Friday, October 17, 2014

Speak to the World.

We insist there is a world of difference. We have come to identify the norms of social hierarchy with the professional paraphernalia of social control.


Justice, however, is not vested in the formal institutions of the law or political intrigue. The conventions of a social order are important but they are only conventions of our choosing. We only pay attention to them because we do.


The legal institutions is maintained by the authority of power, by those who would sacrifice the right of our common human experience. No social, legal or political institutions exists apart from the normative narratives that give meaning being alive and part of a society that is aimed to do decent on to others and good deeds.
For every constitution there is an epic and for each scripture a journey. Once the narrative is properly communicated and understood in context, the legal and social political institutions becomes not merely a system of order to be observed, but a world in which we live happily.





We are now
not in the nostalgia of a chance for better politics,
induced by the early successes of conquering,
but in a rather grisly dawn,
when it has become apparent that
what triumphant laws have done
is to merely mask the real danger,
painted over by
the dull broken walls,
or actually deteriorated
ends.

Adaptation from Aldous Huxley 

Yes. I support a civil Umbrella Revolution. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Cultivate Your Ecosystem

“The most indicative metric of a community’s health is the cross-pollination of stakeholders.” – Brian Watson, AVC.com

Our society is perfectly willing to break down everything into its parts, analyze the gears, and then put them back together to see if they work better. Somewhere in the process, we forget the purpose is to put the parts back together with better arrangements so they will work more effectively as the whole.

But we are obsessed with the parts, aren’t we?

Since our ingenious human mind went to work to deconstruct reality into metaphysical planks, we misplaced that grander purpose of recognizing the whole. We see a clock in its parts and are marveled by the intricate gears and details; but a clock in its parts does not tell time. Society in its parts does not succeed. The metaphysical planks are not ideas in motion. Seeing things broken down into parts does not facilitate change. It merely perpetuates the glorified “busy” that permeates modern society.

And so we stay busy to be in separate parts of this grandiose idea of a universe.




_________________________________________________________________________________

For further reading, please visit: http://www.ssireview.org/articles/entry/cultivate_your_ecosystem 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A Case for Oath Keepers by Moises Medina

(We are reposting this blog in response to the uproar and outrage occurring in Ferguson, MO. This post, written by Moises Medina in 2011, highlights many of the problems associated with the militarization of the police force in the U.S. While this topic is (finally) getting some much needed mainstream media attention, it is important to remember that many individuals sensed this problem on their radar long before this incident. We here at The Green Elephant hope that more people recognize the necessity for writers, artists, advocates and the like in our society. These individuals help bring to light issues that many of us do not see until it is too late.   -- Lauren Campbell Kong) 




"Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world would.....would do this, it would change the earth."
                                                                       --William Faulkner






“We cannot continue to rely on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives we’ve set. We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded." -Barrack Obama


Local law enforcement agencies have been receiving federal funds for some time now. The additional money provides better equipment for officer safety and additional inter agency training. Fusion Centers are now common throughout the country. One police department can now patrol in other jurisdictions. Another trend now observed is the increased use of SWAT teams for tasks that a regular officer could accomplish.



On May 5th 2011, a Pima county SWAT team shot an IRAQ war veteran 61 times while serving a multi house search warrant. The Pima co. Sheriff had to admit the 26yro, husband and father, did not shoot at the SWAT team and no drugs were found in the home. Really, SWAT serving a search warrant and shooting a guy 61 times without ever being shot at!?!?


In Stockton California a man's door was busted down by SWAT. The man was arrested, in front of his kids, and dragged out of his home in his underwear. The warrant, from the Department of Education, was for the man's estranged wife. No local law enforcement agencies were involved. When did the Department of Education begin to command SWAT teams? Where did this SWAT team come from, if no local law enforcement was used?!?! A simple Google search will turn up case after case were SWAT teams go into a home and kill pets (in front of kids even) and in some cases don't end up pressing charges on their suspected targets.



Let me get this right. A group of soldiers in Iraq, mostly ranging in ages between 17 and 25, can go into the home of armed Al-Qaida members and acquire 3 high profile targets (alive) without harming women, children, or pets (a real example from personal experience, so don't tell me I don't know what its like). Yet, the above mentioned SWAT teams (the elite of law enforcement) cannot go into an American home without being “trigger happy”, killing people or pets, and terrorizing children!?!? B.S. Technical skills and lack of discipline aside, why is this happening? It’s a simple matter of budgeting and funds allocation. Law enforcement agencies can continue to allocate federal funds to their SWAT teams due to their increased use. The same for inter agency cooperation and Fusion Center participation.



This is how Obama's paramilitarized "civilian security force" is created. Yey... About the only training on constitutional law or rights they receive is geared towards keeping the officers out of trouble. Example: When an officer wants to use force against a person the standard line is: "Stop resisting!" even if the person is not resisting.



What happens when the federal government uses these poorly disciplined agencies against (I mean) to help the American people during a national emergency? Will they act with in their constitutional bounds? Or will they only PROTECT their funds (paychecks) AND SERVE only the system? Perhaps its time, for every community, to demand that law enforcement re-affirm the oath each officer and deputy swore. With the new paramilitary civilian security force being expanded, its time for everyone to listen to what the Oath Keepers have been warning about all along.




____________________________________________
I've known Moises Medina for about 10 years now. He and I served together as medics in Iraq. Recently he started his own blog at Doc Medina's Soapbox.  -- jin

Friday, July 11, 2014

Coveted Sustainability - Part Zero, the Ebb and Flow of a Beginning in Art.

(My wife is looking to write a press release about a local "coveted sustainability" event. The idea intrigued me. It had reminded me of my days wondering aimlessly studying aesthetics. What followed is a rant and ramble of my usual best or worst depending who you are and how you see me. Cheers.)

Art, is in part being introspective, being aware of our own feelings towards something that we recognize as universally evoking. It is about being aware of our state of mind in the creation of others.

Something in the art guides us, imagines us to be its voice, directs us to feel a certain way in the ebb and flow of time as it forever flows.

Art by itself has no inherent meaning or cultural significance without the audience’s emotional reaction. Often, that emotional reaction is primed by certain political and economic functions. There is rarely a linear casual connection between the art itself and the social and political factors without the audience asking the direct and interpretative questions about its meaning and significance in which the audience finds context for the expression of emotion.

Art is therefore a relational being. It is both a categorical expression of ourselves, whether we are the artist or the audience, and a phenomenon of our relationship with others, whether that other being is the artist or the audience. The artist and the audience are therefore as diametrically opposed as the social and economic expression is with the artist expression the art is presumably aimed to express. One finds the context in the other as black finds context in its white, and void finds its context in existence.

That is, my friends, the beauty of being aware of our emotions and introspects in art isn’t it?

The mere fact that we are aware of art invokes something in us that says—yes, I do exist and it is recognized in this object the artist has successfully created to relate to my own existence. I do not live in a void of imagination where reality is obscure. This world of mine is real, and this world of the artist justifies my existence.

Art, then, is the ultimate judge, jury, and executioner of our being on a metaphysical level, isn’t it?

Yet as members of capitalist society in all forms (libertarian or communitarian alike), we are only politically and economically engaged in art itself through the delusion of recognizing our emotions. The mainstream “art”, under the condition of capital effectiveness, works out its own internal contradictions that society can no longer ignore—our existence, the existence of Art itself, no longer finds the ebb and flow of time as it flows for some meaning or purpose. Rather, it is defined by what is arbitrarily defined as “beautiful” and valuable. By the mere fact of valuing art for its political or economic message, emblematic of our consumption behavior patterns, we covet art for its namesake. Art in this modern age, as sustainably as art has been for the last few thousand years, resemble its truth in the illusions of something more or less ambiguous—only a shadow of existence.

So we covet art in its mere reflection of who we are—the empty, soul-less, choice driven, cocktail party attending, pontificating, deconstructive, rational being that we are.

And we forget, ART, as it was intended to be and justly reminds us in troubled and emotional times, is coveted as forever becoming something more than our mere existence. ART is in part introspection, but in part a direct line of communication between our introspection with the grander existence of a human condition.

Through ART, our souls speak to each other and we find reasons to live a century more to perpetuate something truly amazing. What it is that we are prepetuating, however, must be first decided by each of us . . .

_________________________



Ebb and Flow,
That's the way the river goes.
Water for the rich,
Art for the poor,
Wealth well distributed and
Death reborn.
You look up, and I look down;
I look up, and you look down.
What do we see?
What do we hear?

Never eachother.
Because we are too busy,
Glorified busy.
Figuring out what it is that we live for.

Ebb and Flow,
That's the way things goes.

- jin, 2014

Monday, June 23, 2014

Unexpected Happy Place -- by Lauren Campbell Kong

(This post is dedicated to Mandy, Missy, Sheila, Steven, James, Bill, Rich and the rest of the crew that came out and busted their asses to clean the Ohio River on Saturday, June 21st 2014.)

I haven’t been too inspired to write for a while and have been in my own head busy adjusting to life here in Cincinnati. One would think moving only 2 hours away from home meant that the people, culture, and the environment wouldn’t be so different. But things are very different here and it has required some serious adjusting on my part. It’s been hard to make new friends and to meet people who have passion about the environment.
Thank You Mandy from KCB for the photo
This past Saturday was finally a moment when all things I love converged, creating a trifecta of acceptance, passion, and activism for me in this city.

I was active in the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign in Indianapolis. Since I moved to Cincinnati, I was a little disappointed in the Sierra Club here. Both the Northern Kentucky group and the Miami Valley group don’t have much of a ‘politicking’ presence. The members here enjoy hiking together or walking on trails. Once a month they will invite a speaker into town to put on a presentation about a crusade. Otherwise, there was no way for me to get directly involved and be active in the way that I am accustomed.

I got involved in Environment Ohio when we first moved here, but their campaign disbanded in January of 2014 and finding something else has been difficult. I did eventually discover the River Sweep 2014 through the Sierra Club’s Northern Kentucky chapter's monthly e-newsletters.

River Sweep is an annual event organized by the Ohio RiverValley Water Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO). It took place this year on Saturday June 21st.

The River Sweep began in 1989 and it spans the entire Ohio River from Pittsburgh to Cairo, IL. During the event, thousands of volunteers descend onto the Ohio River to pick up trash and debris. It is a multi-organizational effort to help clean the Ohio River and to create awareness about how polluted and dirty the river is.

In addition to the Sierra Club being in attendance, there was also Keep Covington Beautiful (KCB), and volunteers from the City of Covington municipality. It was rejuvenating to see all the wonderful, friendly people coming together to help keep this beautiful river clean.
Thank you Mandy from KCB for the photo
I was the most surprised by KCB. This group truly does what it can for the city of Covington, keeping trash and pollution from entering the water ways. They have a good relationship with the municipality and they work diligently together to address many environmental issues here. Anytime I see a government agency and a non-profit working together productively and holistically to address environmental issues, I get inspired.

It was a hot day and there were some seriously gross stuff down by the river bank that needed picked up: doors, buried tires, a broken kitchen sink, an old fence, nasty insulation that had been there for months if not longer, deteriorating and probably contaminated with asbestos, more Milwaukee’s Best beer cans than I ever knew existed, shoes, clothes, a pair of old underwear, and so, SO much more.

That’s just the stuff I saw in the quarter of a mile I traversed through. When you think about the entire river spanning the border of 6 states, I can't begin to imagine what else was found.

Thankfully we had a decent turnout at our location. We managed to clean a good chunk of the river bank. I have faith that other parts of the Ohio River were cleaned too by equally passionate people. At times it was overwhelming, disgusting, and depressing to see so much trash, to think there are still so many people who don’t think twice about throwing their garbage out of their cars, boats, and homes.

But that's not important now. What is important, is the truly inspiring people I met, people who care about this city and about our environment. These people volunteered their time to come out and make a difference; people of all different colors, sexual orientation, social economic status, and backgrounds, converging on the river as one to make it a better place for everyone. It is a selfless act that made me forget how difficult it is to adjust to a new city and new people I don't know; it made me forget just how many people don't care about this river and their city. 

Thank you Mandy from KCB for the photo
At the end of the day, I realized how much is left to do. Not just the trash, but how much educating, motivating, and inspiring that must be done for others to see the importance of our waterways and the value they add to our eco-system. My back pain proves it and the irony rings loud and clear.

So to leave you with something to ponder, there are multiple river clean up events that happen along the Ohio River and I for one hope to participate regularly as my schedule permits. If something is stopping you from coming to support us, you are underestimating the possibility of these good people, people that you would want to get to know.

After all, we will make a bit of difference and together, I've found my new happy place, I found it down by the river, I found it in the people I met there and in the hard work we did together. I hope you find yours as well, on this planet, in this place we all call home.  



Friday, June 20, 2014

Cherish the Day and Believe -- This is Not A Dream.

(yes, I'm in one of my weird crazy mood. This one is for the believers, not the dreamers. This one is for my wife, my best friend, and my constant companion on this quest to change the world--Lauren Campbell Kong. The believers steps over the dreamers and actually DO!  - jin)

To all you sleepers,
Coming from the speaker.
Be prepared to liftoff,

To know fear and
To love experimentation.
To all you sleepers then.

This is the century,
This is the day,
This is the imaginary time that we know to be real,
Surreal,
Probabilistically not sealed.

Travel then,
Friends, to be asleep but know that you control a dream,
Have faith in waking to find your soul.

Hear yourself sing,
Taste the delight and the bitter rain drops of yesterday’s tomorrow.

To all you sleepers,
Coming from the master of disaster, the Maharishi mediator, the salted chew free from concerns,
Be prepared to be lifted,
To abandon fear,
To love LOVE.

This is the color of your faith.
Be kind to paint it as tall and deep as you dare.

Because this is YOUR FAITH. It is not a hope.



___________________________ 




 
____________________________


(I wrote this one a long time ago. . . funny how things have a way of singing back to me in time)


No matter how long, how high, how grim,
If I can sweep, nearly free, let my mind be tricked and story be told.
My life too precious, but it never leaves;
On solid ground, I let my words flow.

I am here, I am rotting, I am illness-stained;
I listen without pity, hear me not;
I bury without a shovel, smell of garbage, but it really don’t matter no more.

A different sound I hear, like milk and honey;
I asked myself if I am made for this world.

Golden roads, fixed, crumbled, fixed again,
A different taste, like spring freshness at the end of autumn;
Winter is here again, smelling and tasting cost the grown man his patience.

Play that song again, lock up them folks in the cells again;
But it really don’t matter no more.

All my life, cycles cooked onions in dreadful tears,
Cutting with a smile, square fits a few short years.

No matter how long, how high, how grim,
Let me sleep, nearly free, let my mind drift into the thicket plot untold.

Any day now, late night shadow remembers where the path leads.

Convince me to walk into the sun again,
The future is just that part of history.
Think sharp and preach slow,
Remembering but it don’t really matter no more.

Because this is the dreamer's dream and I'm a believer and I BELIEVE.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Equity Crowdfunding in the International Space - Interlude, A Special Consideration for Social Enterprises

In a recent survey conducted by the European Commission on financial and security markets, a majority of respondents felt that crowdfunding campaigns with social objectives merit special treatment from the regulators.

The consensus is that social ventures and those behind the ventures should not be limited to the donation or lending based funding opportunities. Equity crowdfunding should be a viable option. However, a need to define social enterprise and the kinds of social objectives are critical and respondents agree that transparency is a must if social ventures are to get special treatment. Most suggested ex post verifications (e.g., audits, social impact assessments, or periodic reporting). Some respondents call for a favorable tax treatment for these social ventures, some prefer lighter regulations, and few mentioned the need to harmonizes impact measures and warned against any sort of regulatory interventions in this sector. The commission stated that it will explore this in more detail in future efforts.

And so, as I ponder and explore the future of equity crowdfunding in this series of blog posts, we recognize the concept of “crowd” is a powerful one.

Crowdfunding and crowd-sourcing ingeneral are about a group of people getting together led by their convictions so strong that they are willing to invest time, money and effort to make it happen. It’s something not taught in school; not because the schools don’t try, but because finding such convictions is a private affair. The intrinsic interest is something, if taught extrinsically, would defeat its very purpose.

We leave the schools then. Outside in this open global community of ours, in finding this intrinsic motivation to do something, we discover the power of the crowd is beyond financial gains.

We realized the crowd is only inspired to act as if it makes a difference somehow. Well, it does. No one knows how we can shape tomorrow for the better, but everyone knows we must try. Technology is only a tool and equity only an extrinsic factor. Success of equity crowdfunding is not depended on these things or the laws that regulate them. The success of equity crowdfunding is in what we as a people can do with this very powerful idea. 

But where do we begin?

The Internet has ended the Industrial era and ended mass marketing. It has revived a human desire to be connected and we are now in a struggle to find our shared ideas and values to allow ordinary people the power to lead and make big changes. A struggle means opportunity and is beyond the spirit of the law. New laws will have to conform to our hopes, not the other way around.

After all, the “unselfish and noble acts are the most radiant epochs in the biography of souls.”




___________________________





Monday, June 16, 2014

Equity Crowdfunding in the International Space - Pt. 5 China

(Note: this is generally available public knowledge. For the specifics on how Chinese platforms are regulated and how the regulations work, please contact a licensed Chinese attorney.)  

The Chinese Company Law and Securities Law are applicable to EBCIs in China and the Chinese Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) has over 50 rules and regulations on securities and future markets. In addition, there are hundreds of circulars on the topic and other laws such as Property Rights Law, Criminal Law, Enterprise Bankruptcy Law, and Anti-Money Laundering Law that may also apply.

Technology and emergence of equity based crowdfunding has blurred the line between public offerings and private placements. Under Article 10 of China's Securities Law, public offerings of securities must be approved by the regulatory bodies. Public offerings are defined to include any issuance of securities to more than 200 non-specific targets. The issuer must be a LLC that has been authorized to issue shares.

Chinese EBCI platforms seem to get around the securities regulations by arranging investment deals as private contracts on an ad hoc basis. For example, Make V, a media start-up company underwent two rounds of crowdfunding on Taobo (a retail website similar to Amazon and eBay) and raised 1.2 RMB for 6% of the company. The deals were structured as private contracts where investors hold the shares and dividends are paid according to the contracts. Supposedly, Make V consulted a law firm and the Beijing Municipal Lawyers Association before they undertook the crowdfunding efforts. They knew such issuance of securities were illegal but went ahead with it anyway and promised to buy-back the shares that were illegally purchased if the government should crack down on their crowdfunding efforts.

Similarly, Mirror Fun, a retail store operating off Taobao, recently raised 15 million RMB through 红岭 (“Hong Ling”). Hong Ling is an interesting entity because they seem to be an online crowdfunding service. Although they do not specifically list their services as such, and they avoid stating any laws re securities, they do blatantly list investment opportunities as sort of private lending and governed under Contract laws of China.

There are a number of risks in issuing and buying public offerings in China. While there are not specific criminal provisions dealing with illegal fundraising, there are a number of provisions that may be interpreted to sanction the activity. Going forward, equity platforms will have to be very careful in issuing securities publicly without approval, in an disguised form, or exceeding the other regulatory requirements. However, the bulk of the work are for the regulators to clarify the line between public offerings and private placements, clarify the definition of equity platform offerings and specify how they should be regulated, and balance the interest in promoting capital formation and equity ownership by the rising middle class with the risk of fraud and the crowd effect of following the wrong investment trends. The consumers will also have to be cautious and educate themselves on the various interplays between securities offering and their potential high risk nature. The regulators must promote transparency, but the crowd must develop its own independent compass with respect to the success potential of fundraising enterprises.   

Despite the potentials, Chinese platforms and potential investors face cultural, economic, and institutional forces that suppress entrepreneurial activity. Specifically, the World Bank found perception and understanding of entrepreneurship, education, and cost of doing business and resolving insolvency correlate with the number of crowdfund investment platforms (there is a small negative correlation between cost of starting a business and number of platforms and a slightly positive correlation between number of platforms and cost of resolving insolvency). Social normative variables such as face-saving and collectively mentality translates to risk-averse behaviors negatively impacting the number of investment vehicles in high risk ventures. World Bank also found infrastructure such as Internet access, social medial penetration, and hiring and firing efficiency positively correlate with the number of EBCI platforms. However, remittance inflows and the amount of venture capital transactions negatively correlate, slightly, with EBCI platform count.

I reserve my hopes for China and crowdfunding at the moment. Until the culture and moral values of Chinese businesses align with a sense of social responsibility, I do not see crowdfunding successful or purposeful in China.

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