Category Archives: Feed Your Brain

Alternate Explanation for Extreme Weather

I like the logic the fellow at Suspicious0bservers presents. Here’s what I make of it all.

Climate change is not entirely manmade. Pollution is all bad, but it’s not the whole story. Space weather is changing in our solar system. My guess is that we’re simply passing through a particularly tough spot of the normal cycle.

Picture a big clock with gears – now follow the spinning. The earth orbits the sun, our solar system orbits Sirius, and we all transit above and below the galactic equator as we travel around the galactic center. So as we spin around we encounter fluctuations in regular patterns as we travel through space. We can see some of these in patterns in Earth’s geologic record – like ice ages, solar activity, and so on.

800px-Carbon14_with_activity_labels

800px-Sunspot_Numbers

 

(Solar Activity Events source) (400 Years of Sunspot Observations)

Some other facts:

  • Our atmosphere is shrinking due to low solar activity.
  • Earth’s magnetic field is weakening.
  • The polar caps are melting.
  • Weather is shifting.
  • Precipitation and heat records are being made regularly.

So what to do?

  • Expect more of the same and know that humanity survives these changes.
  • Expect the powers-that-be to continue to use other explanations.
  • Expect conspiracy theorists to completely muddy the facts.
  • Build a more resilient life & prepare for the unexpected.

Just my two cents – for what it’s worth.

Conspiracy Theorists Cloud the Truth Like a Drop of Piss in a Cup of Coffee

alex jones rants at piers morgan

Alex Jones (pictured above on the right, speaking with Piers Morgan) may be one of the best known conspiracy theorists. His angry ranting seems to work well for him on his radio (and internet) show but for most folks he must come across as irrational.

Conspiracy theorists don’t help expose the truth, they (often inadvertently) cloud the truth by tainting the facts they present with small insertions of accusations, assumptions, generalizations and inaccurate facts.

The only way wake up the masses from a big lie would be with a mountain of rock solid investigation backed with undeniable facts presented as glossy as the prime time news. This is because the bigger the lie the bigger the case against it must be.

Hitler knew how to tell the biggest lies and wrote about them in Mein Kampf:

“All this was inspired by the principle–which is quite true within itself–that in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously.” (wikipedia)

So when we are presented with big lies, or big truths, there must be a larger opposing force to push it aside. Apparently this as true for ideas as it is for physics.

This also explains why conspiracy theorists make matters worse. A small group of people that are open to alternate ideas and those who don’t buy into the main stream point of view will listen and believe the conspiracy theorist. The masses will think the conspiracy theorist is just a nut and their beliefs in the main stream point of view will end up being hardened.

What to do?

Think for yourself, weigh all the evidence yourself, and decide which truth seems more plausible. Then (more importantly) observe the tide, step back, and avoid being caught up – not to turn your back on the issues but to better choose your next step.

In the case of Sandy Hook, just like 9/11, we see a lot of evidence presented by conspiracy theorists that seems valid that the official story is filled with partial truths. We also see the powers-that-be pushing an agenda. In the case of 9/11 it was war with Iraq, in the case of Sandy Hook it’s gun control.

So the tide this time is a swirling confusion of facts but the main direction of the flow is toward gun control. So no matter what actually happened at Sandy Hook the powers-that-be, or a powerful subset, want to take guns away from Americans. The outcome of this could have wide sweeping impacts such as an increase in crime overall, the reduction of personal freedom, and the increasing of the centralization of power in Washington DC.

So one’s next step should probably account for those net effects. You can also choose to fight the tide which may be a fools errand much as tilting at windmills but if it makes you happy go for it. Otherwise it may be more beneficial to focus on the things you can control and surf toward and eddy to ride out the wave.

Caution, paradigm shift ahead.

Environmental Sustainability = Economic Sustainability

Truth be told, if any piece of a system is sustainable it has a natural sustaining effect on the other parts. By sustainable I mean the true definition of the word, the capacity to endure. This can be applied to any system, natural or human-made.

For example, if we build a civilization that is dependent on non-renewable energy sources, we’ve built a unsustainable civilization, one that cannot endure. The same is true of business. A business built on top of an uncertain foundation might benefit from rapid growth while that foundation holds but when it fails, watch the greedy bastards that set it up jump off like rats leaving a sinking ship, before it sinks.

This is actually the main reason all the dominos in our economic game fell in sequence. When a big one drops, (like home values), other segments that were dependent on unsustainable resources, (like borrowed capital), saw their foundations crumble. Since so many small businesses were built on the foundation of borrowed home equity, we naturally saw the failure of many small businesses when the home value bubble burst.

I was surprised to see corporate giant AT&T running ahead with a renewable energy program. This shows how they must understand how environmental sustainability will help to ensure their economic sustainability. They will be keeping their networks alive with solar power.

It would be nice to see more regular folks embrace this business strategy and apply it to their own lives. Imagine how sustainable our civilization would be if we were all a bit more self-reliant.

Could Modern Humans be Suffering from a Form of Zoochosis?

We took Katie to the Sacramento Zoo this past weekend and while we had a good time, I came back with the general impression that we’re doing a terrible disservice to the animals there. Seeing the Orangutan, which translates from Malay to man of the forest, really pushed me over the top and convinced me that detaining animals for out amusement is really terribly wrong.

The Orangutan seemed more like a primitive early human to me than what one might call an animal. Later I read about a condition called Zoochosis that surfaces in animals kept in captivity. For some species the trauma caused by captivity is more obvious through their behavior but I suspect all animals in captivity suffer from some level of Zoochosis. This seems logical at least.

Humans in Voluntary Captivity

Then I began to noodle over my own captivity provided by our society. Everyday I sit incented to work at this desk in the captivity of my home office. The captivity is voluntary to a degree since my bills would not get paid if I left my desk. Since I want to live in society I must conform to a certain set of activities in order to maintain the protection this societal cage provides.

Then my thinking moves out to the other people in society and the unnatural environment we’ve constructed and wonder the same thing. Could we all be clinging to the imaginary bars of our cages wishing subconsciously that they would disappear, while at the same time working hard to maintain the system that makes them very real?

Waking Up

This would explain my own fascination with the freedom tiny houses represent and their growing popularity with the general public. When times are good and we’re well-fed our cage bars seem more like comforting protection than a trap. When times are tough the bars feel as if they close-in on us increasing the pressure and stress we feel.

Everyone reacts differently to stress. I think I’ve been observing two common reactions from humans in captivity. Some cling to the system and wish things improve so they can go back to their happiness inside the cage, so they keep up their normal routines as best they can. Others freak out a bit and work to escape as they realize the cage is really a trap, and begin to reject the system and attempt to reinvent it in another form.

Catch-22

The trouble with all of us animals, in and out of the zoo, is that our cages are part of a much bigger world. If the zoo animal escapes it will be recaptured or killed, depending on the danger it represents. If we escape and reject our society we are subject to living a dramatically different life or jailed, depending on the danger we represent.

So we’re all very much stuck in a catch-22 unless the entire system changes. I bet this is why there are so many people wishing-for and preparing-for civilization collapse. They’ve collapsed under the weight of society and their stress reaction is to see things that may or may not be there. Or you could look at from their perspective and say they’ve woken up to the lie the cage represents and see the looming systemic failure approaching.

In Search of Solutions

I’m always in search of ways to have my cake and eat it too, which may also be a problem because I’ll tend to cling to the old while seeking the new. For example extreme downsizing seems more and more like the right direction to move in but it’s just a smaller version of the societal cage we all live in now. But it also might be a point along the path to finding real freedom.

I’m also really beginning to believe that seeking a natural modern human environment might need to be part of my ultimate goal. I’m not sure what this is exactly, but I suspect it involves other like-minded people living tribally (for lack of a better word).

This last statement of course suggests a step backwards but I don’t know if that is really a requirement. We have definitely gone too far, but I doubt if going back to how we lived 10,000 years ago is the answer. It must be something in between.

So now you can clearly see that I think too much… or that I’m suffering from Zoochosis. LOL

True Motivator – Our Quest for Mastery, Purpose, and Self-Direction

I first spotted this on The Tiny Life. It’s a presentation by RSA Animate that explains what really motivates people.

In a nutshell it explains why punishment and reward are not a good motivators for people with jobs that require cognitive skills. It all boils down to the human quest for mastery (of a skill or subject), self direction, and purpose. In other words we do things because we like feeling good about what we’re doing.

Money (reward) only enters the motivation equation when it reaches a level that frees people from financial stress, giving them the opportunity to feel masterful, self directed, and  purposeful.

It also explains why open source communities are so successful and why companies that provide ‘free time’ for innovation are so successful.

We’re Stronger Together

I’ve been saying this a lot lately and mean a lot by it. I also suspect most of us need a little reminding that every system (natural or human-created) is stronger than the sum of it’s parts. Not to beat an old cliché to death, but sometimes we forget why the simple truths are true.

This particular truth happens because the connections between the separate parts actually contribute to the value of the combined group. In other words, strength doesn’t just come from the total mass of the group but the relationships that are formed between the parts. It’s like the connections themselves add mass to the total.

In business we see this happen in large companies regularly which are simply large organized groups of very talented people working toward the same set of goals. Corporations often get disrespected when their goals don’t include serving society or one abuses its power; I can think of many examples. I can also think of a few large corporations that serve society well, like Google. Google is an excellent example of how a large group of focused brilliant people can create incredibly powerful tools and technology. But even this gentile giant could easily step out of line and inadvertently step all over the people it intended to serve if its goals changed and excluded the people it once served.

In nature we see this happen when there is a wide diversity of natural living things in an ecosystem. A balance is found when the fabric of the interconnections finds a sustainable level. In other words when everyone has enough to eat and no one is getting eaten into extinction.

In a democracy we see this happen when the people still feel like they have a say their government and have joined together around central beliefs and values.

In communities we see this happen all the time when people come together around common issues, topics, and values. This can happen at many scales from a group of two or more people with the strength increasing as the number of people increase.

I personally stumbled on this realization as a community of very real people began to form around my blog, Tiny House Design. I’ve been amazed with the rapidly forming online community of people determined to solve their own housing challenges.

I’ve also experienced this first hand with the community of tiny house bloggers and builder who are as passionate as I am about raising awareness around housing issue and the benefits of living with less. As we share our learnings we’ve been able to focus in on the most important issues and topics is helping to grow the community.

Less is More Sustainable

On my blog, TinyHouseDesign.com, I use the tagline Less is More Sustainable. While this probably makes a lot of literal sense for a blog about tiny houses, but I hope people read more into this statement.

I also noticed that Seth Godin recently wrote a post called, Carrying capacity, that sends a similar message; although I suspect he’d say that there’s a sweet spot of sustainability for everything. If so I’d have to agree with him… I’d just add that the sweet spot doesn’t loose track of the human scale.

The only case where more is more sustainable happens when we’re taking about the diversity of all living things that make up the fabric of life on Earth. In other words, more diversity is more sustainable and less impact, risk, rapid growth is more sustainable. Here are a few examples:

Sustainable Ecosystem

Nature teaches us again and again that when a natural ecosystem is thrown out of balance the inevitable consequence is a rebalancing. This might come in the form of a collapse but  collapse can also be looked at as the end of one cycle and the beginning of another. Life is hard to keep down for long.

So if all lifeforms in an ecosystem stay in balance (zero rapid growth) then the system continues to thrive and provide support for every life form in the system.

Our Homes

The smaller our homes, the easier they are to heat, cool, repair, clean, purchase, furnish, and so on. In other words the smaller our homes, the fewer inputs they require to maintain which allows them to give us back time for ourselves.

Small homes also make us less susceptible to economic hard times because few inputs are needed naturally lowering risk. Living within our means and taking on less risk (debt, expenses, responsibilities) also adds to the sustainability of our lives.

Economic Systems

In business we see that rapid growth is only possible if the right inputs are added into the mix. This is usually capital and the right human resources. So one could surmise that more inputs mean more economic growth.This is true. The only trouble is when the inputs become unavailable or too costly growth slows, stops, or reverses.

An excellent example of this was clearly visible at the beginning of the last recession. Credit dried up and many businesses reliant on credit failed. Those left standing were those that ran their businesses on less risk or were big enough to be able to ride through the storm.

Governments

As governments grow past their ability to serve its citizens and maintain central control they fail. Decentralized control, like a healthy democracy, lasts much longer because the entire system is not reliant on the same central supports.

The Bottom Line

Slow steady growth and living simply is more sustainable because the margins of risk are wider. Zero growth is probably indefinitely sustainable.

For example, for the first 190,000 years[1] anatomically modern humans walked around on earth not getting much done; but I suspect they were in a near perfect balance with their surroundings like the other critters around them. Life was not luxurious or terribly comfortable for them but it was certainly sustainable, after all their descendants are still here.

For the last 10,000[2] most humans have been busy focused on progress. We’ve had a few setbacks as different civilizations collapsed under their own weight or corruption but for the most part we’ve been much more productive.

In the last 150 years, supercharged by fossil fuels, we’ve done amazing things and have been incredibly productive. In fact it seems like more people these days are now convinced that more is more sustainable because we’ve gotten so clever at making progress.

But if we take a big step back and look at the foundation we’ve built I think we’d see a delicate framework.

I’m not suggesting that we pull the plug on the whole deal and go back to living in caves for the next 190,000 years. I am suggesting that we get smarter and find a way to have our cake and eat it too. I think we are clever enough to find a sustainable way to keep most things running and moving smoothly but it’s going to take switching to a different pace and refocusing diversity and a sustainable scale.

Information wants to be free

This is a simple idea, but I wanted to explain what I mean by the statement, information wants to be free, and how it can apply to business and the internet.

The basic concept is that all information, including all types of content and data, have a natural attraction to people and if the barriers (patents, copyrights, access, etc) were removed that information would be passed from person to person automatically. Information would flow like water running down a hill. The more useful or desirable the information the faster it would flow.

In business the people that best know this to be a natural fact are probably intellectual property attorneys since they spend their professional lives fighting the flow. People who own information are also keenly aware of it and spend a good deal of energy working to prevent others from using their information without permission and/or payment.

Some people freely allow the use of the content they create. For example well known blogger Leo Babauta has coined the term uncopyrighted, at least I believe it was Leo. He freely allows people to reuse his content in any way. It also seems to work for him, his blog is on the top 100 with over 170,000 readers.

Google is another good example of how giving information freely can be monetized. Google doesn’t give away all their information, hardly, but they give away so much that it has driven them to the top of internet businesses. Their financial success has made them a corporate giant.

So how does one monetize the natural fact that information wants to be free? In many ways I think we all do it to some degree. In an odd sort of way even a retail shop provides free entertainment and free access to pricing and physical products to potential buyers, even if they never actually give any product away.

The trick is finding the balance between giving things away and selling similar things with a higher value to the subset of people that want more.