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  • A person or thing that makes or produces something

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  • four: the cardinal number that is the sum of three and one

  • Derek Lamar Fisher (born August 9, 1974) is an American professional basketball player who plays for the Los Angeles Lakers. His NBA career has spanned more than 14 years, during which he has won 5 NBA Championships.

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Bhutan Community Gathering

Bhutan Community Gathering

October 4, 2005
A New Measure of Well-Being From a Happy Little Kingdom
What is happiness? In the United States and in many other industrialized countries, it is often equated with money.

Economists measure consumer confidence on the assumption that the resulting figure says something about progress and public welfare. The gross domestic product, or G.D.P., is routinely used as shorthand for the well-being of a nation.

But the small Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan has been trying out a different idea.

In 1972, concerned about the problems afflicting other developing countries that focused only on economic growth, Bhutan's newly crowned leader, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, decided to make his nation's priority not its G.D.P. but its G.N.H., or gross national happiness.

Bhutan, the king said, needed to ensure that prosperity was shared across society and that it was balanced against preserving cultural traditions, protecting the environment and maintaining a responsive government. The king, now 49, has been instituting policies aimed at accomplishing these goals.

Now Bhutan's example, while still a work in progress, is serving as a catalyst for far broader discussions of national well-being.

Around the world, a growing number of economists, social scientists, corporate leaders and bureaucrats are trying to develop measurements that take into account not just the flow of money but also access to health care, free time with family, conservation of natural resources and other noneconomic factors.

The goal, according to many involved in this effort, is in part to return to a richer definition of the word happiness, more like what the signers of the Declaration of Independence had in mind when they included "the pursuit of happiness" as an inalienable right equal to liberty and life itself.

The founding fathers, said John Ralston Saul, a Canadian political philosopher, defined happiness as a balance of individual and community interests. "The Enlightenment theory of happiness was an expression of public good or the public welfare, of the contentment of the people," Mr. Saul said. And, he added, this could not be further from "the 20th-century idea that you should smile because you're at Disneyland."

Mr. Saul was one of about 400 people from more than a dozen countries who gathered recently to consider new ways to define and assess prosperity.

The meeting, held at St. Francis Xavier University in northern Nova Scotia, was a mix of soft ideals and hard-nosed number crunching. Many participants insisted that the focus on commerce and consumption that dominated the 20th century need not be the norm in the 21st century.

Among the attendees were three dozen representatives from Bhutan - teachers, monks, government officials and others - who came to promote what the Switzerland-size country has learned about building a fulfilled, contented society.

While household incomes in Bhutan remain among the world's lowest, life expectancy increased by 19 years from 1984 to 1998, jumping to 66 years. The country, which is preparing to shift to a constitution and an elected government, requires that at least 60 percent of its lands remain forested, welcomes a limited stream of wealthy tourists and exports hydropower to India.

"We have to think of human well-being in broader terms," said Lyonpo Jigmi Thinley, Bhutan's home minister and ex-prime minister. "Material well-being is only one component. That doesn't ensure that you're at peace with your environment and in harmony with each other."

It is a concept grounded in Buddhist doctrine, and even a decade ago it might have been dismissed by most economists and international policy experts as naive idealism.

Indeed, America's brief flirtation with a similar concept, encapsulated in E. F. Schumacher's 1973 bestseller "Small Is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered," ended abruptly with the huge and continuing burst of consumer-driven economic growth that exploded first in industrialized countries and has been spreading in fast-growing developing countries like China.

Yet many experts say it was this very explosion of affluence that eventually led social scientists to realize that economic growth is not always synonymous with progress.

In the early stages of a climb out of poverty, for a household or a country, incomes and contentment grow in lockstep. But various studies show that beyond certain thresholds, roughly as annual per capita income passes $10,000 or $20,000, happiness does not keep up.

And some countries, studies found, were happier than they should be. In the World Values Survey, a project under way since 1995, Ronald Inglehart, a political scientist at the University of Michigan, found that Latin American countries, for example, registered far more subjective happiness than their economic status would suggest.

In contrast, cou

Bronco Looking Handsome

Bronco Looking Handsome

The woes of being almost not horseless

Most people my age can’t wait until they have access to the family car or a car of their own. For me, I can’t say I’m nearly excited as I once was about the possibility of piloting my own car around the area surrounding my town. In fact, the black Eagle Vision that is sitting outside in the garage has become a loathed symbol of something I wanted badly and could not have. Something that I would have gladly taken instead of that vile car.

It was a summer of choices, a summer I will never forget. At the beginning of that year, I was given the option by a good friend and 4H leader to ride one of her horses at the county fair at the end of the summer. This would of course entail taking care of and riding him during the months up until this one show. I jumped on the opportunity to pretend that I had a horse of my own, even if it was just for a little while. I never planned on getting . . .well, attached.

The horse was Bronco, a 7 year old Morgan/Quarter horse cross who was never really weaned from his mother, had herd-bound/social attachment problems, and a whole host of other quirky habits and peculiarities. The beginning of April when I began to ride him on a regular basis, he was horrendous. He’d spin around, crow hop, spook, crab step, trot sideways (though when he did that at 4-H gatherings, I pretended I was doing it on purpose), and absolutely refused to walk over even the littlest ground pole I laid out for him, let alone jump it. Everything bothered/spooked him, and my mom swears he has a form of horsey ADHD the way he behaved. Crossing over water and “horse eating plastic bags” were another big fear of his. Slowly though, we progressed, I came to respect him and he respected me. It became a symbiotic relationship, he let me ride him and gave me minimal trouble, and I would shower attention on him in the form of long spans of time spent grazing in hand (he was kept grassless dirt lot), endless amounts of Rain Maker (a sort of equine nail health polish) put on his sand crack ridden, thin walled- hoofs, and ever careful grooming.

The thing about riding for me that is so addictive is how when I’m around a horse, I forget. This “temporary amnesia” is basically that I don’t keep the main concerns at the top of my mind—grades, friends, how I feel like my dad is playing favorites, how my mom and I don’t always get along, the latest reason why I’m pissed with my brother, my social detachment from most people in my school, the list goes on (generally the usual complaints of a “tragically misunderstood” teenage misanthrope). Put in short, its my anti-depressant, my thing to look forward to during the week. Towards the end of my time with Bronco, he began to perk up and come to the fence whenever I would go out to get him, quietly lowering his head so I could get the halter on. When I’d pick his hooves out he’d swing his head around to watch, sometimes nibbling a little on my sleeve or t-shirt. Some say that’s love or some form of affection, some say it isn’t. Whatever it was, I appreciated it because those small things made my day a bit happier, my outlook on dealing with everything else a tad brighter.

In May, I started jumping him. At first he repeatedly refused (mainly because he will avoid work as much as possible), but then there was the “Eureka!” moment when he sailed over it easily and with about a foot to spare. I pointed him to it again, and once more we sailed over, just as cleanly as before, but this time Bronco had done it of his own volition. There wasn’t any nudging by me or anything. Again, we circled back, and the performance repeated. It became clear—Bronco liked jumping. In fact, when the horse caught sight of a jump anytime afterward, his ears pricked forward and he would accelerate in anticipation of the jump. I thoroughly enjoyed this, as it had been nearly 3 years or so since I had jumped a horse. By June, school was out and I had babysat enough to buy some pvc pipe and saved up enough buckets (what I used for standards to hold up the PVC) to start forming 3 to 4 fence courses. Sailing over my “bucket fences” are among my favorite memories, and will be something I will more then likely never forget.

I know it sounds rather cliche, but all good, great, and wonderful things in life must come to an end. Nothing that is gold can ever stay, to somewhat quote Robert Frost. Such is the case with Bronco and me. His owner, who is probably one of the kindest people I know, sold him. It was past county fair time as of this Sunday, and so my time came to an end She couldn’t afford to keep him anymore, especially over the winter when feed is expensive enough with all her other horses. She offered to sell him to me more then once over the summer, and how I would have loved to buy him, to be able to keep him, to say, “yeah, that’s my horse.” It was also the summer that I was mandated by my parents to buy a car. Keep in mind, I’m not one of those people who

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