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Want to transfer a high-definition movie in one second? 2010-Jul-28 at 15:28 PDT

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From Intel: Light beams can replace electronic signals for future computers, by Andrew Nusca, 27-July-2010:

Intel built a prototype of the world’s first silicon-based optical data connection with (wait for it…) integrated lasers.

Yes, lasers.

That matters because the optical link can move data over longer distances and much faster than copper cables: up to 50 gigabits of data per second.

(If that means nothing to you, try this: an entire high-definition movie being transmitted each second.)

(There are also two short videos at that page that show how this technology works.)

Imagine devices that can transfer data this quickly… and then imagine the networking hardware that would be required to support a large number of these kinds of devices on one network (like, for instance, your neighborhood’s cable modem switch, supporting hundreds of customers, or the optical switches that would enable YouTube to stream HD video to millions of users simultaneously).

We already know that this kind of hardware is necessary to get us to the point where we’re communicating in real-time video around the world, and we need that level of communication to enable things like global Integral Politics.  And, again, the exponential growth curves are in effect.  Nice to see this early work happening.


Thoreau on Silence 2010-Jul-27 at 14:10 PDT

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Henry David Thoreau is my favorite author, and has been since the age of 14.  To me, no one has done with the English language what he did with it.  Such precise poetry in prose.

Recently I had occasion to read from A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers.  This was the book that Thoreau built his cabin on Walden Pond, where he lived for two years, to write.  A Week is a travelogue, telling the story of a trip Henry took with his brother.  Along with the brilliantly-observed travel stories, it seamlessly weaves in philosophy and spirituality in a constant, beautiful flow.  As much as I love Walden and so many of his essays… this remains perhaps his most perfectly executed work.

What follows are the very last words of the book.  Substitute the word “Spirit” for “Silence” if that gets the point across better.  Don’t forget… the Transcendentalists were very clear about the Soul and Oversoul, and they created what was the first truly American philosophy, and that philosophy included spirituality at its very heart.


As the truest society approaches always nearer to solitude, so the most excellent speech finally falls into Silence. Silence is audible to all men, at all times, and in all places. She is when we hear inwardly, sound when we hear outwardly. Creation has not displaced her, but is her visible framework and foil. All sounds are her servants, and purveyors, proclaiming not only that their mistress is, but is a rare mistress, and earnestly to be sought after. They are so far akin to Silence, that they are but bubbles on her surface, which straightway burst, an evidence of the strength and prolificness of the under-current; a faint utterance of Silence, and then only agreeable to our auditory nerves when they contrast themselves with and relieve the former. In proportion as they do this, and are heighteners and intensifiers of the Silence, they are harmony and purest melody.

Silence is the universal refuge, the sequel to all dull discourses and all foolish acts, a balm to our every chagrin, as welcome after satiety as after disappointment; that background which the painter may not daub, be he master or bungler, and which, however awkward a figure we may have made in the foreground, remains ever our inviolable asylum, where no indignity can assail, no personality disturb us.

The orator puts off his individuality, and is then most eloquent when most silent. He listens while he speaks, and is a hearer along with his audience. Who has not hearkened to Her infinite din? She is Truth’s speaking-trumpet, the sole oracle, the true Delphi and Dodona, which kings and courtiers would do well to consult, nor will they be balked by an ambiguous answer. For through Her all revelations have been made, and just in proportion as men have consulted her oracle within, they have obtained a clear insight, and their age has been marked as an enlightened one. But as often as they have gone gadding abroad to a strange Delphi and her mad priestess, their age has been dark and leaden. Such were garrulous and noisy eras, which no longer yield any sound, but the Grecian or silent and melodious era is ever sounding and resounding in the ears of men.

A good book is the plectrum with which our else silent lyres are struck. We not unfrequently refer the interest which belongs to our own unwritten sequel, to the written and comparatively lifeless body of the work. Of all books this sequel is the most indispensable part. It should be the author’s aim to say once and emphatically, "He said," . This is the most the book-maker can attain to. If he make his volume a mole whereon the waves of Silence may break, it is well.

It were vain for me to endeavor to interrupt the Silence. She cannot be done into English. For six thousand years men have translated her with what fidelity belonged to each, and still she is little better than a sealed book. A man may run on confidently for a time, thinking he has her under his thumb, and shall one day exhaust her, but he too must at last be silent, and men remark only how brave a beginning he made; for when he at length dives into her, so vast is the disproportion of the told to the untold, that the former will seem but the bubble on the surface where he disappeared. Nevertheless, we will go on, like those Chinese cliff swallows, feathering our nests with the froth, which may one day be bread of life to such as dwell by the sea-shore.

We had made about fifty miles this day with sail and oar, and now, far in the evening, our boat was grating against the bulrushes of its native port, and its keel recognized the Concord mud, where some semblance of its outline was still preserved in the flattened flags which had scarce yet erected themselves since our departure; and we leaped gladly on shore, drawing it up, and fastening it to the wild apple-tree, whose stem still bore the mark which its chain had worn in the chafing of the spring freshets.

Karma and Grace 2010-Jul-26 at 23:08 PDT

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Terry Patten visited Seattle in January, 2009, and during his Friday evening lecture he talked about his view of the Three Faces of Spirit, and, in particular, his view of the Second-Person Face of Spirit.  (If you’re not familiar with this idea, please check out the link… it’s only a few minutes of reading to get an important view on Spirit.)

Typically, when we think about the second-person relationship to Spirit – the I-Thou relationship – we view it as:

  • me, whatever “me” is… my body, my thoughts, my heart;
  • some distance, either spatially or psychically;
  • God… somewhere “over there”

If we take this view, which is the traditional, mythic view of how we relate to God or Jesus or Allah, then we create an unsolvable metaphysical problem: how do I bridge the distance between me and God? In a sense, the whole history of mythic Western Judeo-Christian religion can be looked at as the ongoing attempt to solve this problem.  I’m over here, God’s over there… how do I get closer?

Terry blew that idea up for us in his lecture, when he redefined the second-person face of Spirit as an I-Thou relationship where we still start with “me” – whether that “me” is my body, my mind, my heart, my soul, whatever – and then everything that is not “me” is God.  That means that God, or Spirit, is the chair I’m sitting on, the room I’m in, the other people I see, the trees outside my window, the air that I breathe… everything.  And that field of matter/energy, that actually is Spirit, or God, constantly, effortlessly shifts to contain us and hold us, no matter what we do, no matter what we think, no matter what energies we expend.  The loving all-embrace of Spirit is without effort, without struggle, there’s no way to escape it, there’s nowhere you can be to avoid it, there’s no question of you deserving it or not… because it’s just there, always.  There’s no time and no place – ever – when you’re not literally surrounded by God’s love, from the second-person perspective.

That redefinition of the second-person face of Spirit was, for me and many others here in Seattle, a seminal moment, and one that has not been forgotten.  Terry’s visit was powerful and I know that so many of us remain grateful for it.


With that said, let’s talk about karma.  Karma typically arises in traditions that feature the first-person face of Spirit, the I AM-ness of Buddhism or Vedanta Hinduism.  We don’t often talk about karma, for instance, in Judaism or Christianity… we talk about God’s justice, righteousness, and forgiveness.  And, honestly, I never really could fit karma together with I AM-ness.  Maybe I just didn’t study the texts enough, but it just never clicked for me.  What need is there for karma in a universe in which I identify as and with the Emptiness that is the source of all being… and which I then further let go of in an expression of the nondual nature of reality?

I thought about Terry’s lecture a lot over the following few weeks, and eventually came to see karma not so much related to the first-person or third-person perspective on Spirit, but rather deeply related to the second-person face of God.  If we view God as “everything that is not me”, then we can look at that all-enveloping field as having two interesting properties.

The first property is that of karma.  Karma can be defined as a property of that all-enveloping field which says that every energy that’s sent into it returns to its source.  From that point of view, it’s simple, right?  If I take a positive action, the energy of that is received by the field – without judgment – and eventually is returned to me.  If I take a negative action, the energy of that is received by the field – without judgment – and eventually is returned to me.  Same goes for my thoughts, my intentions, my shadow, my trust… they all have an energetic signature that is received and returned by the all-encompassing field of energy that is God, seen as the Great Thou.

The second property of that field is grace.  I hesitate to limit grace by defining it, but I’ll borrow my friend Alia’s definition for it, to say that grace is the free-flowing force of emergence within that field.  It constantly, effortlessly creates and manifests all that arises.  Some of those creations seem ordinary to us, some seem miraculous, but grace is behind all of them… including, sometimes, a manifestation that seems to alter the cause-and-effect relationship of karma, in ways we can’t understand.

So… the second-person face of God, with karma and grace.  That’s the basis of my view from that perspective.


And then, as I sat with this view of karma and grace for a couple of months, I had another shift.

I found myself uncomfortable looking at energies and actions as negative and positive.  By this I don’t mean to suggest a Green perspective that doesn’t contain discernment between helpful and harmful actions.  Rather, I just came to view all such actions simply as energies that are put out into the world.

From this point of view, with karma as that property of an all-enveloping field which receives and returns all energies, I came to see karma not as that which returns positive or negative actions/energies to their source, but rather as the force that ensures that we will have the opportunity to make wiser and more loving choices, until we figure out what those loving choices are.  If karma does nothing else, it returns you to situations over and over if you choose less wise and less loving actions, until you figure out which choices might be better.

By removing the judgment energy that might define actions as positive or negative, we can see karma as a simple property of manifestation (when seen as the Second-Person Face of Spirit) that ensures that each of us has the opportunity to grow, to learn, to open more, to embrace more, to love more fully, more deeply, more selflessly, more gracefully in every moment.

Karma is not a limitation, it’s not justice, it’s not judgment; it’s a liberation from our unwise minds and contracted hearts.  And that’s the definition of karma that I resonate with… the one that invites us to more love and more joy in our lives.


From this place, where I kneel in gratefulness to the Second-Person Face of Spirit, let me say:

Thank you, God, for karma.  Thank you for never giving up on me.  Thank you for being present at all moments to all of my most unloving and unwise choices.  Thank you for embracing me.  Thank you for allowing me the chance to change, to grow, to refine my soul until I could open up and receive the endless grace that flows abundantly through the energy of the Universe.  Thank you for all of the people who love me and respond to me as a result of the refinement I’ve been blessed to experience, and thank you for the opportunity I have to serve them with and through my love.  May I never doubt your love and the abundance of your blessings.

The end of this year’s climate bill 2010-Jul-26 at 13:18 PDT

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Yes, yes, I know… the climate bill is now a mere shadow of itself, with no cap-and-trade, and no requirements for new renewable energy sources.

And that means that the forces of greed and cowardice have won again, right?  (My apologies in advance for linking to a column from Dr. Doom himself.)

So… is it too late?  Has the U.S. Senate doomed the entire planet to a slow-cooked death?

Well… not exactly.

Ultimately, any energy solution that requires end-users to change their behavior is destined to fail.  Anything that requires companies and individuals to cut back, to buy from other sources, to pay more in taxes (which cap-and-trade is)… that’s just not going to get the job done.

Why?  Because we have to include a developmental perspective on climate solutions.  So, let me ask you a question: do you think egocentric Red or ethnocentric Blue is able to think in worldcentric terms?  In other words, do you think that the vast majority of people in the world (don’t forget to include China, India, and Africa) will, for this one issue, magically rise above their current level of development and make what some others would consider “the right choice”?

If you do… hell, you’re even more optimistic than I am.  Because I just don’t see it happening.  I see those billions of people far more interested in improving their families’ standard of living than I see them interested in whether or not an iceberg is bigger or smaller this year than last.  And that’s not a bad thing.  And it’s not a good thing.  It’s just a developmentally appropriate thing.  There’s no reason to get upset about it, and we already know that there’s every reason to expect it to be that way, because at an Integral level of development we understand developmental psychology.  This is what Red and Blue look like.  No judgments, just understanding.

And there remains every reason to open our hearts with love at the play of this beautiful spiral of development, flowing through every human being on Earth.

This is why I’m personally opposed to any sort of limitations or laws based on changing end-user behavior.  It’s a well-meaning but futile attempt to change things.

The only way we’re going to change the use of energy on Earth, and therefore move away from the sources that contribute to global warming (assuming that such theories are accurate) is to deal with it on the supply side.  We have to take a systemic view of our energy supply, and we have to change the way it’s generated in the first place.  Only through massive changes on the supply side will we be able to deliver virtually unlimited amounts of electricity to the billions of people in Asia and Africa who are poised to join the global economy, through the spread of globalization, in the next four decades.

Fortunately, those massive changes are coming.  Developments in nanotechnology-based manufacturing, solar, and battery are all on track to be able to supply 100% of the world’s need for energy within 20 years… whether the Senate passes a bill with cap-and-trade or not.  And government investment in these technologies?  Well… there’s so much profit to be made by whomever figures these out that government investment just isn’t necessary.  We already know that it’s a global business that’s worth trillions of dollars.

And it’s not the United States that’s going to lead this anyway.  So, relax… it’s OK.  The Senate didn’t just doom the planet.  Not that I think it’s a particularly wise institution at this moment in history, but in this case, we’re going to be just fine.

Yet another reason for Congressional term limits: Charles Rangel 2010-Jul-23 at 13:13 PDT

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From House Panel Will Try Rangel in Ethics Cases, by Eric Lipton and David Kocieniewski, 22-July-2010:

A House investigative panel has found “substantial reason to believe” that Representative Charles B. Rangel violated a range of ethics rules, dealing a serious blow to Mr. Rangel, a Harlem Democrat, in the twilight of his political career.

The finding means that he must face a public trial before the House ethics committee, the first member of Congress to be forced to do so since 2002, when Representative James A. Traficant Jr. was expelled from Congress after a corruption conviction.

The investigative panel did not disclose any details about the nature of the violations.

But two Democrats with knowledge of the investigation said the committee found evidence to support accusations that Mr. Rangel, 80, wrongly accepted four rent-stabilized apartments in Manhattan and misused his office to preserve a tax loophole worth half a billion dollars for an oil executive who pledged a donation for an educational center being built in Mr. Rangel’s honor.

The committee also found evidence to support a charge that Mr. Rangel failed to report or pay taxes on rental income from his beachfront Dominican villa.

They are among the most serious of the assortment of charges against Mr. Rangel that the panel has been examining for nearly two years.

If you didn’t grow up under the influence of New York City media outlets, like I did, you might not understand how big Charles Rangel is.  He’s almost like Ted Kennedy was to Massachusetts.  Big guy.

And, with that role, a swelled head.  A belief, after 20 terms in Congress, that his power within that body means that he can violate the law for his own gain.  And he’s hardly the only example… he just crossed the line where others merely skirt it.

I cannot, for the life of me, imagine what purpose beyond ego is served by someone serving 20 terms in Congress.  I further cannot imagine what would make this man, facing a public ethics investigation in the House of Representatives, think that his personal interests are more important than those of Congress, his political party, or his constituents, and therefore decide still to run for his 21st term.

Look, I’m not trying to single out Rep. Rangel.  I know he’s done a lot of good for Harlem over the years.  But this is exactly what happens when people forget that Congress doesn’t exist for personal aggrandizement.

How do we not get into this kind of mess ever again?  Change the Constitution to create term limits for Congress.  Two full terms in the Senate, six full terms in the House, and that’s it.  We’ll even have a grandfather clause in the amendment to exempt current members from the new rules.  But we need to start the flow into Congress of people who go in already knowing that they won’t be there forever… and so they’ll be more likely to make the difficult political votes knowing that they might lose their seat for it.

And they’ll be younger, more energetic, less about personal ego, less about getting caught up in the machine, more likely to be independent, and more willing to compromise, because not every issue is a life-and-death struggle between the two parties.  It’ll take about a decade after the amendment is passed to really change the culture there, because of the necessary grandfather clause, but it will change.

And since it will take about a decade to change that culture, and at least a decade from now to get the amendment ratified… we can’t start too soon.

China uses more energy than the United States now 2010-Jul-22 at 08:48 PDT

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From China now world’s biggest energy user, by Carola Hoyos, 19-Jul-2010:

China overtook the US last year to become the world’s biggest energy user, the International Energy Agency revealed on Monday.

Beijing’s new status is expected to make it even more influential in global energy markets, in determining prices and how it is used.

China clinched the top slot more quickly than had been expected because the US has over the past decade far outpaced China in using energy more efficiently. On a per capita basis, the US still uses far more energy than China and remains less efficient than Europe.

A second big consequence of China’s growing heft as an energy consumer is that the country will thus increasingly determine how energy is used on a global scale – from the types of cars manufactured to the kinds of power plants built. This means China will also determine energy consumption patterns outside its borders. “There will be a big multiplier effect,” Mr Birol said.

What does this mean? As Thomas Barnett talks about all the time, demand drives supply, and China’s leadership knows damn well that the supply of energy that they eventually need will be far greater than is supportable with oil and coal, both economically and ecologically.  The shift to clean energy will not be driven by Western do-gooder ideas, but by the hard facts of supplying over 1.2B people with enough electricity to run a modern life over the next couple of decades, some of whom don’t even have any power lines yet.

(And don’t forget India, which is facing the same questions for their 1,000,000,000+ people.)

The technologies we need to move energy production forward (namely, nanotechnology-based manufacturing, and improvements in photovoltaics and batteries) are coming, and coming soon, because the demand for them is so high, and the profit motive for creating them is so strong.  We also know that they’re coming soon because the exponential growth curves for the development of these technologies are running smoothly and right on time to deliver 100% of the world’s energy needs through solar in less than 20 years.

And don’t get all Green on this, thinking that profit motive being involved is a bad thing.  In an Integral economy, we think about having four bottom-lines, one in each quadrant, and the upper-right quadrant still has profit as one of its drivers.  That’s a good thing… as long as it’s not the only driver, as it so frequently is today.

When ideas have sex 2010-Jul-21 at 14:08 PDT

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Yes, every now and then I’ll succumb to the simple temptation of posting a TED video.

Essentially… here’s a little bit about how the ideas we share move the world forward.  And how ridiculous the predictions of global doom are.  They’ve always been here, they’re always going to be here, they’re never true, because we grow, we change, we adapt, we share ideas, and those ideas help all of us.

Please Bring Strange Things 2010-Jul-21 at 11:05 PDT

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A dear soul I know in Seattle posted this on Facebook, where she got it from a mutual friend’s post on another web site.


Please bring strange things.
Please come bringing new things.
Let very old things come into your hands.
Let what you do not know come into your eyes.
Let desert sand harden your feet.
Let the arch of your feet be the mountains.
Let the paths of your fingertips be your maps
And the ways you go be the lines of your palms.
Let there be deep snow in your inbreathing
And your outbreath be the shining of ice.
May your mouth contain the shapes of strange words.
May you smell food cooking you have not eaten.
May the spring of a foreign river be your navel.
May your soul be at home where there are no houses.
Walk carefully, well-loved one,
Walk mindfully, well-loved one,
Walk fearlessly, well-loved one.
Return with us, return to us,
Be always coming home.

— Ursula K. Leguin


How does it feel to read that?  It feels really solid to me.

And… I have cool friends who would post something like that, right?

Which is to say… I have allies.  I have a network of friends in Seattle who are all supporting each other on this path.  All doing their own things, all starting to trust the emergence, all backing each other up, all offering love.  There’s something very special going on here.

Obviously, I have friends elsewhere for whom I’m grateful, but I’m just pointing to the size of the group we’ve got going on in Seattle now.  It’s getting fun over here.

This poem is spoken to someone who needs a little support, and a little reminding; in other words, it’s spoken to your own voice of doubt.  The part of me that feels solid when I read that is my own voice of doubt, which is, temporarily, reassured.  That voice is just doing its job, whether it’s reassured or not.  It’s not in control.  Doubt is not in control.  You are.  You who knows that doubt is just one voice among many, that none of them describe the true nature of reality, and that each of them represents only a fraction of the total view… you are.

This path to wholeness feels lonely at first, but know in your heart that you’re far from alone – I promise you that with the right people around this life becomes a beautiful experience – and that you’re only headed for home.  And please bring strange things.

Haiti, six months after the earthquake 2010-Jul-18 at 09:44 PDT

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When the earthquake happened, I wrote a blog post suggesting that we mount a serious SysAdmin effort in Haiti.  All of that logic still applies.

From In Haiti, the Displaced Are Left Clinging to the Edge, by Deborah Sontag, 10-July-2010:

Six months after the earthquake that brought aid and attention here from around the world, the median-strip camp blends into the often numbing wretchedness of the post-disaster landscape. Only 28,000 of the 1.5 million Haitians displaced by the earthquake have moved into new homes, and the Port-au-Prince area remains a tableau of life in the ruins.

The tableau does contain a spectrum of circumstances: precarious, neglected encampments; planned tent cities with latrines, showers and clinics; debris-strewn neighborhoods where residents have returned to both intact and condemnable houses; and, here and there, gleaming new shelters or bulldozed territory for a city of the future.

But the government of Haiti has been slow to make the difficult decisions needed to move from a state of emergency into a period of recovery. Weak before the disaster and further weakened by it, the government has been overwhelmed by the logistical complexities of issues like debris removal and the identification of safe relocation sites.

Christ, it’s bad.  I mean, it was bad before the earthquake, but it’s really bad now.  The cynics will say that we’re not strongly participating in rebuilding because there isn’t any oil there.  I think we’re not doing it because Washington and the American public doesn’t yes have a long-enough attention span to pull it off.  And I think it’s karmically appropriate that we should be working to build Haiti, and would change the perception of the United States for some people in the rest of the world if we did lead it.

Unfortunately, we’re wasting an incredible, relatively low-cost opportunity to do the SysAdmin right in Haiti.  Because there’s no war involved, we could get other nations to participate.  We could learn together how to take the capabilities of those nations and plug them into the larger effort managed by the U.S. military (the only organization large enough and skilled enough to run the whole thing).  We could put a general in charge of it who has served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, and who knows what counterinsurgency looks like… because counterinsurgency looks a lot like civilian construction, and infrastructure, and creating the conditions for foreign direct investment (FDI) to flow to the country being rebuilt.  In other words, COIN looks like what we need to do in Haiti, minus the smacking down of an entrenched insurgency (because that’s just a part of COIN, and could happily be done away with in more peaceful locations).

As I said in January, I still support a strong U.S. military involvement in the rebuilding of Haiti, and a strong international effort to plug into that.  I know I’m just wishing in 2010, but eventually we’ll have enough attention span to take responsibility for seeing something like this through.

Afghanistan will not be a military victory 2010-Jul-17 at 19:19 PDT

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Yes, we need to have a military presence in Afghanistan to secure the country and stop the Taliban.  Yes, it’s messy.  And yes, the United States military is smart and flexible, and they’re listening to what works.

Ultimately, the victory will be civilian, it will be jobs, it will be schools, it will be infrastructure.  It will not be purely military, and believe me, President Obama, Sec. Gates, Adm. Mullen, and Gen. Petraeus understand that.  The victory comes when the Afghan people feel like they have enough at stake in their own country to reject the Taliban insurgents and turn to fight them themselves.  Our military is there to provide strong cover and organizational support for the myriad civilian efforts already underway in Afghanistan.

From Unlikely Tutor Giving Military Afghan Advice, by Elisabeth Bumiller, 17-July-2010:

In the past year, Mr. Mortenson and his Central Asia Institute, responsible for the construction of more than 130 schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan, mostly for girls, have set up some three dozen meetings between General McChrystal or his senior staff members f and village elders across Afghanistan.

The collaboration, which grew in part out of the popularity of “Three Cups of Tea” among military wives who told their husbands to read it, extends to the office of Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Last summer, Admiral Mullen attended the opening of one of Mr. Mortenson’s schools in Pushghar, a remote village in Afghanistan’s Hindu Kush mountains.

Mr. Mortenson — who for a time lived out of his car in Berkeley, Calif. — has also spoken at dozens of military bases, seen his book go on required reading lists for senior American military commanders and had lunch with Gen. David H. Petraeus, General McChrystal’s replacement. On Friday he was in Tampa to meet with Adm. Eric T. Olson, the officer in charge of the United States Special Operations Command.

I haven’t read this book yet… I have been really curious about it since I was sort-of reading a little of it over the shoulder of the guy in the seat next to me on a flight last month (sorry about that).  But it’s certainly good to know that Gen. Petraeus has made this required reading as part of how to run a COIN operation.

It’s obvious when you think about it: we need to have contact with Afghan and Pakistani tribes in order to build infrastructure and work with them to give them what they need, and Greg Mortenson has already been doing that for years.  Military and western resources = peanut butter, Three Cups of Tea = chocolate, right?

The world will not fall apart 2010-Jul-09 at 18:08 PDT

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It’s interesting how certain energies ebb and flow… lately I’ve been in a few discussions in various places online about all of the predictions of doom that we’re facing: economic, monetary, environmental, governmental, peak oil, Rising China, resources, water, nuclear proliferation, global warming, etc.  I’m sure I’m forgetting some in the moment.

Basically, those who deeply believe in these kinds of predictions consider someone like me either: 1) naïve; 2) ill-informed; 3) in denial; or 4) all of the above!  And this is true about every one of the above threats!  I’m ill-informed and in denial about lots of things!  Wow… all that and I wasn’t even trying.  Cool, right?

Well… this is your invitation to join me in my naïve, ill-informed, denial-infused reality.

Because I just don’t believe it.

We’ve been seeing forecasts of doom for our entire lives.  Remember acid rain?  Yeah… but you had forgotten about it, didn’t you?  Remember Reagan as a madman with his finger on the button?  Hell, Sting even wrote a song about it… “I hope the Russians love their children too.”  Remember?  Oh, please.  We’re still here, the Soviet Union is gone, and no one fired any missiles.

There are always predictions of doom, from all angles.  I’ll have a lot to say about this in the coming weeks, because it’s an enormous personal and cultural energy leak to pay attention to them.  Why?  Because they’re almost always wrong.  And I mean almost always.

A broken clock is right twice-a-day, and some of these theories come true in one way or another.  Right now Nouriel Roubini is enjoying his triumphant moment of having predicted the economic collapse of 2008.  So, yay for him, and that’s all as it should be.  But almost all of these predictions fall by the wayside as inaccurate, exaggerated, or not taking into account the changes in technology and society that are certain to happen.

With that said, and with much more to come, I’ll begin with a video of Ken Wilber talking about these kinds of predictions.

Poker and Zen 2010-Jul-09 at 13:14 PDT

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I occasionally get the question about how I could be trying to make my living playing poker while having an Integral understanding of spirituality, and the ultimate fallacy of competition, from an absolute perspective.  What am I trying to achieve through this (other than, you know, paying the rent and eating)?

A long excerpt from Poker and Zen, by Howard Lederer:

Tournament poker can be very exciting, but like many exciting things in life, it can also be terrifying. There is nothing quite like the thrill of playing at a big money final table. I am often asked how I handle the pressure of playing for such big money. I could give the standard answer of "You have to forget the money and just think about the chips as units." This is certainly true. But, those units are worth a lot of money and forgetting about the money and prestige that comes with winning is easier said than done.

I always had trouble doing this at the critical moments of poker tournaments even as recently as a few years ago. I then started to read some books on Zen Buddhism. Zen has always been associated with the fine arts of flower arranging, calligraphy, and tea making. But there is also quite a tradition of Zen in swordsmanship and archery. Through reading these books and in particular "Zen in the Art of Archery," I have a greater understanding of the process one goes through to master an art form.

Staying in the moment is the path to poker mastery. And it is poker tournaments that present the greatest challenge to this goal. How is it possible to think only about the current hand when you have made bad plays and taken bad beats only minutes before? How is it possible to stay mindful of only the current hand when if you could win this tournament it might change your life? These are questions that can only be answered by each individual player. But, I believe that the study of the Zen arts can lead you down that path.

I realized that the more I could stay focused on the present hand and forget about bad beats and bad plays from my recent past, the better I would play. I also concluded that even more damaging to my focus on the present hand might be the nervousness brought on by thoughts of winning the tournament. Staying in the moment at the poker table is not an easy task. But, when I read "Zen in the Art of Archery," there was a concept that stayed with me. The master archer hits the target without having aimed. This meant that the more I tried to focus on the moment, the more I would not succeed. I could only find that focus from within myself. I decided that I would sit at the table and relax. For two years now, I have been practicing my own form of poker meditation. Instead of trying hard to focus, I allow it to happen through relaxation.

I couldn’t have said it better myself.  Poker is not other than the path… it is the path, as much as any other is.  Beyond the money is the ability to stay centered at all times, through wrenching bad beats and occasional bad decisions.

Just like life.  It’s all on the path.

P.S. For the record, even last night I lost that center from a bad beat for a few minutes, so I’m still working on it, still walking the path.

Delivering medicine to just one cell 2010-Jul-08 at 13:04 PDT

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OK, you got it.

From Nanowires Deliver Biochemical Payloads to One Cell Among Many, 08-July-2010

A team of researchers affiliated with Johns Hopkins University Institute for NanoBioTechnology used precise electrical fields as “tweezers” to guide and place gold nanowires (metallic cylinders a few hundred nanometers or smaller in diameter) on predetermined spots, each on a single cell.

Molecules coating the surfaces of the nanowires then triggered a biochemical cascade of actions only in the cell where the wire touched, without affecting other cells nearby. The researchers say this technique could lead to better ways of studying individual cells or even cell parts, and eventually could produce novel methods of delivering medication.

With the new technique the researchers can, for instance, target cells that have cancer properties (higher cell division rate or abnormal morphology), while sparing their healthy neighbors.

The ultimate cure for cancer is: more clearly identify all of the things we have floating around in our ecosystem right now that are truly carcinogenic and eliminate them (and you know there are lots of things that just take a while to accumulate), and, at the same time, develop these one-cell-at-a-time kind of treatments.  Here’s your real-time update on the pure research going into that.

Yankee fans: Brett Gardner has 25 stolen bases… 2010-Jul-08 at 04:10 PDT

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Think about it.  We’re only halfway through the season.  This much power, and this much speed – Jeter, A-Rod, Granderson, Swish, Cano, heck, even Cervelli – that’s a lot of guys who can run.  They also hit for power and average, and play solid defense.  And then you throw a Brett Gardner with 25 SB on top of that.  You’re kidding me, right?

Tex, Posada… haven’t mentioned them because they don’t run well.  But I haven’t forgotten.

And even Burnett won.  He won.  Finally.  We know that he’s at least halfway on board now, and I’ll take the odds on him getting his shit together in the playoffs, and being dominant.  Remember… this guy was dominant before we signed him.  Best-curveball-in-the-game type-of dominant.  That’s why we signed him.  And with C.C., Pettite, Hughes, and Vasquez… I’m enjoying this plan so far.

But Brett Gardner? 25 SB? Are you kidding me? Just icing.  Delicious icing.

So, things are good in Yankee-land, no?

Sequencing the genome for $1,000 or less 2010-Jul-07 at 18:28 PDT

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From The amazing race for the cheapest and fastest DNA machine, by Boonsri Dickinson, 4-Mar-2010

In the past decade, the cost of sequencing an entire human genome has dropped from $1 billion to $10,000. As companies race to crack the $1,000 genome, the contending DNA machines in the marketplace suggest an end is near.

Now, there are 18 next generation sequencing companies who want to read parts of the DNA code — and they want to do it faster. Everyone is performing at their own pace. Six of the companies have sequencing machines that are working and are available. Six startups have shown their machines work and are expected to roll out commercial machines soon. And the other six are still working on demonstrating their technology.

So, that’s eighteen different companies and machines competing to make the best, most accurate, most cost-effective way to sequence the genome.

Another exponential growth curve in action… it’s only a matter of time until it costs less than $10 and takes seconds to do.  Combine that with nanotechnology-based manufacturing and pharmaceuticals, and we’ve got instant, custom-created-for-you, cures to most every disease we’re aware of today.

The most powerful energy storage outside of nuclear 2010-Jul-07 at 14:16 PDT

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Solar power, is, as I constantly point out, right on schedule to be able to support all of Earth’s energy needs within 20 years (think exponential growth curves in nanotechnology-based manufacturing).  Along with solar, though, has to come a corresponding improvement in battery technology, since, you know, the sun doesn’t shine at night.

From Super battery is most powerful energy storage ever (besides nuclear power), by Boonsri Dickinson, 06-July-2010:

Washington State University researchers created a super battery.

Using similar pressures to what is found in the center of the earth, the researchers created a new material that could store unprecedented amounts of energy.

“If you think about it, it is the most condensed form of energy storage outside of nuclear energy,” says Choong-Shik Yoo, a WSU chemistry professor and lead author of results published in the journal Nature Chemistry.

Is this ready for consumer production?  Of course not.  Is this yet another indication of the advances that continue to speed up in researching these topics?  You bet it is.

We need battery just as much as we need solar, and this is the kind of advancement that’s going on today, all over the world, in pure materials research.

Why I can’t ever rule the world 2010-Jul-06 at 07:10 PDT

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Not that I haven’t been accused of trying, mind you….

From Why morning people rule the world, by Philip Delves Broughton, 05-July-2010

The problem is that those with the genetic gift of “morning-ness” tend to be more highly rewarded. Morning-ness is perceived as a sign of activity and zest, whereas evening-ness implies laziness and loafing. How often did we have to see David Cameron on one of his early-morning runs to get the idea that here was a leader of potency and vigour? How different would it have been if he slunk out of bed to work, then exercised at around 8pm? Could a Prime Minister be elected today who worked like Churchill, reading, writing and thinking in bed before getting out of it at noon?

History is full of great bores praising the virtues of early rising, but few have made the case for letting the day drift by until you kick into gear around happy hour.

Yet the research continues to mount, arguing that evening people have qualities which should be nurtured. They tend to be more creative, intelligent, humorous and extroverted. They are the balance to morning people, who are said to be more optimistic, proactive and conscientious.

I am an “evening person” by this definition (except for the extroverted part).  Obviously, I’m optimistic like morning people are.  It’s not that I don’t enjoy the early morning hours… I do, really.  But I’m not terribly alert during them.  They’re not good for getting stuff done.  My best time is from around 6:00 PM to 2:00 AM, and so, particularly now that I’m just doing my own thing, I’ve gravitated to sleeping somewhere around 2:00 AM – 9:30 AM or so.  I feel so much better on this schedule.  I’ve always said that I could get twice as much done at work if I could just work the second shift.

So what’s my Integral angle on this?  Let’s start treating morning-ness and evening-ness as a typology, and not as one is right and one is wrong.  That’s what Orange does.  We know better.  Imagine a white-collar workplace where it doesn’t matter – at all – when you show up.  That’s what I’m talking about.  If I ever start a company, that’ll be the rule.  Just be productive, and I don’t care what time you work.  Telecommuting available and optional, too.

Over Two Billion Served 2010-Jul-05 at 19:15 PDT

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As I’ve been doing my presentation lately, I’ve been pointing out to people that there are tens of millions, and then hundreds of millions, of people who will join us at an Integral level of development in the coming decades.

I’ve been thinking about it, and I think I’ve been wrong about those numbers by a wide margin.  They’re way too low.

The real number is probably somewhere around two to three billion people who will develop to second-tier in the next four decades.

How do I arrive at this estimate?  It’s simple, really.

The United Nations (useless in many respects, but occasionally good for statistics) estimates that the peak population on Earth, reached around 2050, will be around 9.5B.  The reason that population growth levels off there is because the spread of globalization, and the rising income and educational levels that globalization brings to nations, mean that the nations that have the highest birth rates now – typically on the lower end of GDP/capita – will see those birth rates decline to around replacement rate by 2050.

Already, Japan is below replacement rate (generally defined as 2.1 children/couple).  Europe is below replacement rate.  The United States is exactly at replacement rate, in the latest estimate, and that thanks to the immigration we still welcome.  The parts of Africa, South America, and Asia that currently sit far above replacement rate will slow dramatically as income levels rise, and therefore the chances of raising children that will survive and thrive go up as well (as has always happened in history).  I find this a compelling model for population numbers.

So, we’ll be at 9.5B or so in 2050.  Then, if you look at the number of people estimated to be at a post-modern level of development in the “Western” world, or what Thomas Barnett calls the “Old Core”… that’s generally estimated to be 25%-30% of the population.  There’s no reason to think that Integral won’t get to that 25%-30% of the population in the next four decades (and probably sooner).

But, this time, because of the Internet and globalization, and the “Flat” world we have, as Thomas Friedman would put it, the Integral wave of development won’t be limited to the Western world.  No, this time, we’ll also be a significant percentage of India and China and the rest of the world.

So, let’s take a conservative estimate and say that Integral will, by 2050, comprise only 20% of the world’s population.  20% of 9.5B = 1.9B people.  And I think that’s the minimum estimate.  25% gets us to 2.4B people.

So… stop and think about this… imagine a world where over two billion people are operating with some sort of second-tier consciousness.  Imagine the kinds of global leadership and decision-making that will be possible in that world… a world where all points-of-view are recognized and which also finds the balance between those contexts to make nearly optimal decisions.  A world where enough of us overcome our own limited, fearful, egoic perspectives to share a world-centric view of right action that transcends the limited definitions we place on ourselves about who we are.  A world worth saving… and a world worth celebrating.

Feel that.  Believe that.  We’re going to be fine, because there will be enough of us who are capable of acting for the good of the planet, and for the good of all sentient beings.  This world is coming, in this lifetime.

That’s the future worth creating that I’m talking about.  The Integral Wave of Development is now serving… you.

News flash: Russia is still corrupt 2010-Jul-05 at 09:33 PDT

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From Russian Mayor Irks Security Agency, and Suffers, by Clifford J. Levy, 3-July-2010

Ms. Kazakova was not a typical bureaucrat. She was one of the most successful businesswomen in this vast region, a real-estate magnate with a blond ponytail who represented a new breed of Russian entrepreneur.

She filed a lawsuit against the resort, and asked the regional prosecutor to open a criminal inquiry.

A criminal inquiry was indeed opened — against Ms. Kazakova.

The resort belongs to the F.S.B., the main successor to the Soviet-era K.G.B., and the F.S.B. arrested her and had her prosecuted.

She is now on trial in a case that has already become a disquieting example of the power of the security agency in today’s Russia.

After her arrest in March 2008, she was held in a cell at Pre-Trial Detention Center No. 1, a jail in the Siberian regional capital of Irkutsk that was once used by Stalin’s secret police. For nearly two and a half years, she was denied all contact with her fiancé, mother and three children, including a 15-year-old daughter who has a neurological disease.

Late on Wednesday night, after The New York Times made repeated inquiries to the F.S.B. about the charges against Ms. Kazakova, the judge in the case reversed previous decisions and agreed to release Ms. Kazakova on bail. The next day, Ms. Kazakova embraced her family for the first time since 2008.

So, in case you had forgotten… Russia is still really, really corrupt.  I know.

But it’s getting better.  Medvedev wants it to go that way.  And if you take the long-term view, you’ll notice that every time there’s been a rising middle-class in a country, at some point they’ve demanded political, economic, and civil rights, and at some point, they’ve gotten those things.  Even in post-WWII history, this rising middle class also moved their nation from a “one-party democracy” to a true multi-party democracy.  Mexico went through this, so did Japan.

So will Russia.  So will China (and we’re seeing the start of it there with these strikes at Honda plants).  Keep hope alive.  It’s coming, and both of these nations will be powerful partners with the United States in safely and confidently dealing with the challenges of the 21st Century.

So… eyes on the prize.  There will be bumps in the road, there will be difficulties, there will be the hangover of old structures of power in transition.  But the long-term trajectory is good… very good.

Comment upgrades on Integral Spirituality 2010-Jul-04 at 15:00 PDT

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My friend Lauren (yogapoetics on the right-hand side of your monitor) shared yesterday’s blog post on her Facebook feed, and I got the following comment over there from Daniel Schulman:

This is getting into very subtle territory, requiring nuanced examination. On the one hand, a facile ‘my guru is better than your guru’ scenario is of course, potentially suspect. It could just be nothing more than camouflaged tribal/team conditioning expressing itself. On the other hand, it is the very deep implicit nature of post-modernism (which we are all very very steeped in) to recoil from the challenge of vertical discernment. The flatland of non-judgmentalism and the avoidance of doing the hard work involved in teasing such things apart. So it may be a game for some and for others it may not be a game. Candid and thoughtful examination usually makes it pretty clear what motivations are involved in one’s position on such matters.

Ted had some similar distinctions in his comments on my blog yesterday, and I think they’re worth addressing.

Another point I want to make is we should be careful about becoming relativists in regards to teachers and paths. They are not all the same, and some may be pointing to something higher than others. Again, I have no problem with anyone choosing their ice cream flavor, but even at an integral level of consciousness there will distinctions that will need to be made from time to time in a developmental context. Again, I think people should choose what works for them as long as we don’t fall back on a postmodern aperspectival way of seeing these things. Many thanks Scott!

I started writing my own comment, but then it got long, so I figured I’d upgrade the comments into another post instead. :-)


I appreciate your responses, and the care with which you made them.  And I completely agree that we have to avoid a flatland, post-modern, non-hierarchical perspective on spiritual paths, or confusion will set in quickly.  What I’m suggesting is simply that I notice that, energetically, some people are attracted to certain types of spiritual teachings, and some are repelled by the very same ones.  It seems to me to make sense that one should use that facility — simply noticing whether something makes you feel more coherent, or less coherent — as a guide to deciding which spiritual paths to choose, even if those paths might be ranked by some as perhaps less effective or less authentic than some others.

Really, in terms of Integral theory, what I’m suggesting is that it’s interesting to look at this phenomena not just from a hierarchical, levels-of-development perspective (and it IS interesting AND useful to look at it from that point-of-view), but that it’s also possible to look at it from a typological point-of-view, with at least some validity.  This assumes that we’re staying in the general area of a second-tier spirituality, or one that includes the irreducible reality of a non-dual awareness, and so I’m trying to limit the scope of this idea so that levels don’t have to play out.  It would be interesting to attempt, at least, a typological study of who is attracted to which spiritual teaching, one that would look far beyond something like MBTI, and would reflect the intricacy of the Integral perspective.  I hope that I’m not holding a flatland perspective when imagining that.

Or I could be totally wrong.  But I’m going with it for now.

There will be those who find it important and interesting to dive into the Comparative Dharma/Techniques debate, and I’ll look in on them from time to time.  Ultimately, though, there’s another perspective that says: Just get everyone going on some sort of path.  And, this time, let’s not make it painful to get on that path.  Let’s allow people to be attracted to the teachings that they are attracted to, and let them nest there.

Both perspectives are valid.  Both contexts are important.  And I’m going to choose among those contexts… and simply ask people to go where they’re called to go, and to trust that.

I’ll take tens of millions of people doing that in the next twenty years, and others can have picking which path makes the best Satori Sauce.  I’ll take my side of that any day of the week, because I believe that mainstream forms of Integral Spirituality are the only thing that gets the Integral movement scaled up fast enough to make the impact on the world that we need to make.

And we already know that some of the forms that a mainstream Integral Spirituality will take will be scoffed at by some as not being rigorous or authentic enough, or not breaking down the ego structure thoroughly enough, or whatever.  That debate is inevitable in the Integral wave of development.  And I won’t let it stop me from supporting the greatest depth for the greatest span of people, rather than the greatest depth for a smaller span.


And – seriously – thank you to everyone holding up the other side of it, too.  So many will seek your guidance, and need your kind of careful sifting, during their own search for a path, as I did, and many souls will find their way through your efforts.

Blessings on all views of the truth.