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


A cabinet makers notebook

In interviews with contemporary woodworkers James Krenov’s first book ‘A Cabinetmaker Notebook’ is often cited as the book that changed the course of that person’s life and led to them pursuing a career with wood.
The book is a meditation on Krenov’s approach to his work. It describes a sensitive and considered approach to the design and construction of several pieces with a friendly conversational tone.

“ I stand at my workbench. Shavings curl from the plane in my hands, swish-and-slide, as I rock to the motion of work….a feeling of contentment. Nothing is wrong. Here am I, here is my work..”

Many beautiful black and white photos illustrate the text and highlight Krenov’s attention to detail and vision for the overall effect a piece will have on those who view and use it.

It is not a book that contains detailed instructions for making specific items, rather it seeks to instil in the reader an appreciation of working with sensitivity for the materials and the emergent design. He went on to write several more books that contained more detail of his methods and how to construct his signature wooden planes.

All of his book are worth reading, as are those of some of his students including Peter Korn and David Finck.


Guitar zero

I am reading a new book by Gary Marcus a scientist who in his professional life studies languages and cognitive science. In this book he explores the research behind the popular belief that its much more difficult for adults to learn a musical instrument compared to the ease with which children can pick it up. Gary had always harboured a desire to learn the guitar and the book follows his own journey to learn the guitar in his 40’s as he seeks to debunk the assumed wisdom that says its really to late for him to become competent.

So far its an easy and engaging read although I would appreciate more weight given to his own experiences and a bit less focus on the research.


Remote posting

This is my first post from my iPad using Diet Coda to edit the Octopress post.

I have now converted the blog from Wordpress and built a workflow for posting from the iPad.

Not happy worth the load speed of the header so that will probably go, otherwise I really like the simple template that octopress provides.

One of the challenges looks to be efficient syncing of the locally generated site up to my web host, I am using a Transmit synch but it takes about 15 minutes even if only one page has changed.


Doing one thing at a time

The Magic of Doing One Thing at a Time:

Excellent reminder from HBR to focus on doing one thing well

Tell the truth: Do you answer email during conference calls (and sometimes even during calls with one other person)? Do you bring your laptop to meetings and then pretend you're taking notes while you surf the net? Do you eat lunch at your desk? Do you make calls while you're driving, and even send the occasional text, even though you know you shouldn't?

Well, sometimes… The post finishes with some suggestions for managers

  • Maintain meeting discipline
  • Stop demanding or expecting instant responsiveness at every moment of the day
  • Encourage renewal ….It's also up to individuals to set their own boundaries.
  • Do the most important thing first in the morning
  • Establish regular, scheduled times to think more long term, creatively, or strategically
  • Take real and regular vacations 



Finding significance in a world of distraction

Really good material here from Becoming Minimalist.

Finding Significance in a World of Distraction

For example, the distraction of a lucrative and powerful career has the opportunity to distract us from using our talents to benefit our immediate community. The distraction of maintaining a large and perfect home may pull us from caring for the people living in it. The urge to check up on our Facebook friends steals more of our time than the friends right in front of us. And the opportunity to spend money on newer and trendier possessions may divert us from using it to accomplish a greater good in this world. In each case, the distraction keeps us from accomplishing a greater significance with our lives.

After calling out the challenge, a number of tools are offered including being mindful of the "culture we are swimming in", the importance of finding stillness through pausing and reflecting, seeking inspiration from role models and living with fewer possessions. A timely reminder as I was getting a bit caught up in the importance of getting an iPad 3! (Via Becoming Minimalist)


Diversify your dreams

Great post from HBR that calls out the danger of simplifying your dreams down to a narrow outcome that can setup a black and white success or failure scenario. One tool they describe to help avoid this is the "folder of gratitude"

Diversify Your Dreams

So how do you start moving from one dream to many? A practical tip I've seen work well is to develop a "folder of gratitude," a constantly-updated list of all the things in life you're grateful for. Chances are, many of the things on your list correspond neatly with your underlying passions. Then, take your list and amplify these passions with intelligent experiments. Test and invest in your areas of interest, and cultivate the joy of learning from failure