Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Emancipating Labour

Capitalism in the Adam Smith sense, is an emancipator of Labour. If you can separate from the cycle of labour, saving, and consumption, you can change the rules. Hand to mouth requires converting labour into money, saving for something, buying that thing, and repeating. Capitalism can free the hand. Instead of saving for something, you reinvest. The money then works, and gets paid for that work. Eventually Capital can work instead of Labour delivering a passive income stream for the owner. The income emancipates the owner to think of things that can't be monetised. Time and space to be creative in ways that can't be reduced to a number. Capital and Labour aren't enemies, they are lovers. Their relationship doesn't have to be a tragedy.

What satisfaction canst thou have tonight?

May I free your hand?

Tuesday, January 17, 2017


I believe in facts. I believe there are relationships that hold the physics, and chemistry, of the universe together in the way it exist. Some of these relationships are fragile, and changing. Some are longer lasting. Permanence is a something that by definition will remain an infinite unknown. Our attempts at understanding facts, and using facts, make use of the only tools we have. Human tools. Our understanding of facts can only exist in the stories we tell ourselves to understand how those facts affect us. Something that we believe is false can still have power if other believe it is true. So false can be real. Through a process of bold assertions, mistakes, and learning, our relationship with facts evolves. When we believe A and B, and we can't believe both... we feel uneasy. Cognitive Dissonance. Sometimes we have to choose. Because we are human, we don't always have to. We can take another step in a world we will never understand. A world that is complex, ambiguous, uncertain, and beautiful. 

Facts are relationships, and so is fiction.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Careful How You Count

When anything is reduced to a number, something is lost. Numbers are incredibly powerful communication tools, but they oversimplify. Someone may live their lives hand to mouth, but have very big hands, a very big mouth and no savings. They will be rich, but have no capital wealth. A Yogi may live in an ashram off very little. Teaching and living simply. She will be rich, but have no material wealth. A friend tells of Lesotho where life is impoverished when measured in numbers,  but where they are rich in relational wealth. Global Economic Inequality is falling. Poorer countries, especially in South-East Asia, have been catching up rapidly. That doesn't matter much to local inequality. We care a lot more about our neighbours. Numbers are best thought of as questions, not answers.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

No Mud, No Lotus (Shivani)

Heading home after two fabulous weeks in India. Smoggy, foggy Delhi with its layers of history like a buttery paratha. Precarious Shimla clinging to the Himalayan foothills. A giant pink Hanuman, muscular monkey god, towering. The utterly romantic city of lakes: palaces, pelicans, a pied kingfisher. The phrase I'm left with is "no mud no lotus". Nowhere is this more apparent than the Taj Mahal (glorious, ethereal, breathtaking), rising from the filth and squalor that is Agra. In India you cannot experience the lotus without experiencing the mud. The chaos, the dirt, the decay, the dark and violent history, the vast poverty coexist with the vividness, the luminosity, the food, the textiles, the architecture. Visiting India is like looking at the night sky, vast, incomprehensible, an awe-inspiring reminder of how small and transient we are.

Other posts by Shivani


Constraint has value. Escape hatches have real costs. I value change, and critique, more than I value faith, but I see the value in faith. It can be beautiful. I can't sufficiently contain my curiosity in some areas to sustain faith without challenge. In other areas I have forced myself. Built trust in others. Choice can be as much of an impediment to understanding as blind faith. To go deeper, at some point you have to accept an end to going wider. Call that faith. Call that trust. We will always be ignorant. All we can do is choose our basket of ignorance. Strong relationships, founded on trust, let us go further as we expand our idea of who we are. Placing faith in those relationships, and making the choice to work at never letting them break is the choice I make.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Half the Picture

It is deeply empowering to accept that the world owes you nothing. Stoically assuming the very worst. Face, and accept, anything that could possibly happen. Expect nothing. Then everything that happens will be positive. What sounds like an incredibly negative world view, can result in being permanently either content, or happy. If happiness is the relationship between expectation, and reality. The heart of this idea is that you are on your own. Your strength comes from within. But in weakness, and in vulnerability, there is a world of beauty that opens to those who are prepared to be disappointed. The beauty that comes from owing, and being owed, everything. Content or happy is half the picture.

Thursday, January 12, 2017


I find it easier to deal with my own stress than I do to deal with the stress of those I care about. In restaurants I struggle to even sit next to people (who I don't know from a bar of soap), that are in distress. I am like a sponge. When I do know people, and care from them, it is multiples more difficult. With myself, I value the philosophy of sitting with the light and the dark. A life without struggle would be a life without flavour. I work hard on my ability to, with the help of the relationships that hold me, cope. I would like to get to the point where I can accept the broader world's struggles too. I am not there yet.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Science and Truth

The Science I was trained to believe in has a clear concept of truth. Scientific Truth is not something you invent. It is something you discover. If you don't discover it, someone else will. While believing in truth, Karl Popper argued that it is impossible to prove something is true. Instead, science progresses by proving things false. The most important thing is to make it very easy to detect if something we believe to be true, is false. Another white swan doesn't prove that all swans are white. One black swan proves that not all swans are white. The things you believe to be true should be made easy to attack if they are false. If there is lots of wiggle room, then it is your truth, not the truth.