THE CENTER FOR THIRD AGE LEADERSHIP NEWSLETTER – MAY 2016
1. FATHER WILLIAM’S MUSINGS
2. 450,000 CONDOMS FOR RIO OLYMPICS ATHLETE’S VILLAGE
3. WELCOME TO THE EXPONENTIAL AGE – OUR NEAR FUTURE!
4. ABSURDITIES OF THE US ELECTORATE
6. THIS MONTH’S LINKS
QUOTES OF THE MONTH – IOC, BUZZ HEIDTKE, RAVI PALAT & XAN HART
“The International Olympic Committee says the condoms would encourage 10,500 athletes and staff to practice safe sex.”
“Uber is just a software tool, they don’t own any cars, and are now the biggest taxi company in the world. Airbnb is now the biggest hotel company in the world, although they don’t own any properties.”
“It is an electorate that continues to believe, in spite of all evidence to the contrary, that its first non-Caucasian president is a Muslim.”
“I suspect I am making way for the Mystery.”
1. FATHER WILLIAM’S MUSINGS
May Greetings, Dear Friends…
I, as many of us, have spent a lifetime judging and discounting others’ beliefs as “absurd.” Again like many of us, I have spent a lifetime seeking to understand what “Reality” is and how it works. At 77 I’ve evolved enough to know I am equipped to do neither. Thinking any human perspective can understand such Infinity now seems to be my greatest “absurdity.”
So I’m going to celebrate “absurdities” in this month’s newsletter. I’t’s time to appreciate and enjoy how the Infinite’s mystery can baffle me — and how “absurd” I have been to imagine I can judge what I cannot possibly comprehend!
My usual habit is to read one book and go on the another, but right now serendipity has me reading two very different books speaking the same message at the same time, so there may be more on “absurdities” coming in future blogs.
The first, The Absurdity of Pride and the Peace of Humility by Michael H. Hall, I find fascinating. He’s opening my eyes to the costs of pride’s absurdities. I wouldn’t have been open to his message when I was younger. I think he presents a fundamental cause of humanity’s disease that is likely to be fatal for many of Earth’s species including ours (but not for the Infinite, of course). We keep focusing on the symptoms of our illness, like war, poverty, climate change, racism, etc., not the root cause. And those symptoms are, of course, what we see as “absurdities”…
The second book comes from Salman Rushdie who I should have read long ago but didn’t. My entry point to his comfort with “absurdities” is Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights, a later novel. In my new openness to enjoying Infinity’s playfulness, I’m finding his story of jinn and human intermingling an absolute gas! The bonus is I am opened to Islam as I’ve allowed myself to be with Christianity, Judaism, Sufism and Buddhism. The others I still have a way to go with.
The message these two books are presenting me with is that what I call “absurdities” are just part and parcel of “Reality,” a phenomenon which this tiny ‘I’ consciousness cannot begin to understand. Can my pride lead me to believe I understand it? Absolutely. What’s the likelihood of that being in any way accurate? Nil.
PS: Isn’t it interesting that ‘Absolutely’ and ‘Absurdity’ share the same root heritage?
2. 450,000 CONDOMS FOR RIO OLYMPICS ATHLETES’ VILLAGE
BY STEPHEN WADE, WWW.STUFF.CO.NZ, MAY 21, 2016
About 450,000 condoms will be distributed during the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, three times more than for the London Games four years ago, the International Olympic Committee says.
Part of the reason was because 100,000 female condoms will be available for the first time, along with 350,000 condoms for men. About 175,000 packets of lubricant are also being supplied.
The IOC says the condoms would encourage 10,500 athletes and staff to practice safe sex.
The condoms will be distributed free from a clinic in the athletes’ village, or from vending machines. The village opens on 24 July, with the Olympics opening on 5 August.
Brazilian newspaper Folha de S Paulo said between 100,000 to 150,000 condoms had been supplied at every Olympics since Sydney 2000.
FW Note: That’s 42 condoms per head for 10,500 people, so sex is now clearly a major Olympic Sport, and all medals earned should be publicly awarded!
3. WELCOME TO THE EXPONENTIAL AGE — OUR NEAR FUTURE!
BY BUZZ HEIDTKE, REDCHIP, MIDSOUTH WEEK IN REVIEW, MAY 17, 2016
FW Note: I remember being shocked by Toffler’s book in 1970, and here I am, forty-six years later, being “Future Shocked” all over again – see if you don’t find some of these predictions a bit mind-blowing…
In 1998, Kodak had 170,000 employees and sold 85% of all photo paper worldwide. Within just a few years, their business model disappeared and they went bankrupt.
What happened to Kodak will happen in a lot of industries in the next 10 years – and most people don’t see it coming. Did you think in 1998 that 3 years later you would never take pictures on paper film again?
Yet digital cameras were invented in 1975. The first ones only had 10,000 pixels, but followed Moore’s law. So as with all exponential technologies, it was a disappointment for a long time, before it became way superior and got mainstream in only a few short years. It will now happen with Artificial Intelligence, health, autonomous and electric cars, education, 3D printing, agriculture and jobs. Welcome to the 4th Industrial Revolution. Welcome to the Exponential Age.
Software will disrupt most traditional industries in the next 5-10 years.
Uber is just a software tool, they don’t own any cars, and are now the biggest taxi company in the world. Airbnb is now the biggest hotel company in the world, although they don’t own any properties.
Artificial Intelligence: Computers become exponentially better in understanding the world. This year, a computer beat the best Go player in the world, 10 years earlier than expected. In the US, young lawyers already don’t get jobs. Because of IBM Watson, you can get legal advice (so far for more or less basic stuff) within seconds, with 90% accuracy compared with 70% accuracy when done by humans. So if you study law, stop immediately. There will be 90% less lawyers in the future, only specialists will remain. Watson already helps nurses diagnosing cancer, 4 time more accurate than human nurses. Facebook now has a pattern recognition software that can recognize faces better than humans. In 2030, computers will become more intelligent than humans.
Autonomous cars: In 2018 the first self driving cars will appear for the public. Around 2020, the complete industry will start to be disrupted. You don’t want to own a car anymore. You will call a car with your phone, it will show up at your location and drive you to your destination. You will not need to park it, you only pay for the driven distance and can be productive while driving. Our kids will never get a driver’s licence and will never own a car. It will change the cities, because we will need 90-95% less cars for that. We can transform former parking space into parks. 1.2 million people die each year in car accidents worldwide. We now have one accident every 100,000 km, with autonomous driving that will drop to one accident in 10 million km. That will save a million lives each year.
Most car companies might become bankrupt. Traditional car companies try the evolutionary approach and just build a better car, while tech companies (Tesla, Apple, Google) will do the revolutionary approach and build a computer on wheels. I spoke to a lot of engineers from Volkswagen and Audi; they are completely terrified of Tesla.
Insurance companies will have massive trouble because without accidents, the insurance will become 100x cheaper. Their car insurance business model will disappear.
Real estate will change. Because if you can work while you commute, people will move further away to live in a more beautiful neighborhood.
Electric cars will become mainstream until 2020. Cities will be less noisy because all cars will run on electric. Electricity will become incredibly cheap and clean: Solar production has been on an exponential curve for 30 years, but you can only now see the impact. Last year, more solar energy was installed worldwide than fossil. The price for solar will drop so much that all coal companies will be out of business by 2025.
With cheap electricity comes cheap and abundant water. Desalination now only needs 2kWh per cubic meter. We don’t have scarce water in most places, we only have scarce drinking water. Imagine what will be possible if anyone can have as much clean water as he wants, for nearly no cost.
Health: The Tricorder X price will be announced this year. There will be companies who will build a medical device (called the “Tricorder” from Star Trek) that works with your phone, which takes your retina scan, your blood sample and you breath into it. It then analyses 54 biomarkers that will identify nearly any disease. It will be cheap, so in a few years everyone on this planet will have access to world class medicine, nearly for free.
3D printing: The price of the cheapest 3D printer came down from $18,000 to $400 within 10 years. In the same time, it became 100 times faster. All major shoe companies started 3D printing shoes. Spare airplane parts are already 3D printed in remote airports. The space station now has a printer that eliminates the need for the large amount of spare parts they used to have in the past.
At the end of this year, new smart phones will have 3D scanning possibilities. You can then 3D scan your feet and print your perfect shoe at home. In China, they already 3D printed a complete 6-storey office building. By 2027, 10% of everything that’s being produced will be 3D printed.
Business opportunities: If you think of a niche you want to go in, ask yourself: “in the future, do you think we will have that?” and if the answer is yes, how can you make that happen sooner? If it doesn’t work with your phone, forget the idea. And any idea designed for success in the 20th century is doomed in to failure in the 21st century.
Work: 70-80% of jobs will disappear in the next 20 years. There will be a lot of new jobs, but it is not clear if there will be enough new jobs in such a small time.
Agriculture: There will be a $100 agricultural robot in the future. Farmers in 3rd world countries can then become managers of their field instead of working all days on their fields. Aeroponics will need much less water. The first Petri dish produced veal is now available and will be cheaper than cow produced veal in 2018. Right now, 30% of all agricultural surfaces is used for cows. Imagine if we don’t need that space anymore. There are several startups who will bring insect protein to the market shortly. It contains more protein than meat. It will be labeled as “alternative protein source” (because most people still reject the idea of eating insects).
There is an app called “moodies” which can already tell in which mood you are. Until 2020 there will be apps that can tell by your facial expressions if you are lying. Imagine a political debate where it’s being displayed when they are telling the truth and when not.
Bitcoin will become mainstream this year and might even become the default reserve currency.
Longevity: Right now, the average life span increases by 3 months per year. Four years ago, the life span used to be 79 years, now it’s 80 years. The increase itself is increasing and by 2036, there will be more that one year increase per year. So we all might live for a long long time, probably way more than 100.
Education: The cheapest smart phones are already at $10 in Africa and Asia. Until 2020, 70% of all humans will own a smart phone. That means, everyone has the same access to world class education. Every child can use Khan academy for everything a child learns at school in First World countries. We have already released our software in Indonesia and will release it in Arabic, Suaheli and Chinese this Summer, because I see an enormous potential. We will give the English app for free, so that children in Africa can become fluent in English within half a year.
4. ABSURDITIES OF THE US ELECTORATE
BY RPALAT.WORDPRESS.COM, OCTOBER 25, 2010
FW Note: When one lives abroad, one often is seen as, and called upon, to be a representative of his original tribe. You can imagine that, as a Yank, this is not exactly a pleasure in 2016…
“Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad…”
Using this apt Latin metaphor, in a recent post, Ed Darrell notes the absurdity of the current US mid-term election campaign……An electorate that was passive in 2000 when the US Supreme Court stole a presidential election and the ‘winner’ in that election went on to wage war against a country that could not have threatened the US or defended itself is now screaming ‘socialism’ when the government seeks to provide a minimum level of health care to the young and the elderly while careful to preserve the high profits of insurance companies. An electorate seemingly unconcerned with the enormous cost of the illegal wars waged in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the evidence of billions of dollars being distributed in plastic bags, is enraged at a modest stimulus to the US economy. An electorate that does not register the torture of Iraqis by US forces or the ‘rendition’ of alleged ‘terrorists’ for torture by other states sees plans to build a mosque in downtown Manhattan as proof of the Islamicization of the United States. It is an electorate that continues to believe, in spite of all evidence to the contrary, that its first non-Caucasian president is a Muslim.
The paradox is heightened by the ‘grassroots’ opposition to the elites when it is the elites funding the ‘grassroots’ Tea Party Movement. George Monbiot has documented how the two Koch brothers–owners of the second largest privately held company in the US and each worth over $21 billion–have financed a bevy of special interest groups to fund and sustain the Tea Party Movement so that they can retain more of their profits, avoid regulation, and pay less taxes. And once the John Roberts Supreme Court ruled restrictions on campaign financing unconstitutional, it has opened the floodgates to corporate financing of elections. Never before in US elections have large corporations and wealthy individuals contributed so much to an election campaign as reported by the New York Times and the Financial Times.
Elite sponsorship of essentially white working class protests is all the more striking as the unemployed workers blame the government for the loss of jobs and the high rate of unemployment, when it is the corporate members of the US Chambers of Commerce–funding the Tea Party candidates–that are responsible for outsourcing US jobs overseas! “American Free Enterprise” is creating more jobs overseas than it is at home!
In part, this disconnection between perceptions and reality among the electorate is because of the absence of critical voices in the mainstream media. There are hardly any representatives of labor or of working families on news shows in the last two decades. Instead we are fed with a constant stream of well-paid talking heads, representing no opinion but their own. There is, hence no questioning of the functioning of the economic system. John Boehner, the Republican leader poised to become the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, has pointedly refused to specify how he would cut the deficit–and in fact, he cannot.
It was, after all, under Republican presidents–Reagan, Geoge H W Bush, George W Bush–that the Federal deficit ballooned beyond control. In the absence of critical commentary, the Republican Party and their Tea Party affiliates have been focusing on side issues–on whether President Barack Obama is American-born or whether he is a Muslim–to evade debate on crucial issues. And they have been able to do this because he is not a Caucasian!
Such racist, and frankly incoherent, rhetoric has gained ascendancy primarily because serious debate has been eliminated from mainstream media–especially television. Instead of sustained debate on serious issues, we are fed a steady diet of inconsequential issues–debate on the mosque in Manhattan, the pastor of essentially a family congregation in Florida threatening to burn the Koran, the racist rants of Juan Williams and Bill O’Reilly–rather than issues of substance.
Ravi Arvind Palat is Professor of Sociology at the State University of New York at Binghamton. He is the author of Capitalist Restructuring of the Pacific Rim and has published articles in many scholarly and popular journals. His blog is at rpalat.wordpress.com.
PS: Even though Palat published this in 2010, it’s just gotten more embarrassing in the last six years…
BY ALEXANDRA ‘XAN’ HART, THE AGE OF ACTUALIZATION, ISBN 978-1497595156
FW Note: Somehow this piece by Xan just feels right after all the previous “absurdities.’ As I’m doing my own “essentializing” at 77 I’m having to accept that what I’ve called “absurdities” are just as possible as anything else. More significant and non-sensical is believing my tiny human perspective could make value judgments about the workings of infinity. How’s your “essentializing” coming?
There comes a time in everyone’s aging process when you find you can no longer keep up your familiar pace (if you’re lucky enough to survive into your older years). For women, if it hasn’t happened previous to menopause, that particular life and body change is sure to start this up. Women are familiar with the big changes in their hormones at various times in life, which brings a certain edge of recognition. Something is happenin’ here, but you don’t quite know what it is. Men, I can only guess, but they tend to wrinkle a little later and don’t have the more dramatic body changes that help women come to terms.
In any case, while the timing is individual, aging will cause one to take stock. Necessity causes a process of sifting through one’s use of time and energy. Sometimes a kind of “bucket list” starts to form. In our Elders Salon we began to call the sifting “essentializing” because you simply can’t fit in as much in a day or an hour, and the sands of one’s life are dribbling slowly away. You feel like you better make your choices count. Getting down to essentials: discarding the more frivolous activities, household items that suddenly seem in the way, relationships that don’t seem appropriate or productive, concerns that you find you’ve outgrown – this kind of the essentializing leaves you with more time for activities that you care about, that have more meaning, and that feed you. Eldering toward wisdom can begin to set in.
REDUCTION AND NUTRITION
It is also inevitable that this surrender of ways one has been in the past can feel like a reduction rather than a boon. The losses become more numerous. Loved ones have died; Life has weathered and scarred us; our bodies ache and we forget names. Yikes! But we are survivors! You don’t get here without challenges and pain. Yet, here we are! We have survived! Some celebration, some gratitude, some awe about the journey can begin to creep in and the connection between and grief and praise can dawn.
It is somewhere in this realm that our elders began to see “Reduction” in a new light. Yes, we are reduced. It comes in many ways, both from inside or outside. My husband died, resulting in a loss of my home due to the mortgage crisis a few years ago and a loss of community in that we were living in cohousing. Everything went upside down. I even broke my right arm, followed by surgeries on both hands, which put a big kink in an existing art career I had been imagining I’d follow full time.
A good cook knows a reduction in the production of much tasty food as a similar process to this elder phenomenon. There is less of it but it is a richer and more flavorful. It can be quite extraordinary, in fact. After that loss I was freed to more easily become myself and follow my own new inclinations in surprising ways, living more simply with little excess. The reduction made me take more care with all my choices, paring down relationships and pastimes. I soon began work to create the Elders Salon, enlisting Lucky as a cohort.
Like the wisdom growing inside, all this richness began to feed me, nourish me, and lead me into new areas of my own growth and understanding of what I could and wanted to contribute. I began to feel a kinship with the folks who came to the salon, reducing the distance and learning from the shared wisdom that we discovered together. The aggregate expression of others in our exploratory discussions was truly feeding me! More meaning was coming my way through the individual experiences that were shared.
I am not alone. Many of those who continue to connect in this way, as elders, notice similar effects. Sitting together as we offer deeper observations, personal discoveries and stories to the circle, a palpable buzz or energy often emerges. I would describe my sensation as a receiving of nourishment I had known I needed. I am being filled with some very necessary, unidentifiable kind of energetic food. We are caring about and for one another, becoming more resilient in the process. And many of us have found deeper self acceptance and respect through our experiences and connections.
More recently, when Nelson Mandela died, I discovered a new elder capacity that is related but different from the reduction above, though it follows on its heels. In an interview when Mandela was deciding to leave public life, he said that his decision was partly due to knowing that he was dispensable. The reporter demurred, trying to dissuade Mandela from his point. But, no. Nelson knew that it is important to make way for younger people and that to follow one’s path into the farther reaches of elderhood means knowing when to surrender to new energy. It is also likely to coincide with one’s own need to go further within, slowly losing attachment to worldly pursuits.
As we journey toward the far end of life we must each grapple in our own way with the knowledge of mortality. I like to think of a metaphor of life processes as akin to sprouting, maturing, blossoming, fruiting, ripening, then finally, making seed.
I have reached a stage of engaging with seed making, wondering what ways I and my generation will find to become viable seed. I wonder what such seed may contain for me as I lessen my attachments to experiencing life in familiar ways.
I suspect I am making way for the Mystery.
Age of Actualization: A Handbook for Growing Elder Culture ©️2014 by
7. THIS MONTH’S LINKS:
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