Archive for July, 2011

The future of terror

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

A hideous happening took place in Oslo, Norway on the 22nd of July 2011. A man came out of nowhere – for us – and bombed and killed many people. How sad this is – a man doing an appaling act of violence breaking all the rules in the book of humanity. The Prime Minister, the Royals, all the people did well in caring and being there – well done.

We are in a state of grief now – but soon  questions will be asked and evaluations started. We must see to it that such things do not happen again anywhere.

A lot of questions are unanswered:

  • How come he was seemingly  so efficient, knowledgeable, capable?
  • Why was the bomb set off when most people had left the buildings?
  • How could he place a car at such a place at all?
  • Is it possible to build such a bomb without being found out before the bomb is ready?
  • This bomb can not possibly be the only one he made? Where were tests performed?
  • How come he was such a good shot? Who taught him handling weapons?
  • Is he a soldier or agent of some sort?
  • His mental state during the killing was seemingly cool, calm and collected – is this possible without training?
  • He is a freemason – what did they do for him, why is there no information now about this relationship?
  • Why did he direct his act towards the leading Norwegian political group?
  • How can he possibly have written such a big learned document on his own? How did he find 1000 mail-adresses to send it to?
  • How was it possible for him to keep shooting people for more than one hour before the police arrived?
  • Why did he just fold down when police arrived? Why did not the police just plain kill him to stop the dreadful work he was doing?
  • Could anybody possibly benefit from the killing? Who could they be?
  • There are many more…

The media are buzzing – being all over the place, putting labels on all as an explanation – but carefully avoiding all controversial issues. The politicians are of no use now – being nowhere – they are thinking about elections already. The forums of information are in flux – there are too many places and agendas out there. All we can do is retreat and be sceptical now when the depth of the story shall be found, all shall be told, push for more information when things are cloudy.

This man is not alone – he is a trained man, he has been aided in many ways – the police and the media (investigative journalism is not quite dead) should do a thorough job and show us what this is all about.

It was Norway now, others have suffered similar horrendous deeds – and what will come next?

The crux of the matter is the uncertainty that is being created – this happens everywhere – where next? This was not a stray affair in a little country – we are at risk of seeing more.

The sum of it all is that we all must look into the reality of our world, what we do, how we allow others to govern us, the old-fashioned thinking behind our political system, how we participate, the huge differences in social status and welfare in many countries, the total lack of sharing of thoughts, the dissatisfied peoples of the world moving about wherever they can get to, the control of media, the  enormous non-democratic powers being built globally through big companies, the narrowness of public debate and conversation, the complete collapse of traditional media that allow media strategies and spins, our unwillingness to be multicultural, lack of accept of other races, the insistence of many that there are powers behind.

The situation is one of a global character.

This is perhaps too grand, it is to put too much into a blow against a little people, but this terrorist deed should result in the world becoming more open, more dialogue-based, more inclusive in all matters, a better place for all – to show him that he failed miserably at whatever he was doing. The result should be an opening up.

Talk and always let others talk, meet, find deep consensus so we can find what living is really about. This was very sad, people must not be killed in actions like this at all. The way out is to get to know each other better, including opacity related to agendas, powers, murkyness.

The enigma of life – the spark, the processes

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

Life unfolds all around us – there is growth, reproduction, perishing organisms, mutations, we have started cloning plants and animals, we modify the genes of organisms, we make new organisms (very simple so far). Life science is a “new” science where understanding what life is presumably is a central point.

Science is in a precarious situation – the discoveries are detailed only and technological, answers to the big questions elude us. The integrated completeness is not there and questions are coming up all over.

One of the really big questions is: What is life? What starts it, why does it continue to run, how does it relate to the larger environment, why does it stop, what happens after we perish?

Cells are alive, they are aggregated, they work together, they communicate, they make physical and mental processes possible. Man is a living machine whose movements you can control, you can start and stop thinking about whatever you want to. There is a physical aspect, biology, chemistry, a coordinative system integrating all the cells of the organism.

The organism is usually very stable, it lasts for a long time, but at some point it stops and perishes – life ends – we can not start the organism again.

What is it that starts it – the impulse of life, why does it end, what is it that breaks down, why can we not repair it so that we can continue?

These questions have not been answered, our mindset is scientific, we must measure and formulate and can not, we must repair, but we can not.

Today we can only partly answer these questions, the sciences can only give part answers, the sciences are not set up to answer question like these. But there is hope – “life science” is being organised – a new science is developing. We need that – science as we know is heavily specialised – the overview is lacking. We need revolutionaries – Newton was one – we need several more now.

The organisms are built from small molecules or atoms – measured in Ångstrøms or 10 to the power of 1o fractions of a meter. Molecules and cells are electromagnetic structure, quantum mechanics apply – the world of physics must be included to find an explanation.

When we are conceived by cell joining cell, growth starts and cells divide and grow based on laws or rules, about 40-60 times, cell divisions take place depending on the task of the cell. The technical term is mitosis so that the growth is within pre-ordained limits, there is a recipe in your chromosomes or genes which follow you all the way. You get half from your mother and half from your father. Meiosis is reproduction, also following strict rules.

A some stage during this growth consciousness is created, we start to feel, to act and react, to become independent – later to think and behave consciously.

Our food is made from water, air, nutrients, complex processes driven by light – we need food to energize ourselves, we use energy and emit heat, the laws of thermodynamics apply – we are a thermodynamic system also. The chemical processes of our metabolism take up the food and processes it, keeping cells alive, giving us enegy to perform our daily tasks. The balance is always tight, there is always control. Surprisingly the metabolism is only partly understood – we can not even say for sure what happens to fats, proteins, carbohydrates when they enter our system.

The processes have been described in statistical terms, the probability of these results is high – we need information theory and probability theory. Man is a self-organizing system – on a detailed level the rules of quantum mechanics apply. Therefore the development of man is an outcome of probabilty, the time aspect must be solved, the processes are stable and irreversible and can not be fully explained by modern deterministic science.

Life is matter that chooses through development, cells come from bacteria, it is connected to all other developments in the eco-system. This development goes on and on, it has for millions of years, and will never stop.

This description is clearly jumping about and in and out, but the new life science must set itself the task of pulling together all these factors that involve the living organism – it is clearly interdisciplinary in a wide sense – include sociology, philosophy, psychology as well as the physical sciences.

The spiritual side is completely missing – where does thought arise, what is it. The same goes for emotion, instinct where knowledge is lacking fundamentally. Are we afraid to find out or is it too big for us?

If we can explain the mysteries of life illnesses like cancer, mental disorders, death, feeding, attentiveness can be better understood and handled.

Judging by what we seem to know today the present time is hugely lacking in understanding. We now frown upon the Middle Ages and the knowledge people had, but in 300 years time people will frown upon us: How little they knew!

So let us move on – into the future. The key to it all is interdisciplinary work – the scientific silos or barriers between branches of science that we have made is a huge hindrance to progress. We have lost the overview and must find it again. So get going, all you lasses and lads!

See: Schrødinger, Prigogine, Margoulis a.o.

Coffee shops: a bubble is brewing

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

We all have coffe shops. The Italians think they own the coffee shop game, but that is mostly a mindgame of their own. Maybe they started some of it – the thick heavy bit.

Coffee drinking started maybe in the Ethiopian region of Kaffa, there were coffee houses in the Middle East about 500 years ago, they became places of congregation where one could talk, play games, listen to music. In 1674 Venice had coffe shops, in 1715 London had thousands of coffeshops. Finland is the biggest coffee user pr. inhabitant, and daily use of coffe is part of our culture now.

About 100 million people are involved in the coffee business. The coffee trade is the second biggest in the world after oil, 4 big companies dominate the coffee industry, but small businesses have found ways to do their own thing too.

Even Asia with its own strong tea drinking tradition is catching on. So far they are importing other people`s habits. Will we have a China or India based coffee house soon?

The Australians drink their coffee early – often before going to work. The rest is a mixed bunch, but coffee drinking is a daytime activity, we don`t drink much coffee at night – waky wake.

The coffee shops are now multiplying, both the big chains and the little independent ones. There are shops of many quality grades, specialty roasters of many kinds, baristas of all levels of competence. They all have increasing quality ambitions: growing, buying, blending, roasting, brewing, and new add-ons. The employees of coffee shops have a hard time keeping up, matching requirements. And the customers have joined in the quality chase as well – they even want to top the makers – the coffee geeks are all over – often overconfident and impolite they often demand the impossible when buying coffee.

The coffee shop game have become a thing of its own – a ritual of knowledge, pretense, quality, social standing – it is becoming a bubble.

First of all there is the teminology: not only black with or without milk, latte etc. , but stumpy flat white, short black, with microfoam, skinny latte, as well as the company made ones. And a godshot made in heaven too. The milk too: fluffy, frothy, dense, airy, creamy. the grinding can be done in many ways too: Use a grinder with a ball mechanism, or it must be burr-ground.

The barista must decorate the coffee drink too: milk art, latte art, flourishes of many kinds, some add-ons.

The temperature of the water must be right – not to much, not too little – milk too. The processing time – the seconds – are important, the pressure, the color, the depth of immersion, the feel and look, the home of the cows that give you milk, complexity, depth of taste, length of taste, the aftertaste: An exaggerated ideal is being built – there is pretense in the air.

The list is long and it is often difficult to to find the people who has the knowledge and ability to do all this – there is a gap.

The chains – why must there always be chains – make this a sad business of unfulfilled corporate strategy, failed business models, misunderstood global ambition – why shall I sit in Shanghai and drink coffe with American names and the US way? It all ends up in confusion and disappontment – you will not be satisfied very often – if at all.

The prices are given, they don`t follow quality – they don’t vary much.

So what do you do, what are you looking for: reasonable coffee, internet, good sitting space, sofas, few/many people – the old social setting is maybe most important? Going 300 years back with internet added?

Buying coffee has become a bore – if you do not know the terms you are an outkast, there is talk about the waves of coffeehouses – the 3rd or 4th wave maybe.

This is not so – we are part of a tradition that is several hundred years old. Leave pretense out of it, let us have coffee like we always have – a quiet while over a fairly made coffee, a good talk. Good quality is fine too, but it need not be heavenly.

Let us burst the bubble.

The power of – or over – your mind

Sunday, July 17th, 2011

People in large numbers can be made to do things. Tell us and we do it. The world of business and politics is full successful ploys and spins to make you do what others want you to do. Your focus can be changed – you are easy to deal with. You are polite – you are accommodating and nice, you are well-mannered.

This is a fact – many or most people are told stories, shown objects, asked questions in a way that make them want to believe, to buy, to do, to behave in ways that are very consciously designed to influence you. Others tell you – you do it. It is felt to bebest

How come? We have free will, we are independent, we have analytical ability, we can pick and choose, decide for ourselves.

But alas, this is not so: campaigns are aimed at you, marketing is sent your way, grand schemes and small schemes all.

The choice is obviously ours in principle, but in practice very many of us do what “they” want us to do.

It has to do with our subconscious mind, our lack of willingness to find out for ourselves, laziness, the obvious benefit of the message you receive, …

The method of axiology – the teaching of how to establish a value – is about this: what is a thing or service to you, what does it in fact do, what is it made or put together from, what do you think of it. By evaluating these together we arrive at a value that is irresisistible to you – you must have it, you will follow, you accept a message. This it how it works most of the time in a modern society.

Other techniques are also used – they are aiming at us -firing at us – influencing what we think and do.

Or are we becoming more critical, are we our own decision centers, independent souls that can decide for ourselves? What is value – your own values, society’s values?

Take back the powers of your mind – they are yours. Think it through – then do what is  right.

Chinese worldly intentions

Sunday, July 17th, 2011

What are the Chinese world intentions? What do the Chinese want to be?

China has always been busy on its own territory, doing internal business. There have been many changes, but they have mostly kept themselves within their own borders.

This has changed now, and even bigger changes will come: the Chinese are moving off their own territory into the world. Some say they are spinning a web – a Chinese world strategy is being developed.

It has to do with building economic and military clout – the Chinese may be aiming to match or surpass the US, the West. The strategy is not clearly discernible – the Chinese are old hands at inscrutability.

Many elements are surfacing:

  • developing high class military equipment like the J20
  • establish a presence at the high seas
  • engage to control the world economic system by joining the decisionmakers
  • be a big lender – the biggest?
  • building currency reserves
  • keeping their currency low value
  • enter into many deals and agreements serving its own purposes
  • support regimes all over the world
  • building a presence of Chinese in most countries
  • collecting technology of many kinds
  • educating high class people
  • strengthening the political system  in China – make it more “efficient”
  • building high class productive capacity – enough to make everything for the world
  • growing its own food in other countries
  • establishing logistics systems
  • developing a resources strategy: metals, oil, food …
  • increase internal welfare: make people “rich”
  • contributing to large trade deficits in most countries
  • creating situations of economic dependence upon China
  • see to it that economic problems are solved by China
  • do everything slowly, piecemeal, long term

The Chinese strategy is being rolled out – they are working hard to establish themselves as the new masters. The US, the West is in disarray – the timing is fine.

We have had many world masters through the centuries – where do such thinking come from, how does it arise? A new master is entering – the thinking is approximately the same as earlier masters have entertained.

Do the rest of the world need a counter-strategy? Seen from a world standpoint these activities are so repetitive – this is just more of the same – but with a new master – there is always a new master.

A world of independence, freedom,cooperation, sharing, equality is not part of the scenario – more power games are ahead of us.

Don’t lose faith – the good ideas never go away, but a world of equals is some way off yet.

The best we can do now is to prepare for a new master, a new round of power games.

The news of your world

Friday, July 15th, 2011

For a long time we have had mass media that effectively control the flow of news – what they say is news is what we get. They make money from these presentations. They even make up their own news. Making things explode into mainstream media is a big thing – lots of money can be made from that. They have built a culture of attentiveness – they are making us believe we need their news.

Media tell us what we should know, and this process has opened up all sorts of processes: time limits for presentation of “news”, strategies of news, political spin, interest building, lobbying, even twists and turns that are not true. Invading privacy, breaking rules are part  of the media world.

Heavy stuff like detailed analysis, science developments, new understanding etc. is shunned – it has become so superficial.

We have also had WikiLeaks with presentations of “news” we should not have had – it is amazing that there are “news” that should not be available.

The economics of media are playing a big part – what sells  papers, advertising, paid netcontent – where is the money?

Large fields of human activity are scantly touched upon: science, controversial themes of society or politics, general open debate – these things do not add to media’s streams of income.

Analysis and opinion are smartly tailored to whatever masters the media have – do not trust any of it – try to see for yourself, be a sceptic, be knowledgeable.

Technology have changed it all – you can now easily present what you have to the world, you can engage others in what is happening, you can have independent opinion, fresh views, unbiased thinking – you can in principle seek the truth.

So we are entering a new age where control is slipping from the big moneymaking manipulating few – a new situation is arising. The media empires are falling.

But it is a vulnerable system – it hangs on the technology being open and available. Censorship has been seen – blockage has been a practice already.

But the basic question about news is what is there to be had – what is news to you – and now is the time to start thinking about the kind of news you need or want, what knowledge is of use to you, on a daily basis and long term.

Most of what is presented today is just noise or trivial – nobody needs to know.

So it is about the use you can make of knowledge – for business, for entertainment, for leisure, for experience, for innovation, for a good life, etc… Most of it you do not need now – a time lapse is all right.

It is all very subjective – we are all singular people – what affects us and what does not is a matter of personal priorities, background, situation. A new situation is dawning – the choice of news is yours.

And should you pay to know: no. Should you pay for analysis and comment: maybe. Public interest media must come forward with open clean exchanges full of logic and ethics and sense – we should even consider public funding of such media.

Activists, groups with special interests may come forward like never before, giving new life to many debates.

And participation in the knowledge business is increasing, news is not so interesting really – things happening at the other side of the world can often wait. Local information is more important – much of which can be found in databases. People are sharing what they know, they are commenting and adding to others, they are different and it is cheap or free too. This could be great!  And true – whatever that may be.

And maybe the world wil be a better place too when you can pull in your own news instead of so called news being pushed at you all the time.

The technology is new too – it is in its infancy  - great new things will come making access even easier: refined search,  aggregation, comments, links and leads, interconnectivity, databases – even your own private and personalised, better machines ever easier to use, better software ….

Media as we know them will have trouble –  we will not. A new industry is growing around us. Crowdbased media are going – individuals with strong subjectivity are entering.

You make tour own world from what you know – what you want to know you can find, the rest is of no interest.

When the government can not pay

Friday, July 15th, 2011

Italy, Greece and others are not paying their dues. They have borrowed lots of money and can not afford  the loan payments. Somebody has to give them money so they can continue. Or shall the lenders take the losses or should the borrowers be allowed to borrow more money so that the lenders can get off scot free? Tax increases, budget cuts must follow thereafter.

Minnesota State is closing down parts of their activity – their coffers are empty. Employees are sent away, payments are stopped.

The question of the US debt ceiling is not solved, there is a fierce political battle raging in Washington, Obama has now put a time limit – 36 hours – on finding a solution. The solution have to include budget cuts – even the holy cow of military expenses may be affected – tax increases – even for the rich. So excitement is building – who will fare the worst, suffer the most when the budget is cut. It is obvious what a country spending half of its income on the military should do – is it not?

The big question of a possible default by a state, even the once superior US is what it is about. A default is deemed a catastrophe that could involve the rest of us in a major crisis, pulling everybody into a slide – “they” say. This is faulty and soft thinking – all lenders should know their risk and face the consequences when things go wrong.

How can this situation come about – are we not sensible people after all? Where have all the money gone? Who will benefit from a sitation like this? The money has not just disappeared.

It is obvious that the economic system of the world is a proper scandal run by people who do not know how to run it, or without the power to do what must be done – tightening when tightening is needed.

New principles are needed. The present ways are not viable. Who is really in control of the economic system – the states or the big financial institutions?

The principle of default by states must be accepted, the practice of default by states must start, the lenders must know their risk, they must pay when they go wrong. A new dawn for lenders is coming.

Iceland did it  and others must do it too.

And the politicians – shame on them – they went wrong, or did not understand what they were doing. New and sensible politicians – our representatives – all around please. And we should all seek deeper involvement all along, continously question what is being done.

Lots of pain is in the air for many.

An understanding by us all of what we really can afford and what risk there is, is at the heart of the matter. Putting your trust in a state that is not run by economically sensible principles is a question that should be deeply considered, for individuals to become dependent upon a such a state is a high risk undertaking.

Hima: Sustainability as it was and will be again – local.

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

Hima – the West Asian, Arabic, Muslim way to sustainability is coming back as new focus is put on the old ways.

Local people in the rural and nomadic lands have for thousands of years had environmental planning and management practices that balanced the settlements growth and natural resources in accordance with nature, Islamic laws and local self-government. This was an important factor in the development of and the cultural and spiritual survival of local communities.

In the old days there was most times a common understanding of the need for this, all took part and participation was voluntary.

Changes due to increased use of technology have put this system in jeopardy as large scale systems have been introduced: large areas under cultivation, large herds, transport over long distances by trucks. The ownership is often transferred out of the areas.

But the old ways are possibly the best—reviving traditional knowledge in West Asia is now starting.

A himá (an inviolate zone) is an area set aside for the conservation of natural capital, fields, wildlife and forests.

A Muslim has an obligation to practice khalifa (”stewardship”) over nature, and each species of animals is said to be “its own nation”. Human beings are God’s representatives on earth, and if they are not charged with maintaining the world, they must not destroy it.

There are several types of hima: areas where grazing of domestic animals is prohibited or restricted, beekeeping reserves with restricted grazing, forest areas where cutting of trees is forbidden, resources or reserves managed for the welfare of a village, town or tribe.

As an example this ancient conservation practice from the Arabian desert and more than 1,500 years old is now being revived in Lebanon. The local population rather than a distant authority decides how to manage ecosystems and how to reap their benefits.

Himas are areas set aside seasonally to allow regeneration of renewable natural resources and secure their sustainable use by the people living next to them. Time and political changes have led to their near disappearance.

Now a region-wide effort is underway to revitalize himas and other conservation traditions. For hundreds of years hima promoted sharing of resources, social inclusion, sustainable use and management of scarce resources, rights and ethics. It is testimony to the wisdom that the people of Arabia showed in managing their harsh and resource-scarce environment.

IUCN’s Office for West Asia (ROWA) and its partners has prepared a roadmap to advance Hima through developing the knowledge, policies and implementation of this concept. The workshop produced a publication titled Al-Hima: A way of life.

Jordan is also taking part.

The old ways are sustainable – and they are coming back.

See link: IUCN Hima

Pharma: Improving the human situation – or making ever more money?

Sunday, July 10th, 2011

Businesses must grow – they must provide more money for shareholders – they must increase shareholder value. This is what it is all about – the ultimate purpose of human existence. Business thinking is straight and clear – do it. There is no alternative – it must be so.

Or should we start thinking about what we really do?

The case of medicines, drugs, treatment of sick people is fully illustrative of what is going on. Since about 1995 we have known that 90% of all medical research is targeted at the richest 10% of the world’s population. This is the 10-90 gap.

Research is also becoming global. It takes place where rules are softest and  wages are lowest. The aim of research has for a long time been to increase drug companies medicine pipeline – where profit is generated. So research is done in areas and with people that will not be using the results of the research – the finished medicines wil be used in the rich countries where the money are – the big money.

And the people developing the drugs – should they put in a bit of thinking about the system they have become part of?

The funding for this research comes from the big pharmaceutical companies – with strings attached. They do what they do for the highest possible profit, the public good is not their concern.

If you do not like what is going on, there is precious little you can do. Big pharma is a monster with tentacles everywhere – they rule the system.

So large groups of people do not get the medicines they could have. With the present system they never will.

Can this continue? Are we good people or just profitseekers? The science community think this is all right? Is it acceptable to earn a living this way?

No, we need new thinking and doing: We need independent research and drug making targeted at the needs of all people, regardless of worldly riches.

Here is an area where changes must come – the world is much bigger than big pharma profits. The human side of what we do must lead us all to a better, more balanced future. Big pharma power must be counteracted – an alternative way of developing and distributing medical care must be found. The market will not fix this. We must start working towards common/public systems where sharing, equality are the guiding principles, and new regimes of regulation found.

As usual we must all do our little bit – gradually it will all add up. Good sense will eventually prevail. A global solution perhaps?

Local is in, global is out – the future is bright

Monday, July 4th, 2011

The climate challenge is still with us, and little progress has been made. The reasons are obvious: The big boys are pushing the little guys – like you and me – to do things that we are not sure will work, and some of it we do not like at all. Even worse is the recent talk from the IPCC about geo-engineering – halfbaked thoughts that scare people.

The big nations like the US, China, Western Europe won’t do much – they mostly talk and walk away. The positive side is that many local activities are coming up, and understanding is growing in many places.

So another approach must come: Climate change must be made part of the bigger ecological change we are going to have – we must make the world a sustainable place in the sense we have in deep ecology. Then climate will be included too – it fits well into this scenario.

There must also be a shift from global thinking to local thinking – followed by local action. Local is the only way as everybody live locally, everything we do is locally done. Global geo-engineering is a rather badly developed idea, technically it is unsound, democratically it is unacceptable.

So the only way is generating local action where members of all local communities play their part. We all have ideas about sustainability, we know a little and we must learn more, we must learn to see the consequences of what we do. We must learn to be the judge of what we should do.

Activities that are useful for the community must be started, including local industry, farming, transport, daily life.

This could be part of a common pool resource project of sustainable, deeply ecological local communities: administration based on local involvement by all stakeholders or inhabitants, local understanding and ownership of rules, deep involvement by all because it matters, continous and lasting involvement by all, local supervision and corrective action where necessary – so everything must be local of course.

It is all done separated from usual politics – only a coordinative function is required. All we need is a basic rule about sustainability. It has to be above ordinary politics – this is bigger  and wider than that – it is about everybody’s life – involvement is compulsory – decision making is all including – using the principles found in the old way of council – it is about all of us so you must participate.

Global thinking will never solve a thing – everything and everybody is local. There is nothing you can do about that so start local work on sustainability and deep ecology where you are – the only thing you should do is your own local bit. Being global can be good in the sense that you should travel widely, learn a lot, get to know a lot of people, see the beauty and character of other places, help others that are in need, develop new ideas, share.

And in the end – if we all take part and make this work – we will all be better off. Global rules with doubtful relevance pushed at us from an uncertain authority will never work. Build local ecology first, when that is fixed, maybe everything is all right?

Understanding will come – the future is bright.