Monthly Archives: October 2013

Climate scientists calling for revolution

Is avoiding a 2 degrees C rise “impossible” or is it “difficult but doable” — “…scientists have been dramatically soft-peddling the implications of their research”

Naomi Klein in Russell Brand’s New Statemen issue:

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Filed under climate change, contrarian, erik-green, future, green, revolution

In the news…. some related links

The following are some related links. Computers are simultaneously making amazing things possible and helping make some people very rich, but also making it more difficult to make a living for many (see the income inequality video).
It’s touching everything for good or bad. Media, education, news, jobs, food, financial markets, politics. Some win (and we all hear about those people) and most lose (and news tries to not depress or mobilize us too much about that). “The limitation of the personal view” Jerry Mander calls it.


– The Rise of the Blockbuster (blockbusters are actually on the increase. the “long tail” is still there, but aren’t the real winners %-wise)


– Misconceptions about wealth Inequality in America


– “Q: If someone from the 1950s suddenly appeared today, what would be the most difficult thing to explain to them about life today?”
“A: I possess a device, in my pocket, that is capable of accessing the entirety of information known to man. I use it to look at pictures of cats and get in arguments with strangers.”

(original at:


– University megastar professors


– Welcome, Robot Overlords. Please Don’t Fire Us?
Smart machines probably won’t kill us all—but they’ll definitely take our jobs, and sooner than you think.


– BAY WATCHED: How San Francisco’s new entrepreneurial culture is changing the country.
OCTOBER 14, 2013
Naval Ravikant “… the cost to build and launch a product went from five million … to one million … to five hundred thousand … and it’s now to fifty thousand.”


– The Nacho Dorito
“I visited Steven A. Witherly, a food scientist who wrote an insider’s guide, “Why Humans Like Junk Food,” and we raided his lab to taste and experiment our way through the psychobiology of what makes Nacho Cheese Doritos so alluring.”



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Filed under computers, contrarian, person: Jerry Mander, technology, thinking

Is it a school day tomorrow?

L (age 5.9): Is it a school day tomorrow?
Me: Yep!
L: Oh good!

Enough said.

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Filed under Sudbury Schools and Sudbury Valley School

Beware the seduction of the teachable moment

“Like most people I like to tell stories, to talk about things that I know and find interesting and to pass on my skills to others. Most of us do it all the time to the people we interact with closely: to our elders, our peers and especially to children. This makes life in a group interesting and exciting. And that is how we all learn a great deal about new ideas and new ways of thinking or doing things. Seeing others is so fascinating because that is how we enlarge our understanding of the world. It is a natural aspect of the human communal experience and it is the greatest way to acquire knowledge.
However, this is all fine until adults start to impart their knowledge to children, before they are asked for their input. While teaching works like magic when a person asks for information, it is toxic and disruptive when the adult seizes the moment to teach a child something without the child’s consent.”

from: “The Evil Of The Teaching Moment”
Hanna Greenberg, Sudbury Valley School

“At first a number of kids divided the coins into clearly unequal piles. It sparked a debate among the students about what one-half meant. Juárez Correa’s training told him to intervene. But now he remembered Mitra’s research and resisted the urge.”
“… by letting them elect leaders who would decide how to run the class and address discipline. The children elected five representatives, including Paloma and Usiel. When two boys got into a shoving match, the representatives admonished the boys, and the problem didn’t happen again.”
from: “How a Radical New Teaching Method Could Unleash a Generation of Geniuses”

(BTW, since this Wired article mentions Sugata Mitra and the “Granny Cloud” let me just state that I am not a big fan, at least as demonstrated in various videos I have seen on youtube. It to me seems like hype/novelty effect/a waste of money. Better to set up some sort of Sudbury School/ Library/ Hackspace sort of environment. The idea I suppose is that an internet connection and volunteer Grannies are much cheaper than doing school right? But I don’t think it has to be expensive. Let the local teachers foster the school community directly — like Sergio Juárez Correa did… mentioned in the article. Connecting with long-distance penpals via Skype… well… “the Grannies” might be fun once a week, but can hardly be thought of as a central part of the school community. But I think that’s the part that Wired is stoked about because it’s the technology part. Too bad. The kids doing their own thing is the actual interesting part, IMHO.)

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Filed under Sudbury Schools and Sudbury Valley School

links: happiness and work

So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love
Cal Newport


“We believe that we should work to be happy, but could that be backwards? In this fast-moving and entertaining talk, psychologist Shawn Achor argues that actually happiness inspires productivity. ”

some suggestions
– exercise
– meditation
– 3 gratitudes
– 1 journal item about something positive
– random acts of kindness


“If what you love to do cannot keep you alive and pay your rent, it’s doomed to be temporary. That doesn’t mean temporary things in life are not worthy, it just means you should keep this piece of information in mind. Except for really rare cases (and you shouldn’t think you are one), doing what makes you happy is unsustainable. There’s always someone paying the bills. So if you’re happy doing what you love, probably there’s someone paying your bills by doing something profitable that they don’t love to do.”
View at


Several useful articles at Harvard Business Review blog on this topic:”Do+what+you+love”


So, to summarize! 🙂 The basic points one reads regularly:

– “do what you love!” — what if I don’t have a passion or true-calling? that’s ok. it’s generally bad advice anyway. And people don’t have ONE thing. It’s what We make of our choices.
– cycle: “happiness” (flow/play/lightheartedness) leads to good work leads to happiness
– make an avocation a vocation means (obviously) you need to make substantial money
– some things just can’t realistically make money (easily, or often)
– we see examples of people “doing what they love” in the media, but this is like thinking we can make it as a pro athlete — Yes it’s possible and some people do it, but it’s not likely (depending on the field)
– doing it (whatever it is) for money might kill the joy or alter it
– doing it (whatever it is) for so many hours might kill the joy or alter it
– there are aspects of all work that we don’t like 100%
– work satisfaction: – not “passion”. good at it, responsbility/autonomy, impact (Daniel Pink DRIVE)
– grass is not greener
– people often study kinda useless things in college
– hard work/talent/skills (leading to accomplishments and happiness) is the way to go

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Filed under contrarian, happiness, person: Cal Newport, work

social media: mainly talking about ourselves

“…while 30 to 40 percent of ordinary conversation consists of people talking about themselves, some 80 percent of social-media updates fall in the same category? “Ordinarily, in a social context, we get feedback from other people,” Boyd told me. “They might roll their eyes to indicate they don’t want to hear so much about us. But online, you don’t have that.””

The Selfish Meme
Twitter, dopamine, and the evolutionary advantages of talking about oneself

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Filed under meaning of life, social media

Work/Skills/Useful Happiness

Some links discussing the idea that “do what you love” CAN be getting the cart before the horse sometimes. It can happen that way, but not always. Or it can be a bit of both.

1. With proficiency can bring happiness. Instead of the other way around.
2. things that one loves doing can’t always pay the bills.
3. doing something one loves to pay the bills can suck the joy from it.


— “If not passion for the job, at least warm feelings”

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Filed under happiness, person: Ran Prieur, work

The Case for Working With Your Hands

“A good job requires a field of action where you can put your best capacities to work and see an effect in the world. Academic credentials do not guarantee this.”

General comments about this issue…

1. can’t outsource trades and people-oriented professions (dentists, lawyers, doctors, etc)

2. grounded in real world and communities

3. some people working in the trades I talk with wish they had taken the “college” route.  but it is a bit of the grass is always greener I think.  And it’s never too late if there was something in particular they wanted to study.

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Filed under college, futuresafe, work

80 Percent Of U.S. Adults Face Near-Poverty, Unemployment: Survey

“WASHINGTON — Four out of 5 U.S. adults struggle with joblessness, near-poverty or reliance on welfare for at least parts of their lives, a sign of deteriorating economic security and an elusive American dream.”

Related: somewhere recently I was reading an article about how one scenario of a “good society” would be that as technology is taking away opportunities for paid work (electronic , perhaps a huge percentage of people would have to essentially be on welfare, but that would be ok, and people would pursue hobbies, artistic, creative endeavors, but not with the expectation that it would lead to enough money to live on.**

I guess this is not that different than all the “future studies” books from the past that expected ever-shortening work weeks and increased leisure due to technology/efficiency increases.

I assume the reality is that a lot of these gains have gone towards the 1%.  But I wonder how much.  Perhaps a lot has probably also gone to us wasting our money on stupid consumer junk too.

See also: Seth Godin



** here it is:

“In simple terms, if owners of capital are capturing an increasing fraction of national income, then that capital needs to be shared more widely if we want to maintain a middle-class society. Somehow—and I’m afraid a bit of vagueness is inevitable here—an increasing share of corporate equity will need to be divvied up among the entire population as workers are slowly but surely stripped of their human capital. Perhaps everyone will be guaranteed ownership of a few robots, or some share of robot production of goods and services.”

Apparently, this is called a “universal basic income” and people really do think about this…
FRIDAY, OCT 11, 2013 07:44 AM EDT
Rather than savage cuts, Switzerland considers “Star Trek” economics
Switzerland will vote on giving every adult in the country a $2,800 check every month. How would that work?

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Filed under middle class, welfare, work

Acting Dead, Trading Up and Leaving the Middle Class

” Acting Dead, Trading Up and Leaving the Middle Class. The idea is that you’re wasting your life doing anything that your dead great grandfather, in the grave, can do better than you. You’re using fewer resources? Your great grandfather is using no resources, and if he could talk to you, he might say, “Stop doing stuff that a dead person can do. You’re alive — do something that an alive person can do.”

as seen at:

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Filed under erik-green, green, middle class, person: Ran Prieur