Why 12:12 on 12.12.12 is significant in its insignificance

Posted by lauren on Dec 12, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

Today is 12.12.12.  I, like many others, am entertained by the repetition of numbers.  Yet, as I went to write the typical facebook post about things that dont matter, my mouse cursor skidded to a halt.

Why does it matter that its 12.12.12?* I asked myself. It doesnt really, but 12:12 on 12.12.12 would be even more special.

I asked my self why?* again.

The numbers mean nothing in the scheme of things, except for those who think the world is about to end along with the end of the Mayan calendar, and the parts of our brains that have evolved to look for pattern even in things that do not have pattern.

It is one of the rare times when people stop to note the significance of an otherwise insignificant moment, which is what makes 12:12 on 12.12.12 significant in itself.  I often find myself so caught up in work and goals and errands, if only I could regard each moment with the uniqueness and appreciation as we do for 12:12 on 12.12.12, or 11:11 on 11.11.11, and so on.  Wed all be a lot jollier like the Dalai Lama, and hes pretty jolly.

So today, at 12:12 on 12.12.12 Ill pause briefly during my phone meeting to make note of not only the time, but more importantly the only time life will look like what it does at that very minute.  Call it consciousness for beginners.

 

*If youre in the slightest thrown off by grammatical uncertainty of what to do when youre posing a question in quotations but would otherwise need a comma as well to attribute the sentence, this answers it nicely.

The answer to why super women are different than others

Posted by lauren on Dec 3, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

Just watching the trailer and a few of the interviews for the Makers series, you quickly learn an important lesson: theyre not.

Its easy to look at groundbreaking, fearless, super women like Hillary Clinton, Maya Angelou, and Madeleine Albright as if they are different than you.  To believe that what theyve been capable of doing is reserved for a select few, the chosen ones and to exclude yourself from their playing fields.

This inspiring peek into these womens stories shows you more of the real person than what you see in the headlines. Sure, they sure as hell are amazing women, but theyre also so much more like other women than you would ever have imagined. Which means, though not all of us can or want to be Secretary of State, our potentials are much higher than we let ourselves.

This might be my next TED level obsession (. if I can get past all the Simple ad plugs in between segments. Seriously, AOL?)

 

 

Human dysfunction in animal form, brilliant!

Posted by lauren on Nov 29, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

Ive just rediscovered a little known but gem of a blog: Forest Dysfunction.   Think idiosyncrasies of the human condition in animal form. I love it.

There havent been many recent posts, but theyre pretty timeless, and fun to go back to. Here are a few gems to whet your palette.

 

 

 

 

Double dose of Alan Watts

Posted by lauren on Nov 25, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

South Park + Alan Watts = the earth, universe, evolution and prickley goos  (or so a friend called it)

 

What if money was no object?

 

Couldnt help but share these videos that have been floating around my virtual circle.

The cultural malaise of too much irony

Posted by lauren on Nov 18, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

The super insightful editorial by Christy Wample in the New York Times calls out our tendencies to so easily detach from what is real. She focuses largely on popular culture, but I think her comments are relevant in a much broader context.  Some particularly relevant snippets are below:

FROM this vantage, the ironic clique appears simply too comfortable, too brainlessly compliant. Ironic living is a first-world problem. For the relatively well educated and financially secure, irony functions as a kind of credit card you never have to pay back. In other words, the hipster, which Wample describes as the archetype of ironic living can frivolously invest in sham social capital without ever paying back one sincere dime. He doesn’t own anything he possesses.

Throughout history, irony has served useful purposes, like providing a rhetorical outlet for unspoken societal tensions. But our contemporary ironic mode is somehow deeper; it has leaked from the realm of rhetoric into life itself. This ironic ethos can lead to a vacuity and vapidity of the individual and collective psyche. Historically, vacuums eventually have been filled by something — more often than not, a hazardous something.

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What would it take to overcome the cultural pull of irony? Moving away from the ironic involves saying what you mean, meaning what you say and considering seriousness and forthrightness as expressive possibilities, despite the inherent risks. It means undertaking the cultivation of sincerity, humility and self-effacement, and demoting the frivolous and the kitschy on our collective scale of values. It might also consist of an honest self-inventory.

The ironic life is certainly a provisional answer to the problems of too much comfort, too much history and too many choices, but it is my firm conviction that this mode of living is not viable and conceals within it many social and political risks. For such a large segment of the population to forfeit its civic voice through the pattern of negation I’ve described is to siphon energy from the cultural reserves of the community at large. People may choose to continue hiding behind the ironic mantle, but this choice equals a surrender to commercial and political entities more than happy to act as parents for a self-infantilizing citizenry. So rather than scoffing at the hipster — a favorite hobby, especially of hipsters — determine whether the ashes of irony have settled on you as well. It takes little effort to dust them away.

Tradeoffs what our tax dollars say about us

Posted by lauren on Nov 13, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

Curious about how many college scholarships, households with renewable energy or elementary school teachers we could be paying for with the money we spend on tanks and fighter jets? The National Priorities Project’s “Trade Offs” website (http://nationalpriorities.org/tools/tradeoffs/) allows you to make direct comparisons between military spending and other things on which we could be spending our federal money. While this site doesn’t include all the possible things we could choose to invest in as a society, it does give us a sense of the things we trade off to keep such a bloated military budget. It turns out we really do have a choice between War and Austerity or Peace and Prosperity. Where do you want your tax dollars going? via 

Go to http://nationalpriorities.org/interactive-data/trade-offs/ to see how your tax dollars could be better spent.

The Rolling Jubilee: people bailing out people

Posted by lauren on Nov 12, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

This is amazeballs.

Rolling Jubilee is a Strike Debt project that buys debt for pennies on the dollar, but instead of collecting it, abolishes it.

There are not many places where you can better spend your money.  Imagine if even a portion of  that $2Billion from the campaign had gone to this, this would no doubt be a stimulus package. With the financial and social costs that are without doubt associated with debt (see this report on foreclosures), could it actually be more economical to do this?

Vandana Shiva on hard matter and genes in isolation: old patriarchal stuff

Posted by lauren on Nov 11, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

When asked about her schooling, in relation to her work about environmental justice, corporatocracy, and the devastating social and environmental effects of GMO seeds in India, she explained:

I studied nuclear physics. But I also studied quantum theory. My thesis was on non-separability and non-locality in quantum theory.

Which basically means everything is connected. Because the industrial revolution and the scientific revolution gave us a very mechanistic idea of the universe. First, we were told Nature is dead. Theres no living Earth. How can you even imagine the Earth lives? How can other species theyre just inferior creatures of God. And youve got to have mans empire over God, over the Earth.

The idea that everything is this hard matter, unrelated to each other is still guiding a lot of science. And genetic engineering is based on that hard matter, genes in isolation, you know? Genes determine everything. Theres a master molecule that gives orders. Old patriarchal stuff. The real science is the science of interconnection.

http://vimeo.com/45691238

This woman is my idol.

A photo essay on friendship

Posted by lauren on Nov 9, 2012 in Blog | 1 comment

True friendship is inimitable.  When you come across it, its almost palpable.  Even when between a cat and a human.

This photo essay on Misao and Fukumaru I came across on Tumblr is exactly that.  And the photos are pretty amazing, too.

12 years ago, Japanese photographer, Miyoko Ihara started to take photographs of her grandmother, Misao. Born in 1981 in Chiba (Japan), Miyoko Ihara has studied under Kenji Higuchi, after graduating from the Press Photography Course at the Nippon Photography Institute in 2002. Miyoko is also a member of The Photographic Society of Japan.”

“Under the sun, everyday is a good day. Another good day, Fukumaru”, Misao. Eight years ago, Misao found a odd-eyed kitten in the shed. She named the cat “Fukumaru” in hope that “God of fuku” (good fortune) comes and everything will be smoothed like a “maru” (circle)”.

“We’ll never be apart!”, says Misao to Fukumaru. Both of them live in a tiny world, with dignity, with mutual love. Still today, under the blue sky, Misao and Fukumaro work in the fields and in these natural surroundings, where they shine like the stars.”

Sources: whitemanekicat.p1 ; bindsite.jp; asianoffbeat.com; fotomen.cn; http://kittehkats.tumblr.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reflections on the social nature of natural disasters

Posted by lauren on Nov 5, 2012 in Blog | 1 comment

In natural disasters, there is no disaster without people.  Extreme weather itself is not a disaster, but how it impacts people can be.

In the days following Sandy, the New York Times has done an excellent job of covering the social dimensions of extreme weather. These pieces highlight as I showed in my thesis in the context of rural Nicaragua- that natural disasters arent only an environmental phenomenon, but also very social, economic and political at their core.  Furthermore, especially in the case of extreme weather events and climate change, our societies are shaped by our natural environments as much as we shape them.

How New Yorkers Adjusted to Sudden Smart Phone Withdrawl reminded me a lot of what I learned around the social structures of information sharing in disadvantaged communities (in this case, the Tenderloin) when researching the Creative Currency Community Brief. The article shows that when were forced to go back to primitive ways of communicating and sharing information, we might actually build some social capital that wasnt there before, and we start to question whether our advanced way is really any better.

Its difficult to tell whether the journalist of In Public Housing After Sandy, Fear, Misery, and Heroism was writing about a community in the US, let alone New York City, or some developing town in a third world country.  Its easy to distance ourselves from people  situations when theyre borders and countries away, but these people live in the same city as I do, only I didnt even lose power and had easy access to supplies to stock up on.  This is the most striking example that natural disasters, even in New York, are socio-economic.

When researching my thesis in San Francisco Libre, Nicaragua,  it was clear that the devastation caused by Hurricane Mitch in 1998 was not something that occurred with the landfall of the storm, but was something that was made possible by the economic and political practices and decision carried out leading up to the storm.   Taking that into consideration, where does New Yorks priority lie when Deciding Where Future Disasters Will Strike?

The comparison of Sandy Versus Katrina by Paul Krugman is less a comparison of storms and more a comparison of political leadership response to the storms.  Unfortunately, this will not be the last of the storms in NY or elsewhere so who would you rather be there to guide you through the crisis?

Interesting how often we go to such great lengths to differentiate ourselves from disadvantaged communities in our country and developing nations.  Yet, when disaster strikes, it shines a mirror on those ways how we are strikingly similar.  The real question here is, next time, what we do want the storm to show us about ourselves?

 

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