Dialing thinking

Now, back to business [Bob Adams warns us].

The next step in understanding and dealing with the future is to look at it. That is, to be truly focused on what is coming, not what has come and gone.

That’s what Marshall McLuhan meant when he said, “The past went that-a-way. When faced with a totally new situation, we tend always to attach ourselves to the objects, to the flavor of the most recent past. We look at the present through a rear view mirror. We march backwards into the future.” People do this, political parties do this, societies do this.

Serbia’s disastrous last couple decades result from such a backward view, putting more emphasis on the events of 500 years ago then those of the present. Panama, where folks could still be arguing about the days of the dictator, Manuel Noriega, is doing exactly the opposite and is very future-oriented. That has resulted in astonishing growth in the last few years. China is making its name by looking ahead, not through the rearview mirror. Nations like Russia and Iraq are making up their minds which way to look.

Whether it’s the Democratic Party, Al Qaeda, the European Union’s elite, or another signficant group, watch to see which ones focus on the future and which are looking in their rearview mirror. The former will always have the edge on the latter and, as history indicates, will eventually “win” any conflict, although that may take much longer than anyone expects.

Above all, monitor yourself.

Are you looking backward or forward, or just standing there with your eyes closed? Do you find yourself spending more time arguing about what should have happened in the past or talking about what you want to do in the future?

Shanghai traffic

SFGate China traffic jam blogIt was a classic China traffic jam.

Nobody, but nobody, moved.

Nobody gave another eye contact.

I’ve never seen anyone in China back out of a congested situation. And they didn’t: this culture doesn’t back down. And then the van, going in the other direction from the garbage truck, simply inched forward. Space compressed; it always does here.

“Don’t look at anybody,
don’t recognize anything,
but shimmy your way around,
over and through.”

Olivia Wu, a staff writer for The Chronicle

Forgetting the use of coal

When President Bush said “America is addicted to oil”, he could also have said that America is addicted to coal.

Most Americans are not aware of the sheer scale [YouTube] of current coal use in the United States. Over 50% of electricity is generated from coal with 20 pounds of coal per a person being burnt every day to generate electricity.

Clean Coal or Dirty Coal?

Glued to you

“It has been said that if you could become another person for even a few moments
you would probably become Enlightened. So strong is our attachment to the idea of who we are that even the smallest jolt out of it can have an immense effect.” – Manjusvara

But that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Sustainable happiness

…our data suggest that effort and hard work offer the most promising route to happiness. In contrast, simply altering one’s superficial circumstances (assuming they are already reasonably good) may have little lasting effect on well-being.

“[This is] a standout piece of work.”, says William D. Meek, a doctoral candidate in counselling psychology at the University of Missouri.

The route to happiness, another article by Will Meek

“The secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life, and in elevating them to art.” William Morris

TV is dead. Long live TV.

Reinvented TV

Jeff Jarvis writes:

All the old definitions of TV are in shambles. Television need not be broadcast. It needn’t be produced by studios and networks. It no longer depends on big numbers and blockbusters. It doesn’t have to fit 30- and 60-minute moulds. It isn’t scheduled. It isn’t mass. The limits of television – of distribution, of tools, of economics, of scarcity – are gone. So now, at last, we can ask not what TV is, but what it can be. I envision TV that is interactive when it wants to be. I imagine TV that is live, with news from the scene thanks to a hundred video camera-phones. I look forward to the day when I can watch not what Hollywood recommends, but what my friends endorse. I am dying to see the advertising industry figure out that mass media were inefficient and ineffective ; when they start supporting the new TV with their money, huge things will happen. Television has already exploded. So now let’s build the new TV.

Sell any cell

You don’t need stem cells for cloning, say scientists from Pittsburgh University.

In fact, they say other types of cells may be better than stem cells for cloning.

“The team managed to create two baby mice from a mature blood cell, disproving the previous conception that this could only be done with immature stem cells.”

You can read the story here and read the study in the journal Nature Genetics.

Waste not a feather

“[Some] 50% of all fibres are from petroleum, and we have an oil issue,” says Yiqi Yang, a professor of textile science at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, who is collaborating with doctoral candidate Narendra Reddy.

Yang and his colleagues think that agricultural waste could offer an alternative source.

Rice straw is made up of the bits and stems left over after a rice harvest and, like cotton and flax, is composed mostly of cellulose. It now accounts for about 526 million tonnes of waste worldwide.

Chicken feathers, which are composed of keratin, like wool, make up about 1.8 billion kilograms in waste each year in the US. Much of this material ends up in landfill.

According to Yang, even processing a small fraction of this agricultural waste and turning it into textiles could have a significant impact on world demand, which totals about 63 million tonnes of fibres a year. Story at abc.au

Make it clear

The two problems by Seth Godin

The first problem is the problem.

The second problem is your inability to admit the problem, talk about the problem and ask for help in solving the problem.

The first problem is that your customer service is lousy, you are an alcoholic, your products are boring, you don’t treat your employees well.

None of those problems are going to go away.

None will go away, that is, if you don’t acknowledge them, clearly and loudly and often. And ask for help.

If you don’t measure the first problem, then you have a second problem.

If you don’t measure the first problem, it’s not going to go away, is it?

Plants with a water switch

“We have a technology, a gene, that gives you a plant that’s drought resistant.

“The system that we’ve developed switches on only during drought.

“During normal growth, if a plant’s got water, the system is switched off, as if the gene wasn’t there.” The technology improves the efficiency of water use under all conditions, says Performance Plants, a leading Canadian plant biotechnology firm.


In the United States up to 61 percent of farmers use biotech corn seeds while up to 89 percent use biotech soybeans.

First meat functional food

1920s French adI’ll take the wine & swine, marinara with an olive back.

A new ability to increase the Omega-3 content in pork beyond what you find typically is probably somewhere between 100 to 1,000 thousand times greater than you would find in typical pork.

In the spring of 2005 Winnipeg based Prairie Orchard farms received approval from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to label its pork as being high a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids, a compound recognized having positive effects in terms of eye, brain and cardiovascular health, and approximately one year later the product received similar approval from the U. S. Food and Drug Administration.

Prairie Orchard president Willie Hoffman explains the high Omega-3 content is the result of feeding and, being in western Canada, a typical wheat, barley, soy diet is used supplemented with flax, as the source of Omega-3, and vitamins and minerals selected to stabilize the product and improve taste, color and texture.

via farmscape

A functional food is a food or food ingredient that has been shown to affect specific functions or systems in the body. Functional foods play an important role in disease prevention. The FDA has approved health claims on labels for only four functional foods. I think it’s tomato, whole wheat, omega-3 and olive oil and ingredients. Am I right?