surf coming in from the Antarctic, Esperance, W.A. last month; photo by the author
The Animal in the Dark Tower: Ran Prieur from 2004 (thanks to Dale for the link) on why we can’t “go back” to being what we were before the invention of agriculture and civilization. Excerpt:
[John] Livingston [in Rogue Primate] writes:
Nowhere may the human presence be seen as fully integrated and “natural,” because wherever we may be, or however long we may have been there, we are still domesticates. Domesticates have no ecologic place, and they show it consistently and universally. When non-European indigenous peoples received and began to use firearms, for example, they revealed their exotic placelessness without missing a beat.
A common anti-civ argument goes that “we” lived sustainably for more than a million years before the few thousand years of civilization, that stone age technology and only stone age technology has ever been sustainable, and that therefore we should live pretty much like we lived for that million-plus years. But that wasn’t us! Those were our less biologically-domesticated hominid relatives. Arguably, Homo sapiens sapiens has never lived sustainably, by which I mean that we have had societies that gave as much as they took, but that these societies themselves were precarious, that they could and sooner or later did fall out of balance — or get knocked out of balance by conquest or technological infection from some imbalance over the horizon.
I suggest that we draw the line in our heads not between industrial civilization and hunter-gatherers-plus-nature, but between Homo sapiens sapiens and all other life — and of course not in the sense that we are more “highly” evolved, but that we have evolved to some strange place off to the side, isolated and dangerous, the animal in the dark tower.
We Have Already Twice as Many Known Petrocarbon Reserves as Our Atmosphere Can Bear: To keep CO2 under 350ppm, we need to leave half of the oil, gas and coal reserves we’ve already discovered permanently in the ground, and stop, forever, searching for more. When are we going to realize this?
US Real Unemployment Rate Nears 16%: That’s a total of 23 million Americans. Of course the “official” unemployment rate, like the “official” inflation rate, is a much smaller, phony number.
Richard St John’s Eight Secrets of Success: Richard interviewed 500 TED attendees and their ‘secrets of success’ were:
Good advice. I guess it would be immodest to point out that my book Finding the Sweet Spot says all this. Thanks to Natalie for the link.
Take Care of Your Body!: My friend Colleen describes her recent Crohn’s flare-up, her first in three years (I have the sister disease, Ulcerative Colitis, and it’s been two years since my last flare-up). It’s a very personal, very funny, very moving article and it’s a great reminder that, if/when we lose our health, everything else we love and intend is jeopardized. Great bonus quote from Merlin Mann: “You eventually learn that true priorities are like arms; if you think you have more than a couple, you’re either lying or crazy.”
Should We All Be Part-Time Farmer-Gardeners?: A Japanese study suggests the key to healthy living is to have two part-time careers, one working on the local land, and the other in our personal sweet spot. Thanks to David P for the link.
Artists’ and Writers’ Fear of Failure: Elizabeth Gilbert of Eat Pray Love fame talks about how artists can move past the fear of failure (and the vanities of success) by realizing we are just the vehicle through which genius expresses itself. Thanks to Mariella for the link.
Intentional Communities Find Niche With Seniors: Co-housing, a form of Intentional Community, is perfectly suited to seniors’ social and support needs. In Denmark there are 250 co-housing communities dedicated exclusively to seniors. Thanks to Tree for the link and the one that follows.
Will The Government Drug Us All With Lithium Next?: Research indicates that lithium put in the water supply could pacify us enough to significantly reduce suicide rates. Psychiatrists are all for the idea.
Just for Fun:
Video of a surfer from inside the wave. Thanks to Viv for the link. And if regular surfing isn’t enough for you, in the Amazon you can surf a single long wave of the tidal bore, for 37 minutes.
The world’s 10 most dangerous roads.
Thoughts for the Week:
Harrison Owen, coaching a newbie on Open Space Technology (thanks to Viv for the link):
I have a big secret. We are all amateurs, and all gifted with a 13.7 billion year old process that basically runs itself almost no matter what we do. Of course there are a few tricks of the trade, particularly when it comes to the ongoing use of OST and integrating it into the everyday life of organizations. I don’t think this is rocket science, but it will take some attention. Here is another big secret: All organizations are already in Open Space but they just don’t know it. Or in some cases, they do know it but it scares them to death. The point is, you are not bringing anything new – just helping them to remember what they already are, and be it better.
All of that said — things do get better with practice, and in the case of Open Space that usually means discovering more and more things not to do.
From Sam’s always raw and astonishing blog diary, as she adjusts to yet another move:
May 7th: DogJill’s visible cancer has worsened quite rapidly and has spread to the other side of her throat and finally we will say our good-byes tomorrow afternoon. I had expected six good months with Jill and we have had seven or eight really great ones together. I wanted to make sure there was no choice here, that it was not merely a money issue, because that is something we could work around if it possibly would do any good. But she makes it clear that it afflicts not only her throat but, as the vet suspects, her abdominal organs. I have to lift her onto the bed now and lift her down again because she finds it painful to stand on her hind legs or jump.
Things are shifting and changing. I had worried we would not commune with the moon here as I’d hoped because of the blasted street lamp north of us, but last night when we sat on the south stoop and watched the cats dancing in the driveway the rain clouds parted in the southern sky to reveal the moon’s gorgeous smiling face and it was so bright and the sky was wide and all brilliances and depths of silver and black and I was much relieved. Late tomorrow night (12:01am) May’s full Flower moon will blossom and bless us with its hope and fresh energy…
May 9th: pressed my face against Jill’s muzzle yesterday and smelled her smell and whispered I love you you’ll be fine now don’t worry and she breathed in the scent of my ear in long slow hunting-dog sniffs, I held her head in both my hands and kissed her and the pink fluid left the syringe and passed into her narrow vein and she went heavy and slack and I wept to free her. Later on I thought I sensed her happiness. When I came home after, I walked in the front door as someone on my brother’s TV show said You did the right thing, Captain. It was reassuring. Brian asked, in the evening, and so I told him the story. When he goes to bed now for a week or two he’ll say as he did last night “My friend Jill she died.” No more Angel of Death now for me please. Please just let me plant the rhubarb roots and crowns of asparagus before it’s too late, while I still can scratch a trench in the soil.