of modern technology are enjoyed by less than 1%, is unstable and prone to unhappiness.

The thoughtfulness that goes in to giving also matters.  The more globally responsible, the better.  Very local or lost causes are not priorities in a world creaking under the weight of human pollution.  Education is top of our list because it is the path to opportunity and enlightenment.  Protecting nature (from humanity) is a given.

A minimum wage stimulates the economy?

I’ve always been against the hand of the state in private decisions and forcing a minimum wage is one of those interferences which has always grated.  However, in a world where technology is raising productivity and reducing the demand for labour there ought to be a popular desire for everyone to have the ability to work for a living.  And that means that if you work “full time” you can enjoy life.  Well that is not the case if you are on minimum wage.  In teh US, if you are on minimum wage you earn 36.0 percent below the poverty level and 62.7 percent less than median income.  That is destabilising as well as seeming immoral.

There is also a case to be made for a minimum wage for stimulating the economy because when people have spending money, they spend it and that boosts the economy.  And it is well known that distributions to people with less are spent, not saved, whereas rich people tend to hoard their capital.

It is a sad conundrum: We don’t really want to legislate a minimum wage, but if people aren’t getting a living wage even when they work full time and are employed by huge corporations, something has to be done to change it.

I can not afford to pay minimum wage for much of the work I do.  It would be nice to employ a professional on the farm but the yield from the land does not compensate for the wage cost because people want machine produced food shipped from far away instead of locally grown, clean, zero-carbon food.  So we scrape along, trying to protect nature and know that we can not afford to pay minimum wage.  But if a big agro-industrial conglomerate is employing people, it ought to be humane and that means above the poverty level.

We know the whole system is going to have to change because business sense says: “put in more machines, which are cheap and efficient and you own them”, while humane morality says “give people work on a living wage”, the supply of which is dwindling fast.  The gap between “have a lots” and everyone else is growing, but it should be shrinking.

Some truths from Barry Ritholtz in his article Taking a Closer Look at Fast Food Minimum Wages:

workersin publicprogrammes2014A full-time worker (40 hours a week) in the U.S. making minimum wage earns only $15,080 a year. For some context, median individual earnings are $40,404 a year (BLS), while the U.S. poverty level is $23,550 (HHS). Full-time minimum wage earners make 62.7 percent less than median income and are 36.0 percent below the poverty level. (The number you probably hear quoted most often is median household income at $51,017, according to the census. The minimum is 70.4 percent below that).

If the minimum wage had merely kept up with price inflation since 1968, it would currently be at $10.77. That is $22,401.60 per year, bringing wages closer to the poverty line. Beyond inflation, if it kept pace with productivity increases, it would be closer to $20 per hour; annual salary would be $41,600, higher than the U.S. median. And just for laughs, if the minimum wage kept up with the earnings of the top 1 percent, it would be higher than $22, or about $45,760.

What does all of this have to do with McDonald’s and Wal-Mart? Plenty. As Bloomberg Businessweek reported earlier this year, net total public assistance to the fast-food industry is about $7 billion dollars. (This does not include future medical costs associated with diabetes or heart disease). If the minimum wage were suddenly raised to $15, it would drive fast-food prices 25 percent higher, adding a $1 to the cost of a Big Mac.

As the accompanying chart shows, employees of the industry receive more taxpayer aid than any other sector.

Bloomberg BusinessWeek: Making the Economic Case for More Than the Minimum Wage

Farming in the city.

It’s a cute idea and seems to have much merit.  Put a fish farm in a shipping container, plonk a hydroponic greenhouse on top and “hey presto” you have a self-contained, eco-efficient food production system that can sit in a small garden or yard behind your house or urban industrial/commercial building.

ECF Farmsystems Containerfarm claims:

Healthy Vegetables – With an ECF Containerfarm you can grow over 400 varieties of plants, including tomatoes, salads, cucumbers, basil, mint, eggplant, zucchini, gooseberry and even cut flowers.

Fresh fish – 75 tilapia perch grow in a Containerfarm. At the end of the season each fish weighs about 500-600gr. They are delicious fresh from the grill stuffed with rosemary and lemon.

Good for the environment – ECF farms are extremely economical in water consumption, minimize transport distances and cold chains and work without pesticides or chemical fertilizers. Water, love, organic fertilizers and organic feed, that’s it.

In the middle of the city – Vegetables and fish produced directly around the corner. Eco-friendly and transparently grown, without transport kilometers and cold chains.

ECF.CF_.Outside3-2

EU Commission: German start-up offers eco-efficient urban container farming

A “Tidal Wave” of Cancer.

Those are the words used by the World Health Organisation to describe the trajectory of the growth of new cancer cases.  They predict a jump from 14 million a year now to 24 million new cases per year by 2035 – about 2.5% growth a year (compounded).  That better be faster than the growth of the population (which needs to shrink drastically).

But the point of the descriptive language is to get attention to the causes which we can influence.   The WHO’s World Cancer Report 2014 said the major sources of preventable cancer included:

  • Smoking
  • Infections
  • Alcohol
  • Obesity and inactivity
  • Radiation, both from the sun and medical scans
  • Air pollution and other environmental factors
  • Delayed parenthood, having fewer children and not breastfeeding

So, the point is to look after ourselves and live less virtual, more natural lives.  Cancer, and other big killers, might be a bit random, but you get more out of life if you can run without wheezing …

runner's knees
Apparently this runner’s knees are over 70 years old!