The Constitution No Longer Applies – Part 1

US_ConstitutionThe Constitution of the United States – read it lately? If so,  you would realize that our “leaders” seem to be using it for toilet paper.  This is a lot bigger than the Government shutdown, the budget crisis or Obamacare.

The document that makes America the land of the free – our Constitution – is no longer a functioning document of law. It has been replaced by a legal hodgepodge that is arbitrarily applied with scant regard for constitutionality or any coherent code of principles – that is not the rule of law.

This article is the first of a 7 part series that that links to Michael Ventura’s well   thought out columns in the Austin Chronicle, starting with a focus on why the first 2 articles in the Bill of Rights are history.

Sorry, but it is idiotic to speak and think about American politics as though our system is what it was 20 years ago. Worse than idiotic – delusional.

 So, what do we do about it?



Moving, the Ultimate Test of Non-attachment

There is nothing that tests your commitment to non-attachment like moving. It is clearly a test of many of the principles from the Understanding Change part of “Become a Change Agent”. I am in the middle of a move that is driven by a new job. I will resume my scheduled blogging once I have the office set up in the new house – about a month from now.moving_truck

Here is a list of the things that I gave up:

My old job – well duh!

My old house – It is amazing how much you come to love a physical space. We are actually down-sizing even though our Realtor would disagree. (Not enough closet space was a constant mantra during the house hunt – downsizing also shouldn’t mean having to buy a complete new set of furniture.)

A lot of my “stuff” – Ben Franklin said that 3 moves equals a fire. That is true but you can control what burns if you are organized. We have donated, sold and thrown out probably a quarter of our physical possessions. One positive side effect is giving family heirlooms to relatives. Don’t wait to die before you do that! Do it while you can be there to watch them enjoy the things that evoke good memories!

Austin – The town means more to me than I can begin to say. Part of Austin’s charm is that it is in a constant state of rebirth, driven by the the young, creative people that flock there, stay a while and then move on.  It is simply our time to move on.  The environment allowed me to thrive personally, professionally and spiritually.

Not everything changes amid all this transition.

My professional responsibilities are similar even though I am performing them for a different organization.

We ARE keeping the vast majority of our stuff.

Facebook now allows me to keep up with (and reconnect with) friends regardless of their geographical location.

Then there is the trivial.  I got a really NICE computer bag with my brand new, company-issued laptop. I made the conscious decision that even the Change Agent could only handle so much change so I stuffed that new computer in my existing back pack.

What experiences have caused you to practice non-attachment?


Learning vs Choices

It may not be about learning, it may be about making choices.

 So, there is a way to deal with all of the irrationality and dysfunction that is cascading around us. We very well may not understand it and things may not make sense but our job is to transcend it all… which just means that there is a path through all of this for each one of us if we only evolve to hearing our own internal drummer that is constantly illuminating the best way forward.

~ John L Petersen

Am I really attached to that?

I just discovered that I’m attached to a favorite parking space. It is silly, really but I like to park in nearly the same space every day – that is one fewer item to remember.

What I discovered is that attachment to something as trivial as a parking space has unintended costs:

  • Getting to work in time to assure the spot meant leaving the house earlier that I would like.
  • I could not take my dog for a walk in the cooler morning hours. By the time I get home, it is too hot.
  • I had time for either stretching or meditation, not both
  • No time for anything other than the most basic morning routine.
  • Increased risk of getting caught in the heaviest traffic of the day.

I have written, spoken and thought about non-attachment a lot. It is very easy to form attachments even when you are cautious.

Think about the simple attachments in your life. Do they have hidden costs?





Bernake’s track record

Federal Reserve Chariman Ben Bernake has a spotless record – of bad forecasBen_Bernanke_official_portraitts.

January of 2008, Bernanke said: “The Fed is not currently forecasting a recession.” The recession officially started one month earlier.

In late 2010, he gave a rare interview on the TV show 60 Minutes. During the interview, he said he was “100% confident” he would be able to conclude QE without market disruptions. Just the hint that QE would end send ALL the markets into a tailspin over the last week.

Conclusion: He is regularly wrong and he is arrogant about it. So why do we care what he says?

Frankly, there is a lessons to be learned.

  • The man is using a flawed model called Keynesian Economics. It does not matter how smart the Ben Bernake is,  a bad model will not yield good information. He learned the model at Harvard and it is admittedly very complex.
  • Knowledge and experience without wisdom frequently leads to arrogance and error.


Coming Soon – Foundation for Change: Part Three of the Become a Change Agent Series

My next book will be out late this month. Check out a sample:


 To achieve truly great things, you need a plan and not quite enough timeFramework.

~ Leonard Bernstein


You are excited about the Vision you created in the Part Two exercise. Or maybe you want to accomplish a big, change-driving project and it serves as your Vision for the moment. Now what? The Change Agent: Framework provides a six step plan to make your Vision, plan or project into a reality.

I have a lot of experience running businesses, leading people and most important – solving problems. The Change Agent: Framework has all the important elements needed to create change. It starts by defining your market and strategy, then continues with creating the key plan elements (creating a whole plan is actually wasteful) that harnesses not just your market but the change and uncertainty all around.

Each step is flexible enough to take into account that there is so much change no one can possibly anticipate it all. The Framework makes heavy use of several techniques originally developed for agile software development. There are constant feedback loops and guiltless opportunities to adapt to changed circumstances and new discoveries.

The methods in the framework are tried and true. They take the best proven practices from the Information Technology industry and mixes in a huge dose of the human touch. The result is powerful enough to work in any creative effort.

Use the Framework to make your successes large and your failures small AND valuable. Of course, you can continue doing things the old way, where a failure can be a catastrophe. Or worse yet, you can do nothing but dream about your Vision. Let it remain a dream. Don’t forget to dream about all the people who would have been better off if you had followed the Framework to change Dream to Reality.

If you do not have a Vision, try using this Framework for any project you want to accomplish.



80/20 Rule

Editor’s note: This article was originally published on April 5, 2013.

There seems to be a law of nature called the 80/20 rule. It manifests in a lot of different areas…80 % of your progress comes from 20% of your effort. 20% of your portfolio yields 80% of your profit. 80% of your fun comes from 20% of your leisure time. 20% of your “friends” cause 80% of your grief. Study this phenomenon in your own life.

The 80/20 rule is also called Pareto Principle, after 19th Century thinker Vilfedo Pareto. He described the distribution of probable results and options as a mathematical function that is then graphed.

The resulting graph gets divided into the vital few and the trivial many.

Chunking is learning to solve problems by leveraging this rule. If you face a project that is incomprehensibly large and complex, break it down into smaller tasks. One of them (usually a 20% piece) is the key. Discover it. If that chunk is still to large/complex, break that chunk into pieces. Find the key part or chunkVilfredo_Pareto. Rinse/repeat until you have a key piece that constitutes a small enough chunk to handle.

If the chunk is will be something that you show the world, it is what Agile terms a minimum viable product (MVP). Your project might create an MVP or it might only be part of one. If the key chunk of the project proves not to be doable, you have just saved an enormous amount of research time. If it proves workable, you have created a plan for accomplishing your goal!

Unlimited Growth is a Myth !

(This is the first in a series that is growing out of a short talk I gave at the Central Texas World Future Society on May 21, 2013)

Unlimited GrowthModern society is saddled with a serious misconception called the myth of unlimited growth.

Our social, economic and political systems are built with the assumption that  not only will growth continue forever but that it MUST continue forever.

  • If the economy fails to grow for 2 consecutive quarters (6 months) we are said to be in a recession.
  • Wall Street punishes companies that fail to show year-over-year growth in revenues and profits.
  • Moore’s Law has powered the computer revolution by promising that the power of digital circuitry will DOUBLE every 18 months.

Thinkers have warned us that this cannot go on forever but their voices are generally drowned out or shouted down. Financial Analysts call refer to this as “all trees grow to the sky”. So far, technological advances and cheap energy have kept the myth alive.

This Myth has Many Faces

Consumerism. One of the ways this myth is applied is by way of demand creation. Consumers are enticed with the latest and greatest gadgets, constantly changing fashion, “keeping up with the Jones”, planned obsolescence and other tactics. Every one of those tactics have a goal of getting end users to consume more stuff so that the producers can increase the top and bottom lines, resource consumption, actual need and disposal issues be damned.

Debt and easy credit The satisfaction of this ever-increasing demand is sped up with the use of debt. Debt is borrowing from the future to pay for something in the present. The subtle tactic of getting consumers to think in terms of monthly payments instead of total cost – then increasing the payoff time as a way to hide price increases.

The only practical uses of debt are wealth creation and for emergencies. Consumer debt for things expected to outlast the terms of the debt are bad. Debt that remains after the good or service purchased with it is horrible and wrong beyond words.

Side bars about debt:

  • Debt, death, mortgage, mortality and mortuary have common roots
  • There was a time when people paid cash for houses. I remember when 20-year mortgages were the longest available terms and when 30-year mortgages came into existence. For a time, 100-year mortgages were offered in Japan (then prices collapsed so they were no longer needed).
  • This discussion includes student loans. Most knowledge today has an expiration date. Students should go into debt only to acquire marketable skills. They should then pay off that debt while those skills are marketable.

The computer revolution. The massive technological improvements are best described with Moore’s Law which has been working since 1958 (Gordon Moore discovered it in the mid-1960s). It will continue for a few years but it cannot go on forever. At some point, transistor density will be limited by size of their atomic structure.

Obviously, this can’t go on forever.

Unlimited growth ignores the fact that the Earth is a mostly closed system. It will fill up. This multi-generational Ponzi scheme will end, just like every other one that has ever been run on unsuspecting marks.

In the next post, I will discuss

  • how this myth empowers the 1%Unlimited Growth2
  • bust some related myths
  • offer alternatives and solutions

For now, please share what makes you happy NOW!

Learning Man

Last weekend, I helped coordinate an expansive festival in Austin named Learning Man. LM2This was second time this festival has occurred. Learning Man is dedicated to peace but this year, the specific themes were cooperation, sustainability and peace. It unfolded over 4 days in multiple locations. Tricia EvolutionBelle Storie held the Vision of making Learning Man happen all over Austin.

Here are my recollections and thoughts.

Friday, May 3

Events happened in the West Campus area and were geared toward UT Students. The House of Commons Coop was our host, thanks to Grigor Kezele. Grigor gave us an in-depth look at cooperative housing, coop living and a tour of the House of Commons. There was a lot of idea sharing on topics ranging from traditional Native American Medicine Circles to the search for free energy.

Saturday, May 4aten_crop_thumbnail

The Austin Time Exchange Network produced the Exchange Fair at Learning Man. ATEN allows members to use time as an alternative currency. Amanda Jones, Sherri Mowry and I hosted this event. We signed up and oriented new members. Members, new and old could then take as many of the 15 workshops as their schedule allowed.

The Workshops ranged from Sustainable Design to Swedish Massage and topics in between like bicycle maintenance and Mariachi appreciation.  I did 3 workshops, “Don’t call it money”, “What’s a Change Agent, anyway?” and “Creating your own Personal Vision.”

Thanks also to the Soma Vida Work/Life Balance and Wellness Center for physically hosting us. There were gardening projects happening on the grounds at the same time that blended perfectly with the day.

Sunday, May 5Synco

LoveATX sponsored Sunday’s Sync-o de Mayo event which synchronized with Learning Man and the Cinco do Mayo holiday. Jenna Jasso did a fantastic job producing this event with the intention of helping all the various communities within Austin (permaculture, holistic health and wellness, intuitive, Yoga, and others showcase, synchronize and converge their efforts.

Monday, May 6

Monday was an add-on which was declared the expansion event. We met at the Learning Land which is a few miles out of Austin on the banks of the Lower Colorado River. It was a Carlos-Cedillo-Owl-10-300x225very casual day where we could talk, sing, drum and just generally hang out.

Carlos Cedillo closed the Festival with a Mayan Fire Ceremony. He is a Daykeeper Shaman in the Mayan tradition and he taught us a lot about the calendar, particularly the 260-day cycle.

I personally gained many insights from the entire set of events. I will be sharing them in more depth in later posts.

What Mind-Expanding Events have you attended recently?