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    Crisis of faith in the financial system

    Thought provoking post by Adam Richardson at Harvard Business Review on the levels of abstraction implicit in the financial system and the trust that is required from all participants for it to continue to operate.

    Crisis of Faith in the Financial System

    From Bernie Madoff to derivatives to the housing bubble to dubious AAA credit ratings, we continue to find new ways to encourage people to make financial leaps of faith. Have we reached a breaking point where the abstraction has gone too far, and is too complicated for 99% of people to understand what they're signing up for, that we must backtrack to more conventional methods? And has the level of trust in private and state financial institutions sunk so low that most people now feel there is no accountability or responsibility for the promises made, or that sound decisions will be made to guarantee "circulation forever"? (Via HBR.org)

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    Frightened by voluntary simplicity

    An article in the New York Times here tells of a couple who are shedding their possessions prior to starting a new life as organic farmers. What I found interesting was that they have had some hostile reactions on the blog they are keeping to document the journey. I suspect that many people find the idea of others who are stepping outside the norm and “letting it all go by” to be threatening.

    As a Subaru owner and former city escapee currently back in corporate life, the cover of this book appealed to me instantly. It was brought to my attention by this review at Cool Tools. It seems an increasing number of people are setting up alternative lives and documenting their efforts in blogs and books. No complaints from me as I enjoy this genre, as long as the accounts retain an authentic feeling. Some of my favourites include Urban Dreams, Rural Realities and the Nearings classic The Good Life. More on these another time.

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    The failure of international politics

    Stirring writing “After Rio, we know. Governments have given up on the planet” by George Monbiot in reaction to the collapse of the Rio Summit. He still finds reasons to continue to make efforts towards preserving the biosphere. Its clear however that we cannot look to governments and international agreements to do anything significant.

    Was it too much to have asked of the world’s governments, which performed such miracles in developing stealth bombers .. global markets and trillion-dollar bailouts, that they might spend a tenth of the energy and resources they devoted to these projects on defending our living planet? It seems, sadly, that it was.

    Monbiot pledges to focus on “rewilding” which I am also keen to work on.
    Another thinker in this area is Paul Kingsnorth who discusses in this article why he started the Dark Mountain project. Dark Mountain is in the last throws of raising money for its third anthology of writing, illustration and prose. I bought the first book and have ordered the third, its good reading and thought provoking. Check it out here

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    The innovators secret weapon

    Great post over at MyMicroISV from Jarie Bolander. Very timely for me as I in the process to creating a day off a week to allow time to grow a new venture.

    The Innovator’s Secret Weapon

    • Keep an idea journal: An idea journal is an invaluable tool to find trends and cluster ideas. Just reading through a journal can give you all sorts of inspiration.
      • Have a hobby: Hobbies are great to spark creativity and innovation. I once had a friend who created an entire remote control toy business because he was sick and tired of not having enough frequencies to use.
    • Be well read: Reading a wide variety of topics and styles creates opportunities for cross over innovation. Great ideas will come from looking at a problem from a different perspective.
    • Take long walks: Wander, stroll, skip or run. Anything to get you out of a building and thinking. Many of my best ideas come when I’m working out.
    • Volunteer: Volunteering is not only tremendously rewarding but a great place for inspiration. You would be amazed at how much you can help an organization and yourself by just giving a few hours a week.
    • Help others innovate: Get out there and help someone else create. This is just like the recruiting others above and it’s for the same reason – the more brains, the better the idea flow.

    Jarie Bolander (Via MyMicroISV)

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    US police under the spotlight

    A video of a US policeman calmly capsicum spraying unarmed sitting protestors has created an international storm. James Fallows has exhaustive coverage and Mark Bernstein summarises the story with key links and adds his own view in this excellent post Shame

    The walk of shame, as UC Davis Chancellor Katehi walks to her car before rows of silent students, was extraordinary. James Fallows wrote of the affectless sadism of the campus police, captured forever in film. If the euro collapse does usher in the second great depression, that video is going to become an icon and this behind-the-scenes account will someday be treasured the way we cherish stories of riding in the car with Martin.Bob Ostertag wrote a terrific piece on the shameful militarization of campus police. He doesn’t go far enough. Chancellor Katehi claimed that the quad was cleared because of “the encampment raised serious health and safety concerns.” Ostertag argues treats this as an error, a stupid failure of understanding and planning. But it’s not just a mistake.It was a lie. (Via Mark Bernstein)

    Perhaps all law enforcement officers should be trained in the fundamentals of non violent action to enable them to more appropriately respond to these situations. Thoreau's essay) is a good starting place (full text here), Ghandis' biography is another valuable source.

    Book - Ghandi Biography

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    Occupying wallstreet

    Tim Bray on Occupying Wall Street:

    • A large number of people in the finance business enriched themselves to the tune of billions in a manner that feels essentially like bald-faced theft. Nobody has been punished. Very few of these people even experienced much in the way of financial setbacks, because they were bailed out with other people’s money. As in, yours & mine.
    • The general degree of inequality, whether measured in money or power, seems unreasonable.
    • The political system seems structurally unable to take any action which runs counter to the interests of the finance-industry elite.
    I think those perceptions are broadly correct, and I think it’s reasonable to be angry about them, and to engage in political action: This is what politics is for. (Via ongoing by Tim Bray.)

    Right on - a succinct summary of why many people are emphasising with this movement.

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    Off the map

    I noticed this post recommending the movie "Off The Map" recently.

    We watched it last night and really enjoyed it. We have been talking about it on and off all day today which is the sign of a movie that has gotten under our skin. I particularly liked the understated direction that let the landscape and the story unfold without joining all the dots for the viewer. Fascinating also to see the homesteading life depicted. I was scanning each frame for those small details that give authenticity and was not disappointed. We already had the Taos region on our destination list as we love native american jewellery, so now we have another motive to visit.
    (Via Cage Free Family)

    Reviews
    Tina Ferguson
    Some notes from the director Campbell Scott

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