Stumblings & mumblings on turning linear systems into circular ones.


Gap in Diet Quality Between Wealthiest and Poorest Americans Doubles, Study Finds

"Federal efforts to promote consumption of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, meanwhile, have largely been confined to education and public service announcements.

The study has implications for efforts to improve Americans’ diets, particularly among the poor, experts said. ‘It really speaks to the evidence that if you want to change the American diet, you have to change the policy,”’said Marlene Schwartz, director for the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at Yale University.

'Education will only get you so far,' she said, noting that education is often most successful for those who can afford to pay for it. Improving diet among the poor, she said, requires 'improving the food supply so people can eat what’s there and not be exposed to so many dangerous things.'”

Game. Set. Match.

California’s drought: What losing 63 trillion gallons of water looks like

"CORRECTION: The headline on an earlier version of this post said that California had lost 63 million gallons of water in its drought. That figure is 63 trillion."


Limits to Growth was right. (Revvit!) New research shows we're nearing collapse | Cathy Alexander and Graham Turner

"Our research does not indicate that collapse of the world economy, environment and population is a certainty. Nor do we claim the future will unfold exactly as the MIT researchers predicted back in 1972. Wars could break out; so could genuine global environmental leadership. Either could dramatically affect the trajectory."

Given those choices, the environmental leadership things sounds like a decent idea.

CSR Communication Goal Should be Impact, not Information by @ADHumlen

"CSR communication requires a sensitive balance of information and inspiration. The problem today is a lack of balance. There is a disproportionate amount of information, data, and details being used to grow interest. In addition, traditional CSR communication tends to focus on building awareness and broadcasting a corporation’s efforts, progress, or future plans. In other words, CSR communication is used primarily to serve corporate interests, versus promote social progress. This one way broadcast of corporate-centric information is not unlike the way so many business/brands today are still using media to talk only about themselves, versus what matters most to people."
-Anneliza Humlen

Anneliza nails it.  We need to prioritize impact over information.  Done right, telling stories about our firms can be highly beneficial, but if they’re just-so stories, then I fear we may go beyond benign into the territory of being actively destructive.  
Tell stories that help consumers (and employees) engage with ideas and activities that will nudge us toward circular economies.  Anything else is just marketing.

Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) would not have been surprised by this state of affairs. Heidegger died as the internet was being built. But his critique of technology, developed through the the 1940s and 50s, anticipates the internet and casts social operating systems in a critical light. From Heidegger’s perspective, the hacker way, applied to social reality, reflects an alienated view of the world. Heidegger calls it: ‘technological enframing’. From the standpoint of technological enframing, reality appears as a field of abstract resources amenable to manipulation. If software is eating the world, it is because the world has been enframed in a technological light, reimagined as a set of wires, valves, and diodes to be hacked.
-Tim Rayner

Heidegger in Silicon Valley: technology and the hacker way – Philosophy for change - Tim Rayner

Machine Labor Day - Scott Santens

What I wouldn’t give to be able to share ideas with the command and clarity that Tim possesses. This is a great read which gets at the heart of my frequent calls for full luddism, which of course is not asking us to go and smash all the machines, but to instead take a step back and consider whether their creation and use is wise from a broad-based perspective. Just because we can do something doesn’t mean that it should be done. And with the accelerating capabilities of tech, I think we ought to be spending a lot more time considering the should, but it seems that if anything we’re spending less time on this. Instead we assume the Invisible Hand will guide us in ever more productive directions. Even if this were true (and I find this idea dubious), the hand cannot be considered to be anything better than amoral. If an innovation creates a new path to perform a service that obsolesces thousands of jobs, the innovator and the market are not held responsible for those externalities. Instead the innovator is celebrated and the market is expected to eventually pick up the slack in a manner akin to the Underpants Gnomes business plan. 

Fortunately, there’s another route.  If the machines are going to take more jobs than the Invisible Hand can provide, there are options to ameliorate this issue.  One such option (which I see as the best route), is a Basic Income Guarantee.  Scott Santens is far more knowledgeable on this topic than I am, so I’ll point you in the direction of his latest post for a bit more to chew on.  

I hope Labor Day is affording you a bit of rest, as well an opportunity to ponder the state of labor, and what it might be in the future.

Please do read both Scott and Tim’s posts.  They’re well worth the time. 

In my experience, when something like this takes place, people in a family are often willing to take on responsibility and guilt rather than admit something even scarier: that accidents happen; that even the most ordinary among us live in a world of risk and randomness that we don’t control. Sometimes, blaming ourselves feels safer than this realization that the world is an unpredictable and even dangerous place. But self-blaming and shame isolate and shrivel the human spirit.

Reflections on a Shooting Range Death, From One Who Knows -

Yes, we “live in a world of risk and randomness that we don’t control. It is because of this that we should take extreme care in making choices which broaden and enhance those risks. Failing to consider them is a kind of willful ignorance which at best could be considered a moral failing, at worst a form of wanton malice.

I’m not advocating that we wall ourselves off in cocoons. Everything is a risk in life. Getting out of bed. Running to the grocery store. Crossing a busy street on foot or on a bike. Every situation and every circumstance can, at the margins, lead to disaster. This is part and parcel of the human experience. To live is to be at risk. To dare greatly is typically something that’s to be admired, but should it be when the daring is done for naught? When we consider placing ourselves, and more importantly our children, in harm’s way via any new endeavor, we have a responsibility to consider why we’re doing it, what we might gain, and what we’re putting at risk. A child that’s placed into a soccer league might suffer a freak injury which could lead to lasting complications. One that plays football might suffer concussions which could lead to Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (a degenerative brain disease typically caused by repetitive concussions).
American’s perspectives tend to diverge on most topics, but certain unifying factors seem to grab hold of large numbers of us. BBQ, professional sports, freedom, and guns are all things which, when indifference or disdain are shown, can earn one the evil eye. Who gives a damn? I’d rather deal with an eternity of scorn for not fitting in, than spend a moment suffering the unimaginable pain of losing a loved one, over the desire to fit in.

It’s easy to get swept up in a movement which purports to be a good and just cause. As parents, we must remain vigilant. We need to be wary of circumstances which could lead us to make decisions which would otherwise not. I beseech you to frequently take a step back and examine the choices you make for your family.

We warn our children against playing with fire, yet many of us encourage their handling of firearms. Why then should we be surprised if they get burned?

Evictions Soar in Hot Market; Renters Suffer

"For tens of thousands of renters, life has become increasingly unstable in recent years, even as the economy has slowly improved. Middle-class wages have stagnated and rents have risen sharply in many places, fueled by growing interest in urban living and a shortage of rental housing."

Because the economy hasn’t improved for them!

If Half of All Species Go Extinct, Will One of Them Be Us? - Nautilus

"But it’s difficult to figure out exactly what the mass extinction will mean for us; we simply do not understand these systems well enough to accurately forecast their futures. Without that understanding, we’re basically swinging a sledgehammer, blindfolded, in a basement, hoping that we don’t accidentally hit a loadbearing wall and bring the whole thing down on top of our heads."


Universal Basic Income: An Idea Whose Time Has Come

"So far, so good-until we discover that the Ryan proposal would exclude experiments with the hottest policy idea around. A universal basic income, or UBI, is radical in the best sense of the word. It cuts through the perverse incentives that currently discourage the poor from taking jobs and encourage them to game the system. Under a UBI, everyone, rich or poor, working or not, would get a monthly payment or an equivalent credit against taxes they would otherwise owe. If you were poor and took a job, you’d get to keep every extra dollar you earned and keep your UBI stipend, too. It’s the ultimate work incentive."
-Ed Dolan

Orderly Processions are Over


Hierarchy likes order. Networks manage complexity.
Hierarchy walks in an orderly procession. Networks hustle.
Hierarchy wants projects to go from a through to z. Networks experiment across the alphabet.
Hierarchy wants a clean status. Networks solve for problems & mess.

Complexity and mess are reality.  Get used to it.