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Rabbit Holes 🕳 #17
From rapid-growth-capitalism time to the largest religion in the world, apple & e-bikes, and the zero waste concept of mottanai
Hey everyone! We’re back with another Rabbit Holes! 😉 Sorry for skipping last week. Unfortunately, a stomach flu knocked me out. But I am fully back now ✊ and very excited to share another Rabbit Holes issue with you. So here we go:
Rabbit Holes 🕳
Five perspective-shifting 🤯 ideas that I’ve come across lately:
⏰ Rapid-Growth-Capitalism Time
I don’t know if you feel the same, but lately (or actually, since the pandemic) I have the feeling that nobody really has time anymore. And planning something with friends or family has somehow become so cumbersome and work-like. Why is that? The following concept may help us figure this one out.
"Monochronic cultures [one thing at a time] may be more ‘efficient’ in their use of time, but in their treatment of time as a commodity, they lose the richness that comes with allowing tasks, conversations, and interactions to move forward at a more natural and sustainable pace."
"[And] because rapid-growth capitalism favors a monochronic understanding, it also favors those who find it easiest to follow those rhythms, or most willing to bend and brake themselves to accommodate them."
“Several attributes and practices valorized by a monochronic understanding of time – which we could also call Rapid-Growth Capitalism time, or Productivity Fetishist time, or White Bourgeois time — are objectively in service of efficiency. And yet, big surprise, they are often highly inefficient.”
“[For example,] people call too many meetings when they want to feel more in control; those meetings often make you worse at completing whatever task or project you’re struggling to complete […]. Same with fetishizing organizational planning over actually doing, or having a clutter-free house that always feels sparse and uninviting, or a delivery system that makes it possible to have nearly anything on your doorstep the next day but contributes mightily to the ongoing elimination of life as we know it, or sending a quick email to get an email out of your inbox, only to then have a new email asking for further clarification.”
“The efficiency itself matters less than the perception of the quest for efficiency.”
“Through the commitment to busyness and its organization, we inscribe and reinscribe a certain understanding of time onto our children, onto each other, onto ourselves. We discipline our messy, distracted, inquisitive, emotive selves into the most valuable possible forms of human capital possible. We suggest that sort of regimentation is not only possible (just organize harder!) but aspirational.”
“[…] Which is also why it’s worth imagining how we could conceive of time differently — starting with our calendars.”
“What would a calendar look like that prioritized and protected caregiving? What about one that understood crip time, or different types of relationships and the soft but consistent focus they demand? That understood creativity, and children, or grief? […] What about a calendar rooted in solidarity instead of individuality, or community instead of the family unit? […] Or what about a calendar that was simply, as one reader imagined, oriented around protecting time, instead of filling it? What would an un-calendar be?”
What If Apple Made An E-Bike?
I loved reading this as it exposes to some extent the, in my opinion, misdirected focus and limiting perspectives of most, if not all Silicon Valley-esque tech giants and elites and shows what’s possible if investments are put into things that are actually disruptive.
“‘I fundamentally believe there's no better product for Apple in mobility than micromobility,’ Dediu says. ‘It is so Apple, so Jobs-ian that it just smacks you in the face…Steve would have been all over this.’”
“It’s an open secret that Apple has spent nearly a decade working on a car. ‘Project Titan,’ as it’s known internally, aims to get a self-driving EV on the market by 2025. But building a car is harder than it sounds. […] [And] the personal car, even electrified, is an increasingly archaic idea — a hulking, overlarge, complicated piece of hardware that endures because people are trapped in a legacy infrastructure network. Cars are also extractive to build, expensive to maintain and store, dangerous to operate, and generally not a very efficient way to move people. They’re the landline of transportation. Forward-thinking cities and citizens are looking for ways to ditch them.”
“In the meantime, e-bikes have been booming, with plenty of room left to grow. There is no feasible path to net zero emissions that does not include a proliferation of light electric vehicles. And this presents Apple with the chance to do something it hasn’t done since the iPhone: make a category-defining product that also rewires how people relate to time and space.”
“‘Apple changes the way people think about the world and how they interact with the world,’ says Tony Fadell, a former Apple executive […]. ‘Doing another car is not that. It doesn't change much of how we live.’”
“Even the name of the product category is up for grabs. Benjamin argues that ‘electric bike’ is akin to ‘horseless carriage,’ a transitional term for a novel technology that will almost certainly evolve into something else. Today’s electric bikes are basically just that — bikes with electric motors attached — but there’s a Cambrian explosion of small battery-powered vehicles. ‘What are these things going to be in 20 years? I don’t know, but I'm pretty sure it's going to be different,’ says Benjamin. ‘There are some incredibly talented people that work at Apple. Maybe one of them does have a clear idea.’”
“There’s an opportunity, as Jobs once put it, to figure out what people are going to want before they do and show it to them.”
⛪ Separation Is The Largest Religion In The World
The word’s in this piece are a bit harsh but I really like this idea of duality – humans vs. nature, me vs. others, individualism vs. community – being framed as a belief system.
“The largest religion on earth is not Christianity or Islam: it's the widespread, faith-based belief system which holds that humans are separate from each other and from the world.”
“Upon close inspection there is nothing which tells us that self and separateness are real in any meaningful way. The human organism is inextricably interwoven with its environment, from which it must continually draw sustenance or perish. Science tells us that when you zoom in on the smallest and most fundamental components of matter it becomes clear that life isn't happening at all in the way our mental stories describe it, and that what we normally think of as ‘objects’ and separate ‘things’ are more like loose relationships of particles and energy which have no clearly definable boundaries between where they end and the rest of the world begins.”
“We are manipulated into continually working against each other in competition-based systems rather than with each other in collaboration-based ones. […] Scientists could be cooperating around the world to make it a better planet to live on while we all work together for the sake of human thriving. We can learn to collaborate not just with each other but with our ecosystem for the mutual benefit of ourselves and our biosphere.”
“But these aims are unattainable for a deeply unconscious species still chained to delusions about self and separation. As long as we are still driven by fear and greed and still easily manipulated by mental narrative, we will remain bound to the self-destructive patterning that is leading our species to its doom.”
🎎 Mottainai & Japan’s Zero Waste Village
In a world of mass production and consumerism, we’ve lost connection and respect to the objects around us and their stories – which include the materials used, the crafting (or production) and the logistics, and all the people involved in these stages. The old Japanese concept of mottainai could perhaps help us regain respect to our belongings.
“Ubiquitous in daily life, [the concept of] mottainai has been the go-to admonishment for waste in Japan for centuries, representing a meaningful connection between item and owner that’s deeply rooted in Buddhist culture. Focussing on the essence of objects, it encourages people to look beyond our throwaway culture and value each item independently, adding the fourth ‘R’ of ‘respect’ to the well-known mantra of ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’.”
“As sustainability becomes a global focus, the nuance of mottainai offers an alternative frame for our link to the world and the items we bring into it. While many sustainable efforts focus on the future of the planet as a motivator, mottainai looks closely at the items themselves, believing that if you value an item in the first place, there is no cause for waste at all.”
“The bond between owner and object is a fundamental element of Japanese culture, reflected in everything from the traditional repairing art of kintsugi to the sparking of joy sought by famous organiser Marie Kondo. Visitors may glimpse a delicately repaired bowl during a tea ceremony or stumble upon one of the annual festivals held to give thanks to used items. “When things can no longer be used, we always say ‘otsukaresama-deshita!’ to them; it means ‘thank you for your hard work’,” Nanai said.“[Kamikatsu, a] town of less than 2,000 people, set on the Japanese island of Shikoku, has become a world-leading example of how a community can eliminate waste.”
One Japanese village that takes the concept of mottanai to the next level is Kamikatsu:
“For starters, to earn ‘zero waste accreditation,’ all of Kamikatsu’s businesses must adhere to a strict sustainability ethos that includes training employees on reducing waste and setting measurable goals. The Kuru-kuru store (a Japanese phrase meaning “to go round and round”) provides free second-hand items such as kitchen appliances and tableware, and sells old kimonos, bags and toys upcycled by local artisans. A brewery produces craft beer using yuko citrus peel provided by local farmers, who use the fruit’s juice to make sauces and dressings, and in turn receive spent grain from the brewery for compost. Cafe Polestar only serves organic local produce and offers discounts to customers who bring their own coffee cups. Hotel Why, which was built using local cedar wood as well as discarded doors and windows, welcomes tourists to experience the town’s zero-waste philosophy. Even the signs in the Zero Waste Center have been crafted from recycled materials.”
“Kamikatsu’s target to eliminate waste without resorting to incinerators or landfills was set in 2003, when it launched the nonprofit Zero Waste Academy and became the first municipality in Japan to make a “Zero Waste” declaration. While the town has so far fallen short of that lofty goal, initially set for 2020, Kamikatsu recycled 81 percent of all its waste in 2020, according to Ministry of the Environment data, up from 58.6 percent in 2008, and much greater than Japan’s national average of 20 percent.”
“Initially, the implementation was met with resistance. For some residents, it was a struggle to prepare and sort trash: a plastic water bottle must be washed and stripped of its label and lid; glass must be separated by color; everything from thermometers to chopsticks and printer cartridges must be sorted. Yet over time, they were won over, in part thanks to the fact they are awarded points for recycling that can be exchanged for eco-friendly products. ‘It was tough because it changed their day-to-day duties,’ says Sakano. ‘But people got used to it.’”
That’s it for this week!