People of Pioneer Square

Hi All,

I’m currently taking a break from this blog to work on a small project in my neighborhood. Please take a look.

Saving a seat for you,

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what is stopping you?


It doesn’t matter what you pick to get concerned over. Just pick something.

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Big Data, Reflective Lens


Aiden and Michel dub their work “culturomics”

I’ve followed the work of data scholars Erez Aiden and Jean-Baptiste Michel with intense interest since its public beginnings. Now, they have collected and contextualized their findings in the compelling Uncharted: Big Data as a Lens on Human Culture (public library) — a stimulating record of their seven-year quest to quantify cultural change through the dual lens of history and digital data by analyzing the contents of the 30,000 books digitized by Google, using Google’s Ngram viewer tool to explore how the usage frequency of specific words changes over time and what that might reveal about corresponding shifts in our cultural values and beliefs about economics, politics, health, science, the arts, and more.

Aiden and Michel, who met at Harvard’s Program for Evolutionary Dynamics and dubbed their field of research “culturomics,” contextualize the premise:

At its core, this big data revolution is about how humans create and preserve a historical record of their activities. Its consequences will transform how we look at ourselves. It will enable the creation of new scopes that make it possible for our society to more effectively probe its own nature. Big data is going to change the humanities, transform the social sciences, and renegotiate the relationship between the world of commerce and the ivory tower.


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How slavery, the free market, and the fare wage are connected

In Civilizing The Economy, Marvin Brown connects the dots between Adam Smith’s knowledge about wealth creation in the Atlantic triangle of Africa, the Americas, and Europe and his description of the process of wealth creation in The Wealth of Nations.

The relationship between slavery and capitalism has been well documented, but ignored by most Anglo-American economists. And that is the point. The legacy of Smith’s omission of the role of slavery in wealth creation has produced what he calls an economics of dissociation that ignores the misery of the real providers of wealth and then is optimistic about a “free market.” This ideology remains with us today is

Brown thinks the failure to change the United States slave-based economy by peaceful means was largely due to the enormous financial investment of the confederate states in slaves. They were fighting to keep their property: their form of free enterprise. Still, this war was not called a property war, but a civil war. At the deepest level, both sides fought for a civic life, and we continue be to engaged in this conflict. There will be those who will resist moving toward a just and sustainable economy. While we don’t know who will “win the future”, to use President Obama’s phrase. Brown believes in democracy, so it is an honor to participate with others who are changing systems and telling new stories that seem to move us in the right direction.

How many slaves work for you? Check out and find out.

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Alley in Pioneer Square

When people think about grit in a city, about an edgy area of town, they think of those people that chafe on the edge of society, garbage on the streets, crime. Sort of like sand when it gets into a well oiled machine–as if their neighborhood were a well-oiled machine.

Grit prohibits things from being smooth, from something looking polished. And, grit is a polisher. We have to accept and tolerate the good with the bad and help where we can.

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The problem with managers and companies


People only think about their slice.

“I don’t have the brain capacity to think about the system as a whole. All I’m concerned with is how this affects our company.”

Read more.


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Momma’s Always Watching


On 29 July 2010, Britain’s Economist headlined “Wealth, Poverty and Compassion: The Rich Are Different from You and Me; They Are More Selfish,” and summarized a study, to be published in the November 2010 Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, titled“Having Less, Giving More: The Influence of Social Class on Prosocial Behavior.” The authors – Michael Kraus, Paul Piff, and three others – said in their “Abstract”: “Across 4 studies, lower class individuals proved to be more generous …, charitable …, trusting …, and helpful …, compared with their upper class counterparts, … because of a greater commitment to egalitarian values and feelings of compassion.” More.

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Sustainability increases ROI, than why aren’t more companies getting on board?

According to the Climate Counts carbon score report, all but one of the companies who are scoring sustainably also increased revenues since 2005.

This means that the all-important ROI (return on investment) for sustainability initiatives is being proved by history. Sustainability is indeed good for the bottom line.

According to an October 2013 post by Forbes, the 10 companies with the best CSR reputations understand the connection between CSR and sustainability initiatives, ROI, and brand loyalty.

So what is holding them back?

Leadership. Pure and simple.

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Political tension in metrics

Take GDP….

Total health care spending in the United States is expected to reach $4.8 trillion in 2021, up from $2.6 trillion in 2010 and $75 billion in 1970. To put it in context, this means that health care spending will account for nearly 20 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), or one-fifth of the U.S. economy, by 2021.[1]

Is it really measuring the right thing when the measure encourages the wrong behavior across an entire vertical?


  1. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, National Health Expenditures Projections 2011-2021.
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We are the problem.

  • Population on the planet on the first Earth Day (1970): 3.7 billion
  • Population on the planet on the most recent Earth Day (2013): 7 billion\

Our Trash

The problem is not that we have not had an environmental movement. Since the first earth day, we have a 5x increase in recycling but we are producing:

  • 47% more trash
  • 20% more CO2 emissions
  • 0 improvement on energy use
  • 400% more endangered species

The difference between the mass extinction we are going through now, and the one suffered by the dinosaurs, is that this extinction was caused by a single species–and it was us.


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