Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Little Things: Trying to do better

Although this blog is supposed to be my ramblings, we're all too busy to waste time with bad writing. So, from now on, I will try to be more disciplined by leaning on a literary hero of mine...

George Orwell was one of the most important and powerful writers of modern times, and if you know him, you will know how beautifully he wrote on topics related to human flourishing. Did you also know how forcefully he campaigned against lazy writing though?

If you haven't read it, I highly recommend his Politics and the English Language essay, published in 1946, in which Orwell criticizes (amongst other things) "ugly and inaccurate" written English.

In that essay, Orwell even goes so far as to propose a "Remedy of Six Rules" as follows:

Friday, October 21, 2011

World Changing Ideas: Concentrated Solar Power (CSP)

Last month, DESERTEC were in Almería, in the south of Spain to record the opening of the impressive Andasol 3 Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plant. This short movie gives an idea of the power (pun intended) of that project.

I have been convinced for some time that CSP will be the most important wedge in the world's future energy supply, so I'm delighted to see such tangible steps from Andasol.

I first started to take CSP seriously when I saw the following picture over four years ago, via The Oil Drum (a cool resource that you should subscribe to just after you've subscribed to my blog using the button on the right there ==>)

World-Changing Ideas: Steady State Economics

It seems to me that if humanity is going to get through our current economic, ecological, and spiritual woes, then Steady State Economics will form a very important part of the "new world order". For this reason, I encourage you to learn more about this important paradigm shift.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Occupy Brussels - Photos and Videos

Today was such a gorgeous day for a street party with a few thousand of my closest friends. 

Please share and circulate (and say nice things about the protests) - I'm putting them in the public domain. Let me know if you want more context on any of the pics. I still haven't had time to add much commentary.

Before anyone asks me why was I protesting, you can see my response to that question here

First, check out this video to give a sense of the awesome vibe throughout the day, then read on to see some more pics

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Is there a fractal nature to human failings?

I started to write a reply to CT's very interesting response to my last post, but realised that I had started rambling about sustainable human flourishing again. So I promoted my response to a post where I could unravel the thread a bit more easily. This is the result...

Edit: Before I go any further, some friends complained that I lost them with this post... I suspect that the word "fractal" started their eyes glazing over before they even started, so I'll try set that straight. What is a fractal? Well, to help get the picture (pun intended) here is one of the most famous and beautiful fractals, thanks to the mathematical legend Benoît Mandelbrot (who died late last year - a terrible loss)
The Mandelbrot Set: Click to see zoom sequence (Wikipedia)
Now that sure is beautiful, but why did CT write about human nature being fractal?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

"What do we want?"
"How the heck are we supposed to know?"
"When do we want it?"

I am sick of hearing otherwise reasonable people making unreasonable demands of the Occupy Wall Street protesters. I can't count the number of times that I've heard...
"... they will never make a difference if they only protest against something! Why don't they just tell us exactly what it is that they are protesting for?"

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Goldman Sachs is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity...

The world's most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.
That quote is from this brilliant Rolling Stone article by Matt Taibbi. I have nothing insightful to add, but wanted to post it out of respect for all the wonderful people putting themselves on the line in the Occupy Wall StreetOccupy America, and Occupy Together protests.

We can only hope that this movement will continue to grow, and that we will finally find a way to contain the bloodsucking parasites that are so negatively impacting Sustainable Human Flourishing.

If you choose to live in a participatory democracy, then I hope that you will seriously consider your responsibility to get out there and participate - whichever side you support, it looks like the game is on.

The Big Issues: Economics for flourishing Part 3

In Part 1 and Part 2 of this post, I gave my thoughts on some of the more widely discussed problems with neoclassical economics, but in this final installment (for now), I will tie this all back onto the theme of this blog - Sustainable Human Flourishing... More specifically, I will try to finish the thought process about just how a system that is so demonstrably damaging to SHF as the Chicago school ideology has become so bloody influential? This side of the story is far less widely discussed, and so I would particularly like to hear from economics insiders...

One of the most detailed yet approachable explorations of this idea that I have found is Naomi Klein's eye-opening book The Shock Doctrine.

The Big Issues: Economics for flourishing Part 2

In part 1 of this post, I threw my hat in with many in the blogosphere who consider neoclassical economics to be a disappointingly unscientific undertaking. For me though, the substantive question is not whether neoclassical economics is a science, but whether we should entrust our collective futures to it?

If we believe (and I admit that this is highly contentious) that one of the most important roles of an economy is to serve human development (or, in other words, to support Sustainable Human Flourishing) then all evidence seems to suggest that Chicago School neoliberalism is simply not fit for purpose.

For this reason, what concerns me even more than the current global economic crisis is the fact that even most honest, reflective economists seem only to want to get things back on the track that they were on before the crisis, refusing to acknowledge that the track itself was unsustainable. As professor Tim Jackson notes in his brilliant "Prosperity Without Growth" report on behalf of the Sustainable Development Commission

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

The Big Issues: Economics for flourishing Part 1

Update: I originally published these three articles as a single, unreadably long post - To show more respect for my readers, and to try enforce some self-discipline, I have now broken it into separate, and I hope more digestible parts...

I've been struggling for a while to find the right angle to express my Sustainable Human Flourishing-related concerns about Chicago school neoclassical economics - (Note: If those words mean nothing to you, then you should look into it a bit, because this is the school of macroeconomic thought that pretty much runs the world today.)

Noah Smith has saved me from an important part of that struggle with this brilliant post, in which he expresses some very valid concerns on the widely debated topic of whether modern economics is a science (there are some stellar follow-up comments too). I've recently started following Noah because he seems to be a rather clever economics (almost) grad who eloquently expresses many of the same concerns I've heard in various forms from other younger generation economists. Some great quotes from Noah's post include: