Learning From Lance

Thomas L. Friedman discusses America’s reluctance to sacrifice now for a brighter future in Learning From Lance:

I recently spent time in Ireland, which has quietly become the second-richest country in the E.U., first by going through some severe belt-tightening that meant everyone had to sacrifice, then by following that with a plan to upgrade the education of its entire work force, and a strategy to recruit and induce as many global high-tech companies and researchers as possible to locate in Ireland. The Irish have a plan. They are focused. They have mobilized business, labor and government around a common agenda. They are playing offense.

Wouldn’t you think that if you were president, after you’d read the umpteenth story about premier U.S. companies, like Intel and Apple, building their newest factories, and even research facilities, in China, India or Ireland, that you’d summon the top U.S. business leaders to Washington to ask them just one question: "What do we have to do so you will keep your best jobs here? Make me a list and I will not rest until I get it enacted."

And if you were president, and you had just seen more suicide bombs in London, wouldn’t you say to your aides: "We have got to reduce our dependence on Middle East oil. We have to do it for our national security. We have to do it because only if we bring down the price of crude will these countries be forced to reform. And we should want to do it because it is clear that green energy solutions are the wave of the future, and the more quickly we impose a stringent green agenda on ourselves, the more our companies will lead innovation in these technologies."

Instead, we are about to pass an energy bill that, while it does contain some good provisions, will make no real dent in our gasoline consumption, largely because no one wants to demand that Detroit build cars that get much better mileage. We are just feeding Detroit the rope to hang itself. It’s assisted suicide. I thought people went to jail for that?

And if you were president, would you really say to the nation, in the face of the chaos in Iraq, that "if our commanders on the ground say we need more troops, I will send them," but that they had not asked? It is not what the generals are asking you, Mr. President – it is what you are asking them, namely: "What do you need to win?" Because it is clear we are not winning, and we are not winning because we have never made Iraq a secure place where normal politics could emerge.

Oh, well, maybe we have the leaders we deserve. Maybe we just want to admire Lance Armstrong, but not be Lance Armstrong. Too much work. Maybe that’s the wristband we should be wearing: Live wrong. Party on. Pay later.

Jimi’s First Day in Britain

Source: RollingStone.com: Jimi HendrixJimirollingstone

Jimi Hendrix took his first footsteps on British soil on Saturday, September 24th, 1966, arriving at Heathrow at nine in the morning. As he walked off the plane, he carried a small bag that contained a change of clothes, his pink plastic hair curlers and a jar of Valderma cream for the acne that still marred his twenty-three-year-old face. These few items, along with his precious guitar, were all he owned.

Escorting Jimi was Chas Chandler, formerly the bassist for the Animals, who was launching himself as a manager. Chandler had come upon Jimi in a Greenwich Village club and spilled a milkshake on himself, convinced that Jimi was his ticket to riches. Jimi was penniless at the time, having spent the previous three years as a backup musician on the chitlin circuit. Though Jimi had been born in Seattle, and didn’t even begin to play guitar until he was fifteen, by the time Chandler met him he had already toured the nation with countless R&B combos, including Little Richard and the Isley Brothers. In Greenwich Village, fueled by both LSD and Bob Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde, Jimi was attempting to re-create himself as a solo act. He was playing to twenty teenagers when Chandler arrived, yet Jimi still only agreed to follow him to England if he promised to introduce him to Eric Clapton.

Once in England, Chandler immediately set out to turn Jimi into a star. On the way from the airport, they stopped by the house of bandleader Zoot Money. Jimi attempted to play his Stratocaster through Money’s stereo, and when that failed, he grabbed an acoustic guitar and began to wail. Andy Summers, who a dozen years later would help form the Police, lived in the basement and heard the commotion. When he came upstairs to join the informal party and found himself mesmerized by how Jimi’s huge hands seemed at one with the instrument’s neck, he became the first of Britain’s guitar players to be awed by Jimi’s phenomenal skill.


Pet Health and Food

Are our pets a reflection of us?

Source: Acorn Dog Training.

Canine Health Concern (CHC) was formed to answer one simple question: "why are our pets so ill, and why do so many of them die years before their time?"

The answer is also simple. We’ve known it for years – we just forgot. In 1922, one veterinary manual stated: "The really well and wisely cared for dog (of average stamina and constitution) is so fit and hearty, so full of healthy power of resistance, as to be largely immune and proof against contagion and infection. Correct feeding, cleanliness, housing and exercise are the four vital corner stones of perfect health for dogs; the true basis of that prevention which is better than the best of cures."

In 1996, CHC conducted research among the people who had changed their dogs from processed pet food to natural food. The results gave us such hope for the future of our beloved pets. We asked two key questions: "how many times did you take your dog to the vet in the twelve months before changing to natural food?" and "how many times did you take your dog to the vet in the six months after changing to natural food?"

Dog owners reported a massive 85 per cent drop in veterinary visits. Not only were the dogs healthier, but they were costing their owners considerably less in veterinary fees. Owners reported more vitality, glossier coats, illnesses disappearing – even the fact that drugs from the vet, in some instances, were no longer required. Those who breed and show were reporting that they were winning everywhere they went – against the dogs who were still being fed processed food.

So what is this real food? We’ve forgotten how to feed a diet that Nature intended, so bombarded have we been with commercial propoganda. Think back to a dog and cat’s life in the natural environment. How would he feed himself?

via Dhrumil

Heat Wave Rant

During this heat wave, I’d like to jump on one of my favorite pedestals. Today it is 88 degrees at 10:30am in the Atlanta area.

The sun hitting the roof of our home is creating heat that makes the house hotter!

We are paying for electricity at peak rates to cool our home!

What is wrong with the picture?

We should have solar cells on our roof to:

  • Generate electricity for cooling our home.
  • Prevent the sun from heating the roof.

The reasons for this waste of resources are numerous and complex, but there is good news. As energy prices rise, smart entrepreneurs and engineers will create solutions. It’s the American way. And perhaps we will be sending less money to the Middle East, which ultimately supports terrorists.

Decentralized Energy

Decentralized energy would make an industrialized /information society much less vulnerable to terrorist attacks. But can big government and big business support such a revolutionary strategy?

Source: WorldChanging: Another World Is Here: How To Do Decentralized Energy.

Greenpeace UK has just released a massive (~75 page) report entitled Decentralising Power: An Energy Revolution For The 21st Century, looking at what it would take to move the UK aggressively towards a distributed power network. The capsule argument, from the report, touches on arguments familiar to WorldChanging readers:

In a decentralised energy (DE) system, electricity would be generated close to or at the point of use. Buildings, instead of being passive consumers of energy, would become power stations, constituent parts of local energy networks. They would have solar photovoltaic panels, solar water heaters, micro wind turbines, heat pumps for extracting energy from the earth. They might also be linked to commercial or domestic operated combined heat and power systems. The massive expansion in renewable capacity that this would represent, and the fact that when fossil fuels were burnt the heat would be captured and used, would lead to dramatic reductions in overall carbon emissions – at least half of all emissions from the power sector, or 15% of total UK emissions.

Belonging to a Group

Dave Pollard makes an observation in his blog about the importance of self-esteem regarding the power of belonging to a group:

The need to belong is so strong that if we can’t find healthy, constructive, inclusive places and groups to belong to, we will choose unhealthy, destructive, exclusive ones and pick up their behaviours (gangs, snobs, addicts).

This provides some insight into subcultures with behavioral norms that I do not understand, such as terrorists, gangs, skin heads, fraternities, tribes, etc.

People need to be in a herd!

Musical Geniuses Reincarnated?

I don’t know enough about music and music history to see the parallels. But it could create some interesting conversations.

Source: Lennon was Bach, Hendrix Bartok – antiMUSIC News.

In their previous lives, Sir Paul was Scarlatti, Lennon J.S. Bach, Sting Schubert and Hendrix Bartok. Thus postulates the Barbary Coast Guitar Duo.

According to them, it wasn’t the psychedelic drugs that influenced what possibly are the most brilliant and well-crafted songs ever written in modern times. "No, it’s the result of reincarnation of some of the greatest composers in music history" says matter-of-factly Florante Aguilar, one half of the guitar duo. "It was their inner Stravinsky pounding away".

"The Beatles’ strict observance of 17th century counterpoint? Uncanny. Their effective use of voice leading and text painting? Master-like. Sting’s gift for naturally flowing melodies are straight out of a Schubert lieder. And what to make of Hendrix’s liberal use of ancient scales like pentatonic and mixolydian? You can’t tell us that was independently arrived at by a man from the 20th century."

Call it years of over-education at the conservatory but this dynamic duo’s tongue-in-cheek approach sets out to prove the theory with the release of their CD Suites for 2 Guitars: The Music of Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and The Police. A collection of heart-stopping guitar duo re-interpretation of classic rock songs.

The Barbary Coast Guitar Duo (Florante Aguilar and Michael Walsh) have been wowing audience in the Bay Area and beyond for over 10 years. Their fiery interpretations, crisp ensemble playing, and engaging stage presence promise to "blow the roof off this joint". The duo’s concept of the recording stems simply from their desire to play the music they love and grew up with. "We owe our existence as musicians in equal parts to Andres Segovia and Jimi Hendrix".