Category Archives: Present

NZ votes for stability or progress?

On Saturday  23 September, we vote.  After a disappointing result three years ago, I am hopeful for a government that can deliver on equity and protecting our beautiful country, and the planet.

You will hear it said, it does not matter what we do for climate change, or other aspects of planetary despoil. We are a tiny nation, not yet 5 million, less than 0.5% of global emissions, they say.  But, I think it does matter.   It’s called leadership.

Now we have the possibility of Jacinda for NZ, and perhaps the world.

One simple thing a new government could do would be to set up a financial transaction system that removes  cash (and hence corruption) and banking function.  A State infrastructure of distributed databases is at the heart of artificial intelligence; it also provides a distributed ledger that is used in blockchain, the technology behind BitCoin. Blockchain is now old technology, so this could be set up practically overnight with a few smart engineers.  The hardware – computers in every home, are already there and in most pockets.

You might not see how this would benefit the planet, but I hope it’s obvious how such a system would not only prevent corruption from being hidden, but also tax avoidance.  I do not believe in the need for income tax; it can be replaced with a much fairer and more efficient  financial transaction that is progressive, and can be used to prevent gaming on markets, when that is not adding to economic welfare.

It would be virtually costless to implement in this new State money system.   Yes, there are the costs of running large servers; but there is also the benefit of scale; and remember the ledger is distributed, not centralised.  The costs are in data processing, and while substantial are so highly scalable, and is tiny compared to the size of the economy.

As the only legal tender in the country, all transactions would need to be processed through the common ledgers that create security without the need for a third party.  In other words, banks no longer serve a useful function.  Banks also provide credit; but it would be simpler for the State to directly provide credit to citizens and enterprises, without the need to mediate through banks.  This allocation of credit to any member of the community who could persuade their local community, would remove a barrier to creating new businesses.  Perhaps loans are progressively larger, as individuals or companies show their ability to repay.

In designing the system for providing credit, we must listen to the calls for equity, fairness in how each individual can access community resources.  At present, those in most need, have least access to services and  resources.

Now, you may have notice that the financial sector, and especially banks have the most control of our society’s resources.  What I propose would remove the Emperor’s Clothes: bankers would no longer exist.  The bankers create/maintain a system that makes them indispensable, rather than actually being indispensable.  Technology is not the necessary solution to this problem, but it helps.  Computers and community decision making can replace banks.

So, where would all the money that goes to bankers go to instead?  And remember, we could make bankers redundant overnight, as the technology is already here.  It just requires a democratic decision.

This is where we can start to invest in a green infrastructure and advanced technologies, building on our global leadership in setting up a new global currency.  Look at the crazy value of bitcoin; now dropping but still worth a few thousand dollars, when once it was less than one!

We desperately need a new world, if humanity is to survive on this planet.  We don’t need a stability that is leading to global destruction and potential human extinction. We need progress to a sustainable future for our grand-children.

A world where mad-men do not control nuclear bombs; and even small arms no longer exist.  Hunting is traditional; so is gathering and the food we eat.  Not the highly processed and very tasty foods that science has developed for us, for profit – and damn the health consequences.  (Should I apologise for swearing in a world where most do not believe in damnation?)

Here’s dreaming and a reminder to my fellow NZers: let’s go for progress and live our manifest destiny in our journey to God-hood.  Vote Labour electorate and Green Party, to get the best mix of policies – including a financial transaction tax and a new NZ order that can lead the world.

And Grant Robertson, love you.  But you don’t need to win the electorate.  Please step aside for James Shaw; thanks!

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Our story: 17. Vision

Humanity is at an inflexion point. We have mentioned the main historical transitions, from hunter-gateherer through agriculture and the emergence of cities – civilisation that it engenders. Then capitalism and science, that magic combination for multiplying growth leading to industrialisation, the replacement of muscle power with machine power.  Now the replacement of mind.  Google knows all.

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Our story: 13. Nature’s One God

Nature, the planet on which we find ourselves is a strange and wonderful being.  She is bountiful and cruel. The gendered word for Mother Nature seems apposite: we all are born of mother.  And so the Universe itself is female, fecund, full of life.  Perhaps this female pole is a trigger for the rise of the Patriarchy with Agriculture.  The Amazonian may have been more typical in our hunter-gatherer past, the Stone Age.

(You remember, the Bible has two creation stories, in the first Ze created man and woman equally, the second Eve was created to serve Adam)

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Our story: 12. Food and mood.

vegeplateA plate full of anti-oxidants or food for your bugs.

From the mid-1980s  until this millennium, there was much hope in the potential to use anti-oxidants like Vitamins A, C and E to prevent cancer and extend life.  Some evidence showed associations  with health.  Since anti-oxidants reduce damage to cells from it was plausible that supplements might prevent cancer. But the trials not only failed to find protective effects, there was even some suggestions of increased risk.

It was disappointing, but why did they fail?  Antioxidants are clearly important for cellular health, but the molecular machinery that keeps us alive is complex; and single element solutions (‘magic bullets’) tend not to work.  Even the original magic bullets of modern medicine, antibiotics are facing critical resistance.  (Luckily, vaccines still seem to work well.)

I interpret the failure of the anti-oxidants as another example of the problem of processed foods, especially the highly processed and very tasty foods that subvert our biology, including fizzy and sugary drinks.  Or carbonated drinks in general probably.

The loss of nutrients from the processing is often remedied by adding back nutrients.  But there are also many phytochemicals that can be lost in processing; for example fibre that is a key source of energy for our microbe.

One theory is that most of our “Western Diseases” (like diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and many more that are largely caused by modern lifestyle, especially our diets) is caused by inflammation.  And that this inflammation is caused by bugs eating other bugs and/or our immune cells that live on and in the gut, respectively.  And one reason they do this, is failure to feed them their diet of green and red leaves.  Or whatever kid of vegetable fibre they feed off best.

So, the whole plant food that we eat provides chemicals both directly and indirectly (though the action of the microbiota) that contribute to our metabolism.  They are not essential for life, but add to health.  We know that eating more fresh fruit and vegetable is good for health – but also too expensive.  Sprouting lentils is very cheap, and tasty – once you have adjusted your tastebuds; if they are used to very tasty highly processed foods.  Recall, they have bee scientifically designed to make you addicted, or at least craving this deadly foods full of sugar, additives, and highly processed ingredients.

All highly speculative; but will you take a 2-week test to see what happens when you re-adjust your diet, cut out CRAP (carbonated, refined sugar, additives, processed food).  If you don’t feel 100% better – you collect the refund of your desire.  If you are already feeling 100% well, I would still expect a 10% improvement – but do you know what 100% feels like?

In addition to the limits of evidence, especially when clouded by commercial interest – or unexplored for lack of it,  there are many problems with the above statement, but I know if you believe it will increase the chance of a successful trial, if you are willing to give two weeks to it.  But you have to also be 100% committed, as it is not easy.  Much less easy that you may think it is; though some of you will think it much harder than it actually is.

Food is the unity of life.  Let me explain.

We were ‘designed’ to eat whole foods; and have mostly benefitted from traditional processed foods like bread and milk. Highly processed foods, including sugar, seem to be the cause of most modern ills.  These foods tend to be low in anti-oxidants, another reason for their attraction as supplements.   But that failed!

The evidence for a diet high in fresh fruit and vegetables continues to grow  Green leafy vegetables are particularly important not only for nutrients and anti-oxidants, but also because it is the food that some specific species of bugs in our microbiome.

A recent study found that a mostly whole plant based diet without processed foods but with extra olive oil, a modified mediterranean diet, was effective in treating depression.  If you already have diabetes, or at risk of diabetes, you can reverse your disease- but it takes radical change in what you eat.  It will be hard for two weeks; after that your palate adjusts.  Understanding and dealing with a food craving is not easy.  Nor is feeding it.

Our story: 10. President Ignoramus

Ignoramus_Et_Ignorabimus

Ignoramus,  a 1612 farce by George Ruggle (1575-1622), introduced this Latin word into English.  It  means “we do not know”.  In the play, Ignoramus is the name of a lawyer who fancies himself to be quite shrewd but is actually foolish and ignorant.  Remind you of anybody?

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10 ideas a day

I like James Altucher‘s quirky writing.  I know he’s not entirely reliable.  He wrote that if you google “I want to die”, the top result is his.  Perhaps that was true for him, but not for me.  It was on the first page.  I am still not entirely sure why he didn’t kill himself; perhaps too much of the Woody Allen in him?

But I drift off the point.  I am grateful for his idea of building our idea ‘muscle’, by writing down 10 ideas a day.   What kind of ideas?

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Is Trump the Trumpet?

last-trumpet

Here-now is the space-time to speak out.

It’s hard to get my mind around: space-time.  The hyphen shows a single concept, but our minds treat space and time as distinct and essentially unrelated elements.  Not so.  Let me explain, before I get back to President Trump.  And why we need to do speak out, here-now!

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