Saturday, October 29, 2011

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Energy Conservation

I just stumbled across this link on energy conservation. It is a very long list on energy conservation ideas, simple actions and DIY projects for your home. It has a lot of information on a single page. There is something here for everyone.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Going in Circles

When do you think the following text was written?

Rule a nation with justice.
Wage war with surprise moves.
The more laws and restrictions there are,
The poorer people become.
The sharper men's weapons,
The more trouble in the land.
The more ingenious and clever men are,
The more strange things happen.
The more rules and regulations,
The more thieves and robbers.

Why are the people starving?
Because the rulers eat up the money in taxes.
Therefore the people are starving.
Why are the people rebellious?
Because the rulers interfere too much.
Therefore they are rebellious.

It was written some 2400 years ago by Lao Tse in his book Tao Te Ching. The two segments of text were taken from chapter 57 and 75. As we see history constantly repeats itself.

Saturday, October 22, 2011


Earthships are a form of sustainable housing construction pioneered by Michael Reynolds, primarily using earth-filled used tires, old glass and water bottles as construction material. This 90-min documentary entitled Garbage Warrior outlines his personal story and shows some marvellous examples of earthships in New Mexico. It is amazing to see his vision in the houses he built more than 30 years ago.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Occupy Wall Street

We are celebrating the 1st month anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. I am impressed. I think it is great that they don't have a list of demands, no list of claims or a single slogan yet. It needs talking, discussing and listening to derive a movement direction in a true participative democratic way. It is great to see them open, inclusive rather than exclusive, restrained rather than impulsive, local yet distributed. In Taoist style their non-action is the best action, the most convincing and moving action.

In "This Rebellion will not Stop" they write: "We have not come to work within the system. We are not pleading with the Congress for electoral reform. We know electoral politics is a farce. We have found another way to be heard and exercise power. We have no faith in the political system or the two major political parties. And we know the corporate press will not amplify our voices which is why we have a press of our own. We know the economy serves the oligarchs. We know that to survive this protest we will have to build non-hierarchical communal systems that care for everyone." So true, Occupy Wall Street must seek sustainable and auto-sufficient paths in order to survive. I certainly feel they understand the problem and the depth thereof. The problems are so profound that there is no single slogan that can express it, no single action that can fix it, no single body that can address it.

Plenty of reasons to get informed about, follow and support the Occupy Wall Street movement around the globe. Here are some starting points:

Follow the Occupation:
But the Occupation must be careful. Some of its methods have been criticized, especially the people's microphone. The biggest thread is being high-jacked. It has happened since the start and the high-jacking attempts will only intensify as the visibility of the Occupation increases. Politicians, CIA, CEOs, etc. all are waiting in line to influence and use the Occupation for its own purposes. Read OWS: Are Mindless Americans Falling Prey to the Collectivist Trap? to get an alternative viewpoint. "To avoid the collectivist trap, participants in OWS events must first learn to read between the lines, or they may unwittingly become party to something completely different to what they thought they had signed up for in the first place." Be watchful, be critical!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Gold has Changed

The article "Gold bugs beware - The Gold bubble is finally bursting" in the Financial Times argues that the gold bubble is about to burst. I would agree that gold is in a bubble phase, but I see it as a lesser evil than other forms of investment and wealth protection. What the article does bring to ones attention is that gold today is not what gold was a decade ago. Gold has changed a lot due to the creation of popular ETFs such as GLD. Now gold has become an electronic digit on the computer, it can be bought, sold, repackaged, options taken with the click of the mouse or the stroke of a key. It has turned gold into a speculation. Even those of us who dislike the idea of speculation have to live with this new fact. The burdensome and limiting process of a physical object has become a 0 or 1 sent through the Internet at the speed of electrons. Now its here, now its not. It is bought and sold like any other share thousands of times a day when its value moves a cent up or a cent down. With this in mind we can forget anything we know about gold and forget all the lessons learned from gold in the past. Gold isn't gold anymore. Gold is riskier than ever before and it might bring to light many unexpected surprises. Still what is one going to chose for one's personal pension or long-term nest-egg: dollars, Euros, government bonds, oil, real estate, silver or gold? One option looks worse than the other. The least frightening option might still be precious metals.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Economics of Happiness

Helena Norberg-Hodge produced another documentary. This full-length documentary is entitled "The Economics of Happiness". Another maybe even more appropriate title for this film might have been "How to achieve sustainability through localization". The film talks a lot about globalization, what it has brought us and where it failed. It recommends localization to achieve sustainability and more personal happiness. In the USA happiness peaked in 1956, every years since then the percentage of Americans that considers themselves as happy declined. We are clearly not on the right track. Helena Norberg-Hodge also brings some of her experience from Ladakh and from her previous documentary Ancient Futures into this film. Anyone who wants to be happy should watch the film.