Increase Productivity Through Passion & Freedom

Nothing works better than appealing to people’s intrinsic motivation and letting them decide how best to do the work...
People with intrinsic motivation can do incredible things, because intrinsic motivation comes directly out of people’s passion.

Mark Craemer

1 July 2015

There is life on planet earth

Powerful evidence presented here.

2 July 2015

With tentative, yet eager steps we hasten to thee

As I wonder at Bach’s inventive genius, it is not easy for me to reconcile his music with the literal Christian faith that I know he felt to be the fount of his inspiration.

Listen to Wir eilen mit schwachen doch emsigen schritten from the Cantata BWV 78.

Then watch John Eliot Gardiner’s new video documenting the mysteries of Bach’s life

3 July 2015


The Dutch city of Utrecht has begun an experiment of providing everyone a guaranteed income.

The hope is to provide people more flexibility to do work they like and to work part-time. The Netherlands already has twice the percentage of part-time workers as any other country in Europe.

In the experiment, 1/3 of people will be keept in the present welfare system as controls; 1/3 will be given the chance to apply for an allowance based on approved activities and reasons; and 1/3 will be given a monthly check without strings.

A small city in Manitoba, Canada tried this in the 1970s and it worked. It was not abused.  People did not stop working. Women got out of abusive marriages. The crime rate plummeted. Therefore, the Conservative government in Ottawa put a stop to it.

4 July 2015

Old Wives’ Tale

It is told of the great Saint Svaarthashanthi that after seven years’ sitting in a cave, eating only what was offered, it was revealed to him that there is nothing in this world that is not holy, and so he resolved to live the life of a householder; and he came down to Benares, the city of his birth, and married and took a job as clark; and as he had been instructed by God, whatever was the task at hand, he focused diligently upon it; and when he was bathing, he would bathe, and when he was eating, he would eat, and when he was walking, he would walk; and he attended all the while to his breath, and to the feeling in his skin, and to the thoughts and sensations that would arise within him; and a year passed in this fashion, and he continued diligently to attend and to focus and in each moment to know only one thing; and a second year passed, and he remained steadfastly devoted to his discipline; and yet a third year, he practiced his daily sadhana, even as he bathed and he ate and he walked; and lo! it came to pass at the end of the third year of his life as a householder that his wife was enlightened.

— Josh Mitteldorf

5 July 2015

Rule by the People triumphs over Rule by the Bankers

Yesterday, in the Birthplace of Democracy, the people of Greece voted decisively to stand up to the European Central Bank, to resist ‘austerity’ measures that would bleed their economy dry, to issue a local currency and prosper with full employment.

The European Union in its present embodiment gives the private, unelected European Central Bank precedence over democratic rule by the people. The beautiful idea of European Unity has been used to disguise this change in principles of governance, the retreat from ‘One Person One Vote’ to ‘One Euro One Vote’.

If the Greek example prevails, it will set a new example, with the potential to change all of Europe, to put the people back in charge of the banks, rather than the other way around.

Read how Paul Craig Roberts interprets the situation.

Austerity serves no one but the bankers.

6 July 2015

Ode To Gaiety

Go gloom 
Begone glum and grim  
Off with the drab drear and grumble  
It’s time  
its pastime  
to come undone and come out laughing  
time to wrap killjoys in wet blankets  
and feed them to the sourpusses 
Come frisky pals  
Come forth wily wags  
Loosen your screws and get off your rocker  
Untie the strait lacer  
Tie up the smarty pants  
Tickle the crosspatch with josh and guffaw  
Share quips and pranks with every victim  
of grouch pomposity or blah 
Woe to the bozo who says No to  
tee hee ho ho and ha ha  
Boo to the cleancut klutz who  
wipes the smile off his face  
Without gaiety  
freedom is a chastity belt  
Without gaiety  
life is a wooden kimono 
Come cheerful chums  
Cut up and carry on  
Crack your pots and split your sides  
Boggle the bellyacher  
Convulse the worrywart  
Pratfall the prissy poos and the fuddy duds  
Take drollery to heart or end up a deadhead  
at the guillotine of the mindless 
Be wise and go merry round  
whatever you cherish  
what you love to enjoy what you live to exert  
And when the high spirits  
call your number up  
count on merriment all the way to the countdown  
Long live hilarity euphoria and flumadiddle  
Long live gaiety  
for all the laity

— James Broughton

With thanks and appreciation always to Joe Riley at Panhala

7 July 2015

Underground Urban Agriculture

Growing Underground is a produce company operating out of abandoned tunnels in the London Underground

The disadvantage is the need for a great deal of energy in the form of artificial light. But this is compensated by several distinct advantages:

  • No pests, no pesticides.
  • Full 365-day growing season
  • No trucking costs bringing produce to the consumer
  • Fresh food, farm to table in 4 hours.

8 July 2015

Tolstoy, the Christian Mystic

Levin avoided all thought or talk about it.

Reasoning had brought him to doubt, and prevented him from seeing what he ought to do and what he ought not. When he did not think, but simply lived, he was continually aware of the presence of an infallible judge in his soul, determining which of two possible courses of action was the better and which was the worse, and as soon as he did not act rightly, he was at once aware of it.

So he lived, not knowing and not seeing any chance of knowing what he was and what he was living for, and harassed at this lack of knowledge to such a point that he was afraid of suicide, and yet firmly laying down his own individual definite path in life. ‘’ “”

— from Anna Karenina

At the end of Anna Karenina, we follow Levin, the only male character who is a whole person, as he comes to terms with the tension between his logical positive perspective and the existential despair that grips him. He is more surprised than the reader when he is rescued by an experience of epiphany that brings to him a Christian faith.

Q- How do I know that God exists?

A- I know from the goodness in my heart, and the goodness I perceive in the hearts of others, that has no rational basis, but is a gift of grace.

Having experienced this epiphany, I vow to be patient and kind and loving to all people, always.

…but I find that in reality I am the same inconsistent, fallible human that I have always been. I can but be aware of my behavior forgive myself.

Q-Do Buddhists and Zoroastrians and Daoists and Jews find the same salvation that I have found in the presence of my Christian God?

A-That is their affair, and not my concern. ‘I have no right to decide and no possibility of deciding.’

"I am questioning the relation to Divinity of all the different religions of all mankind. I am questioning the universal manifestation of God to all the world with all those misty blurs. What am I about? To me individually, to my heart has been revealed a knowledge beyond all doubt, and unattainable by reason, and here I am obstinately trying to express that knowledge in reason and words.

9 July 2015

Every night of dreaming creates 10,000 new brain cells.

Scientists used to think the adult brain did not grow new cells.

Not only do you grow new neurons all the time, but there are things you can do to enhance your brain’s growth.

10 July 2015

Beauty as a principle of nature

A new book by theoretical physicist Frank Wilczek explores the thesis that beauty and science are thoroughly intertwined.

Is beauty something objective, embedded deeply in the laws of nature? Or did our brains evolve an aesthetic appreciation for patterns that are comprehensible?

One of the main concepts that threads through A Beautiful Question is that of “symmetry”. In mathematics and physics, writes Wilczek, symmetry is “Change without Change”. …[For example, a pattern that repeats may be the same here as 1 meter to the left; or it may be the same upside down as rightside up; or the same if you change every plus to a minus and every minus to a plus.]…Modern physicists, Wilczek explains, work from symmetry towards truth: they propose equations with symmetry and then check whether nature uses them.

read a review

11 July 2015

When you turn out the light…

Every night, as you give yourself to sleep, think about what you would like to dream, or ask your dreams a question, or make a wish you would like to come true in your dream, or think about a person you would like to appear in your dream, or make a resolve to be aware and lucid in your dream, or make a resolve to remember your dream upon waking.

— Josh Mitteldorf

12 July 2015


Earth will not share the rafter’s envy; dung floors
Break, not the gecko’s slight skin, but its fall
Taste this soil for death and plumb her deep for life

As this yam, wholly earthed, yet a living tuber
To the warmth of waters, earthed as springs
As roots of baobab, as the hearth.

The air will not deny you. Like a top
Spin you on the navel of the storm, for the hoe
That roots the forests plows a path for squirrels.

Be ageless as dark peat, but only that rain’s
Fingers, not the feet of men, may wash you over.
Long wear the sun’s shadow; run naked to the night.

Peppers green and red—child—your tongue arch
To scorpion tail, spit straight return to danger’s threats
Yet coo with the brown pigeon, tendril dew between your lips.

Shield you like the flesh of palms, skyward held
Cuspids in thorn nesting, insealed as the heart of kernel—
A woman’s flesh is oil—child, palm oil on your tongue

Is suppleness to life, and wine of this gourd
From self-same timeless run of runnels as refill
Your podlings, child, weaned from yours we embrace

Earth’s honeyed milk, wine of the only rib.
Now roll your tongue in honey till your cheeks are
Swarming honeycombs—your world needs sweetening, child.

Camwood round the heart, chalk for flight
Of blemish—see? it dawns!—antimony beneath
Armpits like a goddess, and leave this taste

Long on your lips, of salt, that you may seek
None from tears. This, rain-water, is the gift
Of gods—drink of its purity, bear fruits in season.

Fruits then to your lips: haste to repay
The debt of birth. Yield man-tides like the sea
And ebbing, leave a meaning of the fossilled sands.

— Wole Sayinka, born this day in 1934

13 July 2015

Don’t defer your dreams

Here is the American Dream, exploded in 3 minutes from, of all sources, Walt Disney.

The economic squeeze foiled millions in their quest to achieve their dream by working hard.  The solution is to stop working hard, end the quest, and live your dream today.

One of the things that this micro-biography gets right is the importance of children.  They are the universal antidote to good sense.  The devastation of infertility is fully conveyed in 6 seconds. But the joy of adoption doesn’t appear as a possibility (and only later in the film, when Carl is alone, does a child pry his way into Carl’s life with all the subtlety of a Jehovah’s Witness.)

50 years in 3 minutes

14 July 2015

The meaning of biology, from Carl Woese

Biology...must choose [to] break free of reductionist hegemony, reintegrate itself, and press forward once more as a fundamental science. The latter course means an emphasis on holistic, “nonlinear,” emergent biology—with understanding evolution and the nature of biological form as the primary, defining goals of a new biology...

One would be hard put to explain evolution and the problem of biological form in reductionist terms alone.

Carl Woese, born on this day in 1928, pioneered the use of gene sequencing to trace evolutionary trees, only to discover that there are no trees but webs! Amazingly, genes and whole genomes have been transferring and shifting and trading through evolutionary history, at rare intervals, but frequently enough that the effect on evolution as a whole has been dramatic.

15 July 2015

Animal navigation

The uncanny ability of animals to find their way is indication of a sixth sense that science has yet to fathom. It may involve new physics, and almost certainly involves new physical interactions of biological systems. Think of Monarch butterflies and homing pigeons, whales and tuna and salmon that are known to migrate thousands of miles through the sea.

The latest example (lizards) was written up in theTuesday NYTimes Science Section last week.

16 July 2015

Youngest and least talented among Bach’s 20 children

Peter Schickele has invented the “dill piccolo” for playing sour notes, the “left-handed sewer flute”, the “tromboon” (“a cross between a trombone and a bassoon, having all the disadvantages of both”), the “lasso d’amore”, the double-reed slide music stand, which he described as having "a range of major third and even less expressiveness,” the “tuba mirum”, a flexible tube filled with wine, and the “pastaphone”, an uncooked tube of manicotti pasta played as a horn. And then there was the extensively described but (so far as is known) never demonstrated über klavier or super piano, with a keyboard ranging from sounds which only dogs can hear down to sounds which only whales can make. P.D.Q’s Pervertimento for Bagpipes, Bicycle and Balloons (1965) demonstrated the inherent musical qualities of everyday objects in ways not equally agreeable to all who listen to them.

Professor Peter Schickele of the University of Southern North Dakota at Hoople is 80 years old today.

Listen to Schickele’s running sportscast of Beethoven’s Fifth
Listen to the 1712 Overture of P D Q Bach

17 July 2015

The greatest barrier to consciousness is the belief that one is already conscious.

— Ouspensky

18 July 2015

Few, if any, there are of our habitual activities that would not yield better results if we approached them in a spirit of playfulness.

— Josh Mitteldorf

19 July 2015

I ain’t a-marchin’ anymore

There are deserters in every country that has an armed forces. Armies demand blind obedience and human beings crave liberty. Why do men desert? Certainly not from cowardice. It takes far more courage to break from the pack and its reliance upon rabid nationalism.

All countries’ militaries like to snatch young men when they are uneducated, inexperienced, and unemployed. It takes a soldier far greater courage to throw down his weapon than to kill a stranger.

In 2007, a monument was erected, the Deserteur Denkmal in Cologne was dedicated “To the deserters from all wars”.

— Excerpted from Free Radicals: War Resisters in Prison by CJ Hinke, forthcoming from Trine-Day in 2016.

20 July 2015

I’m not a materialist or a deist or anything else. I’m a man who one day opened the window and discovered this crucial thing: Nature exists. I saw that the trees, the rivers, and the stones are things that truly exist. No one had ever thought about this.

I don’t pretend to be anything more than the greatest poet in the world. I made the greatest discovery worth making, next to which all other discoveries are the games of stupid children. I noticed the Universe. The Greeks, with all their visual acuity, didn’t do as much.

— Fernando Pessoa (from an interview with Alberto Caeiro. Alberto Caeiro is one of Pessoa’s many “heteronyms”. Pessoa assumed different voices to write his diverse and prolific prose and poetry output. Each of these heteronyms had not just his own style, but a psychology, a biography, a historic and social context.)

Merely to hear the wind blow makes it worth having been born. I don’t know what others will think who read this; But I find it must be good because I think it without effort.               – Alberto Caeiro

21 July 2015

Nos Immortales

Perhaps we go with wind and cloud and sun,
Into the free companionship of air;
Perhaps with sunsets when the day is done,
All’s one to me—I do not greatly care;
So long as there are brown hills—and a tree
Like a mad prophet in a land of dearth—
And I can lie and hear eternally
The vast monotonous breathing of the earth.

I have known hours, slow and golden-glowing,
Lovely with laughter and suffused with light,
O Lord, in such a time appoint my going,
When the hands clench, and the cold face grows white,
And the spark dies within the feeble brain,
Spilling its star-dust back to dust again.

— Stephen Vincent Benet, born this day in 1898, died of a heart attack when he was 44.

22 July 2015

A Word For Joy

I am happy among children’s eyes
I am very worried and happy
among the crazy and the hopeless
they recognize me, right away
I’m home

And there is nowhere I would rather be
alive or dead
than in this world
Inside this skull I hold and ponder
unending space expanding if I understand correctly
at an accelerating rate, meanwhile
housing perpetual births and disappearances of its numberless
deafening nuclear furnaces unheard,
I consider the voices, identically soundless, in every
mind, behind each face I pass
and as I’ve been instructed each morning
on rising I obliterate the print of my body
and am glad (the wind is blowing, it is written, adore
the wind)
and am speechlessly grateful and glad and afraid

I don’t mind saying that I am scared
to death of God: I am
afraid and blind and ignorant and naked and
I’ll take it!
I have been happy here
among all the suffering eyes: why they were brought here
and exactly what it was they were expected
to take a good close look at,
I can’t grasp it, but I am so very glad.

—Franz Wright

23 July 2015

with gratitude to Joe Riley at Panhala

Teaching people to set free the music inside them

Music for People says we are all musicians. There are no wrong notes. Learn to keep moving and listen to the sounds around you.

Whole orchestras can improvise together under a conductor who helps members to take turns playing solo and creating rhymic foundations.

David Darling conducts a class in improvisation.

On the one hand, classical training helps; on the other hand the expectations that go with classical training usually get in the way. Sometimes it’s easier for kids.

24 July 2015

Science Materialism

Nineteenth century science killed nineteenth century romanticism. There was no room for passion or nobility in a universe that unfolds like clockwork from deterministic laws.

There followed a century of depression masquerading as philosophy--existentialism, to be sure, but even logical positivism was dragged down by the mechanistic view of nature.

20th Century physics should have changed all that, but its message has been slow on the uptake. British astrophysicist and quantum theorist James Jeans (1877-1946) saw it coming when he said, “The universe begins to look more like a great thought than a great machine.”

Life is not an accident that happens whenever a billion billiard balls come by chance into a configuration that makes replication possible.

Life is built into the laws of physics at a fundamental level. Observation and physical reality are inseparable. Consciousness is a law of nature. The ancient philosophy of “vitalism” wasn’t so dumb.

The God of Lao Tzu was That Which Cannot Be Known. 21st Century science is pointing to a philosophy of mysticism.

— Josh Mitteldorf

26 July 2015

Shadow Biosphere

All life on earth is related, descended from a single ancestor long ago. We know this because we all have many features of our biochemistry in common, including DNA (all left-handed), proteins (all right-handed), and the Genetic Code that translates between the two.

But what if this isn’t true? What if there are other life forms on the planet that use very different chemistry from our own? Would we ever know it? Would we recognize these these things as living, though they were all around us, if they were so very different from us?

It’s unlikely that we’re surrounded by forests and vines and lions and tigers and bears that we don’t recognize as living because they have a different chemical basis. But microbial life is a different story. Tiny cells that don’t respire, can’t use sugars or proteins for food, perhaps don’t even use water—maybe they’re all around us. A little more plausibly, maybe they inhabit environments that our familiar life forms find inhospitable.

News article in Science Magazine
     Aeon article

I like to consider out-of-the-box ideas and to try out different perspectives, so I appreciate the opportunity to think about this one. But my first response is skepticism. If life evolved (early in earth’s history) in two versions, I think it likely they would compete for resources, and the one that used resources less efficiently would not have lasted this long.

27 July 2015

He believes in humanity because he knows a dozen decent people. He believes in women because he has loved his mother. And his friends are as young and as ignorant as himself. They are full of the wine of life. But they have not tasted the cup—let us call it the teacup—of experience, which has made men of Mr. Pembroke’s type what they are. Oh, that teacup! To be taken at prayers, at friendship, at love, till we are quite sane, efficient, quite experienced, and quite useless to God or man. We must drink it, or we shall die. But we need not drink it always. Here is our problem and our salvation. There comes a moment—God knows when—at which we can say, “I will experience no longer. I will create. I will be an experience.” But to do this we must be both acute and heroic. For it is not easy, after accepting six cups of tea, to throw the seventh in the face of the hostess…

— E M Forster, from The Longest Journey

28 July 2015

The traditional sage and the radical sage

Confucius, impressed by Lao Tzu’s influence on people, visited him once to aske advice, ironically enough, on points of ceremonial etiquette. Baffled by the answers of the older man, to whom etiquette meant hypocrisy and nonsense, Confucius returned to his disciples and told them, “Of birds I know that they have wings to fly with, of fish that they have fins to swim with, of wild beasts that they have feet to run with. For feet there are traps, for fins nets, for wings arrows. But who knows how dragons surmount wind and cloud into heaven? This day I have seen Lao Tzu and he is a dragon.”

Witter Bynner

29 July 2015

Redefining what it means to be a military hero.

Smedley Butler was the most celebrated military man of his day, a hero in the Spanish American War, and a commanding officer in The First World War.

When he realized that he had been fighting not wars of liberation but wars to make the world more hospitable to American corporations, he had the courage to look reality in the face, and more, to write a book, to give speeches, to use the platform he had earned to educate the public and advocate for peace.

In a little-known episode from history, the right-wing backlash against Roosevelt’s New Deal plotted a military coup and a turn in the direction of German fascism. Butler earned the trust of the plotters just long enough to expose them and foil the coup. Read more

— watch a powerful anti-war speech from 1930

30 July 2015


In order to be a proper teacher to oneself, one must be part midwife, part executioner: sometimes rebirthing oneself, sometimes annihilating and leaving useless bits by the wayside,

until the self soars free and clear of attachment, obstruction, and delusion…

— from the Wei Wu Wei Jing (scripture of action and non-doing), a new oracle of ancient wisdom, compiled, translated and edited by Brian Browne Walker.

31 July 2015

Queen of Hearts — Archive of past entries. Bullfrog Design