Ask Your Doctor; Tell Your Doctor

Do you feel a certain emptiness in your life. Are there moments when you have absolutely nothing to do? Do you find yourself have to go constantly–anywhere on line? Have you been using the other remedy, the old-fashioned book to occupy your precious time. If you have any of these ailments, there is a new treatment available to you. Ask your device doctor about the new miracle cure for all that ails you: the iPadberrydroidle, approved for use by people of all ages by the FDA, the Foolish Device Administration. Certain rare side effects such as boredom, continuous partial attention, traffic accidents, and other results of competing devices may occur.… Read More

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Sustainability and the Meaning of Life

Last night, our long standing (about 35 years) couples book club met. We usually read a work of fiction, but this time we read a short “memoir” of Leo Tolstoy, [A] Confession. Our book chooser for the occasion had been moved by the recent film of Tolstoy’s later life, “The Last Station.” In *Confession*, written in his 51st year, following his greatest literary successes, Tolstoy describes his existential battle with uncertainty about the meaning of life. Asking himself this question, “What Is the meaning of life?”, Tolstoy could not come up with a satisfactory answer that he could use to justify his own existence, and seriously flirted with suicide. Eventually… Read More

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Black Swans Salmon

A small story in today’s NYTimes would perhaps be unnoticed in quiet times, but coming soon after the Gulf Blow-out, it merits attention. A Waltham, Massachusetts genetic engineering company announced that they are in the later stages of approval for a genetically modified salmon species that will grow to maturity in farms in half the time of an ordinary breed. In writing this last sentence I struggle to know what to call the unmodified salmon. Natural, no, the salmon raised in farms come from a line that has forgotten what it is to live in the wild. Wild, no, at least not along the Eastern seaboard. So many farmed salmons… Read More

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More Thoughts About the Blow-out

I have found it difficult to write for my blog this week. Maybe it’s because the good weather outside of our Maine cottage beckons or maybe I am a bit depressed by everything going on these days. I’m still thinking about the implications of the Gulf spill. In spite of the zillions of words written about it the situation seems pretty stark and can be largely captured by just a few sentences. 1. It’s crazy to drill for oil in places where a blowout, however unlikely, would cause great harm. 2. It’s crazy to let companies like BP or any other operate without constant monitoring. No matter how well meaning… Read More

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Sorry, Nathan, but I Really Do Disagree.

My last post drew upon an article in Greenbiz by Nathan Shedroff. Nathan wrote me to ask why I had disagreed with him. The issue is sufficiently complex that I want to devote another post to it. I have copied the guts of Nathan’s rejoinder. Part of my response was a reaction to the “funny” headline in Greenbiz, but that’s not the real reason. John, I don’t understand your point or why you disagree with me that sustainability should be an accepted and assumed “given” in how we do business instead of, still, a question to ponder. I never stated that business is doing all they can or knows all… Read More

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Sick of Sustainability–Wrong Picture

Greenbiz is one of the best websites to go to to keep on top of what the business community is doing and telling about sustainability. I could easily write more than a few posts a day responding to the news, information, and misinformation to be found there. Most posts would be boring, with my usual complaint that few if any of the articles or the firms they picture get sustainability right. There are lots of references to environmentally friendly or green products, and sustainable businesses. If it takes a healthy environment to allow businesses to persevere over long times, then it will take more than green products to do the… Read More

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More Help from Unexpected Sources Is on the Way

Did Mother Nature anticipate that we would mess up her world so badly? She, as James Lovelock writes in [*Gaia*](http://books.google.com/books?id=89GBVioWGUgC&printsec=frontcover&dq=lovelock+gaia&source=bl&ots=Ih98f3MeHi&sig=uBpcBAaBX2n7C4yOApup1Aaqpa0&hl=en&ei=wZ0aTJjSDYX7lwe6_83XCg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=7&ved=0CDYQ6AEwBg#v=onepage&q&f=false), created a system that can maintain a nourishing environment for all her species. Now we are told by scientists that one of the more intelligent creatures around (maybe more so than we) can contribute to our battle against global climate change. Is it self (whale) preservation or concern for a fellow species? Here’s the article. The headline tells the story: “Scientists Discover Sperm Whale Poop Fights Global Warming.” The secret is that these whales’ feces contain large amounts of iron which act to fertilize algal growths which capture carbon dioxide.… Read More

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Thank Goodness–Help Is on the Way

Headline from a [story](http://www.csrwire.com/press/press_release/29820-Hooters-Girls-Donate-Their-Pantyhose-to-Create-Booms-and-Absorb-Up-to-1-Million-Gallons-of-Oil-in-the-Gulf-of-Mexico?tracking_source=rss&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+csrwire%2FPRfeed+%28CSRwire.com%29) from today’s CSR Newswire: > Hooters Girls Donate Their Pantyhose to Create Booms and Absorb Up to 1 Million Gallons of Oil in the Gulf of Mexico

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Equality and Sustainability

The Spirit Level is a recent book by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett that argues that many societal ills can be traced to the degree of income inequality, rather than to the absolute level of affluence as is often believed. After a few introductory chapters, the authors present some nine chapters full of data that illustrate significant correlations between inequality and a wide variety of social indicators. One figure after another shows that some social indicator gets worse as inequality increases. The United States is almost always the worst as it has the largest income inequality of all the nations included in the study. The data have been derived from… Read More

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Black Swans in Disguise

Nassim Nicholas Taleb popularized the black swan theory around the time the financial system went south. Simply put, he argued that extremely rare events with serious consequences, like the Gulf blowout, do happen, but that we are almost never prepared to deal with them either before the event or afterward. Often, because the consequences are so large, these events can change the course of history. In this case, we are seeing brown pelicans trying to survive the catastrophe, ending up as black, oil-soaked birds. Their appearance is all too close to the original metaphor that named Taleb’s theory. The same fate would have occurred to normally white swans, if they… Read More

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