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The world is changing and you`d better damn well be ready.

July 14, 2008 at 11:17 PM

Greetings,
Let’s face it, we have lived for so long in an oil product based culture in which gasoline has always just been `there` that we have almost never questioned the possibility of finite resources as we go about our relatively comfortable and privileged lives. Now that is changing with staggering implications for all of us, not only as musicians but as human beings.
For me it started two years ago when I suddenly realized the price of olive oil had gone up 35 percent. Now olive oil is such a cleanly produced product that much of what you get in the supermarket is organic anyway. The point is that once the incredibly stupid rush to produce highly polluting and inefficient bio fuels went underway (as usual, at the expensive of the poor at ground level) the first to be faced with incredible price rises in food are those who wish to eat organic and healthy diets. Ridiculous at it seems, natural eating is a specialized area of production……Then my friends in the natural food industry began talking about rice shortages and the price doubling over this year. A report was leaked from the Japanese Government on how Japan was now food dependent (less than forty percent of its own grown) and that with a likely up coming rice crisis the people should start growing potatoes as a famine food. Bizarre. Just like the Irish of the past and completely foreign to Japanese physiology.
Then the gas prices went up real fast and people were shocked. 130 yen a liter was a twenty yen increase, but the government pushed the prices back down for a while and we forgot. Until I woke up one morning and it was 170 yen. Now it’s 180 and soon will be 200. I’m not doing the conversions but in 6 months the cost of a tank of fuel in a 30 liter car has jumped from three thousand to seven thousand yen. Tragically, over he last few years the Japanese have been in the habit of buying SUV type cars with 70 l tanks that guzzle. These are hyped as family cars so those families are really hit. An apocryphal anecdote: newspapers report that car parks in Tokyo are, for the first time in history, losing money. The cars are staying home.
Talking to my terrified friend in his new restaurant with no customers (suddenly) I asked him what did he expect? When families cannot afford to travel the luxury of eating out is the first to go. What will his family do, I wonder?. This has incredible implications for Japan with its eating out culture that supports especially older people who run small bas and grills etc.
How about the old in the very old population? They can no longer drive for medical treatment. Big deal? How hard is the American culture with its tacit assumption that distance is irrelevant because of gas going to be hit. Reading around one is already seeing disenfranchisement as the lower earners are losing jobs because of distance (not to mention the shocks to the car industry- when is GM going to shut down?) Ghettos, homelessness sand anarchy are well on the way.
The implication for violinists is simple. Consider my English friend whose mother is dying. He bought an open ticket for 150 thousand yen (expensive) to England. The plane company won’t even cite a return price. They say he could be asked for anything in a matter of a few weeks. He’s in shock and he’s a frequent flyer. How many musicians have to fly all over for auditions for orchestras, universities and –concerts- Young people will not have the money to do these things anymore. Nor will great orchestras be traveling around the world. The implication for music is that its going to become –very local, very homegrown.- This may be a positive new direction but it sure is going to be different. Violinists are going to have to plan their futures more carefully in terms of where the world is actually going.
If this sounds gloomy this need not be the case. Take a way the excess and stupidity of the current situation and people will have to sit down and ask `what do we value? What is family? What is real eating? How can we cooperate to live well?` And governments are going to have to be pressurized to provide an alternative greener infrastructure, actually recognize the economic sense of a healthier, cleaner world; apply all our marvelous technology to solar power and so forth. It’s almost too late but we might just make it.
Back to practice.
Buri



From Jon O'Brien
Posted on July 15, 2008 at 1:17 AM
'tis a swindle. Lots, lots of money in all of this new politics. And cynicism, greed and lies. The resources are there. This new politics is anti-life.
From Stephen Brivati
Posted on July 15, 2008 at 1:22 AM
Greetings,
depends what you are talking about. Food shortage has often ha dmore to do with political agendas tahn actuall shortages. Now it a the battle ground for SAPS vs sensible farming.But the bio fuels are a whole new ball game. What is the current grain stock situation by the way?
Believing we have the resources to continue living the way we do is frankly asinine. Not opinion or political manipulation. Studies on how the human race has outstripped the earths ability to renew resources are both reputable and legion.
Cheers,
Buri
From Jon O'Brien
Posted on July 15, 2008 at 1:34 AM
Depends who you talk to, and which papers you read, though I respect your position. I notice a tendency to anger and lack of due respect of the alternative view by those who hold your view. Why? Maybe not yourself, but certainly many in journalism are close to calling for the return of the gibbet for those who dare question the science and the facts. People like me are prepared to listen to all views on this.

Let us look at the science, at the facts. There is a lot of money, a lot of money, at stake here and governments and corporations and media companies are latching onto this source of dough. Governments are salivating at the sight of it, and falling lockstep into line.

But what really are the experts saying? Scientists everywhere are slowly forming a rebellion to this hysteria. Believe me, we are talking amongst ourselves. For dangerous hysteria is what it is. I haven't heard of anything as serious as this before.

Violins and violinists? Buri, you won't be able to live if this ball gets rolling too far. Life will be too expensive. There's nothing romantic or 'old world values' about it.

From Jon O'Brien
Posted on July 15, 2008 at 1:49 AM
By the way, using the word asinine is describing me as an ass. Not the best way to argue your point.
From Jim W. Miller
Posted on July 15, 2008 at 2:17 AM
The increase in cost of food is due to the increased cost of food transportation, not its value as fuel.

Pass legislation that requires all new cars sold in the U.S. by year 20XX to be flex-fuel. It adds $100 to the cost of a new car (more expensive to convert one). It takes two years to build an alcohol plant, it costs as much to build as a suburban mall, and occupies about the same area. If flex-fuel is required in the U.S., then every new car made for sale anywhere in the world will be flex-fuel as well. The price of oil would plummet. Pass legislation making alcohol "hands off" meaning limits on taxation, etc. Put better controls on the price of food grain. We have so much unused arable land here you can't fathom it. This is "solar energy" in its cleanest form, I would say.

From Stephen Brivati
Posted on July 15, 2008 at 2:37 AM
Greetings,
I don`t think you are an ass. (Perfectly good animal though. Gets a bad press)
But why do you assume I haven`t listened to any number of points of view before making a statement of what I believe is? Trying to bury an idea under the counter argument of `I listen to scientists (ergo I am the scientific one ` and a liberal dose of sarcasm is in my opinion very much more lacking in any meaningful point making than identifying and clearly labelling an opinion as asinine.
You claim to listen to all kind sof opinons but have not heard anything this serious and that it is hysterical. That`s having your cake and eating it. Condemming asinine on one hand and using hysterical on the other.

For sure, I often express impatience at opinions differnet to my own, but that doesn`t presuppose I listen. My bad, but I`m not actually that bothered.

But this is all kind of personal. I think you are a very knowledgeable guy with very valid opinons who correclty pointed out that thes ekinds of things are about politics. Of course everything is about politics. Accepting without question the harm we do with the way we live is a very strong political staement. I And I acknowledge ed that this has certianly been true in the past.Except I think that by liberally using the word politics we lose sight of the other factors involved: economics, sexuality, nationlism, and the environment. These things all interact and an analysis done only on apolitical basis is largely incomplete.
Now I look around , read and listen and based on that, not hysteria, ask what are we going to do without oil? The question needs to be asked since that is where the man on the street is at. Is it going to suddenly reappear and the prices drop? Maybe once the Iraq oil filed s are up and running having been forcibly taken by multinationals. Or more likely not. Too much violence, hatred , greed even before one poses the moral question of whom does that oil belong to?Are the prices going to drop back down and thinsg return to where they were before?. And when that runs out?
The idea we have enough resources and they will never end sadly remains asinine to me.
Cheers,
Buri

From Stephen Brivati
Posted on July 15, 2008 at 3:04 AM
Greetings,
Jim, the increase in food costs is due to a host of factors includign global warming, especially SAPs, and as I already stated for organic food the overtaking of land for bio fules. Something I hera abotu all the time directly from people who have actuall contact with suppliers and distributers. Transportation costs did not put up the cost of olive oil.
Cheers,
Buri
From Stephen Brivati
Posted on July 15, 2008 at 3:09 AM
Greetings,
Jon you said
>Violins and violinists? Buri, you won't be able to live if this ball gets rolling too far. Life will be too expensive. There's nothing romantic or 'old world values' about it.

This is a completey spurious straw man argument. Nothing in what I said to support this made up position. Bit of a shame you said it.

From Jim W. Miller
Posted on July 15, 2008 at 3:14 AM
I don't know what happened to your olive oil, or anything that's happening in Japan, for that matter. I'm talking about the U.S. Here, as I said, there's no "overtaking of _land_ for biofuel." The problem is solveable, whether you like it or not :)
From Jon O'Brien
Posted on July 15, 2008 at 3:13 AM
I was just saying, and I agree it wasn't said as politely as I could have tried to say it, that you appear to be hinting at a (almost) fond outlook for the way things are going. If I got you wrong there, my apologies. Perhaps you were trying to put things in a positive light. It sounded that way to me.

Your point about asinine and hysteria is well taken, I slipped up.

I'm not sure about flex-fuel cars. I'm all for alternative energy sources, though, as part of the available resources, if they are going to work well and ensure healthy economies. It is the brook-no-dissent journalism that I'm concerned about. The media is out of control.

From Stephen Brivati
Posted on July 15, 2008 at 3:19 AM
Greetings,
Jim, I know US land is not being used for bio fuel. If you mean the problem of food can be solved then I also agree completley as long as we recognoze that pesticides and fertilizes of modern farming are another example of short term application of technology thta has drasticlaly reduced another vitla reosurce past the point of no return- top soil. A scinetific return to farming that collaborates with natur eis both feasible and econimcally viable.
But problems are mever If w econside rthe environment as a resource then bio fuels are another disaster. Ethanol producing plants are potentially lethal contributors to global warming. Otehr soultions- given the current stae f scientific knowledge I think the problem can be solved and we leanr to survive with whatever little oil is left.
Do we have a choice?
Cheers,
Buri
From Jon O'Brien
Posted on July 15, 2008 at 3:29 AM
I would say, morally, that the oil belongs to he or she who owns the oil field.
From Stephen Brivati
Posted on July 15, 2008 at 3:25 AM
Greetings,
Jon , sicne I have the utmost respetc for you surely you wont mind calling you asinine every now and again? Feel free to do the same back....
I think if we carry on the way we are then evrythign is going to crash. The earth just cannot take what we are doing. Things are being torn apart right now everywhere as a result of just this one issue (Oil) although its all part of a much wider framwrok .
I do not belive in a return to some kind of quasi primitve romantic ideal. What we do have is scinece. Not the more profit driven garbage which appears to answer scientific criteria but ignores nature becuase of an arcane belive that man really is in control. Rather an awesome range of scientific knowledge that is quite capable of creating a world that not only renws itself but does allow us to live as humans should, a state I would argue we are very far from right now in most cases. What is needed is the will, and that to drive the politics of change. But first and foremost we have to see what is here and prepare fr what is coming because it isn`t going to be pretty or fun.
Cheers,
Buri
From Stephen Brivati
Posted on July 15, 2008 at 3:34 AM
Greetings,
>I would say, morally, that the oil belongs to he or she who owns the oil field.

Absolutely, but then the counter argument is rooted in the imperilaism and racism of the greater good. The unspoken point being that inferiro races should not be given control of a resource that we need. The `we` somehow excluding third world nations.
Cheers,
Buri

From Jon O'Brien
Posted on July 15, 2008 at 3:48 AM
I have been called worse :-) The respect is mutual.
From Stephen Brivati
Posted on July 15, 2008 at 4:19 AM
Greeetings,
incidentlaly the following is from an article in the Independent about oil running out:
The importance of black gold

* A reduction of as little as 10 to 15 per cent could cripple oil-dependent industrial economies. In the 1970s, a reduction of just 5 per cent caused a price increase of more than 400 per cent.

* Most farming equipment is either built in oil-powered plants or uses diesel as fuel. Nearly all pesticides and many fertilisers are made from oil.

* Most plastics, used in everything from computers and mobile phones to pipelines, clothing and carpets, are made from oil-based substances.

* Manufacturing requires huge amounts of fossil fuels. The construction of a single car in the US requires, on average, at least 20 barrels of oil.

* Most renewable energy equipment requires large amounts of oil to produce.

* Metal production - particularly aluminium - cosmetics, hair dye, ink and many common painkillers all rely on oil.

www.independent.co.uk/news/science/world-oil-supplies

From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on July 15, 2008 at 10:42 AM
Last October there was an article in Strings magazine that quoted the fiddler Darol Anger as saying that "Touring musicians face an uncertain and difficult future . . . Travel will become much more difficult in the coming years, and most communities will lose arts funding as weather and government-related catastrophes pile up. . . . Music is essential to life, but played for fun and for community is where it's at."

I thought this was an interesting, if sobering, point. In my blog I wondered if it might actually be good for local communities and for nurturing local talent across the board if it becomes more difficult to bring in whoever's perceived as the latest, hottest "star" from somewhere else. Kind of like eating local, seasonal foods: how about listening to local, seasonal music?

From Shailee Kennedy
Posted on July 15, 2008 at 11:21 AM
Dangerous hysteria---how ridiculous.

Anyway, Stephen, what is public transportation like in Japan? I've been fairly surprised (I guess I shouldn't be) that people have been so focused on making more fuel-efficient cars that they haven't talked so much about improving public infrastructure such as trains, subways, buses, and the like.

I live in New York City, don't even own a car, and take public transport everywhere I go, and it makes so much sense to me---concentrate our resources to benefit the most people, and everyone wins. At least in the USA, we're going to have to totally re-define our lifestyle so that we're not so gas-dependent. No more 2-hour commutes in SUV's just so people can have the 4000 sq. ft. house way out in the suburbs with the huge backyard and the four-car garage. It's incredibly wasteful. I used to live out West and it always amazed me that the houses and buildings there never have solar panels---all that free sunshine and they don't use it. Big changes are coming.

From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on July 15, 2008 at 11:33 AM
Shailee, I agree totally. I live in the Boston area, I do own a car, but I only drive a few miles a week at most, sometimes not at all. I go to work, to my viola lessons, and do a lot of shopping by public transportation. We bought our house where we did because of the relatively easy access to public transportation. I lived in Europe (Berlin) for about a year as a teenager and that taste of carless freedom afforded by good public transportation stayed with me all these years. I'm trying to look on the bright side of high gas prices: maybe this will finally make Americans get more serious about building a more sustainable transportation infrastructure.

Every year in our area there's some horrible tragic story involving teenage drivers and car accidents and I think I'm going to follow the German example and not let my kids learn to drive until they're 18. I'll give them an MBTA pass instead--they'll be safer.

From Shailee Kennedy
Posted on July 15, 2008 at 12:06 PM
"I'm trying to look on the bright side of high gas prices: maybe this will finally make Americans get more serious about building a more sustainable transportation infrastructure."

Ha, I thought that in the 1970's too! (I was only a kid then, *cough cough*)

I hope it really happens this time, though. It has to. It amazes me that we don't have high-speed rail in the US. You can go from London to Paris by train in what, 2 hours? 4 hours? And it takes 4 hours just to go from NYC to Washington DC? That's just embarrassing. We can do so much better in this country. But notice, you don't hear the political candidates pushing it. It's too hard to do. It takes real leadership.

From Bethany Morris
Posted on July 15, 2008 at 12:52 PM
Whenever I visit my family in Charlotte, NC, the road is still clogged with SUVs and people are watering their lawns despite the drought in the area. It's such an example of how people who have a lot of money tend to ruin it for the rest of us--by polluting, wasting tons of energy to get a carton of milk, etc. How how will gas prices have to get before people with those lifestyles have to change?
From Christian Vachon
Posted on July 15, 2008 at 1:09 PM
Hi,

The root of the problem is greed - no matter, the rich want to keep getting richer, and especially stay rich! Consider fuel... There are many technologies that could render things more useful, and make people less dependant on things - a solar powered car for example or something of the sort that could be developed. HOWEVER, that would put many in the fuel industry out of business - you buy the car and that's it. So, they find an "alternative" solution that works in keeping them in business - producing another type of fuel.

Rise in food prices is not just a matter of transportation. Keeping all those out of season vegetables and fruits in your local market is not only expensive but very wasteful. Like a president of a famous food chain here told me once, almost 50% of the fresh food on the shelf gets thrown out after a couple of days, but replace it with fresh food. Not given out to the local poor, or anything, just thrown to the garbage. That to keep people happy.

Our biggest problem is not just one of ressources, or supplies, but one of attitude - everyone seems to want everything they want when they want it. Fulfilling that false need that people have created for themselves leads to all the problems we have.

Living in a world of scarcer and more alternate ressources has lead humanity to develop the perverse notion that seems innate of wanting and longing for things it cannot have, or waiting in anticipation. Now, with everything available, it has lost its value. Yet, the desire remains there and continues to be catered to. The results being even worse than not having enough, because nothing seems like enough.

I think that not only do we need a change in lifestyle, most people need a change in perspective, and concept of life. That is much harder.

Living in Canada, I am impressed though by the recent trend in things. Major supermarkets like Loblaws are making huge efforts to market organic products, often at the same cost as conventional things. Plastic bags will be outlawed here by the end of the year, people instead buying reusable bags. Recycling is up with limits on how much garbage one can put and huge containers that can take larger amount of recyclable material. Rising fuel prices are leading people to buying the smallest most fuel effecient cars, at least in my city. So, maybe through all of this there possibly a tiny glimmer of hope of something better...

From J Kingston
Posted on July 15, 2008 at 8:17 PM
While I can buy into the greed arguement to some degree, the population is growing exponentially and if they all eat steaks and such it is just the math. 20lbs of corn for 1 lb of beef and some other meats. There is food, but much of it goes to feed lots in this country while our public lands are grazed for McFood. Greed is a factor as offshore drilling is the first big move to privitize the oceans and the polar ice caps. The ownership societ I think they call it.
From Bonny Buckley
Posted on July 15, 2008 at 8:19 PM
The world constantly changes, ready or not. I am disappointed that you published 'damn' in a violinist.com blog headline. It just doesn't belong. I ride a bike to work or sometimes walk. Same for getting groceries, or I take the metro sometimes. And of all the violin players in this world, by far the vast majority don't need to fly around taking auditions. We are fortunate to be able to make music with the incredible accoustics built into our violins.
From Jim W. Miller
Posted on July 15, 2008 at 7:55 PM
Shailee, when a railroad's a good solution, then it'll happen. It won't be some leader though, it'll be the money grubbers :)

Regarding the new price of oil, ponder this. Imagine I protect you from some enemy. If I remove that enemy once and for all, then you no longer have to do what I tell you to.
From Stephen Brivati
Posted on July 15, 2008 at 10:23 PM
Greetings,
>And of all the violin players in this world, by far the vast majority don't need to fly around taking auditions. We are fortunate to be able to make music with the incredible accoustics built into our violins.

Violinist need jobs. They often have to travel huge distances to take auditons. Quite often this involves flying.
Violnist travel to masterclasses ands summer camps in foreign countries. They use planes.
Orchestars go on tour on planes.
Otehrwise the life of a professional msucian involves a greta dela of travel by car or bus. Consider the poor private teacher who has to travel around for somne stduents because they cannot afofrd a studio.

So you really don`t have much of a point.

From Chris Dolan
Posted on July 15, 2008 at 10:42 PM
"The root of the problem is greed - no matter, the rich want to keep getting richer, and especially stay rich!" - Yes, human nature trumps all and the statement Christian made above is the very reason Capitalism has “worked” so well. As we strive to fill a peculiar void within, material possessions (convenient little things they are) abound and we remain ignorant of that for which we've been created because we're too busy stuffing ourselves with false life, but the hunger lingers and so we consume even more, and so it goes. We're all guilty, myself included, but there is hope.
From Stephen Brivati
Posted on July 15, 2008 at 11:14 PM
Greetings,
the following is a quote from an essay by George Monbiot. Go to ZNet , then Topics then global warming for the full Monty and references.
>Last week New Scientist reported a survey of oil industry experts, which found that most of them believe global oil supplies will peak by 2010(3). If they are right, the game is up. A report published by the US Department of Energy in 2005 argued that unless the world begins a crash programme of replacements 10 or 20 years before oil peaks, a crisis "unlike any yet faced by modern industrial society" is unavoidable(4).

Cheers,
Buri

From Chris Dolan
Posted on July 15, 2008 at 11:11 PM
I have not done the background research, but even if exaggerated to some extent this is a very telling story of our dilemma:

http://www.storyofstuff.com/

Also, having read more of the above I have seen mention of alternative fuels. For one who lives a life close to the land, I can tell you that corn-based ethanol is NOT the answer (so not an answer, which has nothing to do with the fact that if every kernel produced today were made into ethanol, we would only offset about 15% or so of our current demand).

From Chris Dolan
Posted on July 15, 2008 at 11:19 PM
I mentioned corn-based ethanol above. I am aware that this is not the only form of technology available for the production of ethanol, and while cellulosic ethanol is all the rage today (the latest, greatest answer...where have we heard that one before?), it is something on which I am not prepared to comment. Nonetheless, one lesson looms large, that being everything comes at a price (translation...technology alone is not the answer...when will we ever learn?). But, as I said before, human nature trumps all. We'd like to think that people operate on logical principles, but they do not. After all, we're human not machines, or why do you suppose we love music and crave expression? Or, why do you suppose we love at all? Think about it.
From Nicole Stacy
Posted on July 16, 2008 at 1:46 AM
Bethany,

I may not be totally qualified to comment on the Charlotte area, but why are we assuming that all these people are rich? Wasn't a large part of the current economic crisis was about too-easy credit and people spending money they didn't have? They may still be in denial.

From Bob Annis
Posted on July 16, 2008 at 2:53 AM
Methanol can work as well as ethanol, and doesn't need to be made from foodstuffs. Solar, wind, tidal power can all be developed with sufficient impetus. That impetus rises directly out of increased cost of petroleum.

Things are ugly and expensive now; they will get uglier and more expensive. But all that will bring about change for the better, with new sources of renewable energy, reduction of dependence on petroleum as a fuel source, and a reduction in CO2 emissions. With luck most of us will live to see the result.

If that doesn't work, we still have the neutron bomb to fall back on; kill the people, leave the infrastructure intact. Let's face it, there are just too many people on this planet.

From Stephen Brivati
Posted on July 16, 2008 at 3:20 AM
Greetings,
my sentiments exactly Bob. Long live the Dead Kennedys,
Cheers,
Buri
From Jon O'Brien
Posted on July 16, 2008 at 3:34 AM
Shailee:

Poop to you too.

Sorry you don't agree sweety. Argue your point better and I'll listen to you.

From Jon O'Brien
Posted on July 16, 2008 at 3:47 AM
I don't live in the USA or Japan. I don't know what state journalism is in there. Where I live I have seen clear signs of dangerous hysteria. There is no other term for what I've witnessed several times on the tv news and on stickers in public places foretelling doom. Unscientific doom. I have seen stickers aimed at children, placed on park benches down at the beach, telling them that where they are standing the sea will soon be 7.5 metres (about 25 feet) higher. Doom, doom and more doom. These are lies, and this is hysteria. THAT is my point. I was not being ridiculous. You judged me too soon.
From Tom Dugan
Posted on July 16, 2008 at 3:43 AM
Jim Miller wrote "If flex-fuel is required in the U.S., then every new car made for sale anywhere in the world will be flex-fuel as well."

I don't think so. The rest of the world doesn't drive what we drive.

We just got back from Italy and the vast majority of the people drive very small cars. Our rental was a Fiat diesel that ran like a top and averages 40some mpg. Smart Cars everywhere. No Suburbans. Not one. I saw a couple of Range Rovers and literally like three pick ups. A fair amount of lux 4 doors, but mostly little cars. When I got back home I started looking around for info on avg Euro fuel economy. It turns out that in the US we have two vehicles (2!)that average over 40 mpg. The rest of the world, mostly Europe, has more than 100! Many of them are made by Nissan, Toyota and GM (Opel, Vauxhall). Maybe there are very good reasons (Reliability? Unions blocking imports?)we don't buy French or Italian cars (Renault/Peugeot, Citroen, Fiat/Lancia) but there are many other options.

There's a Citroen in the MSNBC link below that averages something like 57 mpg and it's not a hybrid. They have actual minivans: van-shaped vehicles that are small! Here we would have to call it a MINI minivan.

What are we doing?

You might find these links interesting:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17344368/

http://www.autoexpress.co.uk/news/autoexpressnews/209788/top_100_most_fuelefficient_cars.html

http://www.wisegeek.com/which-are-the-most-fuel-efficient-cars.htm

http://www.green-energy-news.com/arch/nrgs2005/20050215.html

From Jon O'Brien
Posted on July 16, 2008 at 3:52 AM
I have worked in schools and I have seen first hand how so many kids these day, at least in my country, a struggling against an overbearing negativity. Negativity at home, negativity amongst their friends, negativity on the news and negativity on the internet. What do they have to live for? People like you are happily contemplating all the positive effects of going green, and the feel good implications of carbon trading, but you do not seem to care, it seems to me, about all those who struggle terribly with this doom and gloom, a doom and gloom that is a cynical lie, designed to create profit. All people who discuss coming hardship as if it were morally good are...so it seems to me....being selfish in a funny kind of way. That is what I think. I'm sorry if I have offended anyone.
From Yixi Zhang
Posted on July 16, 2008 at 5:22 AM
Nobody wants to admit that the biggest killing machines are motor vehicles. When I first came to Canada 22 years ago from a poor 3rd world country was terrified by these machines, and I still am. I stopped biking around because the fear of these killing machines. I don’t drive. Never wanted to learn to drive and never felt my active and fulfilling life was in any way impeded by not driving.

It’s all too easy just to blame the rich or the politicians or whomever we can point our finger to at the moment. I walk and bus and grow my own fruits and vegetable in a small backyard, but I’m not an environmentalist. Why? Because most of the environmentalists I met are driving everywhere, they also tend to nature lovers and frequently travel distance to climb the mountain and hug the trees. And when then complain about the environmental problem in the 3rd world during their coffee breaks. Who cares?

From Chris Dolan
Posted on July 16, 2008 at 12:32 PM
Yixi, way to go! My wife and I comment on the same all of the time. We try our best to live a small life (which is VERY modest when compared against the standard in our part of the world), nonethless we acknowledge the fact that with regard to the world at large, we live rather well.

Jon, I would agree with you 100% in that there is a lot of press about, creating hype, much of which may be unfounded (in part, although not in total). But, nobody can argue the degree to which the industrial (and post-indutrial) era has changed the world, and for those of us who happen to think of the natural world as a beautiful thing, we find it disturbing.

I am not against technology, per say (I have a son with Type 1 diabetes who would not be with us were it not for some aspects of modern technology), however what I am against is the greed that comsumes.

From Corwin Slack
Posted on July 16, 2008 at 2:23 PM
"profit driven garbage"

A world without profits would be a very scary place. None of us want to live in such a place.

It scares me that educated people have these conversations. What does it say about education? Journalism?

From Jim W. Miller
Posted on July 16, 2008 at 4:25 PM
Tom, hi. If that's the case I don't know why we don't have them. I read that "Smart Car" gets better mileage in Canada, down here gets nothing special, because of our tight pollution regulations. Lots of vintage U.S. cars get good mileage because they aren't hampered by pollution controls on them. I recently sold my old Mustang, an old 289 ci. V8, that got great mileage. It took exactly two tanks to get to Virgina Beach from here.

I bet if we averaged twice the mileage in the U.S. that we get now, then gas would be twice as expensive. Oil co's would love it. It's almost like the oil co's have been subsidising us, and now can adjust supply and price to their liking. Don't know why it didn't happen before. One possible answer is the theory I posited above...

From Jim W. Miller
Posted on July 16, 2008 at 4:50 PM
"I bet if we averaged twice the mileage"

I meant if we averaged twice the _mpg_.

From Corwin Slack
Posted on July 16, 2008 at 5:22 PM
Jim, Is this the same secret cabel that determines which violinist get careers? is this the same secret string pullers that determine which movies make it and which ones don't? Is this the same secret cabel that determines who gets a job and who doesn't? Where is this secret cabel? Are they in Saudi Arabia? Washington DC? The French Riviera? Jerusalem? Lagos?

Are these the guys that have our homes bugged and watch us through our television screens?

From Jim W. Miller
Posted on July 16, 2008 at 5:44 PM
I'm more worried about you than gasoline.
From Corwin Slack
Posted on July 16, 2008 at 5:54 PM
C'mon Jim who are the guys that will double the price of gasoline of MPG doubles? Don't leave me hanging in suspense like this?
From Jim W. Miller
Posted on July 16, 2008 at 6:09 PM
Corwin. Find out what kind of mpg they get in Europe, and how many miles they drive, and the price of gas there, then compare that to the situation in the U.S. and tell us if you think it's a free market.
From Jim W. Miller
Posted on July 16, 2008 at 6:20 PM
It's as if whoever "they" are (opec?) can just reduce supply by not keeping up with demand, and simply charge more. Their revenue stays the same. This commodities speculation you hear about, I read that only adds about $30 to a barrel.
From Corwin Slack
Posted on July 16, 2008 at 6:30 PM
Find out how much taxes they pay in Europe (and Japan) on gasoline then get back to me on the price differential.

I worked for a major oil company in Japan for 6 years. Their cost per unit of petroleum product and their prices were no different than the US. The cost to the consumer was inflated by a huge amount of taxes and to (a much smaller extent) a very inefficient and cartelized distribution network that was the bane of my employer.

It speaks poorly for the state of our press and the education of our citizens that we have such a paranoid conspiratorial-ist mentality about markets.

From Jim W. Miller
Posted on July 16, 2008 at 6:56 PM
Corwin, I know a guy who worked for a major oil company for 6 years too. He pumped gas. You're spinning what's on the page into something different that you can be self-righteous about because you crave the high ground. Life isn't a game. Start by not complaining about everyone's mental capacity.
From Jim W. Miller
Posted on July 16, 2008 at 7:15 PM
lol.
From Corwin Slack
Posted on July 16, 2008 at 7:35 PM
Thank you for conceding.
From Jim W. Miller
Posted on July 16, 2008 at 7:39 PM
I don't play your classical music game or your religion game either. In your case those things feed your craving for the high road. The reason I suspect that is because there's no religious love of your fellow man.

Ok, you were a high-level enough employee of a major oil company for it to be relevant to bring up here. Bringing it up means you understand the oil situation, so let's hear the real lowdown on it. Inform the mentally impoverished now....

From Corwin Slack
Posted on July 16, 2008 at 7:58 PM
What could I possibly say that would convince the convinced?

Perhaps I should say that the violin is only properly played in first position or that it is never necessary to rosin the bow or something else that is patently silly and try to pass it off as wise. Isn't that the way it works?

From Jim W. Miller
Posted on July 16, 2008 at 8:00 PM
You're aware opec says it's producing all the oil it wants to, aren't you? That doesn't leave many possible scenarios to explain things with.
From Jim W. Miller
Posted on July 16, 2008 at 8:03 PM
Corwin, most people reading this have been around the block a few times. People aren't as dumb as you strive to think they are.
From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on July 17, 2008 at 11:48 AM
Of course Corwin is right that we wouldn't want to live in a world "without profits" but I don't understand how that interpretation arose from a sentence lamenting "profit-driven garbage." Of course there's profit-driven garbage out there too. Along with the profit-driven good stuff. And tree-hugging garbage out there. (Entirely too much garbage of all kinds).

And this blog isn't about bad, hysterical, environmental journalism in Australia either (of which there is also plenty out there). Is it just the on-line nature of the forum that leads to such odd and off-topic misinterpretations? Or what?

From Carol Cook
Posted on July 17, 2008 at 4:17 PM
Hi Guys,
People will buy gas untill they can't afford it or can't find it because they have to...However much I may want to change my particular footprint, I live in a world designed and built to be car friendly. Great distances sometimes must be traveled to get food, get to work, do business. For example, my brother has a family of five. They cannot afford a Smart car. They want to bike as much as possible or use public transit, but Wisconsin has no bus service outside of the larger cities and there are no jitneys or group cabs either. Lousy local train service. And oh, the winters. He and the wife work different places, different shifts and the kids go to different schools(no busses). About all they can do to effect the global energy problem is garden/recycle, buy local/seasonal (canning/drying) and vote. They are stuck with the situation just like the rest of us are, with our individual differences. The poor and vulnerable are being hit first and hardest, but we will all feel it eventually. Rather than argue endlessly and heatedly over the causes and conspiratorial guilt of the usual suspects, I prefer to get out and work for change. I'm under no illusions that "the people" will rise up and take over, but the powers that be will figure a way to profit by change, like always, and do it, if we all get up and yell loud and long enough. I'm about to be freed up for such service full time by retirement but we can all can do something/anything to help, however small. I started small. Cloth shopping bags, gardening/recycling, buy cars I like, keep them up and drive them 15+ years on average. The new bike arrives next week.
Do your bit at home, then get out and agitate for change. And VOTE!
Cheers, Carol
From Chris Dolan
Posted on July 17, 2008 at 6:49 PM
Carol,

You are right in that a lot of us are trapped, some in riches and some in poverty. As I had mentioned previously, we as a family (living in Minnesota) do our best to live a small life, which is in stark contrast to many of those around us (those who have not yet awaken to reality). It is not easy, and there is no shortage of encouragement to do otherwise. Our entire economic system is based upon such. Every day of our lives we are bombarded with carefully crafted messages designed to entice us to crave even more excess, to make us think that somehow our lives are incomplete (and while this may be true for some, the lack of completeness is not due to a lack of material goods). The economy figures prominent in all media, as people strive to maintain and protect their “precious”. There is a simple truth, though, life is not found in the abundance of material possessions. Indeed, life is found when we seek to give over our own, and life is lost when we seek to acquire our own. Which is just another way of saying that life is found when we live a life of love in service to others. I realize that this may seem off topic, but believe me it is not. This is the heart of the matter.

Anyway, we are agents of free will and do have a choice. Sometimes the choice is not an easy one, but the alternative is even less so. Thank you for sharing your experience, and for offering a real-life perspective on the matter.

Take care,
Chris

From Chris Dolan
Posted on July 17, 2008 at 7:34 PM
One more thing...with regard to food, not everyone is able to grow their own, so here's a good place to start:

http://www.slowfoodusa.org/

Contrary to the prevailing model, food is not a commodity. Food is a life-sustaining element, a significant part of our culture and one of the purest expressions of our need to co-exist, in harmony with one another and the land we all call home. In short, food is a gift, as is the land upon which it is grown. This is something we would all do well to acknowledge, this and the realization that we only experience such a privilege for a time, which means that if we abuse the privilege, others will bear the burden of our selfish desires.

From Stephen Brivati
Posted on July 18, 2008 at 12:30 AM
Greetingss,
Chris, enjoying your thougts on the subject.
There is one thing you mention that actually doesn`t quite jibe with me these days:
>Which is just another way of saying that life is found when we live a life of love in service to others. I realize that this may seem off topic, but believe me it is not. This is the heart of the matter.

I think that although service to others is crucial it is not quite the central heart of the matter alhtough we may simply be arriving at the same place by a differnet route.
There`s an interestign and often aggravating series of books calle d`Converstaions with a brother etc` which contain a great deal of thought on this subject. he idea that has stayed with me and influenced me the most perhaps is the idea of not doing harm. The argument is put forward that there is a specific tipping pint in which the human race will enter a newer and better (read spiritual??) existence once the amount of harm harm we drops below 50 percnet of all our collective actions. Very little is said about what the cocnept of harm might mean aside from the obvious more or les sactive suport of war. But the more I thought about it the more this idea can be applied to our whole existence to include issues a sdiverse as the language we use to others and the harming of our own bodies though wrong eating or angry thoughts or whatever. To do no harm becomes an enormous challenge when applied in totality to eevrythign we do and is indeed unattainable. However this is the idea which to me will remian centrla until you convince me otherwise.
CHeer,s
Buri

From tom utsch
Posted on July 18, 2008 at 3:41 AM
If you plot the price of a Strad and the price to fill up a tank of gasoline and then extrapolate, in 2040 they intersect. So in that year rather than put a credit card in the gas pump, some virtuoso can just hand over his fiddle....Hopefully he planned the trip so that he does not need to fill up until after the concert.

I agree with what the original poster said. I put this video on youtube about 15 months ago with a similar message.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=5heq1fEi6MY

Tom

From howard vandersluis
Posted on July 18, 2008 at 3:59 AM
Oh man... you guys should stick to talking about violin technique. Anyway, for those of you who think that leading "small lives" is a solution, if you were really serious, you'd sell your houses and live in tents, using your "waste" to fertilize your vegetable gardens. And you would throw away all those polluting violins! Think about all those solvents! But.. you're not really serious, just crazy and uninformed.
From howard vandersluis
Posted on July 18, 2008 at 4:09 AM
Ha, chris. Keep in mind that people FIGHT over arbitrarily chosen homelands and stupid cultures, but merely bargain over commodities. So while you're waxing poetic over "the land you call home", I'll go buy rice futures or something.
From howard vandersluis
Posted on July 18, 2008 at 4:17 AM
Buri,

It seems to me that harm is built into everything living things do. You can't have competition without harm, and you can't have life without competition. Every bite you eat, every job you take, every bit of space you use could have been used by someone else and you've done them harm by taking it, right? As long as there is one hungry person in the world or one homeless person or one poor person, you are doing harm every second you exist by not giving up your space, food, money, violin, etc. War and murder are just the extreme end of this process, right? So tell me, how do we reduce harm?

From Jim W. Miller
Posted on July 18, 2008 at 4:23 AM
I made enough on oil futures to buy a motorcycle. Now I'm gonna short GM to buy gas for it.
From Yixi Zhang
Posted on July 18, 2008 at 5:07 AM
Oh Chris and Buri! It is delightful to see the conversation has made such a positive turn by the principles of service to others and doing no harm! I’d like to think both of them may lead us to the same sanctuary. Each is flawed if looked at analytically. (Who are the others? If the others are doing harm, then aren’t we indirectly doing the harm by providing our services? What does do no harm mean? Does it include doing no harm to harmful people? Does it mean avoid all harms at all costs, even though the harm is a short-term-loss-long-term-gain? How to you do harm reduction when there are competing interests? Etc etc.)

But I guess to think in this fashion is missing the point. It is intent and the effort that matters. By keep thinking and acting along these lines, we become taller or at least we won’t be dragged down to the level of angry and self-pity victims of the circumstances. The tougher the time gets, the harder it is to practise along these lines due to our survival instinct; yet, it is precisely during such moments the practice has true significance. I want to thank you both so much for reminding us!

From Stephen Brivati
Posted on July 18, 2008 at 5:16 AM
Greetings,
Howard, it really seems to me that you barely considered what I wrote about harm at all. I don`t intedn that disrepsectfully. I honestly think you made no effort to go beyond or into what I was sayoing without giving some kind of stock response. I`ll try and see how what I`m saying fits in with your remarks.

>It seems to me that harm is built into everything living things do.

I can think of a huge range of things living things IE us do which do no harm. Loving, making music, looking after children, helping old people, exercising...the list is infinite.
Where I think the distinction between us and other speice s lies is in our ability to make choices or choose to accept the status quo.


>You can't have competition without harm, and you can't have life without competition.

That is debatable. What kind of competition are you talking about?

>Every bite you eat, every job you take, every bit of space you use could have been used by someone else and you've done them harm by taking it, right?

No. Everything I eat that is necessary for sustenance or even pleasure at times belongs on a spectrum of harmfulness that can be modified. So if one chooses to eat meat one is doing a very high level of harm to the world in a whole range of areas and one can chosse to reduce that harm. Not that this is a debate about the reaosns for being vegan or whatever- but I think it is a clear excample. If one chooses to distance oneself as far as possible form any food or product taken by exploiting animls then one has chosen to embrace alifestyle taht has reduced harm to the minimu alhtough one hundred percnet is never possible. A similar thing is killing insects. I will happily kill cockroaches, mosquitos and the like because I hate them. Those people whose courses in helaing I have attended have made it mandatory to not kill a single living creature on those premises. The differnece is palpable and represnets a high level of choice to do no harm.

> As long as there is one hungry person in the world or one homeless person or one poor person, you are doing harm every second you exist by not giving up your space, food, money, violin, etc.

Not at all. Jesus very sharply refuted this argument and I also have a colleague who tried it on once with the Dalai Lhama who burts out laughing. I personally aren`t aware of a sensible and useful approahc to spiritualism that doesn`t include taking care of yourself as a priority before taking care of others. Bhuddism is quite clear on this point as well. The idea that one should throw away all ones worldy possession and live like a homelss person to feed a family of six in Ethiopa does not ring true at all to me. We are all entitled to space and a decent live in which we can love and grow.
One thing I am sure of is that I wa sput into this world to use the gifts that I was given. By not doing so I am harming myself and the issue of harm is as much cocnerned with oneself as with others. That seemes ot me the point I wa strying to make that you missed. Drinking alcohol , abusing drugs and smoking are classic examples of harming the self. Most people can take a shot at reducing that right?
The purpose of reducing harm is striving to find how one can help others towards this while enjoying your fair share of the fruits of the earth which were put there for your benifit. The problem is , as Christian pointed out greed.

>War and murder are just the extreme end of this process, right? So tell me, how do we reduce harm?

The examples are infinite, small and often individual specific. The more one thinks about it the more one can do one little thing at a time in some area consciously. If everyone did taht then we might get to the fifty percent mark.
We are never going to live in a perfetc world but the ide athat we can`t do things less harmfully to everything including oneslf , mlitlte by little in one`s own way is rather sad.
Cheers,
Buri

From howard vandersluis
Posted on July 18, 2008 at 1:24 PM
Hi Buri,

I think I did understood what you wrote, but I didn’t write this stuff just to argue with you- it's a real problem to think about and one which occurs to me and gives me trouble every time I give a dollar to this homeless guy and not the other. Have I really done any good by that? Have I given back at all, really, when after giving a dollar to this guy and not the other I then spend 4 dollars on a latte? What if I give a dollar to both, and just buy a regular cup of coffee? Have I done less harm? But anyway, here’s my reply to your other points.

Loving- That's a complex obfuscation on your part, since I'm not sure if you mean respecting or mating or everything along that spectrum, but it does seem to me that unless you love everybody (to use your ambiguous term), you are doing harm to those whom you've left out by virtue of making the choice to love the ones you want and not the others. Obviously if you love your wife or your child that’s a selfish thing. That kind of love is defined by ideas such as taking care of them preferentially, giving everything you have to them etc. merely because you care about them, merely because they are “your” family and not somebody else’s.

Making music- This one is obvious. If you are making music you are NOT raising food, taking care of the homeless, building houses etc, so you are doing almost infinite harm ( by indirectly causing death) to those who need food, care and houses even as you entertain the middle class and rich who can afford such luxuries.

Looking after children- Whose children? Your children? The children of your friends and associates? Unless you're taking care of ALL children, then you're doing harm to the parents and loved ones of the ones you've left out because you've made the choice to take care of the ones you need or like and not theirs, and then spend the rest of your time doing what you want to do, like playing violin.

Exercise- Again, if you're exercising, you are not building houses, raising food, feeding the poor, etc. Actually, you should build houses or farm for exercise if you want to do the most good.

Buri, I'm not saying that one shouldn't try to do less harm, just that it's hard to imagine that if you do "50 percent less harm" that you've done something all that good. It sounds a little like saying, “today I only caused the death of one child and not two. I’ve done less harm!”. Perhaps, but that other child is just as dead and the stain of that sin is infinitely large, right? So how do you deal with that? And how exactly did Jesus and the Dalai Lhama banish that argument except perhaps by fiat (which you can do if you're "god in the flesh".)

In my opinion, the only thing that supports the morality of doing ANYTHING at all besides giving all your time and money to the poor is that by your work you might help make the pie bigger, so to speak. So, maybe by playing the violin I make people better able to produce more, or be happier and give more, or something along those lines. And I never try to imagine that I'm anything less than infinitely selfish just because I gave a dollar away or took the metro instead of my car.

So, instead of pursuing the hopeless and unsupportable idea of "doing less harm", you should direct your inevitable human sin and selfishness towards pursuits that "make the pie bigger" for everybody.

From Chris Dolan
Posted on July 18, 2008 at 3:07 PM
Buri,

First off, I love your words. They speak of an introspective mind and heart, of one who considers life beyond the sphere.

So, here's the shortcut to the 50% mark…"Love your neighbor as yourself." This implies that we are to care for ourselves as we care for others, and it is essential that we do so. The real question is one of motivation, are we motivated out of love, or for another reason (such as guilt)? Only the love motivation is pure, and only the love motivation results in a heart transformed (ours and those around us). This is the important bit and is, as I had mentioned previously, “the heart of the matter.” Words count for little (the same is true of belief…read the Bible, it speaks volumes on this very fact). It is love in action that makes the difference, in our lives and in the lives of others with whom we interact on a personal level. Online forums are nice and we all need an outlet as not everyone with whom we interact in person has similar interests (for instance, I and my teacher are the only two people I know who play the violin, so I turn to v.com for camaraderie, and thanks to people such as yourself find other enlightening topics as well!). However, life happens on a personal level and as we seek to live a life of love in service to others, to enter into and share in suffering on a personal level, hearts (ours and theirs) are transformed…for the better! This is the radical, topsy-turvy, nonsensical “mustard seed” Kingdom of God that Jesus spoke of in the Bible…”Those who are least will be greatest…” etc. It goes on and on, but in short faith is love in action (i.e. washing the feet of another, not merely telling another that their feet need washing, and this can only be done in person). It is a beautiful story, so beautiful and since I have begun to experience this in my life, personally, my heart and the way in which I view others and the world around me has been radically transformed. I have never known anything so beautiful, so wonderful and the very thought of it brings tears to my eyes. It feeds the heart and meets our need on the deepest level, which only serves to confirm that this is the purpose for which we’ve been created…to love…God and all others, without condition, without reservation, without judgment.

Sorry to have gotten to far off topic…again. Take care, and have a good weekend!

Chris

From Jim W. Miller
Posted on July 18, 2008 at 3:27 PM
A local co-op of farmers could sell fuel alcohol for $2/gallon and make a tidy profit. Your car right now can run on half gas/half alcohol, typically with a small drop in mileage. A car optimized for alcohol gets 20% better mileage than diesel. It's old technology - the Models T and A ;) were flex fuel cars. Seems just to be a lack of absolute need yet.
From Stephen Brivati
Posted on July 19, 2008 at 4:53 AM
Greetings,
>I think I did understood what you wrote, but I didn稚 write this stuff just to argue with you-
Nothing wrong with a bit of argument to find out where one is coming from…
>it's a real problem to think about and one which occurs to me and gives me trouble every time I give a dollar to this homeless guy and not the other. Have I really done any good by that? Have I given back at all, really, when after giving a dollar to this guy and not the other I then spend 4 dollars on a latte? What if I give a dollar to both, and just buy a regular cup of coffee? Have I done less harm?
Giving money to the homeless sis one of those ubiquitous ones! But the questions you raise don`t seme germane to the point I am making. The only one that I can relate to is `if I give this guy ten dollars and he spends it on booze then have I actually harmed him?` That is , as you know, a hard one to answer or resolve for many people.
>Loving- That's a complex obfuscation on your part, since I'm not sure if you mean respecting or mating or everything along that spectrum,
I meant sex at the time. You try sitting next to Yumi Sensei in the staffroom!
> but it does seem to me that unless you love everybody (to use your ambiguous term), you are doing harm to those whom you've left out by virtue of making the choice to love the ones you want and not the others.
Can`t really relate to this either. Nobody is harmed by me making a choice not to love them. But when do we make that choice? I can make a choice not to like someone and that is an example of harm- to me so it should be avoided consciously and actively.
>Obviously if you love your wife or your child that痴 a selfish thing.
Not obvious to me at all. Love to se otherpeople`s reacviton to that one;) The love one gives to one`s partner, iof it genuine is at the unselfish end of the spectrum. It involves learnhing to give things away.
>That kind of love is defined by ideas such as taking care of them preferentially, giving everything you have to them etc. merely because you care about them, merely because they are 土our・family and not somebody else痴.
That is where I think your position is flawed. The fact one chooses to care for one person does not involve any decision to hurt other people. I think you are putting to much emphasis on what is not happening as a result of your action which is not my position at all.
>Making music- This one is obvious. If you are making music you are NOT raising food, taking care of the homeless, building houses etc, so you are doing almost infinite harm ( by indirectly causing death) to those who need food, care and houses even as you entertain the middle class and rich who can afford such luxuries.
A few fallacies I think. First, one harms oneself by not using ones gifts to create beauty. Inirectly one harms the world by allowing more space for the crap and crud of fast food consumer culture.Second, it goes back to my previous point- just because one is doing something else does not mean one is consciously taking an action that is not thought through and actually hurting someone. As the religious figures and thinkers I pointed out in the previous writing stress- one looks after oneself first in order to help others. If every action that one takes to look after oneself supposedly harms others then logically nothing would be possible. Third, music isn`t only for the rich and middle class. And if one claims to be working class and have a stereotyped working class music then by induilgin in that are the working class harming the rich?????

>Looking after children- Whose children? Your children? The children of your friends and associates? Exercise- Again, if you're exercising, you are not building houses, raising food, feeding the poor, etc. Actually, you should build houses or farm for exercise if you want to do the most good.
Same comment as above.
>Buri, I'm not saying that one shouldn't try to do less harm, just that it's hard to imagine that if you do "50 percent less harm" that you've done something all that good. It sounds a little like saying, 鍍oday I only caused the death of one child and not two. I致e done less harm!・ Perhaps, but that other child is just as dead and the stain of that sin is infinitely large, right? So how do you deal with that? And how exactly did Jesus and the Dalai Lhama banish that argument except perhaps by fiat (which you can do if you're "god in the flesh".)
Fifty percent les sharm was a figure put forward by a spiritual figure ina book I mentioned. Putting numbers to things just makes it clearer for some perhaps? But the actuall principle of constantly striving to do less and elss harm in all spheres of life and including too ourselves is quite straightforward. If you want to give an example of choosing between the death of one child and two then I would say in some circumstances that is not so difficult either. If you were ina situation in which you could do only two things and one resulted in less death then you would choose the best of the bad options. The childrens death is a nasty example but the principle can be applied all the time as such situations often arise in life.
>In my opinion, the only thing that supports the morality of doing ANYTHING at all besides giving all your time and money to the poor is that by your work you might help make the pie bigger, so to speak. So, maybe by playing the violin I make people better able to produce more, or be happier and give more, or something along those lines. And I never try to imagine that I'm anything less than infinitely selfish just because I gave a dollar away or took the metro instead of my car.
The problem with making the pie bigger is who gets to eat it. Doesn`t mean it`s wrong but that would be important to me? Does making the pie bigger always help? In the case of food for example, the main reason why America has a majority of obese is because the principle of capitalism was applied to food production where the only possinle route is to constantly urge people to eat more, thereby maximizing profits.

I cannot see the point of living life believing I am selfish. That would cause me to attract people and experiences involving just that condition. Harmful to myself;)
>So, instead of pursuing the hopeless and unsupportable idea of "doing less harm",
Thanks for taking the trouble to spell out your ideas. I`m sorry I don`t feel you have offered anything to support that position.
Cheers,
Buri

From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on July 19, 2008 at 2:03 PM
Unless you're taking care of ALL children, then you're doing harm to the parents and loved ones of the ones you've left out because you've made the choice to take care of the ones you need or like and not theirs,

I agree with Buri here (if I understand him correctly), that this is a flawed argument. What if you sponsor a child through one of those programs like Children International? You only have enough money to sponsor one child, so that child gets food, clothing, birthday presents, and parasite medication. She also has someone watching out for her and making sure she stays in school. Other children in her village are not sponsored because the agency doesn't have enough sponsors. Some of them may therefore have parasites, and not enough to eat, and have to drop out of school. But you didn't harm them--they would have had those problems whether you sponsored your child or not. And, since your sponsored child has food, doesn't have parasites, and stays in school, she might grow up to be in a position to help others. To be a teacher, or a health care worker, or a parent who has a good enough job to put food on the table for her own kids.

There is a story by Loren Eisley called "The Star Thrower," in which a young man, or a girl in some versions, throws starfish that have been washed up on the beach back into the ocean to save their lives. The narrator comes along and says to the boy, with all the thousands of starfish washed up on the beach, dying, how can the few you throw back make any difference? And the young man throws one back and says "made a difference to that one." Enough people throwing starfish, they'd all get thrown back. Enough sponsors, and the whole village is parasite-free and stays in school. But even if not, and it's only one individual's puny efforts, those puny efforts still make a difference to that one starfish, or that one person. Why would that not still be important?

From Jim W. Miller
Posted on July 19, 2008 at 3:11 PM
I have to agree with some of Howard. If you spend money on an item you don't need, money which could have instead in fact saved a few lives somewhere in the world, it's obviously a selfish act. We're all guilty.


Buri, If the person you would have saved was in front of you on their knees begging for their life, instead of faceless and far away, you might realize the selfishness then!


Ultimately, in the end, I think the net result of what you did is the important thing, if you attach importance to doing good. Failed attempts are probably just as valuable.

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Zhuhai International Mozart Competition - Apply by April 30, 2017

Connolly Music

Corilon Violins

Meadowmount School of Music

Anderson Musical Instrument Insurance

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases

Fiddlerman.com

Fiddlershop

Heifetz International Music Institute

Long Island Violin Shop

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Pro-Am Strings

Wangbow Violin Bow Workshop