Tuesday 26 August, 02014
Tuesday 05 November, 02013
Tuesday 17 September, 02013
Tuesday 10 September, 02013
Pokie Free Challenge: ‘What would you give to see a bar get rid of its pokies? And what would it take for a bar to remove them? This is a simple pledge site dedicated to those questions.’
Bjarte Bogsnes, ‘Taking reality seriously – towards a more self-regulating management model at Statoil’. Sounds like subsidiarity:
In short, we try to make decisions at the right time and at the right level. Being a capital intensive and value-chain organized company, every single decision can’t be made at each platform or plant. But given this industrial setting, we try to make decisions as far out in the organization as possible. In many other businesses decision authorities can be delegated even further out.
My deep sense, though, is that the biggest barrier is this: The less hierarchy at a company, the more that certain people will be forced to give up their perks and privileges. One manifestation of this at Morning Star is that the highest-paid employee makes just six times what the lowest-paid earns (including seasonal hires)—a far cry from the 380-to-1 spread between CEO and average worker pay among the S&P 500. “At the end of the day,” says Green, who joined Morning Star in 2006, “we’re asking the princes to lay down their crowns.”
The paradoxes go on: Very little food is produced on Bowen, and much of what is sold here is imported from far away, poor-quality, expensive and unnutritious. Yet there is lots of land that could be used for organic permaculture, and many who would love to contribute time and learn about food self-sufficiency in community gardens, if only we could get them set up.
Monday 26 August, 02013
Pretty delighted with the advance copies of Nga Kai-Rui i Te Rongopai — Seven Early Maori Christians that have just turned up. Words by Rosemary Dewerse. Design (including that beautiful cover) by Lily Emo. Published for Te Hui Amorangi ki Te Manawa o Te Wheke (Maori Anglican diocese that goes from Taumarunui to the Bombay Hills).
Thursday 18 April, 02013
Monday 25 February, 02013
Freaky Hunter S Thompson quote from Fear and Loathing in Loss Vegas:
We are all wired into a survival trip now. No more of the speed that fueled that 60′s. That was the fatal flaw in Tim Leary’s trip. He crashed around America selling “consciousness expansion” without ever giving a thought to the grim meat-hook realities that were lying in wait for all the people who took him seriously… All those pathetically eager acid freaks who thought they could buy Peace and Understanding for three bucks a hit. But their loss and failure is ours too. What Leary took down with him was the central illusion of a whole life-style that he helped create… a generation of permanent cripples, failed seekers, who never understood the essential old-mystic fallacy of the Acid Culture: the desperate assumption that somebody… or at least some force – is tending the light at the end of the tunnel.
Friday 22 February, 02013
Various cultivated critics told me that I should find Jerusalem disappointing; and I fear it will disappoint them that I am not disappointed. Of the city as a city I shall try to say something elsewhere; but the things which these critics have especially in mind are at once more general and more internal. They concern something tawdry, squalid or superstitious about the shrines and those who use them. Now the mistake of critics is not that they criticise the world; it is that they never criticise themselves. They compare the alien with the ideal; but they do not at the same time compare themselves with the ideal; rather they identify themselves with the ideal. I have met a tourist who had seen the great Pyramid, and who told me that the Pyramid looked small. Believe me, the tourist looked much smaller. There is indeed another type of traveller, who is not at all small in the moral mental sense, who will confess such disappointments quite honestly, as a piece of realism about his own sensations. In that case he generally suffers from the defect of most realists; that of not being realistic enough. He does not really think out his own impressions thoroughly; or he would generally find they are not so disappointing after all. A humorous soldier told me that he came from Derbyshire, and that he did not think much of the Pyramid because it was not so tall as the Peak. I pointed out to him that he was really offering the tallest possible tribute to a work of man in comparing it to a mountain; even if he thought it was a rather small mountain. I suggested that it was a rather large tombstone. I appealed to those with whom I debated in that district, as to whether they would not be faintly surprised to find such a monument during their quiet rambles in a country churchyard. I asked whether each one of them, if he had such a tombstone in the family, would not feel it natural, if hardly necessary, to point it out; and that with a certain pride. The same principle of the higher realism applies to those who are disappointed with the sight of the Sphinx. The Sphinx really exceeds expectations because it escapes expectations. Monuments commonly look impressive when they are high and often when they are distant. The Sphinx is really unexpected, because it is found suddenly in a hollow, and unnaturally near. Its face is turned away; and the effect is as creepy as coming into a room apparently empty, and finding somebody as still as the furniture. Or it is as if one found a lion couchant in that hole in the sand; as indeed the buried part of the monster is in the form of a couchant lion. If it was a real lion it would hardly be less arresting merely because it was near; nor could the first emotion of the traveller be adequately described as disappointment. In such cases there is generally some profit in looking at the monument a second time, or even at our own sensations a second time. So I reasoned, striving with wild critics in the wilderness; but the only part of the debate which is relevant here can be expressed in the statement that I do think the Pyramid big, for the deep and simple reason that it is bigger than I am. I delicately suggested to those who were disappointed in the Sphinx that it was just possible that the Sphinx was disappointed in them. The Sphinx has seen Julius Caesar; it has very probably seen St. Francis, when he brought his flaming charity to Egypt; it has certainly looked, in the first high days of the revolutionary victories, on the face of the young Napoleon. Is it not barely possible, I hinted to my friends and fellow-tourists, that after these experiences, it might be a little depressed at the sight of you and me? But as I say, I only reintroduce my remarks in connection with a greater matter than these dead things of the desert; in connection with a tomb to which even the Pyramids are but titanic lumber, and a presence greater than the Sphinx, since it is not only a riddle but an answer.
Thursday 14 February, 02013
Monday 04 February, 02013
Thursday 24 January, 02013
Friday 11 January, 02013
In lots of US cities, violent crime peaked in the 1990s and has been falling ever since. Freakonomics says it was because lots of would-be crims got aborted instead. Others say it was because of broken-windows crime fighting policies like those of ex-NY mayor Rudy Giuliani. This Mother Jones article says it was actually due to mass lead poisoning, largely from leaded petrol. (via Marco)
Feels like a sign of the times: the Aussie Bureau of Meteorology had to add a couple of new colours to its forecasting map to represent previously unreached temperatures of over 50ºC.
Tuesday 08 January, 02013
Hirschman argued that the rise of capitalism could not have occurred simply as a result of changes in underlying material conditions, as both Marxists and contemporary neo-classical economists believe. The very idea that it was morally legitimate to rationally maximize one’s income, far from being a universal postulate of human behavior, was something that took hold only during the 17th and 18th centuries. Earlier aristocratic societies had moral systems grounded in honor rather than gain, that were contemptuous of money-making and the calculating bourgeois way of life. Virtue lay rather in risk and glory in battle. The theorists that Hirschman covered, like Montesquieu, James Steuart, John Millar, and Adam Smith made political rather than economic arguments in favor of capitalism. They maintained that a commercial society would soften manners and morals, and in contrast to warrior societies would lead to greater international peace. Hirschman pointed out that these arguments have triumphed so completely in the modern world that we do not even perceive their historical contingency.
Robot of the day
An eschatological vision — the world a few millennia from now http://bit.ly/WqR29k
Monday 31 December, 02012
More Bruce Sterling:
This poem, the “Mountain Wreath” [by 19th-century Montenegrin Serb Petar Njegoš], is mostly about tribal patriarchs flying into a righteous rage and cutting each other’s heads off. It’s very like the Iliad in that way; it’s full of noble perorations that are mostly along the line of, “Rascal, you’ve done something unbearable for years now, and I was constrained to get involved in this awful mess you’ve created; but this time it’s personal. So, prepare yourself: I’m taking your head, your pistols, your horses and all your women, and I may even burn your farm.” In the context of this artwork, it’s certainly the right thing to do. It’s the definitive thing to do; it’s how you know you’re alive.
Then you compare that artwork — written by an aristocrat, an authority figure in deadly moral earnest — to this kind of ontological-trickster writing, this kind of “What is Reality, Mr Njegos,” postmodern gendankenexperiment, of which me and my sci-fi colleagues are so enduringly fond… Well, keen as I am to write that stuff, it can seem like pretty thin soup.
There are mountain guys in Pakistan and Afghanistan who think just like Mr Njegos now. They’re not going away. They’re not even losing their wars, and they’ve got the highest birth-rates on Earth.
Friday 28 December, 02012
Bruce Sterling & Jon Lebkowsky’s annual, and always stimulating, State of the World discussion on the 27-year-old online community The Well has begun:
My personality changes with these differences in my locale. Belgrade is a spiritual home for me. Italy is where I feel most intelligent. Texas is where the heart is. Traipsing from one to another is like pitchforking a compost-heap. It aerates me, somehow.