Archive for February, 2009

21st Century Toy Blocks

Thursday, February 26th, 2009

The human world is a strange and funny one indeed. Sometimes, someone like David Merrill comes along with a new little invention that seems almost unimaginable. Partly unimaginable because of what it is and partly unimaginable because of what it does.

When something like this happens it both confirms my belief in human creativity and technology as well as make me smile a little bit.

Let me introduce Siftables - toy blocks that can make stories, music and math

 21st Century Toy Blocks

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Hipster: The Dead End of Western Civilization

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

  Hipster: The Dead End of Western Civilization

“We’ve reached a point in our civilization where counterculture has mutated into a self-obsessed aesthetic vacuum. So while hipsterdom is the end product of all prior countercultures, it’s been stripped of its subversion and originality.”

So writes Douglas Haddow in the cover story of Adbusters Issue #79.

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The Blue Heart of the Planet

Saturday, February 21st, 2009

 The Blue Heart of the Planet

When you look out over an ocean it feels almost endless. If not exactly endless, the oceans are indeed huge. The Pacific ocean as an example is bigger than all the land masses of the earth put together. In the word’s of Philip Ball - we ought to call our planet Water and not Earth. The oceans are also by far our greatest natural resource. They absorb most of the carbon dioxide we put out in the atmosphere, they are the largest producer of oxygen and millions of tons of fish feed us every year. The oceans are the blue heart of our planet.

Yet perhaps because the oceans are so enormous, we seem to care very little about what goes on there. Up until the mid 90’s - we were still dumping radioactive material directly in the ocean. Only around 1 out of 10 large sea creatures remain from just hundred years ago. 12% of the earth’s surface is protected environments these days - yet the number for the oceans stands at a disappointing 0,8%.

With the words of Bill Bryson: “We are astoundingly, sumptuously, radiantly ignorant of life beneath the seas. Even the most substantial ocean creatures are often remarkably little know to us - including the most mighty of them all, the great blue whale, a creature of such leviathan proportions that its tongue weighs as much as an elephant and its heart the size of a car… It is the most gargantuan beast the world Earth has ever produced, yet the lives of blue whales are largely a mystery to us. Most of the time we have no idea where they are - where they go to breed, for instance, or what routes they follow to get there. What little we know of them comes almost all from eavesdropping on their songs, but even these are largely a mystery. Blue whales will sometimes break off a song, then pick it up exactly the same spot six months later. Sometimes they strike up with a new song, which no memeber can have heard before but which each already know. How they do this and why are not remotely understood. And these are animals that must routinely come to the surface to breathe.”

 The Blue Heart of the Planet

We might not know much about the oceans, but a few things are increasingly certain.  Without protection, there will not be much to learn about in the future. The oceans can simply not withstand the current  impact of human civilization. The second thing that technological and scientific progress has taught us, is that without our blue heart there will be no life on earth.

 The Blue Heart of the Planet

I invite you all to watch Sylvia Earle’s amazing visual and factual journey through the world’s oceans and I sincerely hope you will listen to her message.

Sylvia Earle - The Blue Heart of The Planet

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The power of stories

Saturday, February 21st, 2009

 The power of stories

Jacqui Banaszynski, a former reporter from St. Paul Pioneer Press wrote a story about visiting Ethiopia in 1985, during a great famine. He was struck by the singing that these people carried out every night in the face of such horror, he kept wondering how these people could in sing in the face of the unbearable horrors of 1985 – until he realized it was storytelling.

He writes: “It was how they carried their history and culture and law with them. It may have been my first conscious awareness of the power, history and universality of storytelling. We all grew up with stories, but do we ever stop to think about how much they connect us and how powerful they are?”

Bedtime stories. Tales of ghosts, struggles, love and despair. Movies, books and theatre plays. Singing for your kid or reading out loud for the person you love. Stories are all around us and they carry our culture and history with them. By some stroke of biological wonder did we become emotional beings - the art of telling good stories has been the heart and soul of our society ever since.

Whether it is in Africa in 1985 or right now. Stories is what makes us human and make us stay that way. They are what gives meaning to life.

Jonathan Harris collects small stories from life and he try to use the internet to tell them in a different way. I will leave the rest of this story to him.

Jonathan Harris collects stories

Supercapitalism

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

From Robert B. Reich, a public policy professor at the University of California and formerly President Clinton’s secretary of labour, have come a breakthrough book on the clash between capitalism and democracy.

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Welcome to Public Journal

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

 Welcome to Public Journal

I love quotes. They tell you a lot of things in a very short form and can provide inspiration in your life. There are all kinds of quotes in the world. There are quotes for courage, for despair and quotes about you. There are quotes for special moods, for feelings and for politics.

Quotes are compressed information that allows us to convey meaning to each other quickly and efficiently. They are shared culturally among us and we intuitively understand them, even though they might take on a different meaning for me than for you. Most likely that is the reason they cling on to our minds and provide us with guidance and perspective. Sometimes they make us sad and regretful because we believed them too fanatically.

Public Journal hopes to be the home of many thousands of such quotes, although in more modern form. Quotes that consists of text, images, links and video - aimed at inspiring and provide perspective on life. Small bits of information, well presented and ready to be shared among us culturally. Welcome to Public Journal.

What my favourite quotes are…?

“Rather be a pirate than join the navy”

“Only fools clean - a true genius master chaos”