Ah the Bern: Notes on unpacking the feeling

I have been feeling the Bern for some time now. It has fuelled an idealism that has been nourishing. There has been this rush every morning to reach out to my Flipboard tile labelled Bernie Sanders. To catch up on the latest news and analysis – then to reread articles for the second or third time invoking my Tamil past when I memorised lines and texts.

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I also realise that I am not a great Bernie watcher. I was an Obama watcher – he was poetically articulate and it was treat to watch him. I cried during his Inauguration speech. But hey I was only shedding a tear that the ‘yes we can’ ring tone that I made – and posted to my blog – wasn’t exactly a mega success. Well I was its only known user. I made a youtube mashup of “yes we can” within a course pitch on World Changing. I was gushing silently and internally, not that anyone wanted to discuss Obama where I live. Bernie is different. I took his authenticity and then left him alone. The Bern I was feeling meant that I had to watch a lot of youtube discussions and analysis.

Then a few weeks ago after the New York results came in, which I was dreading, I deleted the Sanders tile in my Flipboard. From this point if I wanted to check up on Sanders I would have to type in his name. The Bern was becoming tinged with a sense of loss. A loss that the pragmatists, and the elite, had begun to triumph. It was not meant to be this way.

Looking back on this journey I began to understand my journey, my experience, of/through the Sanders phenomenon. I was getting a sense of what the feeling was – what an individual journey of “berning away” could be.

The berning drove me to hear-watch some of his speeches. He said a few things that resonated. But I was watching a lot of other people talking about him: Cenk Uygur, Sarah Silverman and Rosario Dawn are three that stayed and I would keep going back to. I was listening to NPR Politics podcasts (brilliant to sustain the bern) and keeping up to date with the latest news about the primaries. I found I was switching off the podcats when the other candidates were starting to be discussed. I realise now that I was indulging in my own long dormant political idealism of occupying a space on the left. The labelling of the system as ‘rigged’, the calling out of the elite as a closed-entitled-self-serving-minority (my words), and the labelling of business-as-usual-politicians as ‘establishment’ was sweet to hear. Uygur, Silverman and Dawn were great to listen to – they stoked the bern gorgeously – for they articulated the need for a new fresh and honest redefinition of the purpose of government. Something we could see in the sum total of the ecosystem of thoughts, words and ideas that Bernie was pointing at.

I have probably been feeling my way around the notion of a just society. I had posted a note about a particular territory – Projects as Campaigns – and that systems in society are broken (see the text here) so something needs to be done. I would use my teaching practice to address this territory of the ‘broken’. What Bernie did was provide a channel, a place to stop and read, a direction in which to feel free to imagine a future society. This particular berning sensation was tremendously uplifting. I could begin my mental conversations with – ‘imagine if …’.

Obama had begun something in 2007. But his reasonableness was too comfortable. It didn’t have the spirit of the ‘revolution’ – Bernie was serving better as the lightening rod for a great provocation. The Bern was the tension, the tautness of the far left and of the ‘establishment’ centrists being pulled leftwards. So enjoyable to see the squirming.

For more on: YoungTurks/ Cenk UygurSarah SilvermanRosario Dawn (amazing).

And VOX too fuels the Bern:

Whether the first Sanders-style nominee is Sanders himself or Elizabeth Warren or someone like a Tammy Baldwin or a Keith Ellison doesn’t matter. What’s clear is that there’s robust demand among Democrats — especially the next generation of Democrats — to remake the party along more ideological, more social democratic lines, and party leaders are going to have to answer that demand or get steamrolled.

To fuel the Bern I was reading. I would have Picketty, Warren and Comrade Corbyn “open in my kindle” (to use a metaphor of simultaneity) as I dipped in and out of these books. I did read Warren through. That was powerful stuff. Indeed the kernel of a pure rational and humane society is revealed by Warren. She is brutal and plaintive in the way she describes the two polar opposites she deals with in her bankruptcy reform campaign. At one end are the organised-gangs-of-robber-capitalists joining forces and at the other end are the isolated bankrupt individuals living in the homes of their parents – still being pursued by the gangs. An acutely tribal and very violent society. How did we let it get this way? she ask plaintively. We have lost out moral compass. And the bern is the feeling of anger at this state of affairs.
A fighting chance by Elizabeth Warren

There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody. You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear: You moved the goods to market on roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory…. Now look, you built the factory and it turned into something terrific, or great idea? God bless. Keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid that comes along. (from this review)

Capital by Thomas Piketty

Three-quarters of Australians tell survey researchers that “differences in income are too large”. About the same proportion believe that government has a role in redistributing income “towards ordinary working people”. (from this review)

Comrade Corbyn by Rosa Prince

Jeremy Corbyn’s emergence is a strange phenomenon. A man well into his sixties, his political appeal to the under-25s more than any other age group, who has taken on the worst job in politics after 32 years contentedly avoiding responsibility of any kind. In theory, he is due to go to the country a few days before his 71st birthday to ask them to choose him as their Prime Minister. (from this review)

Then last night I encountered a young university student around a campfire – wearing a Bernie TShirt. The fireside chat was where we felt a kinship for we were both feeling the bern. Where I promised to post some readings.

Of course tax cuts for corporations and high income earners, in the new Australian budget, is not okay. Here is what Warren has to say about that.

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This is in the Atlantic – an article from 1985: “…and he grins. It’s the mischievous grin of a deliberate non-conformist, a kid who refuses to join cliques.”

This is for my dear jewish friend

Doing a reading from Urry (Mobilities) I opened with this ‘joke’ – that nails the notion of emplacement.

After months of negotiation, Avraham, a Jewish scholar from Odessa, was granted permission to visit Moscow.
He boarded the train and sat down. At the next stop a young man got on and sat next to him. Avraham looked at the young man and thought,

This fellow doesn’t look like a peasant, and if he isn’t a peasant he probably comes from this area. If he comes from this area, he must be Jewish because this is, after all, a Jewish area. On the other hand, if he is a Jew, where could he be going?
I’m the only one from our area to be allowed to travel to Moscow.
Wait – just outside Moscow there is a little village called Samvet, and you don’t need special permission to go there.
But why would he be going to Samvet? He’s probably going to visit one of the Jewish families there, but how many Jewish families are there in Samvet? Only two – the Bernsteins and the Steinbergs. The Bernsteins are a terrible family, so he must be visiting the Steinbergs.
But why is he going? The Steinbergs have only girls, so maybe he’s their son-in-law. But if he is, then which daughter did he marry?
Sarah married that nice lawyer from Budapest and Esther married a businessman from Zhadomir, so it must be Sarah’s husband. Which means that his name is Alexander Cohen, if I’m not mistaken. But if he comes from Budapest, with all the anti-Semitism they have there, he must have changed his name. What’s the Hungarian equivalent of Cohen? Kovacs. But if he changed his name he must have some special status.
What could it be? A doctorate from the University.

At this point Avraham turns to the young man and said, “How do you do, Dr Kovacs?”
“Very well, thank you, sir” answered the startled passenger. “But how is it that you know my name?”
“Oh,” replied Avraham, “it was obvious”.

Then there is this one. I laughed so much I couldn’t read out the joke. I laughed till my tears flowed freely.

This then was enough for me to post this – and a huge resource of other Jokes from the David Minkoff site.

Sadie tells Maurice, “You’re a schmuck! You always were a schmuck and you always will be a schmuck! You look, act and dress like a schmuck! You’ll be a schmuck until the day you die! And if they ran a world-wide competition for schmucks, you would be the world’s second biggest schmuck!”

“Why only second place?” Maurice asks.

“Because you’re a schmuck!” Sadie screams.

Then this one too is priceless.

Rabbi Rabinovitz  answers his phone.
“Hello?”
“Hello, is this Rabbi Rabinovitz?”
“It is.”
“This is the Inland Revenue. Can you help us?”
“I’ll try.”
“Do you know Sam Cohen?”
“I do.”
“Is he a member of your congregation?”
“He is.”
“Did he donate £10,000 to the synagogue rebuilding fund last year?”
“He will!”

Indeed He will!!

Here is the David Minkoff site – with huge thanks to Kim, domo arigatio!

And of course there is this …

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There are many Ways of Dying

I listened to the last episodes of Andrew Denton’s podcasts – Better off Dead – yesterday. Nitschke was on this episode and I found Andrew’s questions and comments a bit lacking in some crucial dimensions. I felt there was a strong push from Denton to move the conversation to privilege a legal narrative – lets make this legal. Just like it is in Netherlands, Belgium and the US. I appreciate what he is trying to do, I am blown away by what he is doing. Yet death is more than just a physical end of life – and the existential issue surrounding death is merely a category in these pod casts. There is the social dimension to death. It is the death of a social being – relationships, citizen, voice, father, husband. And death can be a social practice – death can be de-medicalized. Will he go there in his podcasts I wonder!

You can follow Andrew Denton’s Pod Casts here.

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And so I being writing.

Its been two years now since my participation in a Health Innovation forum organised by a group of doctors. One issue that we talked about at the event was captured in the title – last 18 months. This is a narrative in the medical profession and within the government where a significant proportion of the health care budget of a country are committed to the last 6 months of a person’s life. Its common to encounter statements such as “50% of healthcare costs are incurred in the last 6 months of life”. Posts such as this point to a rethink underway about the medical paradigm of end of life care. One dimension is certainly economic but there are also efforts focussed upon improved quality of life outcomes.

Following the thread of this narrative leads us into the economic problem and solution scenarios of a sustainable future. The direct extrapolation of current practices leads us to imagine that: People will live longer and more people will have dramatic and complicated hospitals deaths. This will cost the state a lot of money.

The recent announcement by the Australian Federal Government to reimagine chronic care as a portfolio solution or a systemic solution is potentially a step in the right direction and is also aiming to spend money wisely . Such thinking aligns well with the paradigm of patient centered health care and we can imagine that this model will in time make use of current and emerging IT solutions such as Health-kit to manage patient health.

Within the discourse of this territory of last 18 months is the work of Dr Angelo Volandes. The article from a few years ago in the Atlantic offers a great introduction to his alternative approach to end of life care. The following paragraph summarises his project – he wishes to show people that certain medical procedures near the end of life can lead to an undesirable hospital death.

On the very first night of his postgraduate medical internship, when he was working the graveyard shift at a hospital in Philadelphia, he found himself examining a woman dying of cancer. She was a bright woman, a retired English professor, but she seemed bewildered when he asked whether she wanted cardiopulmonary resuscitation if her heart stopped beating. So, on an impulse, he invited her to visit the intensive-care unit. By coincidence, she witnessed a “code blue,” an emergency administration of CPR. “When we got back to the room,” Volandes remembered, “she said, ‘I understood what you told me. I am a professor of English—I understood the words. I just didn’t know what you meant. It’s not what I had imagined. It’s not what I saw on TV.’ ” She decided to go home on hospice. Volandes realized that he could make a stronger, clearer impression on patients by showing them treatments than by trying to describe them.

To achieve his goals Volandes uses Videos. I have watched his videos and they are amazingly instructive. He now has a book out and this video.

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I began writing this piece to journal my work in the area of death and dying. I have been looking at ‘service design’ solutions at the end of life.

In short we are all going to die one day. And from a consumption and service design perspective we will have the ability to choose the kind of death we find appropriate. In this last sentence I have edited out the words desirable and acceptable – both design values. Yes it is possible to speculate that death too can be designed. And their may be consultants who will specialise in this field of practice. We do have the designed funeral. Funeral Celebrants transform the physical remains of the human (person) into an aesthetic experience to make the greiving process and the ceremony of death a commodity for consumption. The socially mediated nature of practices surrounding death have both a traditional and modern dimension.

Society in Australia though still struggles with an acceptable social practice of dying. On ones side are the campaigners who collectivise death as a collective moral discourse. Within this narrative the ‘taking of life’ is illegal. On another side are the campaigners who are attempting to push the discourse towards the individualisation of dying. That it is a singular act of volition and that there ought to be choice and freedom for the practices of taking ones own life. There is this global transformation of the discourse of dying and it is enriching the understanding that people have of their own choices. It is possible in the future we will look back at this moment in history for its challenge to society to elevate the discourse surrounding death. Its possible we will fail. Its possible the scare mongers win out.

It did not have to be this way.

The taking of ones own life is a supreme act, a pure act and historically even heroic act of the brave. This beautiful piece about Mishima signposts the social practice of taking ones life.

Mishima spoke increasingly of death and lamented the absence in modern times of “great causes” to die for. In his 1970 interview, he described the samurai notion of killing oneself as “brave harakiri,” in contrast to the Western view of suicide as “defeatist.” However, while he was exhorting the young soldiers to rise up against the established order, Mishima was booed and jeered with shouts of “Get down,” and “Go home.” Many Westerners might therefore regard his bloody deed as “defeatist suicide.” Whether the coup attempt was merely a pretext for killing himself is unclear. There is no doubt that it was planned, since he had prepared jisei no ku (traditional death poems) well in advance and made provision for his wife and children. However, did he really believe the soldiers would rally to his call? What is clear, though, is that Mishima considered his act “brave harakiri,” a fitting end for a proud samurai. “Harakiri makes you win,” he pronounced.

To be continued …

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Holy shit, I didn’t know that

The title is from this article in the Sydney Morning Herald (http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/niki-savva-how-journalist-went-from-conservative-darling-to-abbott-she-devil-20160307-gnc6vl.html)

This is a post to develop a case study for global politics on the concept of power and the mechanics of Australian democracy. The themes I aim to discuss are potentially :

  1. The fear of election outcomes – the Canning bye election precipitated events. Plus a discussion of other elections over the past two years.
  2. The power of media – how polls and news media transform the agendas and goals of politics.
  3. The good politician – hidden amidst the descriptions in the book is what is not spoken about but repeatedly hinted at. That there is this notion of a good politician, the successful communicator, one who is able to have a conversation and collaborate.

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Tony Abbott and Peta Credlin (Image Source http://www.smh.com.au/content/dam/images/g/j/s/x/y/f/image.related.articleLeadwide.620×349.gnb71b.png/1457163763583.jpg)

I read two books detailing the progression of a systemic-malfunction in the office of the Prime Minister of Australia towards a leadership challenge and the emergence of Malcolm Turnbull as the new Prime Minister of Australia. Both books set out to describe how the government destroyed itself. Both authors Patrick and Savva are respected journalists who describe their writing projects lucidly.  (You can hear them both on Late Night Live, Philip Adams – http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/latenightlive/)

These two books are great as primary material to describe the events as they happened. The books describe events as they unfolded (here Savva is brilliant) and there is a reasonable level of of analysis (mostly Patrick describing patterns). One summary, by Patrick, that I paused over was:

In Abbott, the Liberal Party chose a leader who reflected himself. When he failed, it turned to a man who reflected Australia. Turnbull could never have won a ballot of Liberal Party members. He was too liberal for the party’s conservative base. His elevation was a sign that, over time, a democracy delivers leaders representative of broader society.

This is brilliant and a healing touch at the end of the book. This is a move away from the cynicism of the politics of the situation, where we are all invited to moan about the loss of ethical narratives, towards an amplification of the notion of representative-democracy (keyword representative). Stimulated I write this post as a letter to a 17 year old using excerpts from Patrick.

Politicians as elected representatives are workers with hazy narratives – this is like the work of university academics who have to dream up their research projects based upon their sense of what is worth doing or thinking about. While the politician’s/ minister’s work plan for the year is settled the projects they have to design, execute and deliver contain a systemic dimension. We are invited to presume that the work of the politician is to improve an existing situation continuously till we progress towards incremental improvements in the quality of the whole system. These quality improvements will make the lives of people better, the conditions to do business better and the permeation of new ideas through society easier. A leading politician assuming a singular-agency, hubris, out of fear of future loss (insecurity) or a simple lack of application has the potential to create considerable turbulence. This is a drag on the potential for progress. (this then is one description of the meaning of political work)

Instead of an orderly, consensual administration, Abbott centralised power in his office and created an internal climate of fear.

Now Australia, as I read in my son’s Global Politics book, is a “model democracy”. As a model for democracy it was expected to lurch from the left to the right, or even contain within it a level of pluralism. I then ruminated a bit on the theme of the ‘model’. I imagined the modelling of this democracy from the perspective of systems thinking (such as represented in the image below).

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This model (diagram) is from Resilience.org a systems thinking orientated repository and site. (http://www.resilience.org/stories/2015-12-04/mapping-the-emerging-post-capitalist-paradigm-and-its-main-thinkers)

A democracy would be the system depicted – composed of its constituent parts, which interacted, made up the whole and interacted further with other wholes. The lurching would be opposed by the forces of homeostasis – or the forces of calm. So in this description we start with a lurching ecosystem. In time, as a complex system, it would reorganise itself, and settle down. As a complex system Australian democracy ought to be amenable to being modelled as a self regulating system, its constituent parts much like an organism in a complex ecosystem. Self regulation is what we would hope to see as described in this phrase ‘representative of a broader society’. Within this of course there exists the narrative of the logic of the local ecosystem. For every ecosystem would be composed of smaller component systems – which would have to be different from that of the ‘broader society’. We would expect these smaller ecosystems to be represented in the model as the ‘fringe’ narratives which can continue to function isolated and harmless awaiting a catastrophic event that would transform the basis of the normal. The dominant narrative of the system would be the overall meaning of the system, its ethos, its central program of progression. For a political system this is not a given – it is developed through the process of a conversation both in society and mirrored in the parliament (the petri dish). (this then is a value free description of the ecosystem)

Abbott was unable to lead modern Australia because, in outlook and values, he wasn’t a modern Australian.

If this fringe were to occupy the centre, and attain a capacity to damage the system as it would be expected every so often, how would the system react? This occupation, the disease vector, would need to do something significantly bad to trigger impulses for this fringe to be expelled or modified.

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Looking back on the reading I have come away with a tremendous respect for the work and the work ethic of the politicians. In a perfect world – with an amazing wise leader of the ‘team’ – I can imagine the toning down of the adversarial conversation towards a setting of a goal, a destination and a preferred future. Imagine a satnav – our very own google map of a future where we choose the goal and it describes a series of road maps to get there. We can then endlessly discuss goals.

Let us remember the conversation we regularly have – hey where where shall we go? Where we are going for dinner this friday? We d decide to go to a new place every so often, but do go to our favourite place more usually. We know that we have many Fridays and many such conversations so some of us give in. We try new places, some work, and some don’t. Parliament is then the place for this kind of conversation – so where shall we go? And we speak genially and respectfully we have a great conversation.

Here is some material about the books and the authors.

Niki Savva

Who is Niki Savva?

Niki Savva is one of the most senior correspondents in the Canberra Press Gallery. She was twice political correspondent on The Australian, and headed up the Canberra bureaus of both The Herald Sun and The Age. When family tragedy forced a career change, she became Peter Costello’s press secretary for six years and was then on John Howard’s staff for three. Her work has brought her into intimate contact with the major political players of the last 35 years. She is now a regular columnist for The Australian, and often appears on ABC TV’s The Insiders as well as on political panels on Sky.

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Quote – “The more I wrote, the more people would come to me with information,” she says. (Source – http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/niki-savva-how-journalist-went-from-conservative-darling-to-abbott-she-devil-20160307-gnc6vl.html#ixzz42GylhsPy )

What Niki Sava does

‘ … she uses her journalistic skills and her unparalleled relationship with the key players to go beyond the previously published accounts, especially giving insights into the crises and deteriorating relationship (‘poisonous’) as the 2007 election defeat loomed, and everyone wanting to understand the history of this unique leadership situation will use her work.’

Niki Savva speaks about the events narrated in her book here. (Source – http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/niki-savva-how-journalist-went-from-conservative-darling-to-abbott-she-devil-20160307-gnc6vl.html)

A bit about Niki Savva and her book So Greek (which I aim to read next): http://scribepublications.com.au/books-authors/books/so-greek/

The Books

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Savva, Niki (2016): The Road to Ruin: how Tony Abbott and Peta Credlin destroyed their own government, Penguin (I read it on Kindle) – https://www.penguin.com.au/products/9781925321401/road-ruin-how-tony-abbott-and-peta-credlin-destroyed-their-own-government

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Patrick, Aaron (2016): Credlin & Co, How the Abbott Government Destroyed Itself (I read it on Kindle) – http://www.blackincbooks.com/books/credlin-and-co

Kyoto Field Trip Notes

I have for some time now been working on a project Hunting Wajima – that has set out to imagine the form and construction of furniture that will be made by a workshop in East Timor. The name of the project was itself a project – a sort of branding exercise. I set out to come up with a name that would point to the spirit of the design – a design-brief in two words as it were. This is different from what I have done for another project where I carved a portmanteau word – Jaliangan – to define the form of a particular kind of contemporary architecture. An architecture of boxes and their jali like wrappers. Somehow very Japanese too.

NOTE: The Hunting Wajima Project is mentioned in a previous post: https://campaignprojects.wordpress.com/2015/02/06/hunting-wajima-project/

In the current phase of the project I am building on a proposition – Slatted Constructions (as posted here https://campaignprojects.wordpress.com/2015/09/06/slatted-constructions/). I want to design a furniture collection that does two things:
1. It explores the notion of slatted construction as a program, a way of building furniture.
2. It explores the typology of Japanese wood work as a source of inspiration and as a text to write into the program of Slatted Constructions.

The exploration of Japanese wood work has brought me to Kyoto, the home of and location of traditional wood work practice in Japan. I am looking not at the hard and pushy furniture products such as what I been seeing in the furniture shops and the traditional wood working Kojos. I am yet to see something inspiring. A few days ago I visited a workshop making extremely expensive (1 million Yen and above, or 10,000$ and above) furniture. Drawer units and tables. Very refined work but it left me untouched. I was excited to see the use of the elaborate traditional joints, but apart from that I was left cold by the obsessive pyrotechnics, excessive finish and shiny polish. I was looking for the rustic the natural and the truly old. So I have set out to document the marginal and forgotten. Pieces of wooden craftsmanship that are natural and light. The photographs here are some examples from that documentation.

Today I came up with the elements of a language – a typology of components:
Legs: I am documenting the forms of legs, especially that of low tables.
Endings: I am looking at the way members end, often flat but every now and then differently such as with a taper
Sizes: I am looking carefully at the sizes of linear elements, I am looking at the cross sections of the timber.
Intersections & Crossings: I am looking at how the linear elements continue beyond the intersections, for a bit more.
Lattice forms: I am looking at lattice form – the grid – which is more often a composition mainly of vertical slats.
Joins: I am looking at the way joins are formed.
Key wedge: I am understanding how the wedge in the joint helps the furniture achieve No nails/ No glue

I then had a thought today that CAD and CNC could be played with to sculpt the linear elements. The joints still occurring in the precise rectilinear locations.

I am doing some photography and also collecting images in Pinterest. You can see my collections and resources in the links below.

Japanese Joinery: https://www.pinterest.com/explore/japanese-joinery/
Kyoto: https://www.pinterest.com/faintvoice/kyoto/
Japanese bamboo Crafts: https://www.pinterest.com/faintvoice/japanese-bamboo-crafts/
Reimagining Nature: https://www.pinterest.com/faintvoice/wajima-forms/
Inspirational woodwork: https://www.pinterest.com/faintvoice/hunting-wajima/

A great Japanese and Japanese inspired furniture board: https://www.pinterest.com/rich_deboer/japanese-furniture-and-sculptures/

My outer layer

This is a story about my outer layer. My skin. I have psoriasis. I have had psoriasis for close to 10 years now. For 5 of those years I have been in denial, and depressed about this loss of my pristine outer layer.

What is Psoriasis? For wikipedia on Psoriasis click here.

Image Source: http://www.interesticle.com/celebs/these-celebs-tried-a-psoriasis-treatment-you-wont-believe-what-happened-next/

Then about a year ago things started to get worrying. I was red, and patchy. My UV treatment was not working all that well. It wasn’t clearing me up anymore. And I had become completely reliant on creams. When it was suggested I get onto a medical trail for a new experimental drug I jumped at the chance. I was looking at potentially getting an injection periodically and would no longer have any skin issues. Or so went the promise.

I went through the process of signing up for the trial. I was going to the hospital and was very excited by all the new stuff I was learning and the new experiences I was encountering. I have to admit I was loving being a mild form of lab rat. Then one day I got a phone call as I was driving home. There was an issue. There was a possibility I had Tuberculosis. It was pretty shocking to get this news. Or ought to have been. Luckily by this I am 54 years old and have reached a point in my life when I am venturing information about myself to others. So in a phone call to Pramod in India I mention the TB result. He is dismissive and says that almost all Indians have latent TB. I suddenly acquire a different perspective, and am instantly relieved. I promise myself that everyone would begin to hear about my body malfunctions and contaminations. I made a note to write this piece. That was 7 months ago – this post has been long overdue.

Soon I would go in for another verification blood test. It confirms that I indeed have latent Tuberculosis. Rapidly after that I am off the psoriasis biologicals trial, return the journal device and am now onto a new treatment. And a new trial. For more information on Psoriasis pharmaceuticals trails see pages like these. Plus for information about medical trials in Australia see here.

Now for my TB treatment. The infectious diseases unit, where I go for my appointments is up on the top floor, a forgotten level, of the hospital. A fitting locale where exotic people go to seek treatment for exotic emerging country diseases. I soon discover that there is a trial underway here too. This one is different, its an economic viability trial, for a new more expensive drug for TB. I agree and sign up for the trial. As part of the process of randomization for the trial I will receive either the existing drug Isoniazid (three tablets a day for nine months) or this new drug (fewer pills and for just three months). The decision of which trial I get will be decided by the computer. Given my current luck of course the computer decides I get the Isoniazid treatment. For more information about Orphan Drugs and economic viability click here. (As the site says – ‘rare diseases are rare’)

I start taking isoniazid and notice a dramatic reduction of my psoriasis. Have I then discovered a treatment for psoriasis? I go online and find others who report similar outcomes. There is also a pubmed post about a treatment where you powder isoniazid and apply it topically with a cream base to the skin. Could this be true? My TB doctor contends the anti-inflamatory effect of isoniazid could be doing the treatment. I have three more months of the isoniazid to go. The big question for me is – what will happen after I finish my isoniazid treatment?

For now I am self-managing my Psoriasis with decent results. I follow the Pagano Diet – and in this I do two things. I avoid ‘night shade vegetables‘, and I drink saffron tea. I also have a food chart – more like how I police what I consume – Sam’s Pso-Diet Chart. I am not that strict about my diet.

I avoid sugar.

I have a salt bath, soak is the right word for this, every day. The salt for the bath is made up of Sea Salt+Epsom Salt+Bi-Carb Soda in the proportions of 6:3:1.

What makes it possible for me not to get depressed about my Psoriasis? I talk about it now, and I am signed up to two online forums. I get an email from #1 every day – and I flick through it most days.

  1. The National Psoriasis Foundation: www.inspire.com/
  2. Patients like me: www.patientslikeme.com

My next thing to try is a lotion of Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) and glycerine.

What would Gough Do?

I had a few names I was tossing up for this piece. Its the usual story – I have been listening to Freakanomics radio and have been inspired to write this. But first on the name:

I thought I would do a “Letter to Mr Shorten” in response to the Labour opposition leaders press release – Bill Shorten reveals Labor’s plans for services such as Uber and Airbnb – which said if Shorten was elected in 2016, he would work with state and territory governments to deliver legislative and regulatory reforms that would turn the six principles into “concrete laws”. Take a look at the principles and think about them. Do they anticipate the future or apply past norms to a new paradigm? Which brought me to my next title – The Third Industrial Revolution – which is Rifkin doing a take on predicting the future. Which is a bit disappointing too as it fails to take up the task of questioning the form of ‘regulation’ that we have been building for the past few centuries. (Nice website though!) This mechanism – regulation – needs a rethink and we are walking past the sign posts that are asking for a rethink of what it means to be in the new economy.

In short I don’t have a title that points to any of the current texts or pronouncements. This is where I settle upon a title that is better than all these titles which could serve as sign posts towards one or other theoretical formulation.

This is the 40th Anniversary of the sacking of Gough Whitlam – arguably one of the finest idea-people we have seen. So I am revisiting Gough with a title – What would Gough Do? This is a great idea for my friends who speak glowingly about the massive change he ushered in upon taking office. He modernised state regulation that was continuing to serve as a dam, a bottleneck, to keep the past surviving even when the world had changed beyond recognition. Sure – I can start to hear the howls of protest, for this is a splendidly divisive thing to say. Hey for the day – can we just leave him as the patron saint of visionary regulation. Just for for the duration of this post!

The title having been dealt with lets proceed with the topic of this post: Regulation. This Freakanomics podcast (Regulate this!) – transcript here, podcast in iTunes – does a great take on showing the global confrontation underway between the regulators and the solution visualizers within the sharing economy. Zimmer (Lyft) puts it one way:

“ZIMMER: They interpret laws one way and are trying to do their job. And we interpret laws another way and are trying to innovate. And those two things are at odds, and the timelines are at odds. And if we took the approach of, “Hey, let’s wait and see what the government does to create a path that is very, very clear for this new industry” that we believe benefits drivers, passengers, and cities, then we wouldn’t be operating anywhere.”

This is the small view, to use a Tim Brown phrase. Or to use Dubner’s phrase – “this is what creative destruction looks like”. Let us fast forward to a future somewhere in the 2050s. Today’s battle will look ridicuclous – yes Napster was destroyed, but what happened to the music industry. The end of the music industry is something we are comfortable with. That sunset industry used its might and connection with the regulators and lawyers. Yes they destroyed one idea – but the collective change process underway was much bigger and would transform the whole ecosystem. Levin in this pod cast puts it devastatingly:

I think the more fundamental threat to taxi drivers in the long run, as a way to be employed, is almost certainly autonomous cars… In 20 years, it may be that there actually aren’t people in the front seat of the car.

Wow – here comes the empty front seat!

We are witnessing “an amazing democratization of personal service and convenience” (Levin). Where will this process, this transformation brought on by contemporary technology, lead us? We are already witnessing a new culture, a new sociality and a new emergence of ‘trust’ within the youth. Privacy which is such a big thing for the older people just does not have the same currency with the young.

Urry has a brilliant phrase that explains one form of the new sociality that we despair at. He calls it ‘copresencing’ and this explains how young people, spending all their time on their phones, are actually hanging-out (digitally) with friends. They are in effect practising co-presence. Now there is nothing wrong with hanging out – is there? Here is a plug for Urry’s book Mobilities where you can find this and a lot of other very insightful ideas. Check it on Amazon here.

What we are missing is a conversation and a spirit of wonder at the way the new is changing us, our ways and then proceeding to knock on the doors of the regulators to ask for a conversation. If the regulators are responding with more regulation – we need to protect the industry, tax system and the consumer – we know this is temporary and a form of slow adaptation. Imagine if we could have another way to look at this change – such as visualizing the change, and coming up with scenarios. So we codesign our way into an inevitable future. So that we don’t battle our way into the future. Yes we don’t have a Gough around with the boldness to make regulation vanish – snap – but hey why don’t we start by invoking his spirit today and see what it does to our way of thinking about regulation. Need I add @billshortenmp and @malcolmturnbull.

“Let me make quite clear that I am for abortion and, in your case Sir, we should make it retrospective.” (GW)

More Reading

If you want to read up more here is a list of books. All the annotation text is from Amazon. So do go there to take a look.

What’s Mine Is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption

by Rachel Botsman & Roo Rogers

“Amidst a thousand tirades against the excesses and waste of consumer society, What’s Mine Is Yours offers us something genuinely new and invigorating: a way out.” —Steven Johnson, author of The Invention of Air and The Ghost Map

A groundbreaking and original book, What’s Mine is Yours articulates for the first time the roots of “collaborative consumption,” Rachel Botsman and Roo Roger’s timely new coinage for the technology-based peer communities that are transforming the traditional landscape of business, consumerism, and the way we live. Readers captivated by Chris Anderson’s The Long Tail, Van Jones’ The Green Collar Economy or Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point will be wowed by this landmark contribution to the evolving ecology of commerce and sustainability.

The Mesh: Why the Future of Business Is Sharing

by Lisa Gansky

Traditional businesses follow a simple formula: create a product or service, sell it, collect money. But in the last few years a fundamentally different model has taken root-one in which consumers have more choices, more tools, more information, and more peer-to-peer power. Pioneering entrepreneur Lisa Gansky calls it the Mesh and reveals why it will dominate the future of business. Mesh companies use social media, wireless networks, and data crunched from every available source to provide people with goods and services at the exact moment they need them, without the burden and expense of owning them outright. Gansky reveals how there is real money to be made and trusted brands and strong communities to be built in helping your customers buy less but use more.

The Business of Sharing: Making it in the New Sharing Economy

by Alex Stephany

The ‘sharing economy’ is changing the rules of business.

Why buy a hedge trimmer that you use twice a year? Why not borrow someone else’s? Why leave your driveway empty all day while you’re at work? Why not charge someone to park there while you’re not using it? And if your business is selling hedge trimmers or parking – or anything else people can share – what do you do about it?

Already, the sharing economy or ‘collaborative consumption’ lets people earn over $15 billion a year by renting and selling what they own: from cars and homes to money and time. And that’s almost nothing. According to PwC, the sharing economy will grow into a $335 billion market by 2025. TIME Magazine calls it “One of 10 Ideas that will Change the World.” Pulitzer Prize-winner Thomas L Friedman calls it “The real deal”.

Today, fast-moving tech startups like Airbnb and Uber are disrupting huge sectors of the old economy, mobilising millions of micro-entrepreneurs in the process. As Silicon Valley investors pile cash into sharing economy startups, some of the world’s largest companies are watching their backs. How can the 20th century’s corporate beasts not only survive but thrive in a new world of peer-to-peer commerce and sharing?

Written by one of the business leaders of the movement, The Business of Sharing is an insider’s guide to the sharing economy: for anyone thinking of entering the sharing economy and profiting from the upheavals ahead. From the boardroom of Sequoia Capital to 10 Downing Street, Stephany meets the powerbrokers pulling the strings in this new economy. And he meets the ordinary people cashing out.

This critically acclaimed new book includes colorful original interviews with entrepreneurs like the founders of Airbnb and Zipcar and the world’s top venture capitalists, plus case studies of major brands from around the world. The Business of Sharing is essential reading for anyone looking to get to grips with one of today’s must-understand global trends.

Peers Inc: How People and Platforms Are Inventing the Collaborative Economy and Reinventing Capitalism

by Robin Chase

When Robin Chase cofounded Zipcar, she not only started a business but established the foundation for one of the most important economic and social ideas of our time: the collaborative economy. With this important book, she broadens our thinking about the ways in which the economy is being transformed and shows how the Peers Inc model is changing the very nature of capitalism.

When the best of people power is combined with the best of corporate power to form “Peers Inc” organizations, a potent creative force is released. The “Inc” in these collaborations delivers the industrial strengths of significant scale and resources, and the “Peers” bring together the individual strengths of localization, specialization, and customization, unlocking the power of the collaborative economy. When excess capacity is harnessed by the platform and diverse peers participate, a completely new dynamic is unleashed.

In Peers Inc, Robin Chase brings her provocative insights to work, business, the economy, and the environment, showing:

  • How focusing on excess capacity transforms the economics of what’s possible and delivers abundance to all
  • How the new collaboration between the Inc and the Peers enables companies to grow more quickly, learn faster, and deliver smarter products and services
  • How leveraging the Peers Inc model can address climate change with the necessary speed and scale
  • How the Peers Inc model can help legacy companies overcome their shortening life cycle by inviting innovation and evolution
  • Why power parity between the Peers and the Inc is a prerequisite for long-term success
  • How platforms can be built within the existing financial system or outside of it
  • What government can do to enhance economic possibility and protect people working in this new decentralized world

Chase casts a wide net, illuminating the potential of the Peers Inc model to address broader issues such as climate change and income inequality, and proves the impact that this innovative economic force can have on the most pressing issues of our time.

Sharing: Culture and the Economy in the Internet Age

by Philippe Aigrain

An in-depth exploration of digital culture and its dissemination, Sharing offers a counterpoint to the dominant view that file sharing is piracy. Instead, Philippe Aigrain looks at the benefits of file sharing, which allows unknown writers and artists to be appreciated more easily. Concentrating not only on the cultural enrichment caused by widely shared digital media, Sharing also discusses new financing models that would allow works to be shared freely by individuals without aim at profit. Aigrain carefully balances the needs to support and reward creative activity with a suitable respect for the cultural common good and proposes a new interpretation of the digital landscape.

Cognitive Surplus: How Technology Makes Consumers into Collaborators

by Clay Shirky

How new technology is changing us for the better.

In his bestselling Here Comes Everybody, Internet guru Clay Shirky provided readers with a much-needed primer for the digital age. Now, with Cognitive Surplus, he reveals how new digital technology is unleashing a torrent of creative production that will transform our world. For the first time, people are embracing new media that allow them to pool their efforts at vanishingly low cost. The results of this aggregated effort range from mind-expanding reference tools like Wikipedia to life-saving Web sites like Ushahidi.com, which allows Kenyans to report acts of violence in real time. Cognitive Surplus explores what’s possible when people unite to use their intellect, energy, and time for the greater good.

Grown Up Digital: How the Net Generation is Changing Your World

by Don Tapscott

The Net Generation Has Arrived. Are you ready for it?

Chances are you know a person between the ages of 11 and 30. You’ve seen them doing five things at once: texting friends, downloading music, uploading videos, watching a movie on a two-inch screen, and doing who-knows-what on Facebook or MySpace. They’re the first generation to have literally grown up digital–and they’re part of a global cultural phenomenon that’s here to stay.

The bottom line is this: If you understand the Net Generation, you will understand the future.

If you’re a Baby Boomer or Gen-Xer: This is your field guide.

A fascinating inside look at the Net Generation, Grown Up Digital is inspired by a $4 million private research study. New York Times bestselling author Don Tapscott has surveyed more than 11,000 young people. Instead of a bunch of spoiled “screenagers” with short attention spans and zero social skills, he discovered a remarkably bright community which has developed revolutionary new ways of thinking, interacting, working, and socializing.

Grown Up Digital reveals:

  • How the brain of the Net Generation processes information
  • Seven ways to attract and engage young talent in the workforce
  • Seven guidelines for educators to tap the Net Gen potential
  • Parenting 2.0: There’s no place like the new home
  • Citizen Net: How young people and the Internet are transforming democracy

Today’s young people are using technology in ways you could never imagine. Instead of passively watching television, the “Net Geners” are actively participating in the distribution of entertainment and information. For the first time in history, youth are the authorities on something really important. And they’re changing every aspect of our society-from the workplace to the marketplace, from the classroom to the living room, from the voting booth to the Oval Office.

The Digital Age is here. The Net Generation has arrived. Meet the future.

Shareology: How Sharing is Powering the Human Economy

by Bryan J Kramer

Technology continues to evolve and make our lives busier and more complicated, but it can never replace true human connection–our fundamental need to share information, stories, and emotions.

Sharelogy explores the history, art and science of sharing, and illustrates why sharing is what gives us a unique competitive advantage as individuals and brands. It is meant for entrepreneurs and marketers who want to make their content more valuable, shareable, and for individuals who want to understand the power of sharing to grow their personal brand.

Kramer’s best-selling second book, Shareology raced onto the USA Today’s Top 150 Book List the week of its release, as well as onto #1 on Amazon in four categories includingBusiness & Planning, Strategic Planning, Hot New Releases and Communications, and Business Best Sellers Top 25 and Jack Covert Selects list on 800 CEO Reads.

Shareology includes:

  • The Shareology Backstory
  • Sharing in the Human Economy
  • The Importance of Context
  • The Human Business Movement
  • Sharing: A Sensory Experience
  • Timing Is Everything
  • Redefining Influencers Inside and Out
  • Connections and Conversations
  • Creating Shared Experiences
  • Social Selling Helping
  • What Makes Stuff Worth Sharing
  • Brands on Sharing
  • The Sharing Future: What’s Next?

Bryan Kramer is a renowned global speaker, consultant and trainer. He’s also one of the world’s foremost leaders in the art and science of sharing, and has been credited with instigating the #H2H human business movement in marketing and social, which was the basis for his first book: There is No B2B or B2C: It’s Human to Human #H2H ~ another Amazon bestseller.

It’s a Shareable Life: A Practical Guide on Sharing

by Chelsea Rustrum (Author), Gabriel Stempinski , Alexandra Liss

Three 20-somethings started off as strangers and came together through experiencing the life-altering benefits of sharing. Through their sharing experiments, they gifted, bartered, rented, and swapped their way to a richer life.

Now, you too can learn how to lead a Shareable Life through the practical know-how and real life stories highlighted in this comprehensive guide.

LEARN HOW TO:

  • Live rent free
  • Pay for your car
  • Increase your free time
  • Work from anywhere
  • Find work, even in a down economy
  • Travel the world on a backpacker budget
  • Reduce your monthly expenses sharing
  • Build a stronger community
  • Develop more trust in people
  • Create a healthier lifestyle
  • What are people saying?

“It’s a Shareable Life is a ‘must-read’ for anyone interested in the practical side of living the sharing economy.” – Rachel Botsman, Author of What’s Mine is Yours

“This is the best guide I’ve seen for the sharing economy.” – Casey Fenton, Founder of Couchsurfing

Crowdsourcing: Why the Power of the Crowd Is Driving the Future of Business

by Jeff Howe

Why does Procter & Gamble repeatedly call on enthusiastic amateurs to solve scientific and technical challenges? How can companies as diverse as iStockphoto and Threadless employ just a handful of people, yet generate millions of dollars in revenue every year?

“Crowdsourcing” is how the power of the many can be leveraged to accomplish feats that were once the responsibility of a specialized few. Jeff Howe reveals that the crowd is more than wise–it’s talented, creative, and stunningly productive. It’s also a perfect meritocracy, where age, gender, race, education, and job history no longer matter; the quality of the work is all that counts. If you can perform the service, design the product, or solve the problem, you’ve got the job.

But crowdsourcing has also triggered a dramatic shift in the way work is organized, talent is employed, research is conducted, and products are made and marketed. As the crowd comes to supplant traditional forms of labor, pain and disruption are inevitable, and Howe delves into both the positive and negative consequences of this intriguing phenomenon. Through extensive reporting from the front lines of this workplace revolution, he employs a brilliant array of stories to look at the economic, cultural, business, and political implications of crowdsourcing.

Notes to Friends

To my friends in Design – Airbnb was born when two designers rented out their apartments to people, designers, who were coming to town for a design conference. This is a good idea, why don’t we propagate this? And so was born a new form of sociality.

To my friends in the Architecture space – there is an interesting link between the sharing economy and Architects. As Zimmer of Lyft says it:

ZIMMER: So in 2006, I went to Cornell Hotel School, and in my senior year took a class in city planning in the architecture school. And the class was called “Green Cities,” and had this amazing professor.

DUBNER: The professor was Robert Young …

The professor inspired Zimmer with something he said about occupancy. Lyft was born – eventually.