Monthly Archives: May 2010

Ecocide — our premeditated murder of Mother Earth

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We could save the world’s ecosystem if we really wanted to.

In “Meeting India’s tree planting guru” Amarnath Tewary talks to SM Raju about how he organized the villagers of India’s poorest state to reforest, including planting almost a billion trees in one day.

Under NREGA – initiated in February 2006 as the government’s most ambitious employment generation scheme for poor people – the authorities are bound by law to provide a minimum of 100 days of employment a year to members of families living below the poverty line.

About 44% of Bihar’s population fall into this category.

[…]

“I told the villagers that they would get 100 days employment in a year simply by planting trees and protecting them. The old, handicapped and widows would be given preference,” he explained.

Every village council has now been given a target of planting 50,000 saplings – a group of four families has to plant 200 seedlings and they must protect them for three years till the plants grow more sturdy.

“They would get the full payment if they can ensure the survival of 90% of the plants under their care. For a 75-80% survival rate, they will be paid only half the wage. If the survival rate is less than 75%, the families in the group will be replaced,” the guidelines say.

Under NREGA rules, each worker has to be paid 100 rupees ($2) per day for 100 days in a year.

We could choose life.

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Best-in-class pieces can add up to worst-in-class

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Imagine hiring an interior designer that just threw together the finest materials available without regard to how they fit together aesthetically or functionally. You’d end up with something expensive, yet grotesque and unlivable.

According to Aart de Geus

Gluing together some Frankenstein flows may include best-of-class, but be worst-of-class in aggregate.

The short story of your life

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Kurt Vonnegut’s 8 rules for writing a short story

  1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
  2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
  3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
  4. Every sentence must do one of two things—reveal character or advance the action.
  5. Start as close to the end as possible.
  6. Be a Sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them—in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
  7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
  8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To hell with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.

But it would take a long time

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In “Meet the Unemployable Man” David Wessel writes

One way to resist these market forces is to reduce the supply of workers who aren’t in demand and increase the supply of workers who are. That is, educate more and better: Fix K-12 schools, improve worker-training programs, strengthen community colleges, give more aid to college students. All this is wise, but most of it will take a long time.

I don’t even believe it would necessarily take a long time, if society really wanted it done. But even if it would, isn’t that all the more reason to start as soon as possible?

In America, the mere fact that something might take a long time is reason enough not to do it. If it would also take a lot of hard work, just forget about it — there’s important TV to watch.

Running, swimming, driving, praying — Abilio Diniz

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According to Keren Blankfeld in “Control Freak: Retailer Abilio Diniz is the most disciplined businessman in Brazil. One of the richest, too.”

Diniz says the key to staying on top is discipline and organization. He spills some of his secrets in a 2004 self-help/autobiography, Caminhos e Escolhas: O equilíbrio para uma vida mais feliz (“Paths and Choices: The Balance for a Happier Life”), reducing better living to six tenets–physical activity, nutrition, stress management, self-knowledge, love and faith. Diniz adheres to them all, almost pathologically and sometimes simultaneously. He exercises for three hours each day, praying while running on a treadmill, praying on his drive to work, praying while swimming laps in a pool. He’s on a diet of five “balanced” meals a day, plus vitamins and fiber supplements, avoiding fats and alcohol, and eating lots of fruit. He checks in with his psychotherapist once a week and attends a Catholic mass every Sunday.

Self-sustaining charity

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According to Stephane Fitch in “The Bicycle Economy: F.K. Day designed a better machine for the developing world — then set out to teach people how to make it for themselves”

“The maintenance network is self-sustaining at this point,” Day says, meaning that the mechanics can make enough money selling services and parts to buy additional components and clear a modest profit. Eventually, Day is convinced, the manufacturer he helped set up in Zambia will become profitable even without new orders from his charity, just as the one in Sri Lanka did. While Day’s charity no longer operates in Sri Lanka, its former manufacturing partner there now profitably sells the bike model Day designed–it even exports it to bike-mad markets in Northern Europe starved for cheap, high-quality single-speed bikes.

“You can have all the goodwill in the world,” Day observes, “but if what you’re doing isn’t driven by the invisible hand of Adam Smith, you’re doomed to fail.”

A great, positive meme (mind virus) is also a self-sustaining charity.