Ritual Killings to End

The 2 or 3 readers of this personal journal may know that Cynthia and I produced a documentary film called Drawn From Water. The film explores a little-known practice called mingi — the ritualistic killing of children by S. Ethiopian tribes, and the efforts to rescue mingi children and ultimately stop the practice altogether.

Today, I’m elated to announce that the elders of the Kara tribe have voted to permanently end the practice of mingi. This decision was mostly the result of the tireless work of Lale Labuko, a Kara tribe member, who plays a central role in the film. Lale is one of very few Kara to receive a university education. He returned to the tribe four years ago to help end mingi killing.

Below are the translated statements of the Kara elders, explaining their reasoning for ending this century’s old tribal practice (from the Omo Child website). But this is just one step. At least two other S. Ethiopian tribes still practice mingi, such as the 45,000+ Hamer tribe members. The number of Ethiopian children (aged infant to 5) killed each year could still be in the thousands. Please help by going to the Drawn From Water page and making a donation or buying the film. 100% of donations go directly to on-the-ground efforts to end mingi. Other organizations working to end mingi include Omo Child and GTLI.

Elder Mero Dobo: This organization brought a good help for Kara land. We have seen a good development since this organization established. But before that everybody was assumed that Lale brought curse to the Kara land. However, we haven’t seen any curse both to the family and to the land. As I know so; far for the past four years nothing happen to the Kara land and family as well. But, last summer we discovered that Omo Child foundation became blessing for Kara land and we were astonished by John Rowe help which fed many families. As Kara elder last summer was unique, learning moment and an unseen blessing in our lifetime. Likewise, now we have a lot of rain in our land than before. Therefore, I am personal I say this organization brought blessing for Kara land. Now we have a grass for our cattle and everywhere is green. Thus, Omo Child/ Lale: we accepted and we agree with your plan to stop mingi and to change the culture next month. Therefore, we are ready to change the culture and it is mostly right all your advise Lale, for most
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Equal Justice Initiative

Just back from TED2012 Conference in Long Beach California. Thomas Dolby asked me to play guitar in the house band this year. I’ll post some photos in a bit.

Bryan Stevenson gave what I believe will become an iconic talk — in the same league as Jill Taylor or Sir Ken Robinson. Deeply inspiring and motivational, Bryan asks us to balance “TED” (technology, entertainment, design) with empathy, humanity, justice, and compassion.

“We will not be judged by our technology, intellect, or reason. Ultimately, the character of a society will be judged not by how they treat the powerful, but by how they treat the poor.”

After his talk, he received a breathtaking standing ovation. The raw energy and length of ovation was unequaled by any talk I’ve experienced at a live conference (probably 45 seconds of applause is edited from the video). He is asking us to do something about the injustices in our own country.

Later in the conference, Chris Anderson (TED’s curator) asked the audience to help Bryan’s work. Within a short time, over $1.1 million had been pledged.

 


A Force of Good

My mycologist friend Paul Stamets has a new film in collaboration with visionary filmmaker Louie Schwartzberg. It’s two minutes of creative brilliance.

“If we don’t understand the organisms that sustain us today, not only will we destroy those organisms, but we will destroy ourselves.”

This is also a good reminder to get involved in the movement to better regulate GMO seeds and foods. For a quick study, read today’s Joe Mercola essay on Monsanto. After reading this chilling and eye-opening brief, you’ll better understand why, according to Forbes Magazine, Google’s first suggested search term for the company is ‘Monstanto evil.’


CES 2012 Innovation Award

The Consumer Electronics Show is the largest convention in the USA (140,000 visitors, 3,100 exhibitors, 1.4 million square feet). This week, we learned that our latest generation SafePlug invention won the top award of the show:  “Best Innovation of 2012” in the Home Systems category.

Want to know more? View my TED Talk which describes the technology. The TED Talk has been translated into 25 languages, has over 300,000 views, and has been featured in Scientific American, Fast Company, and dozens of other publications.


Power of the Crowd

Humanity wastes 550,000 hours a day typing in the annoying Captcha (200,000,000 Captchas per day * 10s per instance). Luis Von Ahn, inventor of the Captcha, explains why this is a good thing. And if you’ve ever been frustrated by the poor quality of Google Translation, please take 16 minutes and watch his brilliant TED Talk on Massive-Scale Online Collaboration.

While you’re hearing about the historically unprecedented power of 100 million people working towards a common goal, be dreaming up your own ways of helping the planet while using your computer.


CIMFAM

Not long ago, a talented local family asked me to produce an EP (4 song record) of their music. I rarely produce outside work, but made an exception for this wonderful family – six sisters who sing, write, and dance.

So today I was curious and called their mom. They moved to L.A., recorded a new EP, have signed a deal with Universal, have over 110 million YouTube views (UPDATE: over 300 million), have over 1/2 million subscribers, and are often the #1 trending topic on Twitter.

Their first full length record releases next year. Much of the music will be original material written by the sisters. If their new EP is any indication, I think they are going to hit big with 10-18 market.

UPDATE: After its first day of release, their new EP has climbed to #4 on the iTunes pop charts.


A National Strategic Narrative

I attended a conference last year called PopTech in Camden Maine. Couldn’t go this year, but did have a chance to watch some of the live feed. One of the presentations featured Naval Captain Wayne Porter and Marine Col. Mark Mykleby — military strategists working at the highest level of government. Together, they present highlights from their paper, “A National Strategic Narrative.”

Their ideas ” less military force, more social capital and more sustainable energy practices ” have caused a stir in policy communities. Their proposal is one of transition away from some old policy ideas that no longer apply in the Google age.They want to move the nation towards an open system that seeks equilibrium in an interdependent global ecology;

to move the idea of national security from containment to sustainability:

from theories of control to theories of credible influence;

from power to narrative: a national strategic story that doesn’t “hold the jello” quite so tight;

towards a citizenry that demands purposeful participation.

They rightly point out that government can only reflect the values that its citizens embody and that competition cannot be a zero-sum game in a deeply interdependent world. They focus on three issues they believe to be the highest social priorities to maintain a healthy nation moving forward.

1.) Education
2.) Security
3.) Energy

I would personally put energy at the top, for without cheap, concentrated energy, access to education will erode as our economy weakens. Their brilliant talk concludes that we, as a nation, are moving towards polarizing ideologies that offer little more than divisive ultimata. Porter and Mykleby insist that we need a collective narrative that takes us beyond today’s ideologies; that will inform our skill, knowledge, and ultimately our technologies. Please invest 21 minutes in this important narrative.


Growth Has An Expiration Date

Well, at least the kind of growth we’ve come to expect over the last 100 years.

Tom Murphy is a physics professor at University of California, San Diego. His recent talk at the Compass Summit beautifully describes our #1 global issue moving forward — the energy trap. I think his term “energy trap” is better than “peak oil” for describing the volatile economic consequences that await our new century. Tom has “done the math” (as many of us have) and recognizes a high probability for ever-increasing levels of energy-based economic impediments over the coming decades. Moreover, Tom is the best numbers-oriented speaker I’ve heard on this issue. His talk reminds me of a more focused version of Richard Smalley’s famous energy talks in the late-1990s. Take 23 minutes and listen to Tom’s brilliant – “there is no financing in nature” – overview.

If you’re limited for time, start around 11:30.

And just for fun…