CEO Mom’s Epiphany Proves Why Staying Home with a Sick Kid Makes You a ‘Superhero’

When our little ones are sick, it’s nearly impossible to see the silver lining. From the bodily fluids to burning through our precious paid time off, peak cold season is a drag.

One CEO mom flipped her perspective, however, when her daughter came down with a cold—and her epiphany is the perfect motivation for working moms.

When Melissa Melonson, the founder and owner of Lumi Agency, a creative digital marketing agency, decided to stay home with her sick daughter, she didn’t let it hinder her.

In an inspiring LinkedIn post, the mom gave a “cheers” to herself for not letting a sick kid interfere with her self-run business. Rather than hiding the news of her sick daughter to her clients, she decided she didn’t “have to choose” between being a mom and a business owner. She told her clients she was available to them, but that she was also home taking care of her little one.

Melissa admitted in the post that being so transparent with clients used to cause guilt and anxiety, but not anymore.

“But I have come to understand that I don’t need to feel like that… I have come to peace with the idea that I can be devoted to both my family and my work,” Melissa wrote.

The mom said in the past she feared that staying home with her little one made her look like a weak business partner. But now, she understands it only makes her stronger.

“The fact that I can be a loving mom and a strong devoted business owner at the same time pretty much makes me (and all other hard working moms) a superhero,” she wrote.

Though the business owner had flexibility most parents don’t, she used her position to prove that working moms can handle whatever the day dishes out. Let’s hope her clients noticed, and appreciated the message. We can’t wait for prioritizing kids to become less taboo in the workplace—so we can stop wasting our sick days and be honest with our colleagues about what’s on our plates.

‘How Has Violence, Fighting and Anger Shaped Your Life as a Man?’

I’m not a man. But I was born with a penis, and spent the first 28 years of my life getting called “he”, so I think I have something to say about this.

I found this in an email I got from the GMP and it intrigued me: “How has violence, fighting and anger shaped your life as a man?”

Now, I’m not a man. Obviously. But I was born with a penis, and spent the first 28 years of my life getting called “he”, so I think I have something to say about this.

Obviously, as someone who is definitively NOT a man, I have an unusual perspective on “being a man” and what that meant to me. But violence and anger were a huge part of it.

In fact, I’d say that my pre-transition life was defined by these things.

So, how did violence affect me? Well, the hormone testosterone more or less ruined my life. As a “guy”, I was constantly angry, resentful, and oh, did I mention violent?

This violence was mostly a rage against society’s pressures of being a “guy”. Now I can look back and make sense of why I hated this. Back then, I didn’t know why I felt how I did. I just knew I hated my life. I hated being “Jake”. I hated “Jake”. Everyone (including me!) just thought I hated myself.

So how was violence a part of it? Well, take a lot of repressed rage, add testosterone, and there you have the monster that I was. And yes, this monster was violent! Temper tantrums, screaming and hitting, the works.

Jake (I consider the testosterone-driven spectre in my past a different person) was a very violent man. His primary raison d’etre was hate. Hatred of having to be a “guy”. Hatred of just about everything and everyone trying to help him, because they weren’t helping him, just seeing him as a man.

And the violence underlay everything.

Of course it’s left scars. I have brain trauma from a suicide attempt, which makes me walk funny, unable to carry a glass of water without spilling. I have heaps of bad memories. But most of all, I have twenty-eight years that I’ve lost to violence and hate.

So, what’s the silver lining? Beats me. I’m still trying to figure that out. I guess, if there’s anything good to say about “Jake”, it’s only this: in the end, he didn’t win. I survived.

And hopefully now, with whatever I’ve learned by being to hell and back again, I can make other people’s lives even marginally better.

So that’s it. A usual response to this prompt? Not at all! But that’s my answer.

That’s how violence affected me, Jane Sofia Struthers, as a “man”.

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Real Fun


I have been playing the game Dungeons & Dragons off and on since 1978 when my father, an avid gamer before anyone called themselves a gamer, bought the very first incarnation of that very first role-playing game. I was twelve then, and it seemed like a revelation the first time I played it. Here was a game where you told stories collaboratively, where you had your own character whom you worried for and whose victories you celebrated, and where there no winners and losers. The point of the game was simply to have fun.

Though D&D, as it was always known, grew quickly in popularity, it remained a niche hobby, favored by a particular set of (almost entirely) boys who were comfortable spending a night or an afternoon essentially playing make-believe. It was as if we’d taken all our toy soldiers and knights and dragons and found rules and dice to bring them life. There was no competition; no trophies were handed out. I felt a little as if I was in a secret society. I didn’t want to mention how much I loved playing the game to anyone who didn’t play it themselves. Seen from a certain angle, it seemed like the sort of thing that maybe should be left to children, and my friends and I were no longer that.

The game has, in the last five years, exploded in popularity. I hear it’s now cool to play it. I believe this is a healthy development, and not just because I still play it myself. Fifteen years ago, I was running a game one night with, among other people, a friend I knew from high school. He was a successful software engineer, and a father of two boys. At the end of the night he confessed that he couldn’t quite figure out why were still playing the game. “Don’t you ever wonder,” he asked, “about the point of spending a night sitting around a table rolling these dice?”

“I do.”

“Don’t you ever worry that maybe it’s a waste of time, that all these hours could be better spent doing something else?”

“Definitely.”

In fact, it was a question that so nagged at me I would occasionally declare that I was done with the game, and put all my books and dice away and not think about it for several years, before being drawn back in for one reason or another. The other night I was playing–via an online, virtual tabletop–with a group of old, old friends. It was the best sort of game, where the players (I’m what’s known as the Game Master, or Dungeon Master, the one who constructs the framework for the game’s story) made some unexpectedly poor choices and were nearly wiped out, saved only by a few very lucky rolls. It was exciting, spontaneous, and hilarious.

Afterward, I was sitting with my wife, Jen. I could still feel the happy glow within me the game left behind. I thought of how all my friends had gone back to their lives, to their wives and children and jobs and mortgages and various real adult responsibilities just as I was returning to mine. I looked over at my wife. There had been maybe nothing more real in my life than my relationship to her. I have always felt that my choice to be with her was the choice against which all other choices were measured. Yet what really told me to pursue her? What was that a choice for?

“God that was fun!” I said. I thought of trying to explain why it had been such a good session, but Jen is not a game-player. Whenever I mention D&D, I can feel her containing an eye-roll. I love her just the same. In fact, her eyerolling is part of what I love about her. They please though they bring me nothing, earn me nothing, put nothing on my table; they cannot tile my roof or repair my car. All they do is fill me with that same happy glow, a thing I cannot touch or see or measure but which I would not want to live one day without.

Have you read the original anthology that was the catalyst for The Good Men Project? Buy here: The Good Men Project: Real Stories from the Front Lines of Modern Manhood

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Great New Book

You Me We Activity Book

My friend Erin Jang has introduced me to all sorts of cool things — a Trader Joe’s breakfast hack, hiking with kids, clever infographics — but I’m especially into her new two-part book project for parents and kids: You, Me, We (Amazon, Indiebound). Have you seen it? You get two matching activity books — one for the parent, one for the kid — so you can both fill in quizzes and draw pictures and answer questions. Toby and I LOVED doing it together and learning funny things about each other. (For example, he prefers rollercoasters to ferris wheels, and eating pretzels is his favorite part of traveling.)

Here are a few of the fun pages…

You Me We Activity Book

You Me We Activity Book

You Me We Activity Book

You Me We Activity Book

It’s perfect for road trips, long flights or bedtime. I’d highly recommend it. Congratulations, Erin!

Risk Taking Becomes a Way of Life for the Successful

In light of Kobe Bryant’s death on January 25, 2020 from a helicopter tragedy, I am compelled to write about the risk profile that many of our heroes and industry titans must face and master on the path to success.

The question I’m pondering is this: Do all successful people, by nature, become numb to risk-taking? Is a risk-taking tendency almost a prerequisite of success, regardless of industry? Are all successful people inherently delusional, as a prerequisite to pushing the boundaries required to excel in their lines of work?

Actor Will Smith said as much in a YouTube interview:

There’s a certain delusional quality that all successful people have to have. You have to believe that something different than what has happened for the last 50 million years of history, you have to believe that something different can happen.

In Bryant’s case, CNN reported minutes before the crash occurred, the pilot of the doomed helicopter had requested special permission to continue flying despite foggy weather conditions. The last thing heard from the pilot to air traffic control was that he was trying to avoid a cloud layer. It didn’t work.

Why had the pilot requested special visual flight rules clearance—which would allow a pilot to fly during poorer weather conditions than those allowed for normal visual flight rules? We don’t know what happened for sure on that flight, but it’s safe to say that risks were taken with the weather conditions—risks that may not have been taken under different circumstances, or with different passengers on board.

The truth is we will never know and the world is left mourning the loss of nine souls which left us too soon.

The Voice Inside

The journey to success is lonely. Those who have made it have learned to listen to their own inner voice rather than the voices on the sidelines telling them to quit or their goals are too lofty. This is a blessing and a curse, especially when it’s the inner voice that got you to the mountaintop.

It’s easy to think of other successful risk-takers whose stories ended prematurely. A recent example was pro racecar driver Jessi Combs, who was dubbed “the fastest woman on four wheels.” At age 39, Combs died trying to best her own record speed of 398 miles per hour, which she had recorded in 2013. She crashed in Oregon’s Alvord Desert.

Apple’s co-founder Steve Jobs was known to push the envelope. He had been pushing the envelope his whole life. He tried to do the same thing with his cancer treatment and it didn’t work out. Live Science published a piece that explored, Did Alternative Medicine Kill Steve Jobs? The article notes, Jobs delayed the recommended medical treatment for pancreatic cancer for nine months. He attempted to treat his condition through alternative medicine and eating a special diet.

It required surgically removing the tumor.

Not all risk-taking results in the uber-successful losing their life, but other things may be lost by “going all in.” Jim Carrey described “losing himself” while method acting as Andy Kaufman for the film “Man on the Moon.” An article by Josh Rottenberg for the Los Angeles Times described Carrey “plunging himself so deeply into the role that he was never the same again.”

Ripping the Envelope Open

Other successful risk-takers (who are still alive connected to their own identities, and continuing to reap big rewards from their risk-taking) are founder of Virgin Airlines Richard Branson, whose risk-taking exploits Alison Coleman writing for Forbes called “the stuff of legend.”

“…as I’ve always said, no one ever reached for the stars from the comfort of their couch!” Branson said in Coleman’s Forbes interview.

And don’t forget:

  • Dropbox’s Drew Houston—who was told by Steve Jobs that Apple’s iCloud service would take over the Dropbox market—took a big risk in not selling to Apple. Now Houston’s company is worth $12 billion.
  • Oracle’s Larry Ellison—Oracle wasn’t always the most popular database company in the world. Ellison had to take many risks to propel the once struggling tech firm to domination, once even mortgaging his house to keep the business going via a credit line.
  • Uber’s Travis Kalanick—Uber’s co-founder, who also co-founded the now bankrupt file sharing company Scour Exchange, was accused of copyright infringement. Kalanick didn’t let failure stop him, and overrode funding challenges and many competitors in the ridesharing app space to ultimately become the behemoth.
  • Pinterest’s Ben Silbermann—Silbermann already had an enviable job at Google when he left to form Pinterest. It wasn’t an instant hit, with only 3,000 accounts. Silbermann stuck with it, running the site out of a small apartment for a while. Eventually, the app was launched on iOS and the rest is history. The company is now valued at $12.7 billion.

You don’t have to be famous to be a risk-taker to fit this profile. I know that even in my own business, I have practiced “the success delusion.” There have been many times when I have had to convince myself that things are better than they really are in an effort to keep moving forward.

One of the reasons we love our heroes is because they step into the unknown and gamble. We, as mere mortals, marvel at it. I know that it isn’t that these champions are free from fear but that they are not paralyzed by it. Every person on that helicopter on Jan. 26 was a hero and a risk taker. May we celebrate their lives and may their legacy inspire every one of us.

What do you think—are all successful people inherently a little delusional?

Previously Published on paulargueta.com

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Stay in Pure Childhood Bliss

“Take my shirt off! Take my shirt off!” my 3yo shouted with pure childhood bliss. She wanted to be like the older kids running across the grass as shirtless savages of summer. Normally, she does not let it all hang out.

So I took off the shirt, cursing myself for having left the sunscreen at home. It was already 4:30. Post-PTH, hopefully. (*peak tanning hours.)

I knew one of the boy’s parents and we’d met at the park for a happy hour’s summer picnic. I needed adult contact since my one-year-old was near peak of his incessant whininess.

Upon arrival, the parents offered me a beer. I nearly downed it in one sip.

Seconds later, I noticed my 3yo and the older kiddos were missing. I said as much.

“Oh, they’re over behind that brick wall playing in the fountain,” the mom said as she handed me a second beer. “They’re fine. Don’t worry.”

I’m sorry. What part of that statement should not have made me panic? Our kids were out of sight, in New York City, playing in a fountain hidden by a stone wall.

I was fairly certain the 5-year-olds weren’t trained lifeguards.

I tried looking calm with a frozen smile. I took a sip, stood up, carried the whiny 1yo (who whined with the movement), and left to investigate.

At the stone wall, I saw that the fountain was “only” a 12-inch-wide ring of water surrounding a 10-foot sculpture by Tom Otterness. The water flowed in a circle around the sculpture. True: I needn’t worry. Too much.

My 3yo joined the boys dropping items (trash, really…broken balloons, styrofoam) in the “upstream” part of the fountain, then chased it around the 10-foot circle. They were definitely in pure childhood bliss.

As I approached, my kiddo reached into the water, jumped up with hand clenched and squealed, “I got one!”

“What’d you get, buddy?”

“A shock!”

“A shark?”

“Yeah!” she beamed. It was new for her to play so imaginatively.

She was so happy. I was so happy to watch it.

The entire situation reminded me of studying “A Perfect Day for Bananafish“, J.D. Salinger’s short story, in my high school English class. It’s a moment of innocence in which an unstable Army Veteran is reminded of “pure childhood bliss” as he unexpectedly plays with a child in the ocean who swears she sees “bananafish” underwater.

But I digress.

Some kids around nine or ten years old had entered the scene at the fountain. They sat on benches nearby. They held skateboards and sported baseball caps over shaggy hair.

The 5-year-olds playing in the fountain stuck started taunting the skater boys and sang “nanny, nanny- boo, boo.” The skater boys didn’t take the bait. They minded their own business and joshed around like 10-year-old boys. They occasionally laughed or pointed at the little kids. It was innocent, but it also looked like gangs forming.

My 3yo still jumped and splashed, squealed and laughed. She kept grabbing items (trash) at the “top” of the stream and watched it float with the current. He dipped his bloated diaper in the water. She looked at me and enthusiastically screamed, “Daddy!”

It was a juxtaposition of innocence (and innocents): my kid and the two rival gangs (the 5yo’s and the 10 yo’s). I whipped my phone out to video the pure childhood bliss. She hadn’t a care in the world, least of all the chiding of other kids. Not a speck of self-consciousness informed her actions…no insecurities about clothes, having two daddies, vocabulary, nothing.

She just played.

How can she know the joy that brought me or how precious that time was for her? The only thing existing for her was imagination and water and pure childhood bliss (and trash).

If I could endow my kids with only one gift, just one, I’d make them impervious to judgment. I know that’s impossible. But couldn’t she always play in her own world with the water and ignore the others?

Kiddo: don’t modify your behavior or preferences or speech. Just play. Just be. Just maintain that pure childhood bliss for as long as possible.

I hope I’m able to show that video to her one day (assuming I don’t drop my phone in the kids’ bathtub a third time) and help her reconnect with a paradigm free of self-consciousness.

May there be many, many, many more moments of pure childhood bliss.

And please: let me witness a few more of them.

Previously published on ECKnox.com.

Have you read the original anthology that was the catalyst for The Good Men Project? Buy here: The Good Men Project: Real Stories from the Front Lines of Modern Manhood

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Photo credit: istockphoto.com

Nathan Murphy – Entrepreneur; Founder, Audio High School, Muesliforme and Superteacher

Nathan Murphy has always had a unique approach to life. His upbringing in multicultural western Sydney taught him to communicate with people from all walks of life, a trait that has stayed with him. A voracious reader as a child, he grew restless in high school and finally gave up on further formal education, preferring to be self taught.


By Jane Albert

Nathan Murphy has always had a unique approach to life. His upbringing in multicultural western Sydney taught him to communicate with people from all walks of life, a trait that has stayed with him. A voracious reader as a child, he grew restless in high school and finally gave up on further formal education, preferring to be self taught. By 18 he was living rough in Darwin, later spending time at the Salvation Army’s Oasis centre in Sydney, experiences that taught him that you could both survive after losing everything and that someone else is always worse off. Murphy used these experiences to channel his entrepreneurial drive, initially building an audio-visual educational tool, Audio High School, and more recently creating start-ups MuesliForMe and SuperTea, both of which have since been acquired. Nathan’s determination has led to introductions to Richard Branson and entrepreneur Timothy Ferris, and his tenacity has taken him to Silicon Valley and beyond. Seeing entrepreneurship as a supremely creative endeavour, Murphy says his greatest fear is being useless to society. His energy, drive and imagination are a guarantee that won’t happen.

This post was previously published on australiaunlimited.com and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

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Photo credit: Istockphoto.com

Is Asia Ready for the Peer to Peer Revolution?


By Michel Bauwens

I have tried to put my case for peer to peer, in a succinct format and adapted to the region where I live, it could in my mind be used as a syndicated column that would appear with country-specific references. I would appreciate any distribution amongst the Asian blog community.

Here is the text:

As our world is becoming more and more networked, distributed networks are becoming the norm for the design of technologies and social organizations, and a new type of human relationship is arising with it: peer to peer. The new mode of relating to each other, which results in new social processes such as peer production, peer governance, and new modes of ‘peer property’ has significant impact on development and innovation policies. Here’s why.

First observation: our most important technologies are taking the form of peer to peer. The internet is a point to point network. The second generation Web, called Web 2.0 or the read/write web, allows anyone, without too much technical difficulty, from any computer, to publish his writings, to ‘podcast’ audiofiles in MP3 format, or to ‘webcast’ audiovisual streams with BitTorrent, to any other internet access point in the world. The filesharing of music and other content has become a massive social phenomenon, and almost half of American teenagers have become content producers themselves. Moreover, a new generation of technologies, called viral communicators or ‘meshworks’, can simply connect to each other, without prior infrastructure, using their own surplus capacities to enable the network. Skype, the new internet-based telephony, with tens of millions of users, has been built on that principle and it is expected that wireless broadband will rapidly grow using these same principles.

Second observation: new social, political and technical organizations are taking on a peer to peer format. The Zopabank in the UK allows any person to lend money directly to lenders, using a distributed risk methodology, without the intervention of any bank. It works, and is growing rapidly. In Uganda, Kiva has started the first peer to peer microfinance bank, no paternalistic NGO needs to be involved. More significant than these two isolated examples: the alterglobalisation movement is organized as a network of networks, uses peer to peer technologies to communicate and mobilize hundreds of thousands of people. Peer-configured mobile phones, using buddy lists and even specialized political software such as Textmob, have been instrumental in many recent political mobilizations in Asia.

The peer to peer relational dynamic takes on three basic forms.

The first is ‘peer production’. Linux, the fast rising operating system that is challenging Microsoft, Firefox, the fast-gaining browser, the Apache server which is the backbone of the internet; all these are cooperatively produced without corporate hierarchies or market allocation, but through the social relations of those involved. Tens of millions of people are producing content on the web: alone in blogs but by continuously pointing to material produced by their peers, in a global dialogue producing the tens of billions of pages, only a fraction of which is indexed by Google. And millions of people are producing collective knowledge through cooperative wiki’s. Learning has become a peer-based process, using communally validated microcontent rather than institutionally mediated macrocontent. The crown jewel is of course Wikipedia, the peer-produced encyclopedia that is taking the world by storm, has already more articles, on more subjects, in more languages, than the venerable Encyclopedia Brittanica. While peer production is geared to use value (and not exchange value for the market), it is already enabling the growth of many service-orientated businesses. Participatory platforms for minipreneurs that want to directly engage with each other, as they do on eBay.)

Second observation: new social, political and technical organizations are taking on a peer to peer format. The Zopabank in the UK allows any person to lend money directly to lenders, using a distributed risk methodology, without the intervention of any bank. It works, and is growing rapidly. In Uganda, Kiva has started the first peer to peer microfinance bank, no paternalistic NGO needs to be involved, while the Southeast Asian initiative P2P aid.org aims to help get citizen to citizen aid to places hit with a catastrophe.. More significant than these two isolated examples: the alterglobalisation movement is organized as a network of networks, uses peer to peer technologies to communicate and mobilize hundreds of thousands of people. Peer-configured mobile phones, using buddy lists and even specialized political software such as Textmob, have been instrumental in many recent political mobilizations in Asia.

The peer to peer relational dynamic takes on three basic forms.

The first is ‘peer production’. Linux, the fast rising operating system that is challenging Microsoft, Firefox, the fast-gaining browser, the Apache server which is the backbone of the internet; all these are cooperatively produced without corporate hierarchies or market allocation, but through the social relations of those involved. Tens of millions of people are producing content on the web: alone in blogs but by continuously pointing to material produced by their peers, in a global dialogue producing the tens of billions of pages, only a fraction of which is indexed by Google. And millions of people are producing collective knowledge through cooperative wiki’s. Learning has become a peer-based process, using communally validated microcontent rather than institutionally mediated macrocontent. The crown jewel is of course Wikipedia, the peer-produced encyclopedia that is taking the world by storm, has already more articles, on more subjects, in more languages, than the venerable Encyclopedia Brittanica. While peer production is geared to use value (and not exchange value for the market), it is already enabling the growth of many service-orientated businesses. Participatory platforms for minipreneurs that want to directly engage with each other, as they do on eBay. Many of the new and fast-growing companies, such as Amazon (relying on customer provided reviews), Google (whose value derives from the access it provides to peer-produced content), eBay (enabling the creation of an endless number of peer to peer marketplace which can operate without intermediary), are in fact derivatives of peer production. U.S.-based venture capital is already pouring hundreds of millions dollars in open source-based companies, who all rely essentially on peer production.

The second form is peer governance. These production processes have to be managed, and are no longer following the traditional hierarchical model of the corporation, which does not function in a network; moreover, since peer production is geared to use value (universal free access), market pricing is not used to determine what gets produced or not, but rather it is the self-unfolding desires and need for creativity, and recognition, of millions of individuals. Peer governance is a seriously understudied aspect and challenges many of the assumptions, both of authoritarian dictatorships and corporate leadership, but also of representative democracy. Peer governance and multistakeholdership will fundamentally remodel how the world is managed.

The third form is peer property. Wikipedia, Linux, and all peer ‘products’, are not privately owned, and they are not ‘publicly owned’ by the state. They form a new type of public domain or ‘Digital Commonwealth’. As property, using the General Public License, Open Source licenses, or Creative Commons License, they share two important aspects: 1) attribution: the creator is always recognized; 2) share-alike: you can use it for free, on the condition that the users of your modification in turn enjoy the same rights. This has enabled the rapid ‘viral multiplication’ of this universal common property regime to peer-produced content), eBay (enabling the creation of an endless number of peer to peer marketplace which can operate without intermediary), are in fact derivatives of peer production. U.S.-based venture capital is already pouring hundreds of millions dollars in open source-based companies, who all rely essentially on peer production.

The second form is peer governance. These production processes have to be managed, and are no longer following the traditional hierarchical model of the corporation, which does not function in a network; moreover, since peer production is geared to use value (universal free access), market pricing is not used to determine what gets produced or not, but rather it is the self-unfolding desires and need for creativity, and recognition, of millions of individuals. Peer governance is a seriously understudied aspect and challenges many of the assumptions, both of authoritarian dictatorships and corporate leadership, but also of representative democracy. Peer governance and multistakeholdership will fundamentally remodel how the world is managed.

The third form is peer property. Wikipedia, Linux, and all peer ‘products’, are not privately owned, and they are not ‘publicly owned’ by the state. They form a new type of public domain or ‘Digital Commonwealth’. As property, using the General Public License, Open Source licenses, or Creative Commons License, they share two important aspects: 1) attribution: the creator is always recognized; 2) share-alike: you can use it for free, on the condition that the users of your modification in turn enjoy the same rights. This has enabled the rapid ‘viral multiplication’ of this universal common property regime.

The further emergence of P2P depends on the spread of distributed forms of organisation in our society: the distribution of intellect, through advances in general education; the distribution of the means of production, through cheap computers; and finally: the distribution of financial capital.

Taken together, these are not marginal developments, but pointers to structural change. We have a new mode of production, that is more productive in many instances that for profit production and state ownership; we have a mode of governance that is more efficient in managing complex global projects involving hundreds of thousands of collaborators; we have a form of property which is more democratic and guarantees better access than either private property or state property. It is a mistake to think that it only works in the immaterial sphere of information, it is growing in the world of material production as well. America’s second mode of transport, carpooling, is entirely organized around peer to peer principles. Contemporary production is essentially immaterial design, which could take place using such principles, and forms of material production can be envisaged, which use distributed forms of capital. Moreover, the trend towards esktop manufacturing is growing very fast (emachineshop.com, ifabricate.com) and personal fabricators are on the horizon of possibility.

What does this all mean? That many debates about the alternative between the neoliberal market and interventionist state are becoming obsolete. Because a third player has arisen directly from civil society in the form of the Commons and it is increasingly demanding its place in the global concert. That the rapid extension of this social practice points to a underlying tsunami affecting the younger generations: new modes of feeling and being, new modes of knowing, new constellations of values. It has all the trappings of a social and political revolution to come: a Commons-based civilization within a reformed market and a reformed state.

What could it mean for Thailand Social and political reform movements in Thailand should not only look to the past, but also look at how Thai society could be enriched and developed by enabling peer models and Commons-based governance models, such as the use of trusts for protecting the environment of rare natural resources. The state and government should know that the new restrictive intellectual property legislation imposed by Western powers actually significantly restrains and slows down innovation, and that open access to research is a key enabler of innovation; businesses should know that it pays to enable peer production and user-centric innovation from their own customers. Open source business models should be explored by Thai innovators.

On January 20, Michel Bauwens, who teaches Globalization at Payap University, will present a lecture on peer to peer at the Asian New Media conference, organized by http://www.seacem.org

Contact the author via the Chiang Mai-based Foundation for P2P Alternatives at: michelsub2004ATgmail.com

What does this all mean? That many debates about the alternative between the neoliberal market and interventionist state are becoming obsolete. Because a third player has arisen directly from civil society in the form of the Commons and it is increasingly demanding its place in the global concert. That the rapid extension of this social practice points to a underlying tsunami affecting the younger generations: new modes of feeling and being, new modes of knowing, new constellations of values. It has all the trappings of a social and political revolution to come: a Commons-based civilization within a reformed market and a reformed state.

What could it mean for Asia? Social and political reform movements in Asia should not only look to the past, but also look at how Asian society could be enriched and developed by enabling P2P models of production, governance, and property. The state and government should know that the new restrictive intellectual property legislation imposed by Western powers actually significantly restrains and slows down innovation, and that open access to research is a key enabler of innovation; businesses should know that it pays to enable peer production and user-centric innovation from their own customers. Open source business models should be explored by Asian innovators.

This post was previously published on p2pfoundation.net and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

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The New Operating System

If you can’t make a bundle in the digital world, you can join the gold rush of speculation in the financial industry.


By William A. Collins

Now that Wall Street
Rules mankind,
We need banks
Of a different kind.

It used to be the manufacturers who ran the country — steel, autos, appliances, and the like. The president of General Motors, Charles Wilson, is remembered best for having a comment he made distorted into saying what was good for GM was good for the country.

Wilson eventually stopped trying to set the record straight, partly because at the time it rang so true. No longer. Other countries have learned how to make better cars and fridges. General Motors had to be bailed out. Today, banks run the show.

Sure, they’re just as arrogant and shady as the car companies, but bankers are better at politics. They’ve convinced Congress that not only are they too big to fail, they are also too big to regulate, or even to annoy.

The secret of the banks’ over-arching power lies in the feeble regulatory system that supposedly gives the government some control over them. By contributing generously to political campaigns, and by paying government leaders to speak at their conventions, bankers grease the ways for their own appointment to the very agencies aimed at regulating them.

Their lobbyists also kindly volunteer to submit drafts of the very legislation meant to govern their behavior. This system works well for the banks, but not for the rest of us.

The results of this profound failure at regulation are highly destructive. The Great Recession is only the worst example. Unreasonable mortgages are another, along with their first cousin, hasty foreclosures.

Unchecked banking fees and interest charges keep profits soaring, as do quiet backing for usurious payday loans and money laundering from drug trafficking. Even other corporations get cheated by underwriter swindles. And of course, investors get cheated by too-cozy relationships between banks and pliable bond rating agencies.

Simply put: Selling goods and services with a big growth market is no longer the only way to make boatloads of money. If you can’t make a bundle in the digital world, you can join the gold rush of speculation in the financial industry.

And political domination is America’s new operating system.

This post was previously published on otherwords.org and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

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Alice’s Adventures in Numberland

Tonight we are celebrating the science and maths of Lewis Carroll in our Alice’s Adventures in Numberland event with geek comedy trio Festival of the Spoken Nerd. As well as being a best-selling children’s author, Lewis Carroll was also a mathematics lecturer at Oxford University and an avid puzzler. He loved musing over word, number and logic problems and sharing them with his friends and colleagues. Special guest geek Katie Steckles has compiled this collection of Carroll-inspired brainteasers for your puzzling pleasure. How many can you complete? Answers can be found in this blog post.

DIFFICULTY LEVELS

Alice-exhibition-web-page

Easy          

Knight

Hard          

Knight

Knight

Fiendish    

Knight

Knight

Knight


MAZE 

Knight


Can you find a route from the outside of the maze to the centre?

Maze

A similar, but more complicated maze like this, created by Carroll in his early twenties, appeared in his family’s homemade puzzle magazine, Mischmasch.

DOUBLETS 

Knight

Knight

For each pair of words, can you find a series of words which link them, changing just one letter each time? All links must be real words. As an example, you can get from HEAD to TAIL using four links as follows:

HEAD

heal

teal

tell

tall

TAIL

Drive PIG into STY (4 links)

Make WHEAT into BREAD (6 links)

Raise FOUR to FIVE (6 links)

Prove GRASS to be GREEN (7 links)

Change OAT to RYE (3 links)

Cover EYE with LID (3 links)

Raise ONE to TWO (7 links)

Crown TIGER with ROSES (5 links)

Carroll introduced this type of puzzle, now more commonly known as a Word Ladder, in a letter to Vanity Fair in March 1879, and after initial trials, they began using it as their regular puzzle competition – the examples above are taken from there.

DOUBLE ACROSTIC POEM 

Knight

Knight

Knight

Each couplet in this poem clues an 8-letter word. If you find all 8 words, their first letters will spell out a word, and their last letters will spell out another word.

They’ll jump off a cliff from a great height, for fun

Alice

In a computer game from 1991

Just the right tipple for a long run

To match your own chemical composition

Kids won’t touch it – they prefer jam

Sounds like it’s near Lewisham

Practise makes perfect, that’s what they say

Regarding the vehicle that takes you away

Brenda with three Es is feeling pretty

Confused about this northern city

Caesar’s troubled by its bite

Maybe a candlelit dinner tonight?

It’s almost like there’ll be bows and knots

At the time of year you give presents lots

The double acrostic is often thought of as the forerunner to the modern crossword puzzle, and Carroll made many contributions to the form. In his collection of poems Phantasmagoria (1869), he published an example in which the stanzas were more connected to form a readable poem, rather than disjointed as in the example above. Another, written by Carroll for Miss E M Argles, was printed in the catalogue for the exhibition in London to commemorate the centenary of Carroll’s birth.

AMBIGRAMS 

Knight

An ambigram is a word or phrase which is written in such a way that it reads the same when rotated, or reflected. Examples of different rotation and reflection ambigrams are given here. Can you devise a rotation ambigram for the word FISH? Or a reflection ambigram for BIRD? Or, you can try to devise one for your own name, or a word of your choice – some words are harder than others! You can use whichever type of letters you like, and add interesting serifs and decorations, as long as it still reads as that word. Sometimes ambigrams read as one word in one direction, and a different (sometimes opposite) word in the other.

Ambigrams

OVERLAPPING SQUARES 

Knight

Can you draw this shape made from three interlaced squares, using one continuous line, without going over any parts of the line twice, without intersecting the line you’ve already drawn, and without taking your pen off the paper?

Threesquares

In Collingwood’s Life and Letters, Isabel Standen recalls being shown this puzzle by Carroll in 1869.

A DINNER PARTY 

Knight

Knight

Knight

At a dinner party, the host invites his father’s brother-in-law, his brother’s father-in-law, his father-in-law’s brother, and his brother-in-law’s father. What’s the smallest number of guests there could be?

This puzzle originally appeared in Lewis Carroll’s Eligible Apartments.

This puzzle originally appeared in Lewis Carroll’s Eligible Apartments.

Previously published on blogs.bl.uk and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

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If you believe in the work we are doing here at The Good Men Project and want to join our calls on a regular basis, please join us as a Premium Member, today.

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Photo credit: Istockphoto.com