minimalism

“Be Content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.” - Lao Tzu

“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” - Antoine de Saint-Exupe

“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” - Albert Einstein

“Fear less, hope more; eat less, chew more; whine less, breathe more; talk less, say more; love more, and all good things will be yours.” - Swedish proverb

“Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say let your affairs be as one, two, three and to a hundred or a thousand. We are happy in proportion to the things we can do without.” - Henry David Thoreau

“The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.” - Socrates

“A good traveller has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.” -Lao Tzu

“Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t like.” - Will Rogers

via » quotes :mnmlist.

Five things wrong with Canada

A former Wall Street trader says there are five challenges facing Canada’s economy:

  1. A series of policy errors made by the Bank of Canada after the financial crisis.
  2. Home prices in Canada have risen even more dramatically than in the U.S.
  3. Current consumer debt levels rival those in the U.S. eight years ago.
  4. The loonie is overvalued based on interest rate differentials.
  5. Canadian bank stocks are highly overvalued.

Jared Dillian, editor of The Daily DirtNap and author of Street Freak: Money and Madness at Lehman Brothers joins BNN to share his thoughts on Canada’s housing market, debt levels and the BOC.

via BNN Video

Clorox factory “liberated by its workers”

CARACAS— Clorox Co. said Saturday that it has serious safety concerns as Venezuela’s government authorized a takeover of its facilities just days after the cleaning-products maker announced it was ending operations here due to the South American country’s economic crisis.

“This is now a factory liberated by its workers,” Vice President Jorge Arreaza said on Friday night in a televised address from one of Clorox’s facilities just outside this capital city. Flanked by workers from the plant, Mr. Arreaza offered the state’s full support of a worker-led restart of operations and saving what he said were 800 jobs that would be lost.

Though rich in oil, Wall Street analysts expect Venezuela’s economy to fall into a recession this year amid dollar shortages, a collapsing local currency, spiralling inflation and rigid state controls that economists say deter investment.

Oakland, Calif.-based Clorox, which had three manufacturing plants in Venezuela, said on Sept. 22 that it was exiting the country and looking to sell its assets. The company, which manufactures bleach and other cleaning liquids and disinfectants here, argued that for nearly three years it had to sell two-thirds of its products at a loss as prices set by the state failed to cover the cost of production.

Private-sector businesses complain price caps, as well as limited access to dollars for imports are responsible for Venezuela’s chronic shortages of some foods and goods ranging from cooking oil to toilet paper. But the government, whose popularity has plunged this year amid the economic woes, blames the country’s problems on its political foes and what it says are profit-hungry multinationals out to destabilize the socialist regime.

“You think it’s a coincidence that these people are leaving just when there is a situation of shortages of some products in the country?” Mr. Arreaza said to supporters who chanted ” Chavez Lives!” in remembrance of the late leftist leader Hugo Chavez who expropriated scores of companies during a 14-year reign.

“It would seem to be part of a plan to harm the Venezuelan people,” Mr. Arreaza, who is also Mr. Chavez’s son-in-law, said.

via Clorox Questions Safety After Venezuelan Takeover – WSJ.

water splitter runs on ordinary AAA battery

scientists at Stanford University have developed a low-cost, emissions-free device that uses an ordinary AAA battery to produce hydrogen by water electrolysis.  The battery sends an electric current through two electrodes that split liquid water into hydrogen and oxygen gas. Unlike other water splitters that use precious-metal catalysts, the electrodes in the Stanford device are made of inexpensive and abundant nickel and iron.

“Using nickel and iron, which are cheap materials, we were able to make the electrocatalysts active enough to split water at room temperature with a single 1.5-volt battery,” said Hongjie Dai, a professor of chemistry at Stanford. “This is the first time anyone has used non-precious metal catalysts to split water at a voltage that low. It’s quite remarkable, because normally you need expensive metals, like platinum or iridium, to achieve that voltage.”

In addition to producing hydrogen, the novel water splitter could be used to make chlorine gas and sodium hydroxide, an important industrial chemical, according to Dai. He and his colleagues describe the new device in a study published in the Aug. 22 issue of the journal Nature Communications.

Hydrogen is an ideal fuel for powering vehicles, buildings and storing renewable energy on the grid,” said Dai. “We’re very glad that we were able to make a catalyst that’s very active and low cost. This shows that through nanoscale engineering of materials we can really make a difference in how we make fuels and consume energy.”

via Scientists at Stanford develop water splitter that runs on ordinary AAA battery.

The coming era of unlimited — and free — clean energy

In the 1980s, leading consultants were skeptical about cellular phones.  McKinsey & Company noted that the handsets were heavy, batteries didn’t last long, coverage was patchy, and the cost per minute was exorbitant.  It predicted that in 20 years the total market size would be about 900,000 units, and advised AT&T to pull out.  McKinsey was wrong, of course.  There were more than 100 million cellular phones in use 2000; there are billions now.  Costs have fallen so far that even the poor — all over world — can afford a cellular phone.

The experts are saying the same about solar energy now.  They note that after decades of development, solar power hardly supplies 1 percent of the world’s energy needs.  They say that solar is inefficient, too expensive to install, and unreliable, and will fail without government subsidies.  They too are wrong.  Solar will be as ubiquitous as cellular phones are.

Futurist Ray Kurzweil notes that solar power has been doubling every two years for the past 30 years — as costs have been dropping. He says solar energy is only six doublings — or less than 14 years — away from meeting 100 percent of today’s energy needs. Energy usage will keep increasing, so this is a moving target.  But, by Kurzweil’s estimates, inexpensive renewable sources will provide more energy than the world needs in less than 20 years.  Even then, we will be using only one part in 10,000 of the sunlight that falls on the Earth.

via The coming era of unlimited — and free — clean energy – The Washington Post.

One in four Americans want to Secede

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It was hard to imagine many people would support secession. Forget the fact that the cautionary lesson of the Civil War is top of mind for many people as we commemorate its 150th anniversary; just in terms of dollars and cents, who in their right minds would give up all the money they’ve already paid into the Social Security and Medicare systems? Besides, most states get more back from the federal government than they put in.

Then the results came in. You can see them for yourself here, and you can filter them any way you want—by age, region, income, party affiliation, etc. Any way you slice it, the data are startlingly clear: Almost a quarter (23.9 percent) of those surveyed said they were strongly or provisionally inclined to leave the United States, and take their states with them. Given the polling sample — about 9,000 people so far—the online survey’s credibility interval (which is digital for “margin of error”) was only 1.2 percentage points, so there is no question that that is what they said.

via One in four Americans want their state to secede from the U.S., but why? | Jim Gaines.

Colombia and the Piketty tax

the proposed changes would lower the wealth tax threshold to $380,000 from $500,000. Those with assets of $500,000 to $1.5m would pay a 0.4 per cent annual rate; thos with $1.5m to $2.5m would pay 1.1 per cent; those with $2.5m to $4m would pay 2 per cent, and those with fortunes greater than $4m would pay 2.25 per cent. Those with capital of less than $380,000 will pay nothing.

via Colombia and the Piketty tax – beyondbrics – Blogs – FT.com.