Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Zaadz 2.0 – The Four Noble Truths of Software Development

This is an early draft of an intro to a tech vision doc that Aaron (the co-founder and Wizard & Chief Experience Officer of Zaadz) is creating for our new engineers (go Ryan & Josh!!!).

Too funny and too cool not to share.

Zaadz 2.0 – The Four Noble Truths of Software Development

Introduction to the Journey

“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.”

~ Lao Tzu

Our journey begins with the young Siddhartha, leaving the palace in India, his wife and his son Kishore, to find the noble truths to life and the secret to end suffering. Like Siddhartha, the intrepid founders of Zaadz have left the golden palaces of outsourced development, and through a difficult journey of introspection, contemplation, effort, and self-sacrifice have found the middle path, and the four noble truths of software development.

The First Noble Truth

Everything Takes Longer than You Expect

The concept behind zaadz was born many years ago. At times when it seemed as if success was inimitable and the birth of Zaadz just around the corner… and yet, the realization of this dream remained elusive. Through this time, however, the vision of what Zaadz is meant to be has evolved through the fire of hardship and challenge. Now we come to this project with new passion, and a new vision that is closer than ever to the desire that is in our hearts…

To build THE community that inspires and empowers the world to achieve their greatest dreams.

Bringing this great a vision into the world does not come about without true effort. So always remember the first noble truth. Be prepared for the long journey, work hard, and maintain your faith and passion in the dream of what we’re brining into the world even when setbacks occur. And by all means, keep yourself well capitalized.

The Second Noble Truth

Everything is Subject to Change and We Must Change With It

Ah, the impermanence of the material world. Especially in the fast paced world of technology, things are constantly changing and evolving. When faced with the daunting challenge of dismantling the entire architecture put forth by our Indian friends, Aaron was in dire need of a platform that could carry the lofty dreams of what Zaadz was destined to become.

As Aaron perused the landscape of available web development platforms, he was struck by the lack of a cohesive framework that made development simple. Then during a dream, Aaron was visited by an angel, who typed these words into his browser window…

www.rubyonrails.com

Lo and behold, the prophet Aaron saw god, and realized that Ruby on Rails would be the framework that could bring the vision of Zaadz into the world. Faced with the difficult challenge of forgoing all that came before, the decision was discussed and made… and in the process, the Zaadz vision and technology took a leap forward into Web 2.0, and into a community of developers who are as excited about the potential of this platform to bring web programming into the next century as we are about the potential for Zaadz to help millions of people to grow in their lives.

Always be ready and willing to made a change if it will further the vision of the company and product. Be willing to consider changes, even if it means sacrificing something that is already in place… and above all, always keep an eye on the horizon for what’s coming next.

The Third Noble Truth

The Key to Providing the Best Product is to Serve the Consumer

We all have a pretty good idea of what we think is going to be a powerful offering to the web community, but we should never forget that our customers drive the success of our product.

During the early days of eteamz, in the Old Testament, the prophet Brian communicated his vision that in five years, all youth sports teams would be using the web. And lo, the prophecy came to pass through the miracle of eteamz.

Why was eteamz successful? Because we listened and responded to our customer’s needs at every opportunity. Customer feedback was regularly encouraged and suggestions were implemented as soon as possible, sometimes within the hour.

As we seek to provide the product that will truly serve our customers, remember always to seek out and listen to their needs. We will be successful to the extent that we truly provide value to the people who we are serving.

The Fourth Noble Truth

The Path to the Perfect Product is Through Our Own Self-Discovery

Our work is inexplicably tied to our lives. Some people try to escape that… others embrace it. We’re excited to be embarking on a project that we can truly believe in. But let’s never forget that our passion for this development and this company is directly related to our continual growth and development.

Years ago, I was given the opportunity, a senior fresh out of college to take part in the development of a .com company. I remember fondly the days when I sat in my room at home with a Cold Fusion manual in my lap, chatting Brian on the IM from Pittsburgh, putting the first pieces of the eteamz site together.

From that time until now, I’ve grown and evolved. I’ve learned new programming languages, wrestled with server architecture, led integration teams, managed groups of outsourced programmers and found my passion in creating technology vision and working with bright, enthusiastic people who have a desire to change the world.

Now it’s time for me to pass that torch, and give you, the developers of Zaadz the opportunity to shine. I ask you to find your passion in this development. Do the work that needs to be done but continue to dream and find ways to serve your own needs through the technology that we’re building.

After all, we, the developers of Zaadz should be the first ones to make use of tools we are building for our own personal development. And if we aren’t, we had better figure out what feature is missing, speak up, and get it developed since the success of this company is ultimately tied to our own personal success and satisfaction.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Doing it right

"If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?"
~ John Wooden

Mindfulness

Remember that the Chinese word we translate as "mind" actually means "mind+heart."

Love that.

(Just got reminded of that by Jon Kabbat-Zinn in an interview over at WIE on The Business of Changing the World. Thanks, Jon!)

Thursday, November 24, 2005

More Mackey Mojo

"I believe that the enlightened corporation should try to create value for all of its constituencies."

Have I mentioned that John Mackey--Whole Foods' CEO--is a genius yet?

Good.

Check out this brilliant article and get a deeper sense of why Whole Foods is so successful and embodies, perhaps more than any other company, the ideal company of the future:

Rethinking the Social Responsibility of Business

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Harvest Compassion this Thanksgiving

From Compassion over Killing's newsletter.

Harvest Compassion This Thanksgiving

During the winter holiday season alone, more than 65 million turkeys will be killed for human consumption. Like other birds raised for food, turkeys are denied federal protection from even the worst abuses and are routinely treated in ways that would be illegal if the same cruelties were inflicted upon dogs or cats.

This Thanksgiving, a growing number of Americans are giving turkeys something to be thankful for—their lives.

Read more about animal suffering in the turkey industry and discover healthy and humane holiday meal ideas.

Give Thanks & Acknowledge the Truth

Check out this little article:

Give Thanks – and Acknowledge the Truth


(thanks for the heads up, Kriss!)

Note to self on Hayek's discovery process


Alright. I'm working on our conscious capitalism stuff. Mackey's blog inspired me to study Hayek (whose stuff I've had on my shelf for a couple years), Mises and others. (Lots of reading to do.)

For now, I'm basically using this forum to capture some thoughts on
the "Hayekian discovery process" as mentioned by Mackey when describing his management style:

Q: You've mentioned your management style, and I would like to explore that more. It's certainly worked very well, but it doesn't seem to be a very libertarian one. Do you see your management style as paradoxical given your libertarian philosophy?

JOHN: Most corporations in the United States are hardly the epitome of libertarian utopias. In fact, most corporations in the United States are organized as top-down, command & control, hierarchical systems. Very little personal freedom exists in these corporations. Their employees are often managed through either pure financial incentives -- greed -- or through fear -- "my way or the highway". Whole Foods is very, very different. Our mission at Whole Foods can be summed up by our slogan "Whole Foods, Whole People, Whole Planet". We put great emphasis at Whole Foods on the "Whole People" part of this mission. We believe in helping support our team members to grow as individuals -- to become "Whole People". We consciously use Maslow's hierarchy of needs model to help our team members to move up Maslow's hierarchy. As much as we are able, we attempt to manage through love instead of fear or greed. We allow tremendous individual initiative at Whole Foods and that's why our company is so innovative and creative. Most retail companies create a prototype retail store format and then cookie-cutter reproduce it across the country. Think McDonalds. Not Whole Foods. We have no prototype store. All our stores are unique. Why? Because our team members are constantly innovating, experimenting, and improving them. Whole Foods is very much committed to a Hayekian discovery process and our team members -- both as individuals and as members of teams -- are leading this Hayekian discovery process. As our team members learn and grow as individuals, as they become self-actualized, as they become "Whole People", our company better fulfills its mission to all of its stakeholders.

The seeming paradox that you keep hinting at is no paradox at all. Human beings are both individuals and members of communities (or collectives). We learn and grow best through relationships and our growth will always be limited without them. I haven't met anyone that I consider to be self-actualizing who did it all by themselves. Freedom as an ideal is a very, very incomplete ideal when it lacks love. Freedom is my highest "political ideal", but love is my highest "personal ideal". We need both. There is no paradox and there is no contradiction here. Freedom and love: let us marry these two together!

--

Love that.

Alright, so below is a blurb on the "Hayekian discovery process."

In sum: Hayek proposed that capitalism promotes a development of tacit knowledge within an organization that allows for subtle distinctions to be made, improving the efficiencies of that organization's production. Which is one of the reasons why, Hayek would argue, a centralized socialist organization would fail to work optimally beyond a basic level of complexity.

Mackey's point: Whole Foods is constantly evolving by trusting its people's tacit knowledge and finding innovative ways for its "whole people" to contribute--providing a competitive edge to WF in the process. Sweet.

Here's the passage from Hayek's bio on Mises' site:

Much of the knowledge necessary for running the economic system, Hayek contended, is in the form not of "scientific" or technical knowledge--the conscious awareness of the rules governing natural and social phenomena--but of "" knowledge, the idiosyncratic, dispersed bits of understanding of "circumstances of time and place." This tacit knowledge is often not consciously known even to those who possess it and can never be communicated to a central authority. The market tends to use this tacit knowledge through a type of "discovery procedure" (Hayek, 1968a), by which this information is unknowingly transmitted throughout the economy as an unintended consequence of individuals' pursuing their own ends.(17) Indeed, Hayek's (1948b) distinction between the neoclassical notion of "competition," identified as a set of equilibrium conditions (number of market participants, characteristics of the product, and so on), and the older notion of competition as a rivalrous process, has been widely influential in Austrian economics (Kirzner, 1973; Machovec, 1995).

For Hayek, market competition generates a particular kind of order--an order that is the product "of human action but not human design" (a phrase Hayek borrowed from Adam Smith's mentor Adam Ferguson). This "spontaneous order" is a system that comes about through the independent actions of many individuals, and produces overall benefits unintended and mostly unforeseen by those whose actions bring it about. To distinguish between this kind of order and that of a deliberate, planned system, Hayek (1968b, pp. 72-76) used the Greek terms cosmos for a spontaneous order and taxis for a consciously planned one.(18) Examples of a cosmos include the market system as a whole, money, the common law, and even language. A taxis, by contrast, is a designed or constructed organization, like a firm or bureau; these are the "islands of conscious power in [the] ocean of unconscious cooperation like lumps of butter coagulating in a pail of buttermilk" (D. H. Robertson, quoted in Coase, 1937, p. 35).(19)

Most commentators view Hayek's work on knowledge, discovery, and competition as an outgrowth of his participation in the socialist calculation debate of the 1920s and 1930s. The socialists erred, in Hayek's view, in failing to see that the economy as a whole is necessarily a spontaneous order and can never be deliberately made over in the way that the operators of a planned order can exercise control over their organization. This is because planned orders can handle only problems of strictly limited complexity. Spontaneous orders, by contrast, tend to evolve through a process of natural selection, and therefore do not need to be designed or even understood by a single mind.(20)

Most commentators view Hayek's work on knowledge, discovery, and competition as an outgrowth of his participation in the socialist calculation debate of the 1920s and 1930s. The socialists erred, in Hayek's view, in failing to see that the economy as a whole is necessarily a spontaneous order and can never be deliberately made over in the way that the operators of a planned order can exercise control over their organization. This is because planned orders can handle only problems of strictly limited complexity. Spontaneous orders, by contrast, tend to evolve through a process of natural selection, and therefore do not need to be designed or even understood by a single mind.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

John Mackey Rocks (he's Whole Foods' CEO)

Check out John Mackey's blog. The man's a genius.

And check out this 20 questions interview for a briliant overview of the true function of businesses. I'm developing our concept for "conscious capitalism" over here at Zaadz and Mackey epitomizes the ideals around which we're striving to build our business.

Brilliant. Brilliant. Brilliant.

(btw: for those of you who didn't know, John's a vegan. Cool article on that progression and Whole Foods' remarkable success.

Great quote from that article--among many many others: "If you look back 100 years from now, history will show that Whole Foods will be in the top-five companies that changed the world."

thought on animal care:

Mackey's new determination to raise Whole Foods' standards for animal care -- a command decision to which there has been nothing but assent internally -- may rock the cattle, pork, and poultry industries. After six months of meetings, Whole Foods settled on rules for ducks, and this summer will begin setting standards for pig raising. And Mackey believes Americans will soon shun factory farms that raise and slaughter 9 billion animals a year as if they were protein products, not creatures. "Right now," he says, "Americans have to pretend factory farms don't exist. They turn their eyes away, because there's no alternative, there's no choice." Once there is a choice, he says, we will allow ourselves to be outraged. Equally dramatic transformations have happened in the past 25 years. Consider the revolution in attitudes about drunk driving and smoking in the United States.

In 20 years of making predictions about his company and his business, Mackey has never missed a bet, except for underestimating the market for organic and natural foods. (At one point in the early 1990s, he said there were only 100 good sites for Whole Foods markets in the entire country.) Sitting in his office in 2004, he says without hesitation, "Twenty years from now, factory farms will be illegal in the United States."

*Wow.*

I could quote so much from each of those articles. Highly recommend you read em both.

A final thought from Mr. Mackey: "...follow your heart wherever it takes you. Choose love instead of fear. If you do, a wonderful life adventure awaits you! Carpe diem!"

Gas Guzzling Food

Gas Guzzling Food: The SUV in the Pantry

by Thomas Starrs

I spend a fair amount of time thinking about how to reduce my family's dependence on energy, particularly energy derived from fossil fuels. I commute to work by bicycle or bus, install compact fluorescents when light bulbs burn out, replace major appliances with the most efficient ones I can afford, and cast jealous glances at my friends who drive hybrids or alternative-fueled vehicles. But until recently, I didn't think of myself asan energy glutton because of the food I eat.

Then I read an astonishing statistic: It takes about 10 fossil fuel calories to produce each food calorie in the average American diet. So if your daily food intake is 2,000 calories, then it took 20,000 calories to grow that food and get it to you. In more familiar units, this means that growing, processing and delivering the food consumed by a family of four each year requires the equivalent of almost 34,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of energy, or more than 930 gallons of gasoline (for comparison, the average U.S. household annually consumes about 10,800 kWh of electricity, or about 1,070gallons of gasoline).

In other words, we use about as much energy to grow our food as to power our homes or fuel our cars.

Overall, about 15% OF U.S. energy goes to supplying Americans with food, split roughly equally between the production of crops and livestock, and food processing and packaging. David Pimentel, a professor of ecology and agricultural science at Cornell University, has estimated that if all humanity ate the way Americans eat, we would exhaust all known fossil fuelreserves in just seven years.

The implications of agricultural energy use for the environment are disturbing. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, agriculture contributes over 20% of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, including more than 20% CO2, 55% of methane and 65% of nitrous oxide. In addition, our energy-intensive agriculture industry contributes
substantially to soil erosion, loss of wildlife habitat, degradation of water quality from chemical runoff and causes other adverse environmental impacts.

Much of the energy embedded in our food comes from growing grains that require further processing to be eaten. Producing a 2-pound box of breakfast cereal, for example, requires the equivalent of burning half a gallon ofgasoline.

Eating high on the food chain is even worse. Eating a carrot or an apple gives the diner all the caloric energy in those foods, but feeding these foods to a pig reduces the energy available by a factor of 10. That's because the pig uses most of the energy just staying alive, and stores only
a fraction of the energy in the parts we eat. All told, it takes 68 calories of fossil fuel to produce one calorie of pork, and 35 calories of fuel to make one calorie of beef.

Interestingly, the path to reducing the energy intensity of the food system dovetails nicely with the path to a healthy and nutritious diet. It can besummarized in three simple suggestions.

First, eat lower on the food chain. That means more fruits and vegetables, and fewer meats and fish. Meats, poultry and fish contain necessary proteins, but most American diets contain too much protein - about twice the recommended amount. Since 80% of the grains go to feeding livestock, the amount of energy used indirectly to support our diet of double bacon cheeseburgers is staggering. And, if you do eat meat, then try to avoid animals grown in feedlots or factory pens. They take far more energy calories to raise than free-range, grassfed critters, which have only abouta third of the embedded energy.

Second, eat more fresh foods and fewer processed foods. Fruits and vegetables again, but also whole grains, legumes and other less-processed foods, have much less embedded energy. In general, the more packaging, themore processing - and the more energy associated with its production.

Third, buy local. Incredibly, the food items on U.S. grocery store shelves have traveled an average of 1,500 miles. And some foods are much worse. Table grapes grown in Chile, transported by ship to California and shipped by truck to Iowa have traveled over 4,200 miles. In response, some agricultural scientists have proposed ecolabeling programs based on CO2
rankings or broader lifecycle assessments.

These analyses provide better information than just miles traveled. For instance, because they travel by air rather than by ship, Hawaiian pineapples are among the most carbon intensive of foods, contributing about 40 pounds of CO2 per pound of pineapple. That is about 10 times the nexthighest figure among the foods studied.

In my hometown of Portland, Oregon, individuals and businesses alike are starting to recognize and respond to the public's concerns about fossil food. Grocery stores featuring locally grown and organic products are common. Farm stands, farmer's markets and community-supported agriculture operations are thriving. Here, even fast food restaurants are using localand organic ingredients.

For instance, Burgerville is a local chain that buys exclusively Oregon Country Beef, the branded product of 40 family ranches in the region that produce an all-natural product made without hormones, genetically modified grain or any animal byproducts. Burgerville promotes the fact that customers can trace the source of their food from ranch to table - and play a role in
sustaining the local agricultural economy. Another local company, Hot Lips Pizza, worked with a group of Northwest farmers to create a Food Alliance-certified local market for organic wheat and flour, providing customers with pizza that is sustainably grown. It also is really, really
tasty.

After all, you are what you eat.

Monday, November 21, 2005

God and the Wizard of Ads

"God, let's not make this about how good I am. Let's make it about how good you are."
~ Roy H. Williams

Just pulled that from this morning's Monday Morning Memo from the Wizard of Ads himself, Roy H. Williams. The guy rocks. Check out his newsletter and his books--some of the best on marketing you're gonna read.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

The Witness

Just watched The Witness by Tribe of Heart films.

Amazing.

The documentary is a wonderful look at one man's compassion and his work to bring more awareness to the world.

I highly recommend it.

Plus, here's the recommended course of action in the change-the-world-together formula:

Check out the preview. Then support them by buying the film (gotta circulate wealth to help them play their part in using their gifts in the greatest service to the world!). Then watch it. Then change your lifestyle as you see fit. Then show some friends. Then be the change moment to moment.

With love and compassion.

-b

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Online dating gets slapped...

Online dating gets slapped...
with suits: Match.com is accused of sending out bogus romantic e-mails, Yahoo may have posted made up profiles.

Yikes.

I can't wait till we launch our ZaadzMatch tools. That's gonna be fun.

(And, although I may have our engineers make it so I show up in most searches the ladies do for 30 something year old men, I can promise you we won't have any bogus bait-dates or fake bios. :)

Potential Effects of the Next 100 Billion Hamburgers Sold by McDonald's

Great little paper on the Potential Effects of the Next 100 Billion Hamburgers Sold by McDonald's comparing the impact of McDonald's selling 100 billion veggie burgers rather than another 100 billion meat burgers.

Interesting stuff.

The article touches on the nutrition issues...a look at the envioronmental/ecological would be fascinating as well...

From my friend Gabriel who sent me the article:

What was most interesting to me, besides the scary thought that 96 percent of americans eat at McDonalds each year - 96 percent! - is that the McVeggie burgers have twice as much protein as the beef bugers. People are always asking me how a vegetarian can get enough protein, but protein is the easiest thing to get in any diet, provided that you are not starving. Too bad the fast-food veggie burgers are nowhere near as good as the ones you get at the grocery store.

(Thanks for the heads-up, Gabriel!)

Shame on Them: Tell Col. Murtha Not to Back Down

Shame on Them: Tell Col. Murtha Not to Back Down

John Murtha spent 37 years in Marine Corps, earned the Bronze Star, two purple hearts, the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, and the Navy Distinguished Service Medal. And for the last thirty years he’s been one of the most respected voices in Congress on military issues -- universally respected by Democrats, Republicans and military brass alike.

Now he's speaking out on Iraq -- and the Republican smear machine has questioned his wisdom, his courage, and even his patriotism. Shame on them. Every one of us -- right now -- needs to let Jack Murtha know that we respect his service, respect his leadership, and respect his right to speak the truth. This man has spent his life serving us. The very least each one of us can do is let him know that no matter what dishonorable smear campaign Republicans wage we will be there with him.

Send Congressman Murtha a note telling him that you will not be silent while he is attacked -- Governor Dean will deliver it personally with his own thanks:

http://democrats.org/page/petition/shameonthem

10 over 100

Just got this heads up from my buddy Jon:

http://www.10over100.org

McLibel


McDonald's sucks.

Check out McLibel -- a great little documentary on the peeps who fought McDonald's and won (Netflix it or buy it).

More:

McLibel is the story of two ordinary people who humiliated McDonald's in the biggest corporate PR disaster in history.

McDonald's loved using the UK libel laws to suppress criticism. Major media organisations like the BBC and The Guardian crumbled and apologised. But then they sued gardener Helen Steel and postman Dave Morris.

In the longest trial in English legal history, the "McLibel Two" represented themselves against McDonald's £10 million legal team. Every aspect of the corporation's business was cross-examined: from junk food and McJobs, to animal cruelty, environmental damage and advertising to children.

Outside the courtroom, Dave brought up his young son alone and Helen supported herself working nights in a bar. McDonald's tried every trick in the book against them. Legal manoeuvres. A visit from Ronald McDonald. Top executives flying to London for secret settlement negotiations. Even spies.

Seven years later, in February 2005, the marathon legal battle finally concluded at the European Court of Human Rights. And the result took everyone by surprise - especially the British Government.

McLibel is not just about hamburgers. It is about the importance of freedom of speech now that multinational corporations are more powerful than countries.

Filmed over ten years by no-budget Director Franny Armstrong, McLibel is the David and Goliath story of two people who refused to say sorry. And in doing so, changed the world.

You can find everything you ever need to know about the McLibel story on the world-famous McSpotlight website. "The blueprint for all activist websites", as Wired magazine memorably put it.

Wal*Mart: The High Cost of Low Prices


Just watched "Wal*Mart: The High Cost of Low Prices."

My God.

Would somebody please send their CEO, Lee Scott, a copy of Good Business?!?

Go get the movie. Watch it. Cry. Get pissed. And let's change the world.

(How? Important point: Not by rejecting capitalism but by creating businesses that generate profits as a by-product of truly serving.)

btw: Robert Greenwald is brilliant and the peeps at Brave New Films rock. Check out their other stuff. I just watched Outfoxed as well and ordered Unprecedented, Unconstitutional and Uncovered.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The Bodhisattva Vow

The Bodhisattva's Vow

So long as space remains,

So long as sentient beings remain,

I will remain,

In order to help,

In order to serve,

In order to make,

My own contribution.

~ Tibetan prayer translated by The Dalai Lama

Thursday, November 10, 2005

MoveOn from Wal-Mart

Another worth reading. (And if you haven't joined MoveOn yet, please do. Thanks.)

Dear MoveOn member,

The grassroots response to the new Wal-Mart documentary has been incredible. Thanks to you and our many partners, "Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price" will debut next week in over 7,000 living rooms and community centers across the country—a true groundswell.

MoveOn is co-sponsoring the screenings on Tuesday, November 15th with a focus on legislative solutions. But you can also find a Wal-Mart house party any day next week with different themes, ranging from health care to small businesses, and meet up with folks from many different sectors in your community.

Can you join us at a screening in your neighborhood? Find one now, at:

http://www.walmartmovie.com/find.php?track=moveon

Click here to get your own advance copy of the movie, and support this grassroots effort:

http://www.walmartmovie.com/watch.php?track=moveon

The screenings are organized by a historic alliance of labor unions, small businesses, churches and progressive groups1 who have all come together to tell the true story of Wal-Mart's toll on American workers and communities—and to push for change.

Why Wal-Mart? As the world's largest corporation, Wal-Mart has single-handedly lowered the bar for working families in the global economy. By bringing together allies from every sector, this campaign offers the unique opportunity to force real reform in Wal-Mart, and beyond. And as we prepare for 2006, it shows how the progressive economic values that built this country are so badly needed once again.

As Congressman George Miller put it in the introduction to a Congressional report on Wal-Mart:

There's no question that Wal-Mart imposes a huge, often hidden, cost on its workers, our communities, and U.S. tax-payers...And Wal-Mart is in the driver's seat in the global race to the bottom, suppressing wage levels, workplace protections, and labor laws.2

Miller's Congressional inquiry found that Wal-Mart's full time employees are paid so little that the average Wal-Mart store costs American tax-pyaers over $400,000 in emergency health care, rent assistance, nutrition programs and educational services for employees and their families.3

Wal-Mart: the High Cost of Low Price was produced for less than half of what Wal-Mart spends on PR in a single day,4 but it has clearly hit a nerve. Wal-Mart is pouring millions of dollars into PR firms and political consultants to try to stamp out this fire.5 And it's no wonder—it's a powerful movie.

The film features real stories told by the people who lived them: Wal-Mart employees (from executives to floor level) shocked by abuse and discrimination, family owned businesses blown away by the Wal-Mart storm, even sweatshop workers in China and Bangladesh who produce the Wal-Mart apparel.

Next week, tens of thousands of us will gather in living rooms across the country to hear the true story of Wal-Mart and then take action together to make a difference. We hope you can join us.

To find a screening near you, click here:

http://www.walmartmovie.com/find.php?track=moveon

To buy your own copy of the film, and support this campaign, click here:

http://www.walmartmovie.com/watch.php?track=moveon

Thanks for all that you do.

–Ben, Matt, Micayla, Carrie and the MoveOn.org Political Action Team
Thursday, November 10th, 2005

p.s. Since its release, the film has been getting rave reviews. Here's just a couple:

From The Los Angeles Times:

"Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price" is an engrossing, muckraking documentary about the retail giant that's been called "the world's largest, richest and probably meanest corporation."6

From The New York Times:

"The High Cost of Low Price" makes its case with breathtaking force.7

From Entertainment Weekly:

"Greenwald floats the vital issue of whether Wal-Mart should be restrained by antimonopoly regulations, but his real question is cultural: Even with its rock-bottom prices, is Wal-Mart in the best interest of American consumers?"8

From T.V. Guide:

"3.5 (out of 4) stars! [An] Important, awareness-building documentary."9

From the Villiage Voice:

"Viewers may not be surprised to learn of Wal-Mart's horrific track record, but they can't deny Greenwald's airtight advocacy."10

Sources:

1. For a partial list of partners and supporters of the Wal-Mart movie, see:
http://www.walmartmovie.com/screenings.htm

2. "New Report Details Wal-Mart's Labor Abuses and Hidden Costs," United States House of Representatives, Committee on Education and the Work Force, Democratic Staff, February 14, 2005
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=1135

3. "New Report Details Wal-Mart's Labor Abuses and Hidden Costs," United States House of Representatives, Committee on Education and the Work Force, Democratic Staff, February 14, 2005
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=1135

4. According the Wal-Mart 2005 Annual Report, the company spends $1.4 billion annually on public relations, or $3.8 million a day.
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=1136

Wal-Mart: the High Cost of Low Price was made for $1.8 million.
"Local church to show film critical of Wal-Mart," Lincoln Journal Star, Thursday, November 10th 2005
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=1137

5. "A New Weapon for Wal-Mart: A War Room," The New York Times, November 1st, 2005
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=1138

6. "Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price," The Los Angeles Times, November 4th, 2005
http://www.calendarlive.com/movies/reviews/cl-et-walmart4nov04,0,4680829.story?coll=cl-movies-util

7. "A Look Inside the Outsize Company That Is the Biggest Retailer on the Planet," The New York Times, November 4th, 2005 http://www.moveon.org/r?r=1139

8. Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price," Entertainment Weekly, November 4th 2005
http://www.ew.com/ew/article/review/movie/0,6115,1125297_1_0_,00.html

9. "Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price," T.V. Guide, November, 2005
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=1140

10. "Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price," The Villiage Voice, November 1st, 2005
http://www.villagevoice.com/film/0544,tracking4,69580,20.html

MoveOn from Exxon

Just got this. Worth sharing:

Dear MoveOn member,

During yesterday's hearings on recent record oil industry profits, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) told the oil executives, "People are concerned about fairness and justice at a time of sacrifice. Your sacrifice appears to be nothing."1 ExxonMobil just reported the largest quarterly profits—$9.9 billion—of any American corporation in history.2 ExxonMobil spends its record profits fighting virtually all meaningful efforts towards ending our dependence on oil.

That's why we're working with a large coalition of public interest and environmental groups to call on Exxon to start investing its profits in real solutions to our energy crisis. Can you sign the petition to ExxonMobil and tell them you're not going to buy their gas, work for them, or invest in their company until they change? We'll send the petition to Exxon and to Congress. The coalition already has over 200,00 signatures, and we're aiming for 100,000 more immediately to respond to yesterday's hearings. Please sign now:

http://political.moveon.org/exxon?id=6320-3835412-lnjRuAN2u.yiF2zG9lzcvg&t=2

The only answer to the current energy crisis is energy independence. That's something we'll be working on together in the next few weeks—one of the big positive things progressives stand for. And we're starting with ExxonMobil, the biggest obstacle in the way.

Exxon owes much of its lobbying success to close ties to Republican leaders. Over the last decade, Exxon has given more than $5.2 million to Republicans, while giving less than $650,000 to Democrats.3 This year 91% of Exxon's political contributions have gone to Republicans.4 In turn, Republican energy policy has amounted to a series of massive handouts to the oil industry. Even now, with Republicans grandstanding with show hearings on television, they refused to make the oil executives testify under oath.5 Together with the coalition, we'll deliver your petition signature to ExxonMobil CEO Lee Raymond, and we'll send a copy to Congress to help break Exxon's stranglehold on our government.

There are four main areas in which Exxon needs drastic change:6

  1. With gas prices near $3 a gallon, it's outrageous to watch ExxonMobil rake in record profits while refusing to support greater fuel economy or invest significant amounts in cleaner, healthier energy.
  2. ExxonMobil is the only oil company that remains part of Arctic Power, the group lobbying Congress to open the pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling. Congress will cast the final vote on drilling in the Arctic shortly.
  3. ExxonMobil has spent over $15 million since 1998 to deny the existence of global warming by funding junk science groups to cloud the debate. The company lobbies against efforts to fight global warming even as it alone is responsible for 5% of the world's output of the main type of global warming pollution.
  4. Remember the Exxon Valdez tragedy? Exxon's tanker killed hundreds of thousands of seals, otters, birds, fish and whales when it spilled 11 million gallons of thick, deadly crude oil into the waters of Alaska's pristine Prince William Sound. Yet despite making a record profit of $25 billion last year, ExxonMobil is still shirking payment of the full amount it owes fishermen and natives hurt by the spill 16 years ago!

The Exxpose Exxon campaign includes a dozen leading environmental and public interest groups, including the Union of Concerned Scientists, U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG), True Majority, the Alaska Coalition, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Defenders of Wildlife, and more.

By signing this petition you'll be joining hundreds of thousands of Americans working to expose one of the largest and most powerful oil giants in the world and their protectors in Congress.

Please sign the petition today:

http://political.moveon.org/exxon/?id=6320-3835412-lnjRuAN2u.yiF2zG9lzcvg&t=3

Thanks for all you do,

–Adam, Nita, James, Matt and the MoveOn.org Political Action Team
Thursday, November 10th, 2005

SOURCES :

You can learn much more about ExxonMobil and the campaign at http://www.ExxposeExxon.com. It is also featured in this morning's New York Times article about the hearings:
"Senators Grill Oil Executives on Profits and Prices," http://www.moveon.org/r?r=1141

1. "In heated hearings, oil bosses defend big profits," MSNBC, November 9, 2005
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9970294/
2. "Exxon profits hit fresh US record," BBC News, October 27, 2005
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/4383296.stm
3. "Business sees Gains in GOP Takeover," Washington Post, March 27, 2005
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=862
4. "No Disruption In Flow Of Oil Company PAC $," Political Moneyline, November 8, 2005
http://www.tray.com/
5."Big oil CEOs under fire in Congress," CNNMoney, November 9, 2005
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=1131
6. This section is from http://www.exxposeexxon.com/facts/ and the 5% figure is from the Friends of the Earth report at http://www.moveon.org/r?r=860
7. "House Shelves Alaska Drilling in Budget Fight," New York Times, November 10, 2005
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/10/national/10cong.html

What's your objective?

"We succeed only as we identify in life, or in war, or in anything else, a single overriding objective, and make all other considerations bend to that one objective."
~ Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th US president

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

OMIGOD. The Integral Institute and the peeps who run it are cool

I just got back from Boulder, CO a couple hours ago. Spent about ten days out there. Attended an INCREDIBLE 5 day seminar put on by the Integral Institute. Wow. I'll be blogging more on that later but for now: Wow.

Kudos to all the amazing people who put that together. And all the amazing people who attended. What an experience...

And, we got to spend a couple hours chatting with Ken Wilber (have I mentioned he's a genius...oh yah, I did...) about what we're up to at Zaadz and how our tools can help develop his community. Fun. We're excited to be working with the crew (go Casey and Rollie!! :) over the next coupla months (and beyond) to bring some cool stuff to the world. Woo hoo.

(btw: if you haven't subscribed to Integral Naked yet, what are you waiting for?!!?!? Find a better way to spend $10/month and I'll buy you a pack of gum...or something...Seriously. Get on that!!)

Other exciting news from the week: spent some time with Shawn Phillips. One insanely cool dood who we can't wait to bring into the Zaadz community as well.

Fun. Fun. Fun.

Alright.

Time for me to get some sleep. I've missed my bed. :)