What Poetry Does: Adrienne Rich on Poetry’s Political Power and Its Role in the Immigrant Experience

Today is “Poetry Day” here in New Zealand.  I encourage us all to read our favourite poem; out loud to a friend.  Poetry has a way of capturing reality and engaging us with beauty.   That is important as we build sustainable ways of life.  And poetry is direct contact with our beautiful worlds.

“Poetry can break open locked chambers of possibility, restore numbed zones to feeling, recharge desire.”

Source: What Poetry Does: Adrienne Rich on Poetry’s Political Power and Its Role in the Immigrant Experience

Another morning sky

Another morning sky

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Rethinking Growth § SEEDMAGAZINE.COM

This paper was recently republished in seedmagazine.  It is an interview with Herman Daily.  He is an economist and a founder of the journal Ecological Economics, and an ex-world bank economist.  His thinking is toward steady state economic systems.

Among other points he tells of the fundamental challenge of infinite growth on a finite planet.  My understanding of the challenge is that, economic systems are looking to optimise “well-being” which is a different thing to and “development”.   One problem with standard (neo-liberal) economics is that “”well being”  is most often measured using per capita GDP.  The justification is that at low incomes, there is a clear link between per capita GDP and measures like:  longevity, education, access to vaccinations and so forth; but at higher incomes this relationship is much less clear.  Herman Daily, makes the point that “development” is a different thing.  Although we there are “limits to growth”, this does not limit “development”.

Please read this article because the ideas give a path out of what I  would call  “The growth trap” and toward sustainable ways of life.

Source: Rethinking Growth § SEEDMAGAZINE.COM

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Why music is good medicine

There are many reasons to enjoy music and it is clear that music improves quality of life.  This research gives evidence that music helps cancer patients by reducing stress, and, perhaps by reducing pain.

“Laughter may not be the best medicine after all – for cancer patients, it’s all about the music.”

Source: Why music is good medicine





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There is such a thing as society

I am pleased to see this in one of New Zealand’s larger news papers.

An opinion piece by Dame Anne Salmond, one of our foremost writers, academics and environmentalists, saying clearly what many of us understand.  The neo-liberal doctrine of the last 30 years has been incredibly damaging; and our leaders, and ourselves, are finally beginning to question and change our thinking and actions.

As I will keep reminding readers, we are successful because we cooperate as well as because we compete.

OPINION:  Across the Anglo-American world in the 1980s, including New Zealand, neo-liberal doctrines went viral.

Source: There is such a thing as society



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Modeling mood swings: New data science research shows how we manage our long-term happiness — ScienceDaily

I fine this absolutely fascinating; that when we feel up, we bring ourselves down; and when we feel down, we bring ourselves up.  Reminds me of a word I learned in high school biology, “homoeostasis” the way systems self regulate.  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homeostasis)

Economists will be surprised, rather than individuals optimising short term pleasure we self regulate to long term satisfaction.  And that is important as we strive to move from short term economic and political systems to longer more sustainable ones.

Scientists have developed a smart phone app to collect large-scale data about human behavior and demonstrate how humans routinely sacrifice their short-term happiness for their long-term welfare.

Source: Modeling mood swings: New data science research shows how we manage our long-term happiness — ScienceDaily



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Musings About the “M” Word for Creatives | Psychology Today

Good morning.

This week I have spent much of my time reading in the area of creativity and particularly “process”.  And feeling that I suck at creative work, because that is what it is.  Work!  And because I feel stuck.  I  agree with Elizabeth Gilbert, and Julia Cameron;  and so many other creatives.  Concentrating on process is an essential feature of the creative life.  But so  is taking time to “fill the well” as Julia describe it.  I think each artist, scientist  … whatever … dances with this tension.  Though, in my case I think a little more energy on establishing a process would help.  The Muse turns up when we have established solid work habits.

For you how does your daily routine help of hinder creative output?   And what can we do to improve?

Musings About the “M” Word for Creatives | Psychology Today.


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Read Books, Live Longer?

Book readers lived an average of almost two years longer than those who did not read at all.

This made my day. Read books and live longer.

From the New York Times this article reports from Social Science and Medicine reports on a study of over 3500 adults over 12 years. Corrected for age, sex, race, education, co-morbidities, self-rated health, wealth, marital status, and depression people who read at lest 30 minutes a day live an average of two years longer. So not only do readers live powerful imaginative lives we are healthy too. That is good news. An engaged life; with books, in this case, is a good life. And longer.

Source: Read Books, Live Longer?


This is the last book I commented on here. I am reading three books at present. Do e-books count?

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The Kind Of Person Who Has More Sex Will Surprise You

One of the factors leading to sustainable action is cooperation but over the last twenty years or longer we have had a constant refrain emphasizing competition. The whole neo-liberal position: competition, the individual and unmanaged markets. When it comes to sexual success there is some evidence that status and violence have impacted the human gene pool. I am thinking of evidence of relatively small numbers of men breeding successfully at the beginning of the agricultural revolution and the widespread genes remaining in the gene pool from the Genghis Khan’s hordes. These pieces of evidence suggest that status competition and violence are successful breeding strategies.

But the reality is more complicated. Homo sapiens are successful because we compete and because we cooperate. The linked news article and the parent research gives evidence that cooperation is a successful strategy. As is usual, we must beware of the excluded middle fallacy or is that the false dichotomy, or just being told one side of the story by people with a vested interest. Real life is a complicated mix between headline extremes. This is good news for those of us working for a sustainable future. Cooperative individuals and cooperative groups do well. Ya.

Looks aren’t everything!

Source: The Kind Of Person Who Has More Sex Will Surprise You

morning sky

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Demonetized Cost of Living

One of my favourite websites is sagansense. The curator collects interesting and useful pieces that encourage me to think and to marvel. This one looks at the way the cost of living may become demonetized. Certainly this is an interesting and optimistic view especially if a basic universal income becomes standard as I think it should.



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‘Hamilton’ and Liberal Education

I expected to comment on a different issue this morning but this is important. Govt in New Zealand is increasingly focussed on education for jobs. This has been a particular thread with information technology over the last few weeks.

Clearly jobs are important and nobody is suggesting that we ignore that but I understand the greater importance that “Education should maximize students’ opportunities for lifelong learning, civic participation and meaningful work” regardless of social and economic background.

The quotation is from Michael Roth a university president in the USA. He has just introduced a prize for incoming students who have, ” submitted (with the application for admission) a work of fiction, poetry, song, or creative nonfiction judged to best reflect originality, artistry and dynamism”.

Now to me, that is an action that builds toward a beautiful and sustainable future.

Kia Toa Kia Ngakaunui



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