Thursday, November 18, 2010

is being tired a valid excuse for not helping the world?

A full work day, being a dad, being a husband and a few household duties or projects thrown in here and there and there isn't much left of my energy and yet......

..... there are conversations I would like to contribute to.


I recalled a quote tonight from Ross Perot  and it made me think. 
  "the activist is not the man who says the river is dirty.  The activist is the man who cleans up the river." ~ Ross Perot
 it made me think about an article in a magazine I flipped through in the library today at lunch. The magazine, Canadian Dimension, a left wing opinion magazine had an issue dedicated to feminism today. I could not help but notice that as I read through articles scanning for the issues women saw as the most important today that much of the text was just ranting about women needing to organize, fight back, take back and make the world right. I kept looking because I wanted to know what issue they were tackling, to make right. I did eventually find one before I gave up and went on to Pop Mechanics, it was the issue of physical violence in the home towards women.  A valid issue. I was left disappointed though, since I was willing enough to read the magazine and curious as to how I might influence in my life and work and I was left instead with the feeling that the majority of the words written pointed to crackpot and only a small number to activism or ideas of how I the reader can make a difference. How sad. 

So I got to thinking, if I was going to choose an issue to try to influence outside of my direct sphere of private influence for good (i.e. family and friends) what would I choose and how would I go about doing it. I already contribute financially to charities but if I were to use my words on a blog or submission to a paper or supporting policy change or creating conversation for policy change or what-have-you, irregardless of the method, first what would I pick.  I was left feeling tired. Which is what I started with in this post, the question of whether being tired is a sufficient answer.  I think the answer must be NO. 


So with that answer in mind I  picked myself up and I dusted myself off and thought harder. What I came up with is that I would like to find a way to contribute or create conversations about social innovation.  They could be based on community, spirituality, economic, environment and any other number of of issue sparks but ultimately that's what gets me excited. I get excited about helping to get people thinking difference about the social constructs that we gripe about and manage without actually coming up for air and thinking of actually changing them. 

So now I have a dilemma, do I spend my spare time (what little there is) reading more about and seeking opportunities or do I spend it entertaining myself or making more money.  I will have to think about this some more. . . . 


How about you? how do you want to help the world?  do you think we should?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

children in grown up bodies

-sigh-

occasionally my work inspires me for my ideas of what to write here and today I am filled with a desire to vent.

I am regularly reminded that while our bodies age, and our vocabularies increase, the level of maturity is not guaranteed to follow. Moreover wisdom may never come to an individual despite many opportunities because they are lost in a selfish mode that has served them well. Make no mistake, I believe the selfish do not acquire wisdom and that it is clearly a gift resulting from selflessness.


What has irritated me today is people who don't understand that to work together you need to offer constructive feedback or solutions to each other.
  • Telling someone that their plan is bad is not helpful, at all. 
  • Pontificating about how your own plan might possibly be different, and better, and more like a theory that you had had is also not helpful. 
  • What is helpful is drawing attention to a particular point that you think you can offer an option or an alternative too. 
Sadly though some people get used to others allowing them to speak their minds without any tangible contribution to the conversation, other than to voice their idea, which they have heard before and is not relevant to the discussions or decisions at hand. Incredible. Must be nice to be so important that people must listen to you despite the fact that its not helpful.

Sadly I almost laughed because while the "feedback" was coming in I likened it to my kids and their wild requests that come in from time to time. It goes something like this:

"Would you like to work together to clean up your lego so its easier for you to build new things?"

"No, I would like to take an inventory of all my lego and throw out the stuff I don't like and buy new stuff!"

"I see, do you realize that we could spend more time playing if we just cleaned it up and you could start playing"

"I want new stuff. New stuff is better. Obviously I can't make good things with old stuff. Because you won't think about new stuff your ideas are old, outdated and bad."

"Ok, but we have discussed many times before how we could organize your lego better, so now we just need to get into action and start to look at doing it. If you like we can do the first idea and see how that goes and do more."

"Did I not make myself clear? Only cool people build lego with the new themese and the new way of doing things. I would rather sit here and complain about the old way of doing things, even if I don't get my way, than fix the old way and get to play"

I find it interesting when I talk to people about this and I relate one of the issues embedded in this is related to their expectations of resistance or over selling and under delivering. Take for instance the Toyota stance on car pricing. You can generally expect that the price posted on their web site is close to what you would pay. Walk across the street to the GM dealership and you can hack thousands off the sticker price. So if you go into the world thinking that others will take advantage of you unless you kick and scream until they give you what you want you tend to think its fair game to demand more of others assuming that they will just negotiate back.

As an honest person this really tickets me off however. When I create an estimate for something (some piece of work) I use my expertise and experience to assess the right method of attack and the resulting target for completion. I allow for some contingency depending on the risks, I am not an idiot, but I do not "pad" my estimates because I like to have some free time or because I like to let the customer include things "for free" or because I am lazy. So when the wrong kind of person comes along who does "pad" and has those assumptions I am going to clash with them. To make matters worse, when the same issue happens with ideas wherein I proposed an idea to a solution, taking into account the reality of the situation, I am proposing the best that I think can be done in the time allowed. I am not, as the "padder" thinks choosing the least effort solution hoping to impress in the end by doing more. I want a realistic target and realistic expectations.

Kinda like the difference between the smaller tablets and the Ipad. Gotta "pad" the size of the screen to over compensate for the actual work its going to do with you. ;-)

so people, please be kind to each other and helpful. We have enough backseat geniuses out there and us drivers are really thinking of installing a privacy shield to block them out.

ok, I feel better now. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

would you like mensa with those corn chips?

ok, well sorry to tease if you have never heard of Mensa but it is not a kind of salsa but rather a club. "Mensa is the largest and oldest high-IQ society in the world. It is a non-profit organization open to people who score at the 98th percentile or higher on a standardized, supervised IQ or other approved intelligence test. " [Source: Wikipedia]

I was reminded of Mensa this week when a friend of mine was telling a story of a supermarket checkout conversation he over heard.  The teller had no idea that Napoleon was a historical figure (let alone his last name) but a teacher cleared all that up explaining that he was a ruler from Italy! Where it gets ugly is the two of us thought that she was incorrect since he was the emperor of France. Well, it turns out he was both, and at the same time. So, and don't tell anyone, we were wrong. Our assumption that we knew history better than this other person turned out to be incorrect and, while only I was silly enough to investigate, I am left feeling a bit put out.

So what does this have to do with Mensa? Well, my issue is I would like to keep getting smarter as I get older and when I was younger I aspired to one day write the Mensa test and prove it. With age and family though that aspiration has changed to creating an environment for my kids where knowledge is readily handy in their personal development and they are not one of the googler generation who know nothing but "lets google it". (That's right, I don't believe googling everything increases knowledge or intelligence a great deal because far too much of the results are opinions, bad assessments or motivated with someone else's personal gain in mind or hastily forgotten because it can be).

So, who cares? Well, the issue is (I think) that the more knowledge we possess or wisdom we have gained from compiling it, stirring and mixing the more easily we can form our own new ideas that are different or potentially even new. Well, at least that is my theory.

More importantly, I think it contributes to a class system and separation in our society between rich and poor, the "haves" and the "have nots". Interestingly enough though, I would say that western society sees the "haves" as those that can afford material wealth. Eating healthy is not a desirable acquisition, we take our clean water for granted and our health care systems are such that we lead long lives even if we treat our bodies like crap. A smoker can end up taking off 8-10 years of their life from the habit but they could still live to 70 instead of 90. Today the average female lives to 80 but a hundred years ago that would have been 53 and 160 years ago in 1850 it would have been 40. So society as a whole benefits from the increase in human capacity. So, then in a western society where we continue to live longer who are the "have" and "have nots"?

Getting back to the start of this point and my observation on the lack of knowledge by the clerk and my incorrect assumption about the accuracy of the person who comes to her aid, I think the "have nots" are those people who are moving through life only with the knowledge required to sustain themselves and entertain themselves in the short term. Not a -bad- life really. Good food, a warm bed and lots of entertainment that takes them through a range of emotions in a way an old fashioned life just couldn't do. So why are they "have nots" ? My theory is that when these people hit a wall or find a spark within them that wants to light a fire of change, they cannot do it themselves. Worse though, I think because they do not have a wholesome sense of curiosity outside of their sphere of current knowledge and an understanding of just how hard the world is for the leaders and the successful they give up and retreat into even lesser state of human potential. That human potential that sparked within them is extinguished and it is like a match once lit, it cannot light itself again.

if instead of sheltering folks less in-the-know and we share our knowledge for free shouldn't it work out? no, because compared to today's entertainment its boring.

ok, I realize this post really hasn't gone anywhere but I am perplexed at the idea that not all humans want to learn, better understand the world and with each passing year discover how they can contribute to our future in some way.  See, instead what I see are people who do go through the effort but get tired of waiting for the world to come to the same conclusion and make incremental changes and so they take matters to a more radical level. They understand the problem and can't wait idly by any more and so they speak out and take action and instead of appealing to the masses they sound just like another crack pot.

So how do you continue to develop yourself intellectually, share ideas and information with the world, help others get engaged in that journey, shape the future for the better and not sound like a crack pot?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

time

when I am busy, I perceive time to be going faster than when I am idle waiting for a time.

the relationship between our mind and time is a curious thing.

huh?

well consider this, our brain is capable of both conjuring up an idea in an instance or taking its time and slowly pulling it together. the same brain.

don't believe me? ok, forget new ideas.

you are going to the basement to get something but you get there and you have forgotten what it was you were going for. why is it that sometimes you can remember instantly and other times you are at the top of the stairs (or worse laying in bed trying to forget about the day and go to sleep) when you remember why you were going to the basement.

now, riddle me this, does our brain ("us" as a participant in this somehow) plan these things? and if it does, then how does our brain know that by manipulating the time involved in our actions there will be different results.

back to the issue of how much time our brain takes to form an idea, or make a decision. how much of that is under our control and how much is an internal function which we only seem to loosely influence?

tired?

well, how about this new variable in my quest: what about the influence of stimulation on the mind whilst it's busy messing with our time space continuum and our stuff? I find at varying times I have more time on my hands where I have no outside entertainment or sounds coming at me and it influences my thoughts, or the ability to have multiple thoughts.

we have more information, collective knowledge, individual knowledge, analysis, research, etc, etc than ever before but we also entertain ourselves like never before and the latter is the stimulation I am most concerned about, particularly of the mindless crap variety.

brain time is a puzzling thing.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

truth

The discovery of an acceptable definition of truth seems to be something worthy of many discussion in the future I think.

There are folks still stuck on the concept of absolute truth and they appear to be divided into two camps. On the one hand scientific "proof" based truth and on the other "belief" based truth. Neither the two shall meet, it would seem, as those truths which they select are not compatible.

In my learning journey on coaching I have come to appreciate just how much language has messed with our human race and have a different appreciation for this "battle" for truth now it would seem.

What I have come to appreciate is the difference between an assessment and an assertion. I read a book by  Matthew Budd where I came to understand Assessments (in which you make judgments); and Assertions (statements for which you can provide evidence) and it changed my perspective on truth, or at least made me think about it more.

In fact, I found myself not wanting to use the word truth any more because its not helpful in conversation, really.

What I find compelling is the number of shared trusted assessments we have in our groups and cultures.  Some of those shared and trusted assessments are the building blocks of our lives today and those building blocks are falling out of place in society because of the fight to maintain that they are assertions (or truth) is not a battle that can be one in the traditional sense.

The temperature outside is 15c is an assertion because it can be measured and the evidence agreed to. It is warm enough to have a picnic is an assessment of how comfortable it is outside and may not be an agreed to assessment but it doesn't matter. What does matter is that some group of people may agree to that assessment and they form together and have their picnic.

I think the world struggles with tolerance for the non picnic folk who believe that they are wrong and should be convinced of it.

Agreement on whether the weather is nice enough for a picnic is one thing, but try getting agreement on assessments about spirituality is no picnic.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

introspective battles

"Always feelings and illusions were at war within me, reason strong enough to win, but not strong enough to annihilate the vanquished, or refrain from liking them better;"

T.E. Lawrence

(Seven Pillars of Wisdom, Jonathan Cape Ltd., London, 1979, p.451)

Monday, June 21, 2010

eco-religion

rules

struggle

us/them

good/evil

promises of salvation (from apocalyptic climate change)

blissful eternity (sustainability of the natural environment)

spiritualism

damnation

commune

suffering

prophets

nature

rules


The UK judiciary agrees:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/nov/03/tim-nicholson-climate-change-belief


 

eco-guilt

I am not a
veggie eating, bike riding, homespun wearing, social activist.

The guilt I feel is awfully similar to the accusations often levelled at Christianity: Christians invent rules, invent guilt to keep the flock in check by keeping the power of "forgiveness" in the authority of the Church.

I don't
follow a 100 mile diet, have a veggie garden, compost, or buy organic.

Where do I go for forgiveness?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

ticks from space

a long time ago an alien species crafted a interstellar space cannon that could fire projectiles containing entire communities of it's people across the galaxy in hopes of finding place where they could settle and thrive.

one of those projectiles would arrive on earth and after the impact a vast community of the alien species would set out in search of food and a good environment within which they could survive.

those species are now commonly known as ticks and as they have discovered that we are at war with them they are using biological warfare themselves to keep us within our cities and away from them and the hosts that they live off of in the wild. they have a happy existence feeding off the blood of animals and they will not tolerate our chemicals and concrete.

it is an ugly war, we cannot intercept their strategic plans or use our spy technologies to track them. we cannot use economic power to turn their own species against themselves or easily manipulate their supply chain without hurting ourselves more. what is more, their attacks on us are done with ghost like stealth with a time delay that leaves us guessing at where the attack occurred. we are left wondering if they have leadership or is every last one of them a trained attack weapon with the knowledge to survive alone or in community with little more than a blade of grass until their next unsuspecting supply of goods comes by.

So, what do we do?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

do you have a destiny?

is there a hidden agenda embedded in your DNA?

is there meaning in your actions without you knowing it?

are seemingly routine events in your life that seem boring actually making micro-payments into a greater good?

are some people craving anarchy because they think that they are independent or because they feel hopeless?

do you think that "the system" limits your success or reinforces it?

if we found out that we were not alone in the universe, what would that change?

if we stopped using force to influence and dominate the capitalist system what would change?

if McDonalds had never existed would the world be any different?

do you like to do the things that you do or do you do them out of routine and fear?

what would you say differently if you had a billion dollars?

if you could finance a self sufficient energy system and pay it off in your life time would you buy it?

would you work from home if you could?

would you go into space if given the opportunity?

would you planet a garden if you had time?

do you like green eggs and ham?

do you have hope for future generations?

do you like your way of life?

why do you drink milk?

why do you stare at the stars?

why do you speed when you drive your car?

why do you want to stay up late?

why do you want more?

what is your favourite colour?

what is your quest?

is the glass half full?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

zeal and truth

C.S. Lewis writes:
"[We always] will be exposed, in an aggravated degree, to that temptation which the Devil spares none of us at any time - the temptation of claiming our favourite opinions that kind and degree of certainty and authority which really belongs only to our Faith" (From "Meditation on the Third Commandment")

climate change and atheists

can you both believe in climate change and be an atheist?

if atheists don't believe in something they cannot see or find evidence for, then how could one believe in climate change which is based on a future state of the earth?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

hope

it would be interesting to know if any other life form on our planet experiences hope.

I think we assume we are the only species so lucky but I wonder if instinct is the only driver or if there hope in the mind of the great majestic whale or in the hovering hummingbird.

hope keeps us curious, keeps us interested, driven on a pathway without knowns, alive?

I assume that every day I will get the next and hope encourages me to make the most of the time I am given. It excites me to see my kids grow, my relationships with others develop and my understand of the world stretch and expand.

I think I have come to accept that with each day I am not becoming smarter but rather my base of knowledge grows, my ability to process logic gets more experience and my emotional side gains further examples of the human experience.

I can't imagine what it would be like living in a war torn time or place, I assume I wouldn't have these same luxuries and I am so grateful for my situation.

I hope that somewhere in our future we find a way for my priviledge of knowledge, experience and human experience can be the minimum for all humans on the planet. what would it take to channel our greed to something less destructive and harmonious with all humankind?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

the most powerful force

human greed.

is there really anything more powerful?

it drives people to do the most horrible crimes and tell the most horrible lies.

we want more money, stuff, love, food, space, entertainment, attention.

the simple living movement tells us to declare "enough" and we do but we are secretly just redirecting our greed elsewhere. are we not? we say no to fancy cars and fancy houses but then secretly our greed lusts for more answers and knowledge, more wisdom, more information and we secretly know that will give us more power when we need it.

so what? so what is our reckless greed is out of control? good question?

yes, particularly when you realize that for the most part our legacy of our greed lives on well past our demise, just like our contributions to the community in positive ways, and we help humanity on its way to extinction.

if we are an experiment on our this cute little planet, then greed is the constant in the equation to destruction. the countdown is on as long as any of the variables is above zero we slowly, but surely, destroy ourselves and the planet. while there may be other components in the equation if any of them is zero the countdown stops.

what would life look like if we weren't greedy? I have no idea.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

curriculum vitae extraordinaire

have you ever worked with people who had a fantastic resume but sucked at working?

I am getting really tired of these types. Having a sales pitch for every challenge never actually tackles the challenge and being a sweet talker doesn't get stuff done.

Is it just me or are the ranks of these people growing? Both the full timers and part timers are increasing in numbers.

The ability to search the internet at work seems to only be making matters worse. They try and look busy at the computer but I think they must just be browsing up on what smart people are saying about work so they can be prepared for when their are challenged for what they are doing.

There is no such thing as easy money and I will not have slackers in my midst!

you may look like a dog, bark like a dog but if you can't run with the dogs, you aren't

Monday, March 1, 2010

murder or self defense?

one thing seems common in the past years is that natural "disasters" and their related death tolls are good business for the news media. the ironic component to a headline that reads "storm kills #" or "earthquake kills xx" is that in fact what has usually killed them is the building they were in or the space they had chosen to be in or some infrastructure or ours succumbing to nature.

we choose to live on coast lines with water levels that are not exactly the same always. we choose to build buildings made of materials that if they fall upon us will kill us. it is all our choice in the matter, the earth just continues on its cycles and we are a participant.

but here is a interesting thought, what if the earth in fact has a natural cleansing cycle, a self defense mechanism of sorts? wouldn't that just throw off our little plans for world domination?

on a serious note, we clearly have become ignorant of the risks of living on the planet to the extent where we are largely unprepared for the surpises. I struggle with this as part of my insides wants to spend time and money prepare myself and my family for just these things. as time goes on I see that I have not missed my obligation but that false sense of security is not a good feeling. Here in Manitoba a complete power loss in the dead of January would be the real surprise and I don't know how long we would last. Loss of water system would be not much better but food stores we have due to the nature of cooking from scratch regularly you have the need to have ingredients on hand.

our dependance on the capitalist system that supplies all of our needs puts us firmly in the grips of business leaders and I think we are lucky our planet is not more violent than it is.

so, while their is harm resulting from our occuputation of this planet and living amongst its cycles, could the news media not cover the story differently? does it all have to be about death and blame for the lack of protection? could it not instead be a story of natural science education and preparedness? can it not be about a story of survival rather than loss?

I grow weary of the headlines and I am reminded of my stopping of watching and listening to news and the need for me to stop reading the news websites. drama has a place but it is not in the news media.

Monday, February 22, 2010

albert

einstein

“Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death”

“Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods.”

“Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”

“There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle.”

“Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.”

“Only a life lived for others is a life worth while.”

“If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough”

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.”

“Everything that can be counted does not necessarily count; everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted.”

“The world is not dangerous because of those who do harm but because of those who look at it without doing anything”

“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.”

“I have no particular talent. I am merely inquisitive.”

“It's not that I'm so smart , it's just that I stay with problems longer .”

and my fave today:
“We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”

dude had major brains. how on earth did he know to note his thoughts so they could live on?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

community

the first recorded use of the word community is approximately 635 years old (Source: Wolfram|Alpha) but I think the concept is as old as humanity. sadly I think our ability to maintain a community is falling.

Sometimes we think our place of work offers us this sense of community and depending on your position in the organization you could certainly have some good representation from each of these four factors. Sadly most of us are replaceable in our worplaces so I am not certain any of the factors from our workplace is entirely true as any of them are influenced by our use to the organization. If you "climb the corporate ladder" #4 seems to be reduced by #2 is increased.

McMillan and Chavis identify four elements of "sense of community": 1) membership, 2) influence, 3) integration and fulfillment of needs, and 4) shared emotional connection. (Source: Wikipedia)

I think church groups try to offer a balance of the elements and certainly the community clubs such as the lions club and rotary seem to be specifically trying to address the elements in their existance.

I am perplexed by this whole community component in my life and what role model I want to be for my children. In reading a quote today “The price of being a sheep is boredom. The price of being a wolf is loneliness. Choose one or the other with great care.” - by Hugh Mcleod, I got to thinking if I was really as unique as I convince myself or if I am also sheepwalking but with a particular flavour of it that makes me think I am not. I am curious but as I have grown older I find my willingness to explore to satisfy that curiosity has been reduced mostly to acedemix pursuits. I am still curious about the sciences and would love to experiment with physics and mechanical problems but I am very unlikely to gather materials and try something just to satisfy my curiosity. In fact, I think I have convinced my self that experimentation that involves costs (spending money) is no longer allowed unless there is some expected result of efficiency or the saving money as the result. Do I want my children to think that exploring their curiosity of the world cannot be in experimentation and invention? I think our instinct is to be curious and in fact I think this is one of the reasons why sexual exploration has increased, it is meeting our need to be in a cycle of curiosity and experimentation. I think I would rather have my kids experiment with live voltage than sexual stuff as they grow older.

Getting back to community, I think part of my reduced exploration is my lack of involvement in a community and how those connections have changed. It would seem that we might be willing to ask help of a friend for moving to a new house or some laborious task but we would be less likely to invite them over to test our theory about some new gadget or idea in our workshops. Instead we invite our pals over for entertainment sharing. Much of our community today seems to be entirely about entertainment and then somewhat about intellectual discussions, which all to often lack dept and could be considered entertainment as well.

I end off this post knowing that I have not carried my thought through completely but leaving you with a question. If you could spend less time doing some of the things you do now (like work) what communities would you choose to be a part of?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

a perpetual war with big brother


In the fictional novel Nineteen Eighty-Four Orwell describes a time and place that has never existed, at least not in the western world and not with the government at the helm of control. I found this novel to be an incredible story with some bizarre potential realities and it really got me thinking.
"There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to live—did live, from habit that became instinct—in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized."
"The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power. Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness: only power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from all the oligarchies of the past, in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites."
"We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.""

"We shall abolish the orgasm. Our neurologists are at work upon it now. There will be no loyalty, except loyalty towards the Party. There will be no love, except the love of Big Brother. There will be no laughter, except the laugh of triumph over a defeated enemy. There will be no art, no literature, no science. When we are omnipotent there will be no need of science. There will be no distinction between beauty and ugliness. There will be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of life. All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always—do not forget this Winston—always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—forever.""
These quotes from Nineteen Eighty-Four are just some of the brilliant ideas that create discussion in your head if you read through the book as a participant in that world as you go along. What I found most interesting is that while we do not have a party loyalty we have a loyalty to our wave of life in just the type of way that Orwell spoke of. What is remarkable is within our way of life we have many constructs that ensure that we believe we are being curious and thinking outside the box but in fact those are still within side the box. Science, real science is practiced by a very small few because we have advanced in so many fields we could not begin to understand much. We are forced to trust doctors and chemists, for example, in a way that at times feels much like an old school religion. The vaccine "is" safe and if you argue that it isn't you are an outcast. Complex sugar and fat substitutes are safe and despite our bodies revolting against them we are heckled for suggesting a conspiracy of corruption for the sake of profit rather than human advancement towards a more natural balance in our life.

So today, we do not have a Big Brother watching us but our way of life has got us into a awkward corner that wheel when we brush up against the invisible force of its parameters. instead of an obvious controlling force with an obvious hierarchy we have a subtle, suspiciously embedded, covert one.

consider this, who or what do you trust?

Do you trust

* the other drivers on the road?
* the quality assurance worker who just approved a shipment of vaccines?
* the factory worker who cuts the meat before it goes into the packaging?
* your coworkers?
* your neigbours?
* your family?
* yourself?


Here we are (at least in the safe, secure part of the world where I live) without a state of war, without regional conflicts or violence and without widespread.

  • we fear the untimely death of ourselves and our loved ones without a state of war, conflict or widespread disease but rather from:
    • accidents - automobile, work, play
    • crime - we fear the loss of our property, we fear for ourselves as part of a theft, we fear for our families because there are those who do not value the lives of others.
    • incorrect treatment - vaccines and medications, surgery, treatment
  • we fear others looking down upon us for how we dress, speak, and do yet we do not fear that our actions, or inactions, are contributing to a human legacy with a pathway that would seem to be less than we could be.
  • we adhere to rules and systems not of our own design or those in command of us but in place by a higher power and not an omnipotent power but instead
    • our employment schedule
    • our holiday schedule
    • laws, rules, guidelines, directives
    • our entertainment provider (TV schedule, release dates for books, games, etc)
    • any of these may have been designed by people long dead with specific context that has since expired but our democratic machine is unable to review, let alone change.
  • we consume information and nourishment not based on values and availabilities but instead:
    • on availability
    • cost
    • marketing
    • opportunity
This is list is far from exhaustive but rather just what came to mind as I felt the need to rant about this. The challenge of course is how do we, individually or collectively, get out of the place we are in? I have to admit that most of my fears today are related to the safety of my wife and children. I found that as I began to worry about them more I worried about myself less. As I have come to see where I am doing due diligence my worry about them is also dropping but alas my worry about their future, or the future of their grand children is not so easily reassured. My concern is that it would seem our way of life is boxing us into certain comforts that we fear losing and that overtakes our priority rather than the loss of our freedom, opportunity for discovery, exploration of the mind and numerous other pursuits that provide a contribution to the legacy of humanity.

Imagine if Alexander Graham Bell had instead discovered Playstation 3, big screen TV and got a regular job.
"As a child, young Alexander Graham Bell displayed a natural curiosity about his world, resulting in gathering botanical specimens as well as experimenting even at an early age. His best friend was Ben Herdman, a neighbour whose family operated a flour mill, the scene of many forays. Young Aleck asked what needed to be done at the mill. He was told wheat had to be dehusked through a laborious process and at the age of 12, Bell built a homemade device that combined rotating paddles with sets of nail brushes, creating a simple dehusking machine that was put into operation and used steadily for a number of years.[In return, John Herdman gave both boys the run of a small workshop within which to "invent"." Source: Wikipedia
If we are afraid about the outside world, do we teach our children to have a natural curiosity to explore it? If we are afraid of the consequences of not following the rules, not doing the tried and true safe way that others have done before us where advertisers encourage us with government approvals to demonstrate that is ok to experiment?

Monday, February 1, 2010

the tyranny of free will

Nothing illustrates the difficulties we have with free will better than our relationship with cars.

In January, 4 facts struck me:
- On the 5th, a Cavalier was t-boned by a semi. The front passenger died.
- On the 26th a head on collision between a Honda Civic and a a Chevy Trailblazer killed parents of 12 children.
- On the 30th Honda recalled 140,000 Honda Fits because a single power window switch over heated, started the car on fire, and killed a child.
- On the 22nd Toyota began the recall of more than 7 million vehicles of various models because the gas pedals may stick.

The latter two events cause world wide media coverage, escalating costs for manufacturers and dealers simply for the fix (let alone the damage to their future businesses). The first two caught headlines for a day and were then relegated to the local news pile.

Both had equally tragic deaths. Why the disparity? The deaths in the first two weren't even attributable to alcohol by the driver or active freewill by the passengers (merely passive).

Free will. The "oppression" of the manufacturers on the general public is far greater (and in need of more grave correction) than the active freewill of individual drivers. Manufacturers need to spend millions of dollars or public relations and repair to undo the grevious harm they have inflicted on society. The car "accidents" are merely another circumstance of modern living.

We accept so much for the sake of freewill.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

time, energy, resources and patience

I am continuing on in Soul Cravings and find his discussions about humans' drive to acheive somewhat empty. He speaks of us just needing the drive to do something and then we will seek it but alas reality is not as easy as a concept in a book.

in real life we make many more mistakes than our master plan can account for. spend our money on many more things than our budget for our dream project can afford and get distracted for many more minutes than our timeline can absorb.

when we set small goals, we can accomplish them but in my opinion only a minority of the population can set large goals and hit them. only a small group of our billions are willing to make the sacrifices necessary to achieve their large goals.

what I find interesting is the human desire to "live in the moment" and not "save up" for the future, I think that is hard wired into us. consider the human life span and the real risks around us, there is no guarantee that I will even finish this sentence.

if we could have some reassurance, however, that we could live for the greater good and make contribution to the universe that would exist on into infinity then we would be perhaps more willing to give our time, energy and resources outwardly and spend less of them on self absorbed pursuits.

once again we know on the scale of a minority we have many people from decades and centuries before us we can thank for amazing lives we have today but what about the little guy. consider the wonderful power of language, I know of know "famous person" behind that wonderful invention yet without it where would we be today. was there just one guy that came up with it and what drove the people to press on and grow what they saw occuring? necessity doesn't exist without people taking the time to think about their situation and wonder about how it could be different.

exploring the unknown is something I think we do not do enough of. having spent some time in walt disney world recently I can honestly say that the early components of WDW that still remain were the kind of thing that was put their just to make you think and get your imagination excited. sadly too many of the new things are just idolizing the movies and mainstream fiction.

so, do we do anything these days except invent new things to entertain ourselves with? what should we be doing? is our consumer culture with high tech gagdetry taken us to a place where we can no longer expand our knowledge? is there no unknown?

what does a kid today want to be when they grow up? someone who gets a paycheque? how exciting.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

community

I am reading Soul Cravings by Erwin McManus and he has some very interesting concepts about our need for love. One of the concepts in particular I found to be profound was related to community.

"...we are increasingly less self-aware. We're more self-absorbed but less self aware. We don't know who we are"

"When we don't know who we are, when we have no clue as to who we were meant to become, we try to become something we are not."

"We only truly come to know ourselves in the context of others. The more isolated and disconnected we are, the more shattered and distorted our self-identity"

I found this particularly interesting because I have reflected a lot over the past couple years about who I want to maintain connections with. Which connections that we are have with others, or where we are part of a group, are we truly in a community that is healthy for us? Do co-workers give us the feedback we need? How about if you are the boss, do you really get truth from staff? In our families, church groups, hobby groups, old school friends or other groups that are not regularly a part of our lives do we get to really to know ourselves in their midst?

If we are part of a group of people where the sharing of feelings, ideas, worries, etc is not shared (i.e. some people are hiding) is there a real connection within the group? I think this self absorbtion, self awareness inbalance is a vicious cycle. If you are self absorbed, and don't want to tamper with your view of yourself even in a group of "trusted" individuals you keep to yourself. Oh sure we can listen to others and share feedback to them but the trap here is that you can end up feeling superior becasue -they- need help and -you- don't.

I will keep reading but I suspect he, like many other authors I have read, will just continue to include the importance of community in his vision but still have no silver bullet for how to make it work in our world.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

the search for truth

The veracity of information is logistically beyond the reach of every one.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

what if electricity stopped working?

bear with me here as I realize to most this sounds entirely like science fiction.....

what would happen if a harmless comet passed by us and the earth passed through a grand tail that seemed completely harmless. our atmosphere safely destroying what harmful objects might have attempted to fall to our planet.

but......lets just say as we began to pass through that tail we began to see a disruption of a different kind. not with physical impacts but with the loss of a technology that would lead to a grand impact.

let's say that in that comet tail we make a scientific discovery like never before. a discovery that matter can be changed by a cosmic force that we have yet to discover. so for instance water would change its freezing point from zero to plus 5 or something like that. or perhaps that matter that we know now to be part of our electrical grid no longer can carry an electric current? metal can no longer conduct electricity and as the tail "harmlessly" sweeps across our planet we go dark with all of our gadget and electronic capacities.

your car stops driving, airplanes fall helplessly out of the sky, boats set adrift, elevators stop, the list goes on and on. our entire way of life depends upon the presence and flow of electric charges we would very quickly see just how much. most, if not all, of the world's food supply depends on electricity, after all tractors, harvesters, processing, all require electric currents.

Imagine the hysteria. those people away from there homes where they would have easily driven home 50kms in time for supper will now be days away from home like the settlers of years gone by. no doubt people would figure out a means with tools (wood burning and other "technology" requiring electricity) but how long would we have clean water and food. Food would be the easier of two I would think since many of us keep far more food on hand than we need in a given time period. We would need to be careful not to let it spoil and to ration it. Our water, on the other hand is mostly provided to us courtest of our communities water system which requires power. Without electricity our future would be very grim indeed and one has to wonder whether anarachy would rule or whether the loss of vehicles would make it too dificult? weapons, sadly in this equation would continue to be a threat as they have always been for human civilizations.

The supply chain of our planet is dependant upon and save for those subsistance farmers and mixed farms with sufficient manual tools on hand most of us would die of starvation or dehydration when our supplies ran out.

the earthquake in Haiti, while not nearly as extreme, has reminded me of our dependance on modern wonders such as electricity. the spaceship earth ride at Disney World's Epcot Centre also reminded me of where our latest knowledge has been stored as well. When the world lost the Ancient Library of Alexandria we lost a great storehouse of information, but imagine now if we lost the internet and all of the electronic documents stored on computers?

so here is my question that I am stuck on, do we have a personal obligation to prepare our families, our family history and our personal knowledge in the event of a disaster? do we depend entirely to much on "the government" to protect that information? do we have any clue or are we doomed to suffer and disappear like other peons who came before us?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

fast forward

I have been browsing several blogs and authors posting their top 10 predictions for the new year and I decided I would post my top list of things I think we should be looking at:

- algae diesel
- bicycles with electric assist (affordable for the masses)
- seperate action plans for summer and winter in city planning.
- alternative work arrangements like teleworking
- get environmental damage and overconsumption back on the front burner and put climate change on the back
- find new innovative ways to put green roofs over open concrete spaces
- find new innovative ways to give property owners options in the cold winters
- track repeat offenders who abuse common space, urban and green
- alternate energy fiction
- under 40s should have an environmental plan

this is draft but I wanted to get it out there....

Tonight.......The world is in for a climate war as the worlds super powers argue over carbon credits

pollution no more, climate change and global warming are far sexier....

I really don't like fads.
I like the fads even less if they take a good purpose for a needed cause and turn it into a political, corporate, global fad.

human induced climate change or global warming has become just that.

I am sick of it. with all of the hype I feel we are quickly losing the point. it has been called the climate change debate, and we like a good argument, but then the argument was over (I missed the time traveller appearance apperently) and so off they went to solve the big picture climate change problem.

Sadly, we continue to have pollution problems with air, water and the planet. We continue to have health issues linked to the pollution and the chemicals being used. We continue to see over consumption consume our limited resources and make our selfish desires number one. But heh, our politicians (who need buzz word votes), corporations (who need good PR about giving back and change for the good), scientists (who need grants), NGOs (who need grants) they are all happily working away on the action and adventure on the climate change battle.

so what is the answer? stop with the hype, cut the red tape and implement what we know we need to do to reduce our consumption, green the planet, save the species, find the alternates and in future we will see a better benefit than politicians making grand plans.

rant end.

Monday, January 4, 2010

The unhelpables

They are those people who don't ask for help because they either don't want any help or your kind of help. Maybe they don't want to seem needy or they don't trust the quality of your help. Maybe they don't want to return the favour someday or they worry your help will require socializing that means they will spend more time. Have we become scared to ask for help? Do we fear losing our independance? Are we too proud to ask? Have we always been this way?

Sunday, January 3, 2010

easy for the whole family

surrounded by a sea of junk thoughts I navigate each day and each moment only somewhat connected to the other moments and days. those things that have connections in the structure of my life are interwoven without a great deal of thought on my part but rather more of a routine. where then does meaning in life come into the daily navigation of my time? is it sufficient to suggest that my meaning comes in my roles in this life as a father, husband, friend, worker and so on? is my meaning in the tasks that I carry out for each of these roles and my thoughts only have meaning when tied to those task actions?

where then does writing to an unknown audience come into play? it is a selfish thing inside of me, my ego, hoping that I would get recognition? part of me hopes that in addition to the influence on my children that I leave a legacy of documenting my thoughts and sharing them that they might contribute to someone else's journey and lead to either further discovery or perhaps a conclusion. with our universe as complex as it is, and our human nature so very evil on far too many occasions, I think there is so much more to the story then we realize. I think if only we could find more efficient ways to work together to communicate, share and reduce our negative impact we would continue to discover innovations in our thoughts and minds like those we have seen in the past. sadly, I think our current society is enjoying the pleasure ride a little too much and so cooperation and conversation takes a back seat.

I have been leading a full day workshop on coaching in the workplace over the past months on 5 occasions. Let me be clear, I am not an expert but rather playing a facilitation role in a safe environment to learn about practices for how we work together. I have a craving to turn it into a non-work workshop on compassionate co-operation, conversations and coaching and replace some of the rigid structures that are within it with spiritual structures that help us better tap into our inner being that is connected to a whole lot more. The craving is partially driven by my desire to be in such a workshop.

I went back to school to get a university degree from 2002-2006 and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I loved the classroom discussions and the learning that took place there. In 2006 I attended the Midwest Renewable Energy Association Energy Fair in Custer Wisconsin and once again the workshops were my highlight. Since that time I can't recall when I took in a good workshop that I could get myself full immersed into. I hear the occasional speaker who gets the thoughts going, and the pastor at our church is fantastic at doing just that as well, but I have a craving for being part of something more again.

The reality is though once you fill up your life with family events, work overload, renovations, repairs and entertainment it is no longer easy for the whole family to find a space where they can learn. The one exception, in our case is when we escape the city and head to the lake with the RV. That time in the green space exploring the land and water is such a profound learning experience. When the time after the kids go to bed is filled with adult conversations that just puts icing on the cake.

Somehow sitting around after a day hiking, exploring, boating, fishing, whatever opens us up to a conversation that is fun and often times deep and rich.

A wonderful event to share the beauty and richness of our planet with my family and friends and then end the day off with the beauty and richness of our minds. I feel so lucky.