Thursday, 28 November 2013

Speech: Josh Kaufman - How to learn anything... fast (RSA)

Full webcast from the RSA Event on Tuesday 4 June at 1pm BST. An edited HD video of the event is also available 

At the event, author and business adviser Josh Kaufman revealed a new approach for acquiring new skills quickly with just a small amount of practice each day.

Chaired by Julian Thompson, the director of projects at the RSA.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Speech: Sugata Mitra - Build a School in the Cloud

Onstage at TED2013, Sugata Mitra makes his bold TED Prize wish: Help me design the School in the Cloud, a learning lab in India, where children can explore and learn from each other -- using resources and mentoring from the cloud. Hear his inspiring vision for Self Organized Learning Environments (SOLE), and learn more at

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Article / Video: The truth about extreme global inequality

Original Article written by Jason Hickel for AlJazeera - Sunday 14, April 2013

Global inequality is growing in part because of the neoliberal economic policies imposed on developing countries.

The crisis of capital, the rise of the Occupy movement and the crash of Southern Europe have brought the problem of income inequality into mainstream consciousness in the West for the first time in many decades. Now everyone is talking about how the richest 1 percent have captured such a disproportionate share of wealth in their respective countries. This point came crashing home once again when an animated video, illustrating wealth disparities in the US, went viral last month. When an infographic catches the attention of tens of millions of internet users, you know it is hitting a nerve.

But the global scale of inequality remains largely absent from this story. So we at /The Rules decided to put together a video that would give it some attention.

While this information is not new, it is still startling. In the video we say that the richest 300 people on earth have more wealth than the poorest 3bn - almost half the world's population. We chose those numbers because it makes for a clear and memorable comparison, but in truth the situation is even worse: the richest 200 people have about $2.7 trillion, which is more than the poorest 3.5bn people, who have only $2.2 trillion combined. It is very difficult to wrap one's mind around such extreme figures.

But we wanted to do more than just illustrate the brutal extent of inequality; we also wanted to demonstrate that it has been getting progressively worse. A recent Oxfam report shows that "the richest 1 percent has increased its income by 60 percent in the last 20 years, with the financial crisis accelerating rather than slowing the process", while the income of the top 0.01 percent has seen even greater growth.

The video shows how this widening disparity operates between countries. During the colonial period, the gap between the richest countries and the poorest countries widened from 3:1 to 35:1, in part because European powers extracted so much wealth from the Global South in the form of resources and labour. Since then, that gap has grown to almost 80:1. How is this possible?

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Article / Video: The man who lives without money

Original Article for World Observer - Friday 04, October 2013

Irishman Mark Boyle tried to live life with no income, no bank balance and no spending. Here’s how he finds it.

If someone told me seven years ago, in my final year of a business and economics degree, that I’d now be living without money, I’d have probably choked on my microwaved ready meal. The plan back then was to get a ‘good’ job, make as much money as possible, and buy the stuff that would show society I was successful.

For a while I did it – I had a fantastic job managing a big organic food company; had myself a yacht on the harbour. If it hadn’t been for the chance purchase of a video called Gandhi, I’d still be doing it today. Instead, for the last fifteen months, I haven’t spent or received a single penny. Zilch.

The change in life path came one evening on the yacht whilst philosophising with a friend over a glass of merlot. Whilst I had been significantly influenced by the Mahatma’s quote “be the change you want to see in the world”, I had no idea what that change was up until then. We began talking about all major issues in the world – environmental destruction, resource wars, factory farms, sweatshop labour – and wondering which of these we would be best devoting our time to. Not that we felt we could make any difference, being two small drops in a highly polluted ocean.

But that evening I had a realisation. These issues weren’t as unrelated as I had previously thought – they had a common root cause. I believe the fact that we no longer see the direct repercussions our purchases have on the people, environment and animals they affect is the factor that unites these problems.

The degrees of separation between the consumer and the consumed have increased so much that it now means we’re completely unaware of the levels of destruction and suffering embodied in the ‘stuff’ we buy.

Very few people actually want to cause suffering to others; most just don’t have any idea that they directly are. The tool that has enabled this separation is money, especially in its globalised format.

Take this for an example:

Article / Video: Are We on the Verge of Total Self-Destruction?

Original Article written by Noam Chomsky (adapted from interview) for What - Monday 20, May 2013

For the first time in the history of the human species, we have clearly developed the capacity to destroy ourselves.

What is the future likely to bring? A reasonable stance might be to try to look at the human species from the outside. So imagine that you’re an extraterrestrial observer who is trying to figure out what’s happening here or, for that matter, imagine you’re an historian 100 years from now — assuming there are any historians 100 years from now, which is not obvious — and you’re looking back at what’s happening today. You’d see something quite remarkable.

For the first time in the history of the human species, we have clearly developed the capacity to destroy ourselves. That’s been true since 1945. It’s now being finally recognized that there are more long-term processes like environmental destruction leading in the same direction, maybe not to total destruction, but at least to the destruction of the capacity for a decent existence.

And there are other dangers like pandemics, which have to do with globalization and interaction. So there are processes underway and institutions right in place, like nuclear weapons systems, which could lead to a serious blow to, or maybe the termination of, an organized existence.

How to Destroy a Planet Without Really Trying

The question is: What are people doing about it? None of this is a secret. It’s all perfectly open. In fact, you have to make an effort not to see it.

There have been a range of reactions. There are those who are trying hard to do something about these threats, and others who are acting to escalate them. If you look at who they are, this future historian or extraterrestrial observer would see something strange indeed. Trying to mitigate or overcome these threats are the least developed societies, the indigenous populations, or the remnants of them, tribal societies and first nations in Canada. They’re not talking about nuclear war but environmental disaster, and they’re really trying to do something about it.

In fact, all over the world — Australia, India, South America — there are battles going on, sometimes wars. In India, it’s a major war over direct environmental destruction, with tribal societies trying to resist resource extraction operations that are extremely harmful locally, but also in their general consequences. In societies where indigenous populations have an influence, many are taking a strong stand. The strongest of any country with regard to global warming is in Bolivia, which has an indigenous majority and constitutional requirements that protect the “rights of nature.”

Ecuador, which also has a large indigenous population, is the only oil exporter I know of where the government is seeking aid to help keep that oil in the ground, instead of producing and exporting it — and the ground is where it ought to be.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who died recently and was the object of mockery, insult, and hatred throughout the Western world, attended a session of the U.N. General Assembly a few years ago where he elicited all sorts of ridicule for calling George W. Bush a devil. He also gave a speech there that was quite interesting. Of course, Venezuela is a

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Speech: Ken Robinson - How to Change Education, from the Ground Up

Sir Ken Robinson addresses the fundamental economic, cultural, social and personal purposes of education. He argues that education should be personalised to every student's talent, passion, and learning styles, and that creativity should be embedded in the culture of every single school.

Chair: Matthew Taylor, RSA chief executive.

Listen to the podcast of the full event including audience Q&A.

Follow the RSA on Twitter.
Like the RSA on Facebook.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Article: 20-Year-Old Hunter S. Thompson’s Superb Advice on How to Find Your Purpose and Live a Meaningful Life

Original article written by Maria Popova for Brainpickings and re-posted on Passive Observers with no alterations

“It is not necessary to accept the choices handed down to you by life as you know it.”

As a hopeless lover of both letters and famous advice, I was delighted to discover a letter 20-year-old Hunter S. Thompson — gonzo journalism godfather, pundit of media politicsdark philosopher — penned to his friend Hume Logan in 1958. Found in Letters of Note: Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience (public library) — the aptly titled, superb collection based on Shaun Usher’s indispensable website of the same name — the letter is an exquisite addition to luminaries’ reflections on the meaning of life, speaking to what it really means to find your purpose.

Cautious that “all advice can only be a product of the man who gives it” — a caveat other literary legends have stressed with varying degrees of irreverence — Thompson begins with a necessary disclaimer about the very notion of advice-giving:
“ To give advice to a man who asks what to do with his life implies something very close to egomania. To presume to point a man to the right and ultimate goal — to point with a trembling finger in the RIGHT direction is something only a fool would take upon himself. 
And yet he honors his friend’s request, turning to Shakespeare for an anchor of his own advice: 
“ To be, or not to be: that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles…
And indeed, that IS the question: whether to float with the tide, or to swim for a goal. It is a choice we must all make consciously or unconsciously at one time in our lives. So few people understand this! Think of any decision you’ve ever made which had a bearing on your future: I may be wrong, but I don’t see how it could have been anything but a choice however indirect — between the two things I’ve mentioned: the floating or the swimming. 
He acknowledges the obvious question of why not take the path of least resistance and float aimlessly, then counters it:
“ The answer — and, in a sense, the tragedy of life — is that we seek to understand the goal and not the man. We set up a goal which demands of us certain things: and we do these things. We adjust to the demands of a concept which CANNOT be valid. When you were young, let us say that you wanted to be a fireman. I feel reasonably safe in saying that you no longer want to be a fireman. Why? Because your perspective has changed. It’s not the fireman who has changed, but you. 
Touching on the same notion that William Gibson termed “personal micro-culture,” Austin Kleon captured in asserting that “you are the mashup of what you let into your life,” and Paula Scher articulated so succinctly in speaking of the combinatorial nature of our creativity, Thompson writes: