2017 World Happiness Survey – Thoughts on Happiness

There are a lot of very short news stories about the Global Happiness Survey – most of them read something like “Norway is the happiest country in the world” – and then they talk about the top ten countries and the places and the place of the USA and the bottom two or three countries … Continue reading “2017 World Happiness Survey – Thoughts on Happiness”

There are a lot of very short news stories about the Global Happiness Survey – most of them read something like “Norway is the happiest country in the world” – and then they talk about the top ten countries and the places and the place of the USA and the bottom two or three countries and maybe how countries shifted from the last survey. When you read the actual report, there is a lot more to it. Here is the link to the full report: https://s3.amazonaws.com/sdsn-whr2017/HR17_3-20-17.pdf

On page 122 of the report (yes, it is nearly 200 hundred pages long) what I consider to be the most revealing chapter begins – it is titled “The Key Determinants of Happiness and Misery” – it begins with this:

This chapter is directed at policy-makers of all kinds—both in government and in NGOs. We assume, like Thomas Jefferson, that “the care of human life and happiness … is the only legitimate object of good government.”1 And we assume that NGOs would have similar objectives. In other words, all policy-makers want to create the conditions for the greatest possible happiness in the population and, especially, the least possible misery.

Which sounds great but which is obviously not true. Policy makers in 2017 want money and power for their financial backers. The problems with the world are well known and easily solved – if that were what those in control wanted to do. They do not. And to prove that point the last paragraph of the chapter:

To conclude, within any country, mental health explains more of the variance of happiness in Western countries than income does. In Indonesia mental illness also matters, but less than income. Nowhere is physical illness a bigger source of misery than mental illness. Equally, if we go back to childhood, the key factors for the future adult are the mental health of the mother and the social ambiance of primary and secondary school. The implications for policy are momentous.

If we wanted to have a better world filled with happier people, we would be focused on taking care of mental health, ensuring that mothers (and fathers) had the support they need to be good parents, and that schools were creating the type of atmosphere which brings about psychologically healthy and confident individuals – instead of factories that create workers filled with fear, anxiety, and depression. Simple. Business does not create happiness, nor does war/defense, nor do jobs, nor do any of the other things we spend trillions of dollars on. Security in childhood, healthcare, and education. That’s it.

This report is a treasure trove of information about creating a happier planet like this:

The effect from the increase in the numbers of people having someone to count on in times of trouble is by itself equal to the happiness effects from the 16-fold increase in average per capita annual incomes required to shift the three poorest countries up to the world average (from about $600 to about $10,000).

From my point of view – this fact alone shows why the two working parents, dog-eat-dog, get out when you are 18, take care of yourself, ‘sorry, I can’t help you’ society of capitalism in the USA is leading to unhappiness, stress, anxiety, overeating, alcoholism, and drug abuse/overdose. We can’t count on each other here. People give lip service to being there for their families, but in my experience (in my awful family) when it comes time to put their actions where their mouth is, Americans turn selfish. My wife’s family in Morocco mean it when they say you can stay as long as you want or need to, they mean it when they tell you that their home is your home, they are there for you in whatever capacity they can be – without excuses. They are not rich – they work hard to survive – but I know for certain that they would never turn away a dear friend or family member even if it meant they had to work harder. When I think of them in comparison with myself or my family, I feel ashamed – and I should. They are poor and they suffer in their poverty, but they are happier than most Americans I’ve met.

And…one last quote just to drive home a point

Overall, the chapter concludes that falling American happiness is due primarily to social rather than to economic causes.

Watch Bill Gates Drink Water That Was Sewage 5 Minutes Before | IFLScience

More than 2 billion people across the world are affected by not having access to clean water or proper sanitation, resulting in the death of over 700,000 children each year. Solving this problem isn’t as simple as installing sewer or septic systems, as they require more energy and infrastructure than could be effectively maintained in many developing countries. Waste from the latrines most commonly used in these areas are left untreated and merely dumped into local rivers and other bodies of water, where it will contribute to the spread of disease.The latest venture from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation seeks to resolve this problem by creating a wastewater treatment method that eliminates disease-causing sewage from the environment and converts it into clean, drinkable water. The steam engine-powered device is called the Omniprocessor, manufactured by Seattle-based Janicki Bioenergy. The Omniprocessor can convert human waste into clean, drinkable water in a matter of minutes, while producing energy to incinerate the remaining waste solids and leave 250 kilowatts to spare. The resulting ash does not have an odor and will not contain disease-causing microbes.Using the waste from 100,000 people, the Omniprocessor will produce 86,000 liters of water per day, enough for 43,000 people. Though there is a deficit in supply and demand, this will be a tremendous relief for people in these areas. This isn’t meant to be strictly charity, but a means of creating self-supported economies.“If we get it right, it will be a good example of how philanthropy can provide seed money that draws bright people to work on big problems, eventually creating a self-supporting industry. Our foundation is funding Janicki to do the development,” Bill Gates wrote on his blog, Gatesnotes. “Our goal is to make the processors cheap enough that entrepreneurs in low- and middle-income countries will want to invest in them and then start profitable waste-treatment businesses.”The pilot Omniprocessor will be installed in Dakar, Senegal later this year. There are over 2.4 million people in Dakar’s metro area, with 24% living without electricity or running water. Gates notes that this will not be a quick fix to such a widespread problem, but it is a good start.Of course, anyone can sit around and talk about how great this system will be. Gates, understanding that actions speak louder than words, decided to show his confidence in the efficacy of the Janicki Omniprocessor in no uncertain terms: by drinking water that had been raw sewage just five minutes prior.

via Watch Bill Gates Drink Water That Was Sewage 5 Minutes Before | IFLScience.

In the Land of the Lotus Eaters – New York Times

On the islands farther from anywhere than anywhere, Hana is a community farther from anywhere than anywhere…

hanafisherman

THE ocean crashed hypnotically as the Venus of Hana yoga gently gave her commands. “Let the sun rise over the crater,” she said, her arm arching into an ethereal halo over her head. She read a poem by Mary Oliver, sang awhile and instructed us to extend our buttocks toward Hana. We closed our eyes, dimly aware of the wind rustling through banana leaves.

Then our yogi, Erin Lindbergh, summed up how it feels to spend a slow Sunday morning on the edge of the earth in a tropical nirvana where all of nature seems to be on Viagra. “There is a bowl of flowers in your heart,” she said.

Nearly 40 years ago, her grandfather — Charles A. Lindbergh — became one of a multitude of seekers to be smitten by Hana, on the east coast of Maui. He is buried in a swamp mahogany coffin at the Hoomau Congregational Church in Kipahulu, not far from his granddaughter’s yoga studio, his now-mossy grave rimmed by beach rock. Like the manic hordes who form a human chain in rented Mustangs and PT Cruisers on the Hana Highway, fleeing chain-hotel sterility on the “other side” of Maui, the legendary pilgrim of the skies was restlessly searching for serenity, a sacred sense of apartness.

To his granddaughter, who recently moved from Montana, and bears an uncanny resemblance to her grandmother Anne Morrow Lindbergh, this remote fleck of paradise some 52 miles, 617 hairpin curves and 56 one-lane bridges away from the nearest city possesses mana, “a life energy,” an unseen spiritual force.

“Hana appeals to the calmer side of one’s being,” Sunni Kaikala Hueu, a Hana native, has written. “Some say that Hana is almost medicinal in nature — a quiet vibration that is felt.”

The vibes can be profound, all right. Where else but in Hana — its fabled highway the approximate width of a suburban driveway — is it possible to encounter traffic jams beside “hidden” waterfalls as tourists pose for Coming of Age in Samoa shots with cellphones? Where permaculturally inclined off-the gridders live in New Age treehouses and make bike-powered smoothies, while across the street in a community kitchen, a tiny 80-something kapuna in pink pedal-pushers peels boiled taro the old-fashioned way: with an opihi, or limpet, shell. Continue reading “In the Land of the Lotus Eaters – New York Times”

21 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Recycle

from Co-op America

21 Things You Didn’t
Know You Can Recycle

CAQ73 Garbage. Americans produce more and more of it every year, when we need to be producing less.

Even the most waste-conscious among us can feel overwhelmed by the amount of household waste that goes beyond what municipal recyclers and compost bins can handle.

That’s why our editors have spent the summer investigating the state of waste management in our country, and putting together information for you, our Co-op America members, explaining how we can get serious about the three R’s – reducing, reusing, and recycling. Supporting members of Co-op America can expect to receive this issue of the Co-op America Quarterly this fall. If you’re not already a supporting member, join us now to get this special issue mailed to you.

1. Appliances: Goodwill accepts working appliances, www.goodwill.org, or you can contact the Steel Recycling Institute to recycle them. 800/YES-1-CAN, www.recycle-steel.org.

2. Batteries: Rechargeables and single-use: Battery Solutions, 734/467-9110, www.batteryrecycling.com.

3. Cardboard boxes: Contact local nonprofits and women’s shelters to see if they Boxcan use them. Or, offer up used cardboard boxes at your local Freecycle.org listserv or on Craigslist.org for others who may need them for moving or storage. If your workplace collects at least 100 boxes or more each month, UsedCardboardBoxes.com accepts them for resale.

4. CDs/DVDs/Game Disks: Send scratched music or computer CDs, DVDs, and PlayStation or Nintendo video game disks to AuralTech for refinishing, and they’ll work like new: 888/454-3223, www.auraltech.com.

5. Clothes: Wearable clothes can go to your local Goodwill outlet or shelter. ShirtsDonate wearable women’s business clothing to Dress for Success, which gives them to low-income women as they search for jobs, 212/532-1922, www.dressforsuccess.org. Offer unwearable clothes and towels to local animal boarding and shelter facilities, which often use them as pet bedding. Consider holding a clothes swap at your office, school, faith congregation or community center. Swap clothes with friends and colleagues, and save money on a new fall wardrobe and back-to-school clothes.

6. Compact fluorescent bulbs: Take them to your local IKEA store for recycling: www.ikea.com.

7. Compostable bio-plastics: You probably won’t be able to compost these in your home compost bin or pile. Find a municipal composter to take them to at www.findacomposter.com.

8. Computers and electronics: Find the most responsible recyclers, local and national, at www.ban.org/pledge/Locations.html.

9. Exercise videos: Swap them with others at www.videofitness.com.

10. Eyeglasses: Your local Lion’s Club or eye care chain may collect these. Lenses Glassesare reground and given to people in need.

11. Foam packing: Your local pack-and-ship store will likely accept foam peanuts for reuse. Or, call the Plastic Loose Fill Producers Council to find a drop-off site: 800/828-2214. For places to drop off foam blocks for recycling, contact the Alliance of Foam Packaging Recyclers, 410/451-8340, www.epspackaging.org/info.html

12. Ink/toner cartridges: Recycleplace.com pays $1/each.

13. Miscellaneous: Get your unwanted items into the hands of people who can use them. Offer them up on your local Freecycle.org or Craigslist.org listserv, or try giving them away at Throwplace.com or giving or selling them at iReuse.com. iReuse.com will also help you find a recycler, if possible, when your items have reached the end of their useful lifecycle.

14. Oil: Find Used Motor Oil Hotlines for each state: 202/682-8000, www.recycleoil.org.

15. Phones: Donate cell phones: Collective Good will refurbish your phone and sell Cellphoneit to someone in a developing country: 770/856-9021, www.collectivegood.com. Call to Protect reprograms cell phones to dial 911 and gives them to domestic violence victims: www.donateaphone.com. Recycle single-line phones: Reclamere, 814/386-2927, www.reclamere.com.

16. Sports equipment: Resell or trade it at your local Play It Again Sports outlet, 800/476-9249, www.playitagainsports.com.

17. “Technotrash”: Easily recycle all of your CDs, jewel cases, DVDs, audio and video tapes, cell phones, pagers, rechargeable and single-use batteries, PDAs, and ink/toner cartridges with GreenDisk’s Technotrash program. For $30, GreenDisk will send you a cardboard box in which you can ship them up to 70 pounds of any of the above. Your fee covers the box as well as shipping and recycling fees. 800/305-GREENDISK, www.greendisk.com.

18. Tennis shoes: Nike’s Reuse-a-Shoe program turns old shoes into playground and athletic flooring. www.nikereuseashoe.com. One World Running will send still-wearable shoes to athletes in need in Africa, Latin America, and Haiti. www.oneworldrunning.com.

19. Toothbrushes and razors: Buy a recycled plastic toothbrush or razor from ToothbrushRecycline, and the company will take it back to be recycled again into plastic lumber. Recycline products are made from used Stonyfield Farms’ yogurt cups. 888/354-7296, www.recycline.com.

20. Tyvek envelopes: Quantities less than 25: Send to Shirley Cimburke, Tyvek Recycling Specialist, 5401 Jefferson Davis Hwy., Spot 197, Room 231, Richmond, VA 23234. Quantities larger than 25, call 866/33-TYVEK.

21. Stuff you just can’t recycle: When practical, send such items back to the manufacturer and tell them they need to manufacture products that close the waste loop responsibly.

Naughty professors, Arab babes = Mujahababes, Worth less American Lives, Send Barack Your Baby, and 5 reasons to vote for Ralph


Unlike junior high school gym coaches, in my opinion it is perfectly acceptable for college professors to fantacize or engage in sexual acts with their students…the trick is not to write about it on university email that you can be sure someone is reading. That’s just stupid…and frankly, don’t send that kind of email to anyone, it’s just creepy to begin with…

Ronald Ayers, a 60-year-old tenured economics professor, wrote that a “dumb” female student had the “full-figured nude model/pron star look,” and wondered whether she “waitresses in a nude or topless bar on weekends.” Adding that the student seemed the type to seek “the approval of older men,” Ayers noted, “I make no predictions other than that I will get together with her.”

Apparently pop culture and conservative muslim has created

a new breed of mermaid-like creatures, spotted by Stratton all over the streets of Beirut, Amman, Cairo, Dubai and Damascus. These are “muhajababes,” from “muhajabe,” a term for the veil.

 

IN the United States, the value of an American life has dropped by nearly a million dollars in five years according to the EPA, that may seem inconsequential to most folks since the current values is around $6.9 million, but look who is deciding this…it’s the fracking EPA! The Environmental Protection Agency has just come out and said that:

Consider, for example, a hypothetical regulation that costs $18 billion to enforce but will prevent 2,500 deaths. At $7.8 million per person (the old figure), the lifesaving benefits outweigh the costs. But at $6.9 million per person, the rule costs more than the lives it saves, so it may not be adopted.

Is anyone surprised?A top economic advisors on Wednesday said that the United States is “a nation of whiners” who are in a mental recession.

Meanwhile,  Isreal threatened Iran for testing missiles that everyone already knew they had.

Please, don’t hurt the Muhajababes!
Maybe though, you want Barack Obama to kiss, hug, or hope up YOUR BABY! Now you can send Barack your baby…he is accepting those not near him by mail. 

Five issues that Nader ruled on:

Telecom immunity. (He says no way)

Gun control. (It’s a good idea)

Death penalty. (It sets the example that killing solves problems)

Campaign finance. (Let’s get realistic and let someone besides the Demopublicans in the game)

Faith-based funding.
(Ummm..it’s kind of against what this country was founded all about)

 

Trash is cash and other stories of not wasting.

Think space exploration isn’t worthwhile? Wondering what we will use for energy when the oil is all gone? Are you disgusted by all the garbage our society produces? Check out this juxtaposition of the three seemingly unrelated ideas…

Calgary-based AlterNRG’s plasma gasification technology uses a process developed for NASA to superheat landfill garbage and convert it into a highly energized gas, which can then be used to produce electricity.
Plasma gasification can be applied to almost any waste now put in landfills, and it produces fewer carbon emissions than standard power plants that burn coal or natural gas.
The process involves plasma torches capable of producing temperatures of 5,400 degrees.
It was initially developed by Westinghouse to help NASA test spacecraft at the intense heat of atmosphere re-entry, said Alex Damnjanovic, an AlterNRG vice president.
Two commercial plants using the process are operational in Japan.

Ask yourself why this isn’t something that the presidential candidates in the U.S. are talking about? Or consider U.S. energy use:
*5 percent of the world’s population, consumes 25 percent of the world’s energy.
*Transportation sector uses 70 percent of petroleum used for fuel and emits 30 percent of U.S. greenhouse gases.
*Buildings account for 36 percent of emissions.

“The bottom line is that the quickest way to do something about America’s use of energy is through energy efficiency,” said Burton Richter, the chairman of the study panel and a 1976 Nobel Prize winner in physics. “Energy that you don’t use is free. It’s not imported and it doesn’t emit any greenhouse gases. Most of the things we recommend don’t cost anything to the economy. The economy will save money.”
The projected growth of energy use in buildings — 30 percent by 2030 — could be cut to zero using existing technology and what’s likely to become available in the next decade at the current level of research and development.
On transportation, the key is in more federal government investment in developing cheaper and more reliable batteries for electric cars.
“If you look at magically converting the whole fleet to plug-in hybrids” that get 40 miles per charge, greenhouse gases would be reduced by 33 percent and gasoline use by 60 percent, Richter said.
That would be the equivalent of cutting oil imports by 6 million barrels a day, Richter said. That’s the amount the U.S. imports from OPEC (largely from Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and Nigeria), out of a total of about 13.5 million barrels imported a day from all countries.
“So if you’re looking at energy security issues, which is government’s business, if you’re looking at the overall economy, which also ought to be government’s business, to spend a bit more on research and development to hasten the day when you’re going to get all these benefits is a good thing to do,” Richter said.

Very interesting, right? As oppossed to ‘lets ease environmental standards’ or ‘lets get more oil from Iraq’, etc. What about global population?

Some 6.7 billion people live on planet Earth today and close to 3 billion more may be in the mix by 2050. Given those staggering numbers, it’s easy to assume surging human population is the real root of the world’s evils, from global warming to poverty, starvation to habitat loss. Not so fast. Three recent books by renowned experts on the subject paint a far more complex portrait of the world’s population and what it portends. It’s by turns dire and hopeful


Salon.com posted a very interesting discussion on this subject with three of the world’s foremost experts.

Of course there are other problems, but are they real? Daniel Tarker explores this phenomenon on his blog. Here is one excerpt of this excellent post:

Today we have one of the most robust ideological state apparatuses in the world with our vast web of media outlets. Turn on your television and you’ll find several hundred cable channels eager to shape how you think about the world. (I’m using the word “think” loosely here since an active brain seems to be the antithesis of what television producers want to inspire.) Yet, I won’t just pick on TV here…that would be too easy, too overdone, too, well, TV…newspapers, magazines, radio, and even the Internet are all part of this ideological apparatus.

There is certainly no denying that the rise in food prices worldwide is creating problems though.

Rising food prices are partly to blame for adding 75 million more people to the ranks of the world’s hungry in 2007 and lifting the global figure to roughly 925 million, the U.N.’s food agency said on Wednesday.

Water is also an issue in many places, but perhaps it doesn’t have to be.

Brad Lancaster is the author of Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond.

As Lancaster explains, harvesting rainwater means to “capture the rain as close as possible to where it falls, and then to use it as close as possible to where it falls.”

The easiest method is to use the soil to capture the rainwater. “You create these bowl-like shapes in the landscape that collect water. You mulch the surface and plant them so the water quickly infiltrates, and then the plants become your living pumps.”

“So you then utilize that water in the form of a peach, a pomegranate, an apple, wildlife habitat and beauty,” Lancaster tells Renee Montagne.

A second, better-known version of rainwater harvesting is collecting rainwater from a roof in a tank, or a cistern.

The third example is harvesting wastewater, also known as graywater, from household drains, including showers, bathtubs, bathroom sinks and washing machines. (Other drains — such as the toilet, kitchen sink and dishwasher — are high in organic mater, such as food or bacteria, and are not suitable for reuse.)

Household wastewater is “an excellent source of rainwater that we can reuse to passively irrigate our landscapes in times of no rain,” Lancaster says.

Lancaster says that 30 percent to 50 percent of potable water consumed by the average single-family home is used for landscaping. But nearly all of the irrigation water needs can be met just with rainwater and graywater, he says.

Rainwater harvesting can be useful even in areas that are not affected by drought, helping reduce flooding downstream, for example, Lancaster says.

Perhaps though, you are wondering where the pictures in this posting came from, here is the story from the Daily Mail:

For five happy years they enjoyed simple lives in their straw and mud huts.
Generating their own power and growing their own food, they strived for self-sufficiency and thrived in homes that looked more suited to the hobbits from The Lord of the Rings.
Then a survey plane chanced upon the ‘lost tribe’… and they were plunged into a decade-long battle with officialdom.
Yesterday that fight, backed by more modern support for green issues, ended in victory.
The eco-community in the Preseli mountains of west Wales was set up in 1993 and lived contentedly away from the rat race round a 180-acre farm bought by Julian and Emma Orbach.
In 1998, it was spotted when sunlight was seen glinting off a solar panel on the main building, which was built from straw bales, timber and recycled glass.
When the pilot reported back, officials were unable to find any records, let alone planning permission, for the mystery hillside village surrounded by trees and bushes.
They insisted the grass-covered buildings should be demolished.
The eco-community endured a decade of inquiries, court cases and planning hearings.
The 22 villagers fought planners even when they were within hours of the bulldozers moving in to demolish their eight homes.
Now, however, they can celebrate, thanks to the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority’s ‘sustainability’ policy.
With green issues now getting a more sympathetic hearing, the commune has been given planning approval for its roundhouses along with lavatories, agricultural buildings and workshops.
Community founder Emma Orbach, a 52-year-old mother of three, said yesterday: ‘We are really excited and happy as it has been a very long battle.
‘Even when planning inquiries and court hearings went against us we were determined to fight on.
‘The villagers are pioneering a new lifestyle and are determined to prove it’s possible for people to live more simply.’
Tony Wrench, 62, who lives in the original roundhouse with his partner Jane, said: ‘We are very relieved and delighted.
‘We have been able to prove to the planners that it is possible to have a sustainable and low-impact community in the countryside.
The original 180-acre farm was divided up into the area around the farm, a section around the original roundhouse known as Tir Ysbrydol (Spirit Land) where Mrs Orbach lives, and 80 acres of pasture and woodland run by a community known as Brithdir Mawr.
Each community is independent and they co-exist as neighbours in a more traditional style.
Brithdir Mawr continues to support sustainable living based around the original farmhouse, with eight adults and four children sharing communal meals, looking after goats, horses and chickens – and also holding down part-time jobs to raise the £200 per month rent they each pay Mr Orbach, who lives in a house in nearby Newport.
The current residents now run businesses such as courses in furniture making and sustainable living for around £95 a head.


Maybe you didn’t expect this post to end on a hopeful note, but there it is. We can change our reality and it is changing all around us all the time.