Sunday, July 31, 2011

Musing on the Qualities of Leadership, or Lack Thereof. . .

Well, no need to belabor the obvious, for anyone who pays attention to the news.

It seems interesting to me that one of the primary attributes of "empowered leadership" that for some reason we've wholly lost is the confidence to listen to evidence and be persuaded. Just where have we got the notion that blind adherence to rigid ideology is somehow a stronger manifestation of personal strength--stronger than than the confidence to impartially entertain opposing views, consider the merits of the argument, and alter one's opinions as the evidence demands?

It's utter craziness. From Oslo, to Washington D.C., to the guy that told me the other day that he knew climate change was a hoax because God promised in the Bible to never destroy the world again after the flood, and of course, if climate changed destroyed the world it would prove the Bible wrong. . .radical, dangerous, short sighted, entrenched, militant idiocy threatens our very survival. It's our consumerism again, our consumerism of ideas--selecting those things we'd like to think over those we need to accept-- and now increasingly demanding others participate in those kinds of destructive fantasies too-- all too often, ultimately, at the end of a gun.

I find it utterly terrifying that I know literally dozens of people who believe they are masters of various arcane sciences, are shamanic, whatever that means-- have magic powers, unique conversations with angels or whatever, or can heal cancer by chanting vowels. . .they're pretty insistent about everyone taking them seriously too. . .smugly grouchy even. . .and I know basically one capable mechanic.

God, this self-indulgence is really going to bite us in the ass.

Also: Bonus link for the psychologically inclined-- Diagnose your favorite Panglossian! Worth a read.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Musing on the Qualities of Leadership

A couple of thoughts come to me this morning, observing world events and dynamics here locally.

Anyone who would deign set themselves up in a position of leadership must possess a certain level of hubris, and a sense of entitlement-- a sense of exceptionalism. That's natural and part of the job, and that narcissistic self-confidence is not necessarily a defect, rather it can be a source of great creative potential.

Still, I find it striking the enormous schism that exists between the two ways that a "sense of exceptionalism" can manifest itself:

1. The sense that because one is exceptional, the ethical mores that may bind mankind do not necessarily apply to oneself.


2. The sense that because one is exceptional, the ethical mores that may bind mankind may apply to oneself especially.

Worth chewing on, I suggest.

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Numbers of Sustainability: 3

So the "numbers" series is continuing to generate both interest and ire. Nice to know people are reading. . .

An email I received-- paraphrased:

"Jay, you've got no idea what you're talking about. My family has four 100 square foot raised beds and they easily grow half our food. That's for a family of four. . .maybe you need more practice gardening."

This fellow makes a partial living promoting and developing small garden beds. And he mows lawns, elsewise.

OK, that's fine, on the surface the claim sounds reasonable. But let's think about it a bit.

We can talk in terms of calories, and it would be very helpful, but no one wants to, because the numbers are irritating. We can talk in terms of pounds, but no one wants to weigh out and really quantify this either. So there's an attempt to keep numbers out of the conversation, but whoops, they're still there. Back of the envelope, and off the cuff, but still there. . .


We can assume that it costs perhaps 400 dollars a month at a reasonable minimum to feed an adult. If, as in this household they're 4 adults(two teens) that's netting 200 dollars a month(half their food) x 4, or 800 dollars a month. Times twelve, that's 9600 dollars a year in produce, out of 400 square feet, or a net yield of 24 dollars a square foot.  If we assume my numbers of net value(the produce likely worth 2 dollars a pound, as in greens, brocoli, etc.,) that's cranking out 12 pounds a square foot a year. Sustainably too! Organic!

It's all in the mulch, he says. I think it's in the bullshit.

A one acre property "gardened" at this level of proficiency would net the gardener, what, almost a million bucks a year in gross proceeds, and that's assuming that you lose some square footage to pathways and a tool shed(approx 40000 square feet times 24 dollars a square foot.)

Boy, if I could plant beans like that, I'd quit my day job!