Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Social Hugging

In Sweden, The Red Cross has initiated a campaign, Hugs for the Lonely. They say that "The hug is the simplest gesture with which one can give another human being support, encouragement, comfort and human feeling. Hugs are wordless; exist in every language and expresses sympathy, friendship and belonging. They exist in all cultures and mean about the same thing the whole world over. Medical research shows that touch has a healing effect, primarily psychologically. The Red Cross states that no one should feel lonely" (my translation).

At the same time, at an American school a thirteen year old girl was punished for hugging two girlfriends. The term "public display of affection" is so ingrained that it has a shortened version, a "PDA". A distinction is made between those who are simply showing one of the emotions listed in the Red Cross definition and those seeking attention as in a couple engaging in activity with purely sexual overtones. In American schools, the problem seems to land in schools where twelve to fourteen year olds are attending. Many are feeling the first flush of hormones which will turn them adults with full reproductive potential. Another aspect of the problem is the mixing of cultures (increased migration and travel) blend expose individuals to more or less public affection between the sexes and between genders than their culture allows. Still other situations are found in the workplace where men and women are together many hours and often far from home (military, business trips, conferences.

One response is to eliminate public affection altogether (as has occurred in many American schools) and another is to define and then teach the differences between healthy touching, affection and unwanted or attention seeking advances. The response of making touching, like holding hands or giving hugs, a crime is a linear response. In linear thinking judgments come from one end or another of a continuum. Something is absolute, right or wrong, black or white, good or bad. In systemic thinking, there are a variety of responses along a continuum which could be better or worse choices given the situation. It means that parents and educators, managers and bosses have to be able to understand and describe behavioral nuances. This takes time and energy while allowing for the diversity of human behavior within clearly defined contexts. Linear thinking is simple, do and take the punishment or don't and loose any positive results that acceptance, inclusion and sympathy can provide.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Use less gasoline or fight more wars!

Recently, I started getting notices that the major car manufacturers are coming out with hydrogen concept cars (see example URL below) and further that they will be ready for customers in mid 2008. They will be leased. Interesting that they are using this lease system again, just like they did with electric cars.

A monthly leasing fee, while not cheap, is still a more sellable amount than the $103,000 price of a new hydro car. That is understandable. During the leasing period, manufacturers get important feedback on the car and the whole system. What will be interesting is to see if they will scrap the cars at the end of the leasing period like they did with electric care. It is easy to get the feeling that car manfacturers are testing the market to see which type of fuel and matching car takes off among the public while still assuring the kinds of profit margins they were used to with petrolium vehicles. A lot of their profit has come from repairs and if hydrogen cars have fewer moving parts, it could take a bite out of their parts and repair businesses. Have a look at this article for more detail.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Niche communities for those who think alike

We are living longer and can have as much as twenty plus years after the currently official retirement age (they are on their way up however). This period of retirement is already know as “active retirement” and it appears that those people, particularly in the Baby Boom generation want to retire with people who believe or have the same interests as themselves.

There are several ways to look at this phenomenon. As a trend, it may only last until the last Baby Boomer retires. However, children and grandchildren visiting their parents and grandparents might accept this as the natural way to live past a certain age. One could say that this is an American trend and so far I have no evidence to say it is true of not. We do know that people like to have friends that are like them. They may be from totally different backgrounds, but share the same values and views on life, they may be from the same cultural/religions background. We see this in immigrants who tend to move to areas where there are people who speak their language and who share a common cultural experience.

Some might say that all this forming of communities of likes is the opposite direction of diversity. It is one thing when older people want to be with their “own kind”, but if everyone did, what kind of world would it be? Would young people ever meet an older person? Would everyone live in their own community only going out for necessities and then returning? It could be positive if the communities were small enough where it was possible to know all or most of the members. Democracy is at its best when everyone can vote on the rules and matters of the group. It could be negative if communities get into arguments with other communities over common services or infrastructure. It could be that these communities become more self- contained with their own power sources and waste water treatment. It could be positive if communities were in contact with one another and even visited one another. Life might be less stressful in a community where the group made many decisions that individual’s make today at the same time individual control might increase because everyone has a say. The whole concept of smaller communities within the larger context could increase the feeling of security which Americans have seemed to have lost. Who will move to these communities when the Baby Boomers are no longer around, will it be their children, who also were a large demographic group?

There are many who feel that our cities are too large. Currently, half the world’s people live in cities more than ever before. We all are familiar with the negative side of cities, the isolation, not knowing your neighbors, having trouble meeting like minded people, crime, pollution, traffic. Will we be tired enough of all these irritations and inconveniences to move into smaller communities? Of course people who moved from small towns were often looking for anonymity, finding like minded people a little excitement and often a job. Electronic technologies mean that jobs can be performed anywhere. A little community out in the countryside might be just the thing!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Changing paradigms

A paradigm of course is a world view. In this case we are referring to the scientific paradigm, which seems to be loosing ground to creation theory. That is, God created the world in seven days. We human's like challanges and understanding how that creation came about is huge. We of course, also want to know why it occured, what God's message is in this.

For perspective, we need to look back before the change into the Scientific Theory. Most people believed in God as creator. Many rulers were still considered part god and part man. Mathmatical knowledge and other branches had built up enough information that individuals like Newton got excited about the new rules and theories. Decartes, who is also connected with the new scientific paradigm, was a philosoper. The beginnings of the field of science were know as natural philosophy, the philosophy of nature. Philosophers of the time sought knowledge or scienta in Latin. The word Science came from this latin word. From around the 1200's to until the 1840's science was known as natural philosophy. So, you see science started as philosophy.

Science has had a great deal of status for over four hundred years. Philosophy has remained in university courses catalogues because it is such a time honored clasic and gets at the existance questions that today's Science doesn't address.

Is it time for a switch back to philosophy and religion? Intelligent Design accepts science under the umbrella of religion. New Age movements have swung over North America and Europe and some of it's expressions are becoming mainstream. Eastern European countries long denied their religions are going back to them. The great changes in weather, fuel insecurity are causing great alarm. Where do we turn, to science or to a god?

Unpressidented change is what appears to be driving people to believe in god again. Has the secular trend has run its course.? Many changes occuring at once have left people with questions neither science or philosophy seem to be able to answer. Yet, science has brought us too far just to dump it, so it keeps a place in the new paradigm just under God.

Having said that, it will take some time, and possibly more than one lifetime to see how this change will play out. Science is still very strong. This may just be a little bump on the screen or the indication of a definate paradigm change. Chanses are strong that there will be new definitions for science, philosophy and religion.

If you are interested in this question see The Future of Religion at

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Natural Resources -To use or not to use

When helping individuals and groups to understand why they take certain stances when it comes to a particular change, consultants and coaches can turn to Basic Values Charts. See more at: bottom of the page.

For example, the values continuium upon which decisions to use or save natural resources will be made. Florence Kluckhohn, anthropologist, described how human beings orient themselves to nature, accepting that nature exists to serve humankind, or that humankind is subservient to nature, the middle ground being harmony with nature. How an individual orients him or herself along this “orientation” determines whether or not we save natural resources for the future or use them now. The decision is also influenced by how we think about people. If we think that people are basically out for themselves then it is incumbent upon us to make sure we have our piece of the pie. If we feel that people are basically good it is incumbent upon us to share nature’s bounty without destroying it for future generations. The beliefs each one of us have on these two continuums are usually unconscious, so unconsciousness that many of us never take a stand, we leave it to others. If we can help clients become articulate in voicing their values ground, they can become a part of the decision makering process and can more easily defend their rational for the conclusions they make.

The non-trend trend toward cleaner vehicles

A " Fuel Cell Today 2006 Worldwide Survey" was made just last year to show the growth of fuel cell use. Fuel Cells for small electronic divices is the largest area growing area. This means that computers and other small appliances, like telephones, hand-held computers etc are able to run from hydrogen.

Honda has a small version they are developing that can be used to warm water and heat a home as well as to fuel a hydrogen car. This is exciting and if it catches on it could mean that homes could be independent when it comes to heating and hot water. If it could also provide electricity for the home there would be less problems during the heavy storms predicted by global warming. Brown-outs and black-outs would be, in the beginning, only a problem for the poor. That could be easily solved by inclusion of solar power to run fuel cell equiptment. It appears that is the way we are heading.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Fractal Transactions

Futurist Thomas Frey offers an economic scenario for Internet payment. When you make a purchase on the Internet, several related businesses will be paid simultaneously, manufacturers, transportation, distribution, call center, website operator etc. Programs are currently being configured to this end.

The question for discussion is what are the consequences for the consumer. How does one get their money back and from whom? Will it be from the distribution center who sent the wrong item or the shipper who caused it to arrive months later? Who will be the legally responsible party? Do my lawyers have to talk to lawyers from all of the companies involved? The legal profession is going to love that! Fractal Transactions sound good for the companies who get their money much sooner, but what about the consumer and who is looking out for their rights?

Ending addiction problems

A Sign of the Times for January 2007: Scientists have discovered the brain system responsible for maintaining the addiction to cigarette smoking has been identified. The discovery was made when it was found that individuals with damage to a portion of the brain called the insula lost the urge to smoke and never relapsed unlike the four out of five smokers who have tried to quit.

Commentary: What are the possible consequences if this were to come true? If this signal system works for nicotine, it is assumed it could work with other addictive products. Drug/alcohol clinics, nicotine patches, many counseling services would dry up. Drug producers/ traffickers would loose their market incrementally as the technique/medication spreads. Farmers trying to survive on drug crops will loose their business and be forced to grow something else lucrative. Courts may use the treatment as a sentence, thus eliminating many individuals from jail terms.

On the other hand drug use might continue and a huge market for insula signal medicine, possibly called "the day after" medicine might be the biggest selling medicine ever created!