"Then it is dark; a night where kings in golden suits ride elephants over the mountains." - John Cheever

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Gross National Happiness - again

The Bhutanese have had a lot of mileage and publicity out of their GNH idea over the years (including on this blog), but I didn't realise how seriously they took it. It's actually a constitutional requirement to consider the impact on happiness of any proposed political proposal, and they have devised a complex methodology for monitoring it:

"the Bhutanese produced an intricate model of well-being that features the four pillars, the nine domains and the 72 indicators of happiness.

Specifically, the government has determined that the four pillars of a happy society involve the economy, culture, the environment and good governance. It breaks these into nine domains: psychological well-being, ecology, health, education, culture, living standards, time use, community vitality and good governance, each with its own weighted and unweighted G.N.H. index.

All of this is to be analyzed using the 72 indicators. Under the domain of psychological well-being, for example, indicators include the frequencies of prayer and meditation and of feelings of selfishness, jealousy, calm, compassion, generosity and frustration as well as suicidal thoughts.

“We are even breaking down the time of day: how much time a person spends with family, at work and so on,” Mr. Dorji said.

Mathematical formulas have even been devised to reduce happiness to its tiniest component parts. The G.N.H. index for psychological well-being, for example, includes the following: “One sum of squared distances from cutoffs for four psychological well-being indicators. Here, instead of average the sum of squared distances from cutoffs is calculated because the weights add up to 1 in each dimension.”

This is followed by a set of equations:

= 1-(.25+.03125+.000625+0)

= 1-.281875

= .718

Every two years, these indicators are to be reassessed through a nationwide questionnaire, said Karma Tshiteem, secretary of the Gross National Happiness Commission, as he sat in his office at the end of a hard day of work that he said made him happy."

(From the New York Times.)

Friday, May 08, 2009

Edna unveiled

It was my old schoolfriend Richard Maclean! I found out as - being a bit irritated with Edna's witticisms - I restricted comments to site members only and he emailed me to complain...

So not Seumas but relatively close geographically speaking as Richard's based in Inverness.