1,000 Trees

Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto has written to Tokyo’s governor, Yuriko Koike, in order to protest the city’s Jingu Gaien redevelopment plan. Led by major real-estate developer Mitsui Fudosan in conjunction with the Meiji Shrine, the project will demolish the city’s beloved Meiji Jingu baseball stadium and chop down almost 1,000 trees, many of which are more than 100 years old.
Tuesday 21 March 2023 – Monocle Minute | Monocle

Sakamoto, who is undergoing treatment for cancer, wrote that “trees benefit everyone without discrimination but a development will only benefit those with vested interests and rich people”.


Drones and Rwanda

This video blew me away. Come for the cool engineering and stay for the story about Abdul and Rwanda.

Everything Is A Spectrum

Neurodiversity, gender identity, sexual preference, politics, religion, mental illness, physical wellness. While we aim for some personal goal or societal endpoint, all of our lives seem to be lived on a spectrum. A sliding scale. A gradient. A tapestry.
What if all points on any spectrum were acceptable?

What if everything’s a spectrum? – Mediatinker

I have long thought that everything is a spectrum. Everything is on a scale. There is so much space between the end points. To think in black and white means losing out on so much differentiation. It means missing the beauty that lies in subtle gradations. Imagine a gas pedal (accelerator pedal for electric vehicles) that only has two positions: on and off. Imagine only running or standing still. Too often we look at either / or instead of that which lives in between the two.

Time Reflection

This feat caused a significant portion of the broadband signals traveling in the metamaterial to be instantaneously time reversed and frequency converted. The effect forms a strange echo in which the last part of the signal is reflected first. As a result, if you were to look into a time mirror, your reflection would be flipped, and you would see your back instead of your face. In the acoustic version of this observation, you would hear sound similar to what is emitted during the rewinding of a tape.
Scientists demonstrate time reflection of electromagnetic waves


IMG 8665

I came across this photo of a stencil that somebody found in Milan. It was posted on Mastodon by @RadicalGraffiti@todon.eu

What Democracy

I am still reading Ways of Being. I am taking my time with it. Each page brings so much thought and data… easily one of the richest books I have ever read. I have been thinking about what I learned about sortition, which I mentioned in this post. The old Athenians used it and Aristotle claimed that sortition is democratic and voting is oligarchic.

I learned that for five hundred years the leader of Venice, the Doge, was elected by a complicated method that combined stages of sortition and voting. For the sortition stage they used a wooden ball called balotte, from which our word ballot derives.

I learned that in 2016 Ireland created a citizen assembly, by randomly selecting 99 people from the electoral roll. They were housed in a hotel outside Dublin. A hundredth person was the chair person leading the proceedings. And thorny subjects the 99 had to work on: abortion, fixed term parliaments, referendums, an aging population, and climate change.

Not only did ninety-nine complete strangers, from every walk of life and every conceivable social and education background, come together and reach a consensus on some of the thorniest issues facing contemporary society – an almost unthinkable achievement in our age of political distrust, tribalism and division – but the proposals they put forth challenged our common idea of what is politically and socially possible and led to real, unequivocal change in the lives of their fellow citizens, and potentially in the more-than-human world. The assemblies further demonstrated that there is both an appetite and a willingness on the part of a supposedly apathetic public to seriously address some of the gravest and seemingly most intractable issues that we face.


The mechanism which underlies this effect is called ‘cognitive diversity’, and is often summed up as ‘diversity trumps ability’. This is the theory, backed up by social and mathematical research, that the best solutions to knotty, complex problems are best found by starting from the greatest number of different viewpoints and experiences – that is, from as wide a selection of people as possible.

Diversity trumps ability. That’s the mantra we need.

We learned that, in addition to what we termed survival of the fittest, there is a HUGE amount of chance built into our genes. It’s as if the universe loves to play. Yes, Nature is all about play.

It has been found, in study after study, that random selection from a sufficiently large group of people – given the appropriate contextual knowledge – produces better answers to complex problems than the appointment of a narrow group of experts.

There, that’s important. A random selection from a sufficiently large group of people – given the appropriate contextual knowledge – produces better answers to complex problems than the appointment of a narrow group of experts. Politicians aren’t even experts in most cases. Take George Santos, for example. Would you trust that man with anything? And finally:

It’s tempting to wonder whether we have finally found a scientific argument for diversity itself, long argued from the social sciences, but often derided by those whose power subsists in competition and exploitation, in the maintenance of existing power imbalances and the promulgation of the myth of meritocracy. But really what we are saying is what ecology has told us all along: we exist by virtue of our ties to one another and to the more-than-human world, and these ties are strengthened, not weakened, by the inclusion and equal participation of each and every member of that network.

That’s it. Diversity will save us. Homogeneity is the death of things.

It’s pretty obvious that diversity has always been a theme that’s running through my music. I’ll gobble up anything and everything on the way to a melody and some chord changes that move me. Hunter/gatherer of music. A little bit of this and a little bit of that, lots of variety – that’s not just a good recipe for how to eat, it’s also good for the mind. And, as I learned, it’s also a good recipe for governing.

I’m not going to read this over now. Will just post it and then head out for a walk.

Oh, look at that… there is a YouTube on Ways of Being with Brian Eno and James Bridle. I will have to watch that when I return.

PS: Both the Venetian Republic and the Iroquois Confederacy used sortition for hundreds of years. The Iroquois Confederacy lasted for five centuries! Sortition was also used in Florence, where La Tratta, the drawing of lots, decided which ordinary citizens would occupy key positions in government. It was used in parts of Spain, and the king once said that cities and municipalities that work with sortition are more likely to promote the good life, a healthy administration and a sound government than regimes based on elections. They are more harmonious and egalitarian, more peaceful and disengaged with regard to the passions..
A form of sortition was used in rural areas of Tamil Nadu, the tenth largest state in India, where the names of committee candidates were written on palm leaves and then a child pulled palm leaves out at random. Sortition is not a panacea, the perfect solution for every situation, BUT whatever we have now is not working. We might as well try something new or, in this case, something very old.