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Olduvai III: Catacylsm
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Sometimes You Just Have to Go With the Flow When Nothing Flows

Todd River Regatta
Australia-OutbackThe central banks are clueless and have no control over the economy. This whole thing reminds me of Australia. I loved going into the Outback, driving through rivers, and seeing ant hills that were taller than the Jeep. I was invited to go to the Todd River Regatta in the middle of the desert. I thought it was a joke. They said, “No mate! Come on!”

Armstrong Palm Valley Australia


I was perplexed at first. How can you have a regatta in the middle of a desert? Well, only Australia could figure that one out. They raced in pretend boats down an ancient river bed where no white man has ever seen water flow. They held the pretend boats up around their waist and raced down the riverbed. It was good fun. I actually joined in on the camel races.

We have the same thing going on now in politics and finance — just living the dream. Negative interest rates punish savers, and bankrupt pensions are creating a collapse in socialism that threatens civil unrest on a grand scale beginning next year (2017). Then we have politicians raising taxes and creating mountains of regulations that nobody can figure out without a lawyer and an accountant preventing small businesses from forming. Those who want to always rule the world  are brain-dead and it is impossible for them to figure out why small businesses are not expanding to create jobs. Duh! They craft pretend theories and run down dried-up riverbeds where there is no water and proclaim to the world they are “stimulating” the economy when they encourage bankers not to lend paying them for excess reserves and then raise taxes because they want to be “fiscally responsible” to the bond holders. You really cannot reconcile these actions and theories. It is just the Todd River Regatta on a grand scale.

Learning Without Theory

Learning Without Theory

CAMBRIDGE – How can we improve the state of the world? How can we make countries more competitive, growth more sustainable and inclusive, and genders more equal?

One way is to have a correct theory of the relationship between actions and outcomes and then to implement actions that achieve our goals. But, in most of the situations we face, we lack such a theory, or if we have one, we are not sure that it is correct. So what can we do? Should we postpone action until we learn about what works? But how will we learn if we do not act? And if we act, how can we learn whether we did the right thing?

Shanghai skylineThe Contradictions of Chinese Capitalism

Introducing PS On Point.
Making sense of a world of conflict and conflicting ideas.

New advances in machine learning and biological anthropology are shedding light on how learning happens and what makes a learning process successful. But, while theories are important, most of what we learn does not depend on them.

For example, there may be a theory of what makes a cat a cat, but that is not how toddlers learn to recognize them. As Harvard’s Leslie Valiant argues in his 2013 book, we learn the concept of “catness” in a theory-less way by inferring it from a set of pictures of animals that are appropriately labeled as either cats or non-cats. And the more examples we see, the more we become “probably, approximately correct.”

We learn to recognize the spoken language without knowledge of linguistics, and voice-recognition software uses a theory-less learning algorithm called a “hidden Markov chain” on a set of audios and their texts, rather than by using linguistics, as Ray Kurzweil tells us in his book How to Create a Mind. To the chagrin of many of us academics, theory is often dispensable.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

5 Ways You Can Fix The World

5 Ways You Can Fix The World

With the exception of the very young, those who live in caves and people in comas it would be hard to miss the accelerated trajectory of America’s decline in the past few years. Regardless of which side you may find yourself on in the culture war, your party affiliation or self-proclaimed gender assignment, the one thing we all share in common, is a pronounced sense of dissatisfaction and unease. The camps are divided into a panoply of discordant sects, each jockeying for an ever decreasing slice of American Pie; Vegans vs Paleos, He&She vs Xe&Xer, the SJW’s, and the Bitter Clingers, the 1% or the 99%, Red vs Blue, Progressive vs Conservative, insiders and outsiders, MRA’s and Third Wave Feminazis- no one is exempt from the agita of the age.

The use of anxiety medications is at an all time high, politics has become polarized to a degree that hasn’t been seen since 1860, and human beings are so deeply disturbed with their condition that extreme body modification has led a portion of the population to cut off healthy limbs, install horns, drill holes, ink their flesh until their own mother wouldn’t recognize them. America leads the world in obesity while at the same time less than 1% of the population lives on a family farm, highlighting a disconnect from something as basic as the food we eat. At a time when technology has made communications devices ubiquitous, we have never been further apart.

This divide has been blamed on religion, on politics, on ideology and even on something as immutable as the genetics that make us what we are. The one thing that escapes all responsibility and the only aspect of our decline that we control is our own actions and attitudes. Americans aren’t the Captains of their Fate, they are victims of the patriarchy. They haven’t got personal responsibility for their path through life when they feel the world owes them something just for being born.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Relying on the Government Will Make Climate Change Worse

Relying on the Government Will Make Climate Change Worse

Twenty-five years ago, existentialism was a hot piece of intellectual property.

A literate public was buying up such books as William Barrett’s Irrational Man: A Study in Existential Philosophy and Viktor Frankl’s From Death Camp to Existentialism (later republished under the title Man’s Search for Meaning).

American psychologists were being introduced to the movement by a brilliant anthology entitled Existence: A New Dimension in Psychiatry and Psychology, edited by Rollo May and others.  The 1958 International Congress of Psychotherapy chose existential psychology as its theme.

And the twentieth-century existentialists themselves were all still alive:  Heidegger, Sartre, Camus, Martin Buber, Gabriel Marcel and Paul Tillich.

Today all six men are dead and, from all appearances, so is the movement for which they were known.

But that’s a shame. Especially if you care about climate change and peak oil.

Do it yourself

Here’s why we need existentialism so much today: It encourages people to listen to their own conscience and to take action themselves. It’s against cynicism and quietism.

A central proposition of existentialism is that the most important consideration for individuals is that they are individuals — independently acting and responsible, conscious beings — rather than an amalgamation of the labels, roles, stereotypes, definitions, or other preconceived categories into which they might fit.

The actual life of individuals is what constitutes their true essence. Thus, human beings, through their own consciousness, create their own values. People are defined by how they act and are, thus, responsible for their actions.

Freedom, from an existential perspective, cannot be separated from responsibility.

Existentialism teaches that we alone are responsible for our choices and the consequences of those choices.

– See more at: http://transitionvoice.com/2015/08/relying-on-the-government-will-make-climate-change-worse/#sthash.NQc1gwK8.dpuf


The Boundaries and Future of Solution Space – Part 5

The Boundaries and Future of Solution Space – Part 5

Solution Space

To use the word ‘solution’ is perhaps misleading, since it could be said to imply that circumstances exist which could allow us to continue business as usual, and this is not, in fact, the case. A crunch period cannot be avoided. We face an intractable predicament, and the consequences of overshoot are going to manifest no matter what we do. However, while we may not be able to prevent this from occurring, we can mitigate the impact and lay the foundation for a fundamentally different and more workable way of being in the world.

Acknowledging the non-negotiable allows us to avoid beating our heads against a brick wall, freeing us to focus on that which we can either influence or change, and acknowledging the limits within which we must operate, even in these areas, allows us to act far more effectively without wasting scarce resources on fantasies. There are plenty of actions which can be taken, but those with potential for building a viable future will be inexpensive, small-scale, simple, low-energy, community-based initiatives. It will be important to work with natural systems in accordance with permaculture principles, rather than in opposition to them as currently do so comprehensively.

We require viable ways forward across different timeframes, first to navigate the rapid-onset acute crisis which the bursting of a financial bubble will pitch us into, and then to reboot our global operating system into a form less reminiscent of a planet-killing ponzi scheme. The various limits we face do not manifest all at the same time, and so to some extent can be navigated sequentially. The first phase of our constrained future, which will be primarily financial and social, will occur before the onset of energy supply difficulties for instance. Some initiatives are of particular value at specific times, and other have general value across timescales.


…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How to Think of Climate Change on a Small Scale

How to Think of Climate Change on a Small Scale

When I used to live near the waterfront in Toronto’s east end, I would wake before dawn and go sit at the end of a breakwater to catch the sunrise. I would face the lake, close my eyes, and notice a subtle warmth on my left cheek as the sun would rise to the east. I did this fairly consistently for nearly a year before moving downtown last summer to be closer to my office.

I’m about to head to British Columbia and Washington State to connect with politicians about my project to get climate change labels on gas pumps and have already received a few inquiries about jurisdictional matters. While I’ve written a 40-page legal report that canvasses these issues (and a very prominent environmental lawyer explored the same in an article for Municipal World), I can’t help but wonder if we’re focusing on the wrong part of the issue.

My morning practice shifted my perspective in a way that led to a different focus.

During my mornings at the breakwater, I noticed how the sun would come up over a different point on the horizon throughout the year. I also grew more of an awareness that the sun wasn’t rising in the east but that the Earth was rotating eastwards to reveal the sun. It’s one thing to read about this in school and understand it intellectually, but it’s something entirely different to appreciate it in this manner. As I sat there in what seemed like stillness, I began to get curious about the speed at which our Earth moves.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…


Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
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