I’ve heard blockchains described a million different ways: “An immutable ledger,” “A shared system for recording data,” “A growing list of records secured by cryptography.” All of this is fine. But for the average person these explanations are confusing. The simplest answer is: A blockchain is a forever database.
Maybe you’re a total beginner, and you can’t picture a database? No problem. A database is basically a fancy Excel spreadsheet. And a forever database is one in which when you write data — that data is stored, forever, bullet-proof, a record of truth for thousands of generations to come.
Since Bitcoin went live on Jan. 3rd, 2009, the network has never gone down, been hacked, or stopped storing new data. Bitcoin is a currency that can’t be inflated. The bookkeeping is never wrong. Now imagine uploading important data to a forever database. That’s powerful.
Imagine being able to trust that in one-thousand years from now your data will still be accessible. Not only that, but that people living many generations into the future could verifiably trust that this data is true.
Novel use cases of the blockchain as a forever database are on the rise: Mike Bodge’s crypto-art project 0xinfinity allows you to publish love letters the site claims will last “forever or as long as the Ethereum network is running.” Arweave is a file storage service that claims to “to store documents and applications forever.” And Starling Labs is a project has uploaded 56,000 Holocaust surivor testimonials to a forever database as a way to preserve evidence of human rights abuses, and protect against future disinformation.
A forever database ensures the integrity of our collective memories in a way that previous databases could not. And yet, consistency is the key ingredient. As long as Ethereum, Solana and other cryptocurrencies continue to upgrade their codebase, they can’t compete on consistency. In early 2022, the Solana blockchain, known for its “move fast and break things” mentality, suffered two outages, each of which took down the network for several hours. The key superpower that makes a blockchain a forever database is resilient to outages. A forever database should never go down, if it does let’s just call it “database.”
Although, for Bitcoin to survive users can’t just hold their money. Bitcoin needs to become productive. The opportunity for Biticoiners to harness the power of their forever database through the use of additional layers (e.g. Lightning or Stacks) so that they can build applications that interface with our day to day lives.
The Race to Embrace Layers
We now need a new layer, one that can access Bitcoin.
Stacks is an example of a layer that adds programmability to Bitcoin. With Stack’s smart contracts, you can create applications (social networks, photo-sharing apps, chat apps) where the underlying transactions are secured by Bitcoin.
On Ethereum, similarly, Polygon is a popular layer developers use to scale the Ethereum network. The Black Swan event for Polygon — considering Ethereum’s big upgrade this year — is that it Etheruem were to fall, Polygon and all the additional layer would follow, falling like a house of cards.
That’s why we need a forever database —it can be our foundational layer upon which we build the future.
In 2010, Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoin’s founder, first encouraged the idea of building layers on Bitcoin, “I think it would be possible for [a blockchain] to be a completely separate network and separate block chain, yet share CPU power with Bitcoin.” What Satoshi saw back then, was the opportunity for Bitcoin to be more than just money.
Slow and Steady Wins the Race
If we wish to create a forever database, we must celebrate Bitcoin’s approach to long-term stability. This is what Vitalik was doing when he Tweeted, “[I have a] contradiction between my desire to see Ethereum become a more Bitcoin-like system emphasizing long-term stability.”
Both Bitcoin and Ethereum will do great things for humanity. I’m excited to see them each take their own approach to building the future. As Ethereum evolves swiftly I believe it will maintain its narrative as the world’s most innovative blockchain. But until Ethereum settles down, it will lose its standing in the race to become a forever database. This is Bitcoin’s moment. Bitcoin needs to embrace building layers. Bitcoin should not remain as money, it must learn how to be productive. Ultimately I believe slow and steady is the secret to winning the race — because while fast may get all our attention, it’s slow that has all the power.
Originally published in CoinDesk
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How many DAOs are you in? What is your #1 priority for DAO tooling? What helps to motivate people to stay active in a DAO? Why do people join DAOs?
Two weeks ago I published a survey inquiring into the priorities, and preferences for building DAOs. Thanks to everyone who participated! We received 65 submissions.
For your convenience, I’ve extracted seven learnings from the data that surprised me (see below). If you see something I missed in the data, or have additional insights, I’d love to hear from you — leave a comment or reach out to @castig on Twitter.
What’s a DAO?
I’m of the camp that a DAO is an internet community with a shared bank account. In technical terms, that translates into two necessary primitives:
- A community with a token (NFT or FT) for verification
- A multi-sig wallet shared by all the members [Coming soon to Stacks/Bitcoin in Q2 2022]
From there I see voting, bounties, cap tables, and other modules as part of an extended set of tools used to manage the org. If all of this is new to you, or you’d like a refresher, here’s some DAO reading .
Who is this survey for?
Anyone creating or managing a DAO; or anyone building Web3 community tooling.
Want to get involved in building the first generation of Bitcoin DAOs?
I’m working with Trust Machines to build tools for Bitcoin DAOs (written in Clarity). Trust Machines is hiring for a handful of positions to help build better DAO tooling (e.g. a multi-sig wallet, on-chain community voting, bounties, etc). We’re looking for a talented Clarity Developer, Full Stack Developer, and Product Designer. Please apply and/or DM me on Twitter if you have questions or would like to contribute in some way.
Seven takeaways from the DAO tooling survey
1. Most people prefer being active in “A small number of DAOs”
2. Nearly half of the participants plan to start a DAO
3. The DAO’s roadmap, mission and team’s background are highly important factors used for joining a DAO
4. Real-time chat > Threaded Discussions
5. Members would like to contribute to the treasury by staking tokens and buying NFTs
6. Pure consensus? Quadratic voting? It seems like there isn’t one preferred voting mechanism
7. Final comments? What did I miss?
I asked, “What did I miss” and you wrote the following:
- I have the basic concept of my DAO laid out, working on a white-paper now — but as far as development I’m in no man’s land. I’ve started learning, but at this rate it’ll take years.
- Hiro wallets ability to support native bitcoin. If we could reward work from stacking yields in Bitcoin, i think it would make all DAOs in Stacks, automatically become more prolific, pay me in BTC is a real thing.
- I think a tiered system of management makes a lot of sense. For instance, perhaps a large amount of DAO authority resides in a handful of founders and builders. A smaller portion could be allocated to an inner council, a smaller portion still allocated to an outer council, each group getting larger and more inclusive.
- Legal knowledge and guilds for people to funnel in their talents
- Excited to join/participate in DAO’s!!! Thank you!
- Social networks within the DAO
- DAO legal structure.
- Contacting DAO members on big votes , time sensitive mints etc — ability to share an email for important notifications?
- We need better DAO education.
- A complete starter kit. Legal, code, launch, marketing?, accounting
- A treasury portfolio dashboard
- Legal implications / education
Both Republicans and Democrats can agree that there is way too much corruption in politics. The centerpiece of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign was a promise to “drain the swamp” of corruption, cronyism and complacency in D.C. While he may have popularized the phrase, he didn’t invent it.
From Ronald Reagan (R) to Nancy Pelosi (D), numerous politicians across the political spectrum have aligned themselves with a vow to “drain the swamp” . In the 2000 presidential election, third-party candidate Pat Buchanan ran as an outsider from the dominant two parties and while at a Harvard University Reform Party rally he admonished that the swamp isn’t a partisan issue, because all of D.C., on both sides, is saturated . Buchanan warned, “Neither Beltway party is going to drain this swamp: it’s a protected wetland; they breed in it, they spawn in it.”
Draining the swamp isn’t a new idea, but it sure is a persistent one.
At first, the swamp, I believed, was the politicians in Washington. But now the swamp, as it is clearer to me now, isn’t the politicians, as much as it is the lobbyists. And they’ve only gotten more powerful in the past decade. Ever since the 2013 Citizens United decision, wealthy donors, corporations, and undisclosed organizations have been able to pour unlimited amounts of money into American political campaigns. Super PACs and dark money outspend individual contributions, thus acting as a megaphone for corporations, cancelling out the voice of the people. In the end, the swamp wins, and the American people lose.
Thankfully, there is light coming over the horizon: H.R.1 or the “Anti-Corruption Bill” outlines, for the first time ever, meaningful promises to drain the swamp. The bill reforms how campaigns are funded, makes voting more fair, and enforces transparency and ethics. The ultimate goal is to clean out muck, and plant seeds for a better future.
What exactly does the H.R.1 bill propose?
The Anti-Corruption Bill (H.R.1) promises to do the following:
I. Remove Corrupt Money From Campaign Financing
- Eliminate undisclosed “dark money” in our elections by banning shell companies which are often used to hide bribes and illegal activities, as well as requiring transparency in all political spending, including ads.
- Ban the flow of foreign money into our elections
- Prohibit coordination between candidates and Super PACs
II. Make Voting More Representative of the People
- Create a national voter registration program to upgrade local ballot systems, and promote early voting
- End partisan gerrymandering, and create a nonpartisan commission to draw electoral district lines
- Toughen election security
III. Enforce Ethics, Integrity and Transparency in our Politicians
- Stop Congress from using taxpayer money to settle sexual harassment or discrimination cases.
- Require presidents and vice presidents to divest their assets once elected
- Require the president and vice president to disclose 10 years of their tax returns, bringing greater transparency to politics
When will H.R.1 become a law?
H.R.1 passed in the House in 2019. Then, it hit a roadblock in the shape of Mitch McConnell. McConnell has refused to bring the bill to the floor for a vote calling it a “power grab” . Why? Republicans believe that higher voter turnout would reduce their power. Or to say that another way, they fear that a Senate that is more accurately representative of the American people may not include as many power-hungry swamp creatures the likes of McConnell. And so he, and his cronies, stand in the way.
If Democrats successfully win the Senate majority in 2020 they will have earned the right to bring The Anti-Corruption Bill for a vote. In addition, of the two presidential candidates, Joe Biden is the only one who has committed to supporting H.R.1, and signing it into law.
I feel cut off from my government. Our representatives in D.C. like have demonstrated that they represent their own self-interests over that of the people. As a result, the American people spend more on healthcare than any other developed country, but live shorter lives. The Climate Crisis is currently costing us billions of dollars, and we still haven’t passed meaningful environmental protections to address the issue.
Many of our representatives would much rather do what’s best for their own self-interest, even if it means shutting down the government, rather than working across party lines to do what’s best for the people. The system is corrupt.
In 2016, many of my family and friends cast votes for candidates like Trump and Sanders hoping to break Washington. Breaking the system felt like a safer bet than politics as usual. And yet, four years later, the swamp is as murky as ever.
We need to break the system, not with red hats or rhetoric, but with leadership, and legislation. I’m not promising that *everything* will suddenly be better in the world after H.R.1, but the level of corruption we’ve witnessed the past four years is vile. Nothing can be done inside a system that allows politicians to literally be bought off. It must come to an end. The Anti-Corruption Bill (HR. 1) is the legal vehicle we need to drain the swamp.
The Power of Habit explains why habits exist, and how to change them. Early in the book the author Charles Duhigg introduces you to the concept of the Habit Loop — a three step process for how habits work. Throughout the book Duhigg uses the Habit Loop as a framework for thinking about changing habits. The following are my book notes and summary from The Power of Habit.
What is The Power of Habit’s “Habit Loop”?
The concept of The Habit Loop is one of the main takeaways from The Power of Habit.
The process of forming a new habit is a three-step loop:
- Cue – a trigger that tells you brain to go into automatic mode and which habit to use
- Routine – which can be a physical or mental emotion. Ie. you do something each time you are triggered by the cue.
- Reward – the thing you get from doing the habit. This helps your brain figure out if this particular loop is worth remembering for the future. 
A few examples of The Habit Loop:
Who is the author?
The Power of Habit Vocabulary
Habit – a decision you made at some point. And then stopped making, but continue acting upon.
Chunking – The process in which the brain converts a sequence of actions into an automatic routines. It’s at the route of how habits form. 
Keystone habit – Certain types of habits that lead to a cascade of other actions because of them. For example, when you drink it may also cause you to smoke and overeat. Drinking in this scenario would be an example of a keystone habit triggering other habits. Keystone habits are powerful, because if uncovered they can help cause radical change in your routines.
How to Change Habits
There’s not one Habit changing formula that exists. The book tells us that, “Giving up cigarettes is different from overeating, which is different from changing how you communicate with your spouse, which is different from how you prioritize tasks at work.”
BUT! There is a Framework for understanding how habits work, which can help you experiment. It’s a place to start.
The Four Steps to Habit Change:
- Identify the routine – Are you eating too many cookies? Are you smoking? Do you want to go to the gym more? Identify which routine you want to focus on.
- Experiment with rewards – Isolate what reward you are actually craving. Take a minute and write down a few possible rewards: Does the cookie satisfy hunger? Does it make you more relaxed? Do you need an upper because you’re tired?
- Isolate the cue – Ask yourself, what is the trigger for this routine? Charles Duhigg explains that there are five main categories for triggers: location, time, emotional state, other people, and immediately preceding action. Find yours.
- Have a plan – Now that you have a hypothesis for what might be your cue, routine and reward, you can experiment. Write out a plan for how you can tackle this. For example: “At 3:30, everyday, I will walk to a friend’s desk and talk for 10 minutes.” Write it down. Stick to it. For how long? According to Charles there’s not a magic bullet for the amount of time (some habits are harder to break/create than others, but at least give it a few weeks).
That’s Charles’s method for breaking his cookie habit. And if you want more there’s 10 pages about the framework in the book The Power of Habit.
The habit loop in action:
Keep the cue, and provide yourself with a new routine!
Building a habit of drinking more water with the framework
This year, I tried creating a habit of water drinking for myself. One of the hardest things for me at first was counting how much water I was consuming. It’s easy to say “Drink more water”, but how much is “more”.
Here’s how I used to habit framework.
- For the cue: a carried around a red bottle with me that counted how many bottles I was drinking, I also setup an additional cue, I used IFTTT to send me a 2pm text message reminding me to drink water
- Routine: drinking water
- And for the reward: An index card next to my bed asking me, “Did you drink 4 bottles of water today?” (So in a way, the reward was not feeling shame, and a sense of relief that I hit my goal. For me that worked, although it might not be as strong a reward for everyone.)
During the process I experimented with other cues. Like having an accountability partner: we’d text each other at the end of the day to ensure that we both drank four bottles. This worked for a while, but as soon as one of us went on vacation, or dipped out, we got lazy.
The conclusion, by experimenting over four months I was able to find the right degree of cue and reward to make drinking more water a habit.
I wrote more about my water habit in this post: Send Yourself a Daily Text Reminder to Drink Water
“All our life, is but a mass of habits” William James in 1892 [xv]
On research of habits coming out of Duke University:
Most of the choices we make each day may feel like the products of well-considered decision making, but they’re not. [xv]
40% of the actions people performed each day weren’t actual decisions, but habits. [xvi]
On habit formation:
When a habit emerges, the brain stops fully participating in decision making. 
The problem is that your brain can’t tell the difference between bad and good habits, and so if you have a bad one, it’s always lurking there, waiting for the right cues.
Habits merge without our permission. 
On forming habits with a group
Belief is easier when it occurs within a community. 
Learn more now:
- Watch Charles Duhigg’s lecture on The Power of Habit
- Read more about habit formation from James Clear
- Taylor Bense’s Knife + Joanna Newsom Remix
- Hey Ya!, by Outcast
- “Push”, by Birdstar
Title: The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business
Author: Charles Duhigg
Hardcover: 371 pages
Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks (January 7, 2014)
How Buildings Learn Summary
I love How Buildings Learn because while the subject of is “buildings,” it’s really about time. What happens to the objects we create over time? What principles endure and which are merely fashionable? In the end, it turns out that buildings can learn a lot from humans, and that humans can learn a lot from buildings.
Hello and welcome to On Books, this week I’m sharing with you How Buildings Learn by Stewart Brand. This was one of my favorite books from the past year.
In the past year I’ve read 35 books, I’m going to be sharing the top four with you in this episode and that over the next few episodes. I hope you’re really excited about that. It doesn’t matter if you’ve read the book or not, what you can expect in this episode is summary of the book, a few takeaways. I’ll do a reading, a few pages of the books, give you a sense of what it’s like and then some final thoughts on how you can apply the book to your life. Let’s get right into it, this is How Buildings Learn by Stewart Brand.
How Buildings Learn by Stewart Brand
How Buildings Learn is a book about buildings, but it’s also a book about time — and that’s what drew me in.
The question is: What happens to the objects we create over time?
Buildings is the subject of the book and buildings inevitably change with time. What makes some buildings get better while others get worse? How does time act as an architect that shapes our building? These are the questions and this is what was on Stewart Brand’s mind when he set out to write How Buildings Learn. .
In order to answer that question, Brand has observed buildings over time, over decades, over centuries and brought together hundreds of these photos. Through Brand’s observations, he’s come up with some really poetic narrative of vocabulary and principles explaining the transformation of these buildings over time and what we can learn from it.
I’m going to read now from the first few pages of How Buildings Learn. This is Chapter 1,
Year after year, the cultural elite of San Francisco is treated to the site of its preeminent ladies resplendently gallant lined up in public waiting to pee.
The occasion is intermission at the Annual Gala Opening of the Opera. The ground floor ladies room at the opera house is too small, the men’s isn’t.
This has been the case since the place was built in 1932. As the women are lined up right next to the lobby bar, their plight has become a traditional topic of conversation. The compliments and jokes never change. Well, neither does the ladies room between the world and our ideas of the world is a fascinating kink, architecture we’re imagined is permanent and our buildings for us, because they discount time, they misuse time, almost no buildings adapt well. They’re designed not to adapt. Also, budgeting and finance not to, constructed not to, administered not to, maintained not to regulated and tax not to, even remodeled not to.
Buildings are often not designed to adapt — that is the main takeaway we’ve hit on.
But, all buildings except monuments adapt anyway. However, poorly because the usage is in and around us are constantly changing.
This is one of the main conflicts in the book, one of the things that really bothers Brand and that he sets out to write and research this book to clarify. The problem that Stewart Brand notices is that we are making buildings often so short sighted to only consider the first tenant in the building.
Or in our society (more widely) we create objects with just the first use in mind, and not necessarily where that object will go, or adapt in time.
How do we think about time as an architect? Time architects and adapts our buildings.
We always seem to give the main credit to the architect (who built the building). Architects become these famous people and we appreciate them and we love them, but we don’t always consider what happens on day two after a building is launched.
Now, I’m going to play you some audio of the BBC series called How Buildings Learn, that Stewart Brand did for the BBC, after the publication of this book here. In this clip Brand is talking about Frank Lloyd Wright. Because Wright didn’t have a longer term vision of maintaining and learning from his building, he created this same problem with all of the buildings from his first and the last throughout his life. This is Stewart Brand in the BBC series, How Buildings Learn.
Stewart Brand: Frank Lloyd wright is considered to be the greatest American architects of all time. This is one of his buildings and it’s beautiful, but it leaked from day one. The Marin County Civic Center in California was the last project of his life, but it leaked just as badly as all of his earlier buildings. His clients would say, “The roof leaks.” He would joke, “That’s how you can tell it’s a roof.” Someone should’ve told him, “That’s how you can tell it’s a failure.”
Chris: That’s Stewart Brand from the BBC Documentary he put together called How Buildings Learn. I think the documentary, it’s pretty good, but it feels …to be honest, I feel like the book reads better, it’s more poetic, and I just love the photos and language of the book. So if you watch it on YouTube (You can watch it for free), I would still really recommend to book. I would say that book is even better in my opinion.
How do buildings learn? Well, if we consider that all buildings are predictions, the architect is predicting how the building is going to be used. The architects predicting how money and technology and fashion are going to influence the building that he or she creates.
A building as a prediction if we understand that as a given but add to it that all predictions are wrong, knowing that over time the predictions that we make are going to have to bend in some ways. Then we can see this book, that Stewart Brand has put together as assembling what might be called Steps Towards Adaptive Architecture and that’s what he calls it, Adaptive Architecture, thinking about how what we create adapts over time. He says quite politically here,
Honoring the future begins with honoring the past.
That’s exactly what this book does: How Buildings Learn honors our future, by honoring long term thinking, our choices and decisions. All this by looking at lessons from the past. Like I said, Brand has assembled dozens, hundreds of photographs here. What you can expect to see are some famous buildings like I.M Pei’s, Media Lab, for example, at MIT, George Washington’s home at Mount Vernon, as well as brownstones in Greenwich Village before and after.
What can we learn by looking at the same structure, the same site, the same building over time? There’re just hundreds of these examples, it’s so wonderful.
That’s what Stewart Brand is doing, over the 12 chapters in this book, he’s given us vocabulary, he’s given us designed principles, he’s given us tons of examples of how we can think to create architecture that is more adaptive over time. I’m going to read a little bit more here and then finish this off with just, give you a few more takeaways from the book. He says,
A question I asked everyone while working on the book was what makes a building come to be loved? A 13 year old boy in Maine had the most succinct answer, ‘Age.’
Apparently, the older building gets the more we have respect and affection for its evident maturity, for the accumulated human investment it shows, for the attractive patina it wears, muted bricks, warren stairs, colorfully stained roofs, lush vines. It just so valued that in America it is far more often bake than real. In a pub style bar and restaurant, you find British antique oak wall paneling perfectly replicated and high density pile your thing. n.
On the roof are fiber cement shingles molded and colored to look like warren natural slate. Age plus adaptability is what makes the building come to be loved. The building learns from its occupants, and they learned from it.
This week on the podcast, we have two very special guests, Mark Katakowski and Steven Clausnitzer from Forever Labs.
Forever Labs makes it easy to bank your stem cells so that you can use them later in your life to help fight age-related diseases. I was lucky enough to bank my stem cells recently and so I’m excited to talk with Mark and Steven to learn more about Forever Labs, stem cell research, and the book that influenced their work.
What is Forever Labs?
Steven: At Forever Labs we’ll store your stem cells so you can live healthier, longer. The reason it matters is as you age you lose these cells and the ones that remain become damaged and less effective and that decrease in number and function accelerates with age. The longer you kick that can, you said a year, the longer you kick that can the faster the decline is occurring. It’s important stuff. There are over 700 clinical trials using these cells to treat various age-related diseases, like cardiovascular disease, stroke, and osteoarthritis, et cetera. The problem is once you need those cells to treat yourself and you’ve aged they’re no longer as effective as they would’ve been if you banked them when you were younger. That’s what we do and why we do it. Mark, you want to add to that?
Mark Katakowski: Sure. In a nutshell, as you get older, your cells do. That’s the reason you grow older is that your cells actually age. It’s not just some kinda macro thing, it actually starts at a subtle level. But you can actually take youth and you can preserve it to be used later in life and we do that by cryo preservation.
I guess expanding on that, this all kinda started in 2001 when I started doing my Ph.D. research in Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan. We started using these stem cells that we bank for the treatment of stroke in mice and rats and we found they’re very efficacious, but then over the next 15 years of developing these therapies in the lab, we became acutely aware that they degrade, the cells actually degrade in therapeutic qualities as the animals get older and the same thing happens in humans.
We worked together on a few projects for almost a decade and a half of that too and I said to Steve, I was like, “I want to bank my stem cells. I’m turning 40 and I want to bank my stem cells,” and he was like, “What are you talking about?” And that’s where it started. Just telling him why, Steve was like, “That sounds like something I’d like to do,” and that’s where the whole Forever Labs came from.
Where did you first learn of the benefits of stem cell banking on aging?
Mark Katakowski: Oh yeah, this is something that first hand I learned the difference between young and old cells because I was using them both in mice and rat but also human cells to develop therapies using them for mostly neurology like stroke and brain injury and things like that. Yeah, I learned first hand that these cells were degrading with age and losing their therapeutic efficacy and I was like, “Wait a minute, we do cord blood banking now when kids are born.” Now it’s pretty fairly popular that there are stem cells in umbilical cord blood and companies offer the ability to cryopreserve them to retain those youthful valuable cells. I was like, “Why aren’t we doing this for everybody?” That’s where it kinda came from.
Did other companies allow stem cell banking before Forever Labs?
Steven: No, so we got off that phone call and he really mentioned this out of nowhere. The conversation had nothing with us trying to start a company or anything like that. We left the call committed to the fact that we wanted to get these cells out of us. One of the steps I took was to reach out to a friend of ours named Dr. Laith Farjo, he’s an orthopedic surgeon, trained at Michigan, fantastic guy, and asked him about whether or not he’d be willing to take out our bone marrow and it turns out that orthopedic surgeons and sports medicine doctors all across the country were already doing this. What they do is they take out someone’s bone marrow, they concentrate the number of nuclear cells right at the point of care and they introduce it into the injury area.
So let’s say you have a bad knee. They’ll take out your bone marrow, concentrate your cells, introduce it into your knee. This is happening all over the U.S., phenomenal physicians everywhere are doing it but nobody was banking the cells. So once he told me that, Dr. Farjo, that’s when the light bulb went off and I realized there’s this infrastructure that exists but nobody’s taking advantage of it to store these cells so you can have access to it later in life and that’s … And Dr. Farjo, by the way, joined us and is our chief medical officer now and that’s when Forever Labs was really born is when we did that.
I always say the company was born out of our own midlife crisis. Mark and I were both about to turn 40 and we wanted to store our stem cells. To answer your question, no one out there was doing it or was willing to do it so we started the company ourselves.
Listen to the full episode of the On Books podcast to hear more!
Hello, and welcome to the On Books Podcast. This week we are looking at Buy the Change You Want to See. This is a new book that just came out, by Jane Mosbacher Morris. It’s promoting the idea to “Vote with your dollar,” a concept that I love, and to the best of my extent, try to live by everyday.
Vote with your dollar is more or less the idea that you, as the consumer, you have the power to change the world by influencing it with your buying decisions. If you use your money to support Patagonia or Whole Foods (they will benefit and survive longer). On the other hand, if you refuse to give money to companies that clash with your values (in my case, let’s say McDonalds and Taco Bell) hopefully over time the power of these companies will diminish.
The book Buy the Change You Want to See came on my radar because I saw Jane give a talk about the book, and thought, the mission of this book is exactly the types of books we try to support on the On Books Podcast: People thinking about the future, and passionate about improving the planet.
In this interview, we’re gonna talk about Jane’s company To The market which uses technology to help brands provide transparency in their sourcing and supply-chain. For example, to help connect retailers with ethical distributors, ethical factories, people, labor, materials, etc.
Jane will also give us some of her best tips (from the book) on how to make more ethical buying decisions — so that you can buy the change you want to see. I hope you enjoy this conversation with me and Jane Mosbacher Morris.
Chris: Jane, welcome to the show.
Jane: Thank you. I’m so excited to chat.
Chris: What prompted you to write the book Buy the Change You Want to See?
Jane: I never thought that I would actually write a book, which is interesting because I am pretty ambitious and am definitely a planner. For someone who has these five, 10 year, 15 year goals for my life — writing a book was not one of them. So, it was very serendipitous that I had the opportunity to write Buy the Change You Want to See and it was largely because of a friend of mine from high school who became a literary agent in New York that suggested to me that I write a book after I started my business.
At first I said, “Thank you so much, but no thank you.” But I quickly changed my tune about a year later and decided to really help memorialize the inspiration behind my business To The Market.
That thesis [of the book] is that all of us have the ability to change the world and positively impact other people and the planet if we align our purchasing decisions with our values. So, Buy the Change is truly a guide to how you can do that in a way that’s easy, and accessible. [The book] also weaves in my voice and my personal journey of coming to this realization.
Listen to the full interview with Jane Mosbacher Morris on the On Books Podcast
Why there’s always somewhere better to be
“It’s hot. It’s loud. Goddamn this mariachi band to hell!” I thought to myself while waiting on the New York City subway platform.
My mind sought separation from my body. They couldn’t stand to be together. And so I put on my headphones and scrolled through Instagram until, gradually, my consciousness was taken somewhere else — somewhere better.
I sometimes wonder, if you live in New York City, but 95% of the time you are on Instagram — are you ever really in New York City?
Sure the body is in New York, but that magic alchemy of human sensation that infuses you with awareness, and empathy, is overridden by technology. The present is programmed, with my consent, by whoever writes the app du jour.
It reminds me of the type of tourist who counts airport layovers on their “countries visited” list. If your body was temporarily in the Hong Kong airport — does it mean you’ve been to Hong Kong?
Humans Operate Like Machine Code
Humans have six inputs through which we receive information. We call these senses and they are sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch, and thought.
In the span of my morning commute, all six senses are highly stimulated by these six inputs:
- I see someone text me “I love you” (I feel loved)
- I hear the announcement that the train is delayed (I feel frustration)
- A stranger touches my waist while moving past me ( I feel uncomfortable)
- I smell french fries (I feel hunger)
- I taste a ginger mint (I feel a burst of relaxation)
- I think “I’m going to be late for work.” (I feel helpless).
Overriding our senses is a form of control. We adjust our environment so that we can adjust the feelings going on inside of us. It’s kind of a wonderful superpower if you think about it — knowing that at any moment, given the right tools, you can override your situation.
My consciousness has become a black box with six levers that I’m constantly switching on and off to distract me from the thoughts inside. I call it the Programmable Self.
Through the Programmable Self, the present moment becomes a fully automated experience: When I want to hide I can put on my headphones, look at my phone, and mask my inputs. Wherever I go, there I am not.
The Responsibility of Our Senses
The problem with living in a state of sensory override is that one is never present. We give up the ability to respond to the world around us. And responsibility is just that: possessing the ability to respond.
In Jane Jacobs’ seminal work, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, she observed the important role human senses play in maintaining peace in communities. One of her main arguments is that there is less crime in places where there are people watching each other. Her book came out in the 1960s, but it’s just as relevant today as it was then.
Horrifying public crimes can, and do, occur in well-lighted subway stations when no effective eyes are present. They virtually never occur in darkened theaters where many people and eyes are present. […] Without effective eyes to see, does a light cast a light? Not for practical purposes.
If my Programmable Self is streaming YouTube videos of Hawaii, and the person next to me is Crushing Candy. Then who is watching out for our bodies?
One of our responsibilities as members of any community is to watch out for our neighbors, whether they live next door or stand uncomfortably close to us on the train. In certain US states it’s the law to assist others in need! But life doesn’t always play out that way.
Genovese syndrome is the social phenomenon in which individuals are less likely to help a victim if they believe other people are present. The phrase comes from the 1964 Kitty Genovese murder in which 37 people reported witnessing the murder after it had happened, but not one of them called the police when it was actually happening! Not one person. Today, it’s possible that 37 people could even be in the same subway car as a murder, but there wouldn’t be any witnesses because everyone had taken themselves somewhere else. Not very practical for the upkeep of a safe community.
When we override our senses we’re abstaining from social responsibly. We will ourselves into blindness and, much like the tourist transferring flights at the Hong Kong airport, we are insulated from the responsibility of interacting with world outside that building. As long as Instagram and Bob Dylan are in your pocket, you’re never more than two steps away from your own autonomous bubble.
All this is nice, but as I stated early: there are times when I’m on the subway platform, when it’s loud, hot, and doggone, it’s so uncomfortable! Times when I dread the present moment and am consumed with, “I don’t want to be here!
Which leaves me with a choice: I can choose to endure the present moment to the benefit of those around me. Or I can do what feels nice and hope someone else is paying attention. Or to say it another way, I can choose to live as a citizen, or as a tourist.
Educated is the memoir about a girl who went from being homeschooled in rural Idaho, to receive her Ph.D. from Cambridge University. Along the way she confronts poverty, ignorance, violence, and a host of other challenges.
Educated was listed on Bill Gate’s Best Books of 2018, as well as Barak Obama, Oprah, and the New York Times’s top lists of last year. And now Educated is on the top of my list!
This week on the On Books Podcast I chat with Allison Goldberg (Blogologues) about Educated. It’s a very special 2-person bookclub episode.
For more information and to see the links please visit: www.on-books.com