Crocodiles work as a team to hunt their prey

Recent studies have found that crocodiles and their relatives are highly intelligent animals capable of sophisticated behavior such as advanced parental care, complex communication and use of tools for hunting.

New University of Tennessee, Knoxville, research published in the journal Ethology Ecology and Evolution shows just how sophisticated their hunting techniques can be.

Crocodiles and alligators were observed conducting highly organized game drives. For example, crocodiles would swim in a circle around a shoal of fish, gradually making the circle tighter until the fish were forced into a tight “bait ball.” Then the crocodiles would take turns cutting across the center of the circle, snatching the fish.

Sometimes animals of different size would take up different roles. Larger alligators would drive a fish from the deeper part of a lake into the shallows, where smaller, more agile alligators would block its escape. In one case, a huge saltwater crocodile scared a pig into running off a trail and into a lagoon where two smaller crocodiles were waiting in ambush – the circumstances suggested that the three crocodiles had anticipated each other’s positions and actions without being able to see each other.

Vladimir Dinets. Apparent coordination and collaboration in cooperatively hunting crocodilians. Ethology Ecology & Evolution, 2014; 1 DOI: 10.1080/03949370.2014.915432
Policing is a Dirty Job, But Nobody's Gotta Do It: 6 Ideas for a Cop-Free World

It’s time to start imagining a society that isn’t dominated by police.

After months of escalating protests and grassroots organizing in response to the police killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, police reformers have issued many demands. The moderates in this debate typically qualify their rhetoric with “We all know we need police, but…” It’s a familiar refrain to those of us who’ve spent years in the streets and the barrios organizing around police violence, only to be confronted by officers who snarl, “But who’ll help you if you get robbed?” We can put a man on the moon, but we’re still lacking creativity down here on Earth.

But police are not a permanent fixture in society. While law enforcers have existed in one form or another for centuries, the modern police have their roots in the relatively recent rise of modern property relations 200 years ago, and the “disorderly conduct” of the urban poor. Like every structure we’ve known all our lives, it seems that the policing paradigm is inescapable and everlasting, and the only thing keeping us from the precipice of a dystopic Wild West scenario. It’s not. Rather than be scared of our impending Road Warrior future, check out just a few of the practicable, real-world alternatives to the modern system known as policing:

  1. Unarmed mediation and intervention teams

Unarmed but trained people, often formerly violent offenders themselves, patrolling their neighborhoods to curb violence right where it starts. This is real and it exists in cities from Detroit to Los Angeles. Stop believing that police are heroes because they are the only ones willing to get in the way of knives or guns – so are the members of groups like Cure Violence, who were the subject of the 2012 documentary The Interrupters. There are also feminist models that specifically organize patrols of local women, who reduce everything from cat-calling and partner violence to gang murders in places like Brooklyn. While police forces have benefited from military-grade weapons and equipment, some of the most violent neighborhoods have found success through peace rather than war.

  1. The decriminalization of almost every crime

What is considered criminal is something too often debated only in critical criminology seminars, and too rarely in the mainstream. Violent offenses count for a fraction of the 11 to 14 million arrests every year, and yet there is no real conversation about what constitutes a crime and what permits society to put a person in chains and a cage. Decriminalization doesn’t work on its own: The cannabis trade that used to employ poor Blacks, Latinos, indigenous and poor whites in its distribution is now starting to be monopolized by already-rich landowners. That means that wide-scale decriminalization will need to come with economic programs and community projects. To quote investigative journalist Christian Parenti’s remarks on criminal justice reform in his book Lockdown America, what we really need most of all is “less."

  1. Restorative Justice

Also known as reparative or transformative justice, these models represent an alternative to courts and jails. From hippie communes to the IRA and anti-Apartheid South African guerrillas to even some U.S. cities like Philadelphia’s experiment with community courts, spaces are created where accountability is understood as a community issue and the entire community, along with the so-called perpetrator and the victim of a given offense, try to restore and even transform everyone in the process. It has also been used uninterrupted by indigenous and Afro-descendant communities like San Basilio de Palenque in Colombia for centuries, and it remains perhaps the most widespread and far-reaching of the alternatives to the adversarial court system.

  1. Direct democracy at the community level

Reducing crime is not about social control. It’s not about cops, and it’s not a bait-and-switch with another callous institution. It’s giving people a sense of purpose. Communities that have tools to engage with each other about problems and disputes don’t have to consider what to do after anti-social behaviors are exhibited in the first place. A more healthy political culture where people feel more involved is a powerful building block to a less violent world.

  1. Community patrols 

This one is a wildcard. Community patrols can have dangerous racial overtones, from pogroms to the KKK to George Zimmerman. But they can also be an option that replaces police with affected community members when police are very obviously the criminals. In Mexico, where one of the world's most corrupt police forces only has credibility as a criminal syndicate, there have been armed groups of Policia Comunitaria and Autodefensas organized by local residents for self-defense from narcotraffickers, femicide and police. Obviously these could become police themselves and then be subject to the same abuses, but as a temporary solution they have been making a real impact. Power corrupts, but perhaps in Mexico, withering power won’t have enough time to corrupt.

  1. Here’s a crazy one: mental health care

In 2012, Mayor Rahm Emanuel closed up the last trauma clinics in some of Chicago’s most violent neighborhoods. In New York, Rikers Island jails as many people with mental illnesses "as all 24 psychiatric hospitals in New York State combined,” which is reportedly 40% of the people jailed at Rikers. We have created a tremendous amount of mental illness, and in the real debt and austerity dystopia we’re living in, we have refused to treat each other for our physical and mental wounds. Mental health has often been a trapdoor for other forms of institutionalized social control as bad as any prison, but shifting toward preventative, supportive and independent living care can help keep those most impacted from ending up in handcuffs or dead on the street.


16 Worker Coops Redefining the Cooperative Movement

The worker cooperative movement has hit a new stride. Re-emerging in the 1960s, cooperatives tend to elicit thoughts of natural food stores and specialty bookshops but the movement has grown to include tech companies, coworking spaces, international businesses, large factories and much more

In an effort to find some of the most interesting and innovative worker cooperatives around, Shareable turned to the crowd. We asked our friends at the Sustainable Economies Law Center, the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives, the P2P Foundation, the Democracy at Work Network, and our own Sharing Cities Networkfor their favorites. Here’s what we found.

1. Enspiral

A “virtual and physical network of companies and professionals working together to create a thriving society,” Enspiral is a three-part collective consisting of a foundation; services including web design, communications, accounting and legal; and a startup support venture. Based in New Zealand, the collective has members around the world and operates on the principles of collaboration and decentralized decision-making. One of the coops standout projects is Loomio, a free, open source platform that enables people to collaborate in decision-making.

2. Seikatsu

A network of buying clubs with over 300,000 members, the Seikatsu Club in Japan originated in 1965 as a way for families to get a bulk rate on milk. Over the last 50 years, it has expanded to include thousands of organic, non-GMO foods and environmentally-safe household products. In 1995, Seikatsu formed its first worker coop. It now has 600 of them, employing over 17,000 people in food distribution, food preparation, catering, recycling, childcare, education and more.

3. OpenSpace Cooperative

OpenSpace is a cooperatively-owned and operated coworking space in Manchester, England. Like other coworking spaces, OpenSpace is a place for freelancers, independent professionals and small business owners to work in a collaborative environment. But unlike other coworking spaces, OpenSpace members have the perks of being owners including lower rent and having a say in governance and membership issues.

4. gcoop

Based in Buenos Aires, gcoop Development Company is a cooperative that develops free software under the guiding principle that knowledge is built with contributions from many and that software, like knowledge, should be free.

5. Arizmendi Association of Cooperatives

An association of six cooperative bakeries and a development and support collective, Arizmendi is itself a worker cooperative located in the Bay Area. The cooperative’s mission includes ensuring opportunities for workers’ control of their livelihood; developing as many dignified, decently paid work opportunities as possible; and promoting cooperative economic democracy as a sustainable and humane option for our society.

6. Si Se Puede Women’s Coop

Based in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, Se Se Puede is a women-run, women-owned, eco-friendly housecleaning cooperative made up of immigrant women. Designed to create living wage jobs done in a safe and healthy environment, Si Se Puede also provides social supports and educational opportunities for its members.

7. CoLab

Using lean startup philosophy and “deep collaboration” CoLab Cooperative builds technology solutions for social enterprises. With team members around the world, the coops headquarters are the CoLab Hive, a coworking space in Ithaca, New York.

8. Argentina’s Recovered Factories

Following the Argentine economic collapse of 2001, numerous factories were closed down, leaving employees out of work. The solution to this problem came when thousands of employees occupied their factories, demanded the right to work, and restarted production as worker cooperatives.

9. Mondragon Corporation

Often held up as an example of the potential of worker cooperatives, the Mondragon Corporation is an enormous cooperative federation that employees over 80,000 people and operates in four areas: finance, industry, retail, and knowledge. Based in the Basque region of Spain, Mondragon is the seventh largest Spanish company and a presence on the international market, with 97 locations worldwide and distribution of products to 150 countries.

10. Cooperative Home Care Associates

A cooperative of home care workers, the Cooperative Home Associates organization started in the Bronx in New York in 1985 with 12 home health aides. It now has over 2,000 workers, making it the largest worker cooperative in the U.S. The organization trains hundreds of low-income and unemployed women annually and is a driving force for local employment.

11. Deca Stories

A cooperative of journalists from around the world, Deca Stories brings “deeply reported” stories directly to readers via ebooks and the platform’s app.

12. Suma

Started in 1975, Suma is the UK’s largest independent wholefood wholesaler/distributor. Owned and managed by the workers, who are all paid the same amount, the company specializes in vegetarian, fairly traded, organic, ethical and natural products.

13. Ginger Moon

A mother-owned worker cooperative, Ginger Moon provides “emotional, mental and culinary support to pregnant women, women that had just given birth and women that are nursing.” Through meal preparation education, workshops, in-home cooking and more, the New York-based Ginger Moon supports families in giving babies (and moms) a healthy start. Environmentally and socially aware, the coop sources organic, local and fair trade food and is working toward a goal of zero waste.

14. New Era Windows and Doors

In 2008, the owners of Republic Windows and Doors in Chicago announced that they were closing the factory. In 2012, the employees joined forces to buy the company. The result is New Era Windows and Doors, a worker cooperative that builds and sells top-quality doors and windows and models the power and potential of worker cooperatives.

15. Sustainable Economies Law Center

The Bay Area-based Sustainable Economies Law Center is a multi-faceted organization working to bridge the gap between existing legal framework and healthy, equitable, resilient communities. Committed to supporting developing and existing cooperatives, SELC is itself a worker coop based on equal pay and cooperative governance.

16. CERO Coop

A worker cooperative in Massachusetts, CERO works toward zero waste by partnering with companies for source separation, waste removal and composting. The coops long-term vision includes complete cycles of food production, waste reduction, reuse and recycling, environmental stewardship, meaningful jobs and sustainable communities.

Bacteria cooperate to repair damaged siblings

A University of Wyoming faculty member led a research team that discovered a certain type of soil bacteria can use their social behavior of outer membrane exchange (OME) to repair damaged cells and improve the fitness of the bacteria population as a whole.

Daniel Wall, a UW associate professor in the Department of Molecular Biology, and others were able to show that damaged sustained by the outer membrane (OM) of a myxobacteria cell population was repaired by a healthy population using the process of OME. The research revealed that these social organisms benefit from group behavior that endows favorable fitness consequences among kin cells.

Wall says, to the research group’s knowledge, this is the first evidence that a bacterium can use cell-content sharing to repair damaged siblings.

“It is analogous to how a wound in your body can be healed,” Wall says. “When your body is wounded, your cells can coordinate their functions to heal the damaged tissue.”

Wall was the senior and corresponding author on a paper, titled “Cell Rejuvenation and Social Behaviors Promoted by LPS Exchange in Myxobacteria” that was published in the May 18 online issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

(Image: Michiel Vos) - Antisocial Behavior in Cooperative Bacteria (or, Why Can’t Bacteria Just Get Along?). PLoS Biology Vol. 3/11/2005, e398 doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0030398

Some 100,000 Myxococcus xanthus cells amassed into a fruiting body with spores.

The Perfect Tie for Every Outfit

The piece:

Most guys don’t wear ties every day so when you get a chance to look a little bit spiffy, I think it’s important to make the best of it. How I judge a tie is by the number of compliments I get on it. Average ties blend with your look. Great ties create your look.

This past week, I was lucky enough to stumble across a fantastic piece from an independent Canadian brand, Tartan Grand. They call it the Kensington Handmade Tie and it’s a 100% wool skinny tie that I love to wear with white and neutral coloured shirts. The first thing that caught my attention was the subtle details of the design. It’s a salt and pepper-ish light grey with little specks of colour that make the tie really stand out.

And I was extremely impressed with the quality of the wool construction. With a lot of the wool ties I come across, the wool is either too soft or too tough and often a little too thick. This one is a balanced piece. What’s more important in fashion than balance?

It’s a versatile piece that works well with casual and formal outfits. I’ve worn it to both with excellent results.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with what I got. You can buy it here for a $34: and you can use my exclusive promo code “MENSTYLE1” for 15% off. Watch out for a contest for a free tie next week!  

Cooperating bacteria paint Van Gogh patterns

“Stronger together” : Indeed together cells can face environmental challenges that they separately cannot, which is a property well-known of multicellular organisms. It was recently shown that even bacteria can cooperate in order to migrate in filamentous loops called “Van Gogh bundles”. Migration is allowed by the coordination of two types of cells : matrix-producing cells form the bundle while surfactin-producing cells secrete the slippery track on which the bundles can move and push themselves from the colony.

Above : Red and green fluorescent cells represent, respectively, surfactin- and matrix-producing cells in the double-labeled PtapA-CFP PsrfA-YFP WT strain (CFP and YFP are artificially colored green and red, respectively).

van Gestel et al., PLOS Biology 2015


Eco - Global Survival Game

Collaborate to build civilization in a simulated ecosystem, creating laws to make group decisions.

Helen Keller, "On Competition," 1918

People who think about such matters realize that the competitive system by which the affairs of the world are conducted today has not proved satisfactory. Growing numbers perceive that there may be a better plan, a better social order. It is self-evident that our institutions should make us all reasonably happy. That the majority of human beings upon this planet are not happy is obvious. People more and more are recognizing that some fundamental changes in the method of conducting the world’s business must take place before all departments of human endeavor coordinate, and that until coordination is secured, there will be injustice, exploitation, waste and wars. Now competition is one of the primary obstacles in the way of coordinating man’s efforts to secure justice, freedom, efficiency and lasting peace.

We have been taught that competition is healthy, necessary, that to destroy it would be to sap the springs of energy and individualism. It is insisted, without it life would be harder and more unpleasant even than it is. No more work would be done than was absolutely necessary. The business man would not rise early. He would not spend the whole day in his office. Industry and trade would stagnate. No new markets would be opened; there would be no fluctuation of prices; there would be no excitement, no incentive. Life would become dull, monotonous. Life would not be worth while without the keen edge of competition. Men would lost ambition, and the race would sink into dull sameness, compared with which peas in a pod would present a pleasing variety.

This whole argument is a fallacy. Whatever is worth while in our civilization has survived in spite of competition. Under the competitive system the work of the world is badly done. The result is waste and ruin. Things will never be better until cooperative production is substituted for competitive production.

Primarily; industrial life is rent by competition. Profit is the aim, and the public good is a secondary consideration. Competition sins against its own pet god efficiency. In spite of all the struggle, toil and fierce effort the result is a depressing state of destitution for the majority of mankind. Competition diverts man’s energies into useless channels and degrades his character. It is immoral as well as inefficient, since its commandment is, “Thou shalt compete against thy neighbor.” Truthfulness, honesty, consideration for others, such a rule does not foster. But it does foster selfishness, want of sympathy, cheating, adulteration of goods and the making  of worthless cheap wares. Competitors are indifferent to each other’s welfare. Indeed, they are glad of each others’ failure because they find their advantage in it. Compassion is deadened in them by the necessity they are under of nullifying the efforts of their fellow-competitors.

This order is founded upon injustice and supported by force. It gives the land on which all must live into the hands of a few; it squanders vast sums on war, and meets the demands of working-men for higher wages and better conditions with indifference or resistance. Under such a system unhappiness is the rule, and happiness the exception. Disease is common; sound health is rare. The majority are in want while the minority live in luxury.

Finally, to every nation comes a moment when “a good war” is the only remedy for internal disorder. “A good war” is the comfort of despair. That is the sort of war [World War I]that is rending the world today. “Each for himself” is a selfish, soulless rule. “Each for all” is much more stimulative and effective. Cooperation, or combined control, achieves a far greater result not only for the whole, but also for the individual.

Competition is wasteful of labor and laborers. It exploits the workers to such an extent that they are too poor to buy what they themselves produce. In a fever of production competition piles up masses of goods for which there is no market at home. As a consequence of over-production we have armed competition of governments, and the world is periodically plunged into war with the object of opening foreign markets for the surplus. The present world war is a monstrous example of the warfare of competition. Look at all the commercial countries at this moment. What is the supreme aim of their governments? Markets. All over the world they are hunting for undeveloped countries to “shoot” their commodities into, while millions of their own people are hungry, cold and naked. Thus we have the amazing spectacle of great armies and navies composed of the exploited workers competing with each other, enduring terrific hardships and unimaginable sacrifice, in order to dispose of the fruits of their own labor for the benefit of a privileged few in their respective countries! What an outrageous, unthinkable state of affairs! For these reasons competition is a great sin, the cause of incalculable misery, waste and ruin. None of the evils enumerated in this indictment is accidental or temporary. They are an inevitable result of the present social order. Away with this order then – this competitive, capitalistic order with its ruling of class by class, its courts of injustice, its hypocrisies, its clashing interests, its shocking contrasts, its  wars and its uncertain peace. I say, this competitive system has been a long, costly experiment, and has failed.

I really, really dislike...

…the way that people discourage any solidarity between oppressed groups for fear that someone somewhere might make the mistake of thinking that our oppression is too similar.  I understand where the fear comes from, because I’ve seen the same train wrecks passing for advocacy that everyone else has.  But I seriously believe that losing the potential for solidarity between oppressed groups is a far more serious problem.

And I think that this discouragement is a symptom of a larger problem.  Where basically, people are going so much on their feelings, that they don’t think through a situation.  They don’t think through which situation is worse.  They just think through that one situation feels bad (and I know it’s more than that it feels bad, but the bad feeling is what people go on to make these decisions), so then it becomes a situation that must be avoided at all costs.  Even if the costs are so high that they could destroy a lot of important possibilities for solidarity, cooperation, mutual understanding, and helping each other in general.