Based on Evidence

9 August 2020

Most of us have heard people extoll the virtues of “evidence-based” policy.

In theory, it’s a great idea. It is considered the modern way to run a business, or a country, or a planet. We call it “management by statistics.” If you want a scene to improve, and you have a statistic that measures that improvement, then you can use that statistic as an indicator, even if you can’t be on the ground to see for yourself. Do the actions that raise the statistic, and you should have an improved scene. Simple as that.

We wish.

As always – this being my constant theme when it comes to questions of policy – you have to account for the criminal factor. To not do so can be totally deadly.

This article is not about policy, nor even particularly about the perils of using falsified statistics. This article simply digs into a bunch of statistics – mostly worldwide, but separated by country – to see what they tell us about how we’re doing.

It was inspired by an interview I saw yesterday of a Danish economist named Bjørn Lomborg who works in a policy consulting group Copenhagen Consensus Center which works mostly with developing countries. He recently wrote a book False Alarm: How Climate Change Panic Costs Us Trillions, Hurts the Poor, and Fails to Fix the Planet. His ideas rely heavily on statistics (data) and economic models. He made the point that we are really doing very well as a planet and should be able to handle climate change as we have handled many other challenges in the past, with a combination of technical innovation and adaptive strategies.

The graphics for this article are I think entirely from the Our World In Data website, which is a project of the Global Change Data Lab, a project closely connected to Oxford University and other academic institutions in the UK.

We aren’t getting older, we’re getting better

My featured image, repeated here, is the sort of iconic graphic indicating that we are still moving in the right direction.

Even as world population has dramatically increased, we, as a planet, are conquering the problem of poverty.

Let’s see if I can find another graph that paints a rosy picture. (I’m not trying to be facetious here; I believe the figures are accurate.)

Here’s one – the declining poverty gap – even happening in “poor” countries like India and China. Next, how about life expectancy?

This looks very good, too, except for the problem Japan had after we dropped a couple of nuclear weapons on them. The figures for India are a bit hard to believe, but life expectancy starts at birth, so if you have big problems with death of newborns, this will drive the number down.

Here’s another poverty graph, showing a couple different ways of measuring it.

However, this graph seems to indicate that some “high income” countries are having difficulty with this. The range in very low – one to 1-1/2 percent – but here we see that Spain and Italy are struggling.

Next, let’s turn to literacy.

The world is nicely up-trending – even Haiti – but we see that the U.S. has been unable to maintain its perfect score.

Let’s look at another issue on the world scene – drinking water.

The numbers tell us that as a planet we have been unable to improve the drinking water supply situation in the last ten years.

Here’s another indicator that the sociologists have been playing around with in recent years – “happiness.”

While many important countries are trending up, Sweden and the US have fallen since the 2009 measurement, and we see the odd circumstance of the U.S. and Brazil being at about the same “happy” level, 90%.

Here we have a “life quality index” as reported by survey respondents. The tendency of most people is to report a “5” – right in the middle of the scale. However, we see slight downtrends in most of the countries shown.

Correlations

Now let’s switch to some graphs that correlate two different measures, each taken at about the same time. We no longer see historical trends here (although they can be displayed using the interactive features of this website). But we do see how much variation there is around the planet, and that certain measures that you think might correlate, don’t always.

Lets start with human rights scores. Human rights is a pretty important part of life. You’d think the outcomes would be better in more “democratic” countries.

However, both India and China have similar human rights scores. As do the United States, Haiti, and Swaziland. So we see these two measures don’t seem that well related.

How about the economic output of a country? We see the U.S. sitting in the middle of this graph, with India and China now closer together. But wealth fails to protect the people of Saudi Arabia. So this measure seems to have a cultural component that tends to hold countries at some human rights level even when productivity or type of government shifts.

Here we have a graph of perceptions. They are quite scattered, though there is a weak correlation. However, for some reason Ruwandans see themselves just as free as Canadians, yet are almost totally dissatisfied with their lives. Odd.

Is education, per se, a good way to protect democratic values? It seems not. There is something else uniting the U.S. with other democracies.

Let’s look at a few more of these graphs:

Here we find Germany managing to be just as “productive” as the U.S. while working significantly less. While India, China and Mexico struggle with productivity even though their people work like hell.

Eat more, get fat! Except that Ghana stays thin, while China bulks out a bit, and Mexico bulks out much more, all on the same daily calories. The U.S. by the way stands at the pinnacle of male fatness.

And here are the obesity trends over time. We see it is a worldwide problem, but less where calories are more restricted. Russia seems to have a secret that the rest of the planet has not yet discovered. Keto?

Crime

Paying bribes to get government favors is an old cultural pattern more prevalent in some places. In the U.S. we have learned to hide it through campaign donations, honoraria, and other “legitimate” payments. Thus, the U.S., which frowns on bribes, has good correlation with “transparency.” However, we see Taiwan, South Africa and India all much more involved with bribery cultures yet still relatively “transparent.” Bribes is the major way researchers have for measuring “corruption” in a country. However, it’s hard for me to say how trustworthy these measures are. Crime is hard to measure because criminals operate to keep their activities secret.

Here’s another criminal activity that has been very hard to measure. Per this graph it is on the increase. We used to call it “slavery.” Now that slavery is illegal on this planet, criminals have developed other ways to cause poverty conditions that will give them a pool of people they can take advantage of.

How do such activities, I wonder, correlate with these other measures? Can one become more “prosperous” or “productive” as a slave? This is an example of the moral weakness of data-driven management. Managers have to care about the people they are managing, or you can get similar outcomes in a criminal society to those obtained in a “clean” society. But of course, as the society goes criminal, it becomes more and more difficult to know whether or not it is lying about its outcomes – reporting false stats.

I looked at “mental health” measures on this site. Almost all were flat over the last 30 years. Except for this one. I would guess it is related to obesity.

Here is an example of a “flat” mental health graph.

However, note how much higher the U.S. and Russia are.

Here’s another graph – fatal suicide attempts. The U.S. number is trending up – against the rest of the entire planet.

What’s happening in the U.S.?

Here’s another measure where the U.S. ranks quite high. Percent of homeless people. Maybe some folks just like to live outdoors, without running water, heat or bathrooms…don’t think so.

Many of us hold the sincere opinion that the U.S., both as a culture and as a government, has been under attack from criminal interests. Some blame the “globalists” or “technocrats” or “deep state” for this. Others blame the “left” or “socialism” or “communism” for this. Most of those people fall under various degrees of “Right wing.”

I blame criminals for this. They don’t have a name for me yet. I understand that criminality (“the criminal mind” or “sociopath” or “antisocial personality”) has its roots in the ancient past, and that we are all touched by those roots, though only a relatively few of us succumb. We need to be able to identify and restrain criminals. But punishing them beyond that won’t help. We should be educating the general population about how criminals can ruin their own personal lives, not just society in general. People are involved in a disconnect on this subject, and we need to get over it. Criminals are all around us, but they are a minority. We can handle them if we confront the fact that they exist.

The advance of technology

We have been making “improvements” based on technologies, that while new for this planet now, are not new in this universe. Many past societies have enjoyed the benefits of these technologies but nonetheless failed as civilizations. Others of those societies still exist. They hold themselves together, I am told, using draconian measures akin to tyranny or slavery. Those measures can appear to be “relatively painless” for anyone who goes along with the plan. The people on this planet, however, are here because we didn’t go along.

So here we are again, on the edge of what appears to me to be another tipping point. We have almost fully accepted technologies (smartphones, etc.) which can be used to enslave us. We have almost fully rejected technologies for spiritual enhancement that could keep us free. The criminals are waiting, somewhat patiently, for us to commit ourselves to our own enslavement, or not. Which will it be?

The Buck Stops Here

8 August 2020

I paused my stories from the American River Parkway for a week or two to concentrate on the challenges facing us as a nation and a people.

But I have a few new images to share, so let’s take a look.

Got bucks

I am not used to seeing bucks (male deer) along the bikeway. But this summer I have seen at least three. They are a bit shy – more difficult to photograph than the does (female deer) – but they have been very noticeable, mostly feeding on or sitting under trees.

This buck has “two points” (branches on its antlers) indicating it is getting older, but per hunting websites, this is not a reliable way to judge the age of the animal. A young animal that is strong and well-fed can grow antlers with several points in its second, even first, year.

This buck has larger antlers and seems older. With the other I’ve seen whose antlers aren’t yet branched, that makes three bucks in the park that I have spotted so far this year.

I have also seen does, of course, but haven’t noticed any fawns.

Gobble gobble

Turkeys show up a lot in the park. They are not particularly afraid of people, though they prefer to keep their distance. I have seen chicks this year, but they grow fast, and it quickly becomes difficult for me to tell how old these birds are.

I have never heard one of these birds make the noise that we attribute to them. They tend to be on the quiet side, but do make all sorts of sounds.

Wild flowers and wild people

During these hot summer months, I will usually only stop to photograph a flower if it is one I haven’t seen before. However, the tarweed are back out – blooming – again, which I didn’t totally expect. If you enlarge this photo, you can see the little droplets of “tar” that are exuded by this plant.

There are actually several plants blooming again at this time, but the flowers don’t generally last very long in the hot weather.

I might mention that while the blackberries are beginning to dry out, the wild grapes are beginning to ripen.

This next flower I will call a “goldenrod” although it is much more compact than what I was used to in Michigan.

Also in bloom now is a plant I almost passed by. It was difficult for me to identify, but matches best with “Brazilian vervain.” This plant is introduced from South America, and is not favored here, as it tends to get out of control. We can see, though, that is seems to be quite drought-tolerant.

It is a rather unique plant, with tiny bluish flowers in shorter spikes, and square-shaped stems that usually branch opposite. Leaves on this plant were very minimal.

And even though I have been going out on Fridays instead of Saturdays, the weekend rafting has already started.

As is obvious in this picture, these rafters don’t seem to be too concerned about getting sick, and do seem to be enjoying themselves. I would guess they may be operating on the maxim “enjoy it while you have it.” I am also guessing that they are not that much involved in the difficult situation we find ourselves in on this planet, nor think they can do much about it. My biggest difference with such an attitude is that I do think we should talk about it.

Identifying With Groups

5 August 2020

One of the most grievous errors I have witnessed in popular political “debate” is talking about groups as if they were individuals. Although this is a linguistic habit, and perfectly fine for many purposes, attributing particular beliefs or behaviors to particular groups, when they are more correctly seen as individual beliefs or behaviors, muddies the clarity of many arguments, often to the point where they become indefensible.

I have been “tuning in” to many “moderate” and “conservative” commentators in recent weeks. I favor them for their sincerity, authenticity and natural way of expressing themselves. The “Left” doesn’t seem to have such people right now.

I will name some I have found in recent weeks:

  • David Rubin (Rubin Report).
  • Eric Metaxas (a Christian, he does various podcasts)
  • David Hayes (another on the Christian “right”, he follows Q)

All these people, as well as the majority of their guests, as well as the majority of my friends who are inclined to other points of view, find something wrong with the current scene.

While those lean “left” tend to agree that Trump and the Russians are the source of the problem, those on the “right” tend to blame the “Democrats” or sometimes the “cabal” or the “deep state.” A few other fading voices, meanwhile, blame things on the “Zionists” or the “Globalists.”

The problem with blame

The problem with blame is that it is a reactive mechanism that doesn’t get us anywhere. Our first, but irrational, reaction to any impact, pain, attack is to blame someone or something else for it. This is really just the effort to separate from it, as this is something unwanted and could not therefore be a part of us.

According to the Third Party Law, unscrupulous individuals will take advantage of this impulse to bring people into violent conflict. They will work hard to provide each “side” with good reasons why the other “side” must be the source of the difficulty. This is seldom the truth.

After the Plague hit Europe in 1348, convenient targets to blame for it included God, Jews, the Romany (gypsies), and beggars. This resulted in waves of persecution, particularly against the Jews. These murders, of course, did not stop the disease. To this day, after all the study that has been done on the subject, the ultimate cause of the Plague remains uncertain, though the path of transmission can be traced to a set of Italian ships that had recently visited Crimea, which had been under attack by armies from the east, who reportedly were suffering from the disease at that time. If the initial carriers were not sailors, then they were rats. But the actual carriers were insects (fleas) living on the rats. The disease itself is triggered by a bacterium, and so responds to antibiotics (usually) although there is always the possibility that resistant strains may develop. The Plague still exists as a human disease on Earth.

Though we may dismiss the mistakes of the Middle Ages as due to superstition and lack of scientific knowledge, this is the best documented case I could come up with of a human problem misassigned to an incorrect causal agent, resulting in violent conflict and genocide. These “mistakes” continue to be made.

Fog of war

War is the realm of uncertainty; three quarters of the factors on which action in war is based are wrapped in a fog of greater or lesser uncertainty. A sensitive and discriminating judgment is called for; a skilled intelligence to scent out the truth.

Carl von Clausewitz, from his book “War”

Clausewitz expressed to the best of his ability (we trust) that sense of uncertainty or confusion that tends to engulf us as we strive for something (a better life?) that seems contested.

That a goal as universally acceptable as “a better life” should be contested is our first barrier in understanding the human condition. Who benefits from “a poor life?” Well, we have identified such people. They don’t really benefit from having others around them broken down and suffering, but they think they do. They are deluded on this point, and if there is anything that stands as an ultimate enemy to “a better life” on Earth, it is that delusion!

We have named such people variously, but my point is that they are individual people. They may band together for protection and a sort of “group validation of shared insanity,” but they can – and should – be identified as individuals and handled by society as individuals.

If there is anyone who we could apply this “fog of war” concept to, it is these people. Their attention is so elsewhere that they cannot see the current environment for what it really is (challenging, but in the main, friendly) and see enemies at every turn, even among close associates. And in “coping” with this false perception of their surroundings, they spread nothing but malicious lies and appalling “solutions.”

Let me be clear here again, if I haven’t before: These people are real. They have been studied for years by people like Robert D. Hare, Stanton Samenow and Andrzej Łobaczewski. There’s not question about this; the question is: What do we do about them?

Educational handlings

In the absence of a sane Mental Health system that would be able to sequester and possibly rehabilitate such people (it does happen!), our only alternative is to educate the general public about this. This would be a good idea in any case, and it is something my church has already embarked upon.

The major purpose of any broad public educational program is to increase awareness of a problem, give people reliable data they can use to make better decisions, and where possible, tools to help them handle personal encounters with the problem.

What I would like to see from more commentators is the realization that accusing groups of things that individuals do can be misleading and even feed into what criminals are hoping will happen – that we argue with each other while they get away with murder.

If any individual is aware of real crimes committed by specific persons, he should either report it publicly (as is the tradition in journalism) or find reliable persons who can be of genuine assistance, and forward the information to them. This second approach is used by CCHR and some other “watchdog” groups.

I am tired of hearing about how it’s all Trump’s fault, or it’s the Democrats, or the Chinese Communists or the Russians. If you know for sure, say who, and if you don’t, zip it!

From a comic book I made with my friend when I was a pre-teen, here depicting the secret underground hideout of a criminal organization somewhere in Eastern Europe…

Basic Principles

2 August 2020

I have written about these things before, and will likely write about them again. As I see events unfold, it seems necessary to restate these things and amplify their meanings as I continue to attempt to apply them.

These particular principles are not principles of action (such as the Buddhist “Eightfold Path”), nor are they principles of self-betterment, or of ultimate truth, or of science. They are principles I use to help me understand what is going on around be and to explain it to others. I feel it necessary to reassert them because so many others who write on history or current events ignore them.

In brief they are as follows:

  1. The personality is immortal, but not immutable.
  2. Life is a game composed of freedoms, purposes, and barriers.
  3. Outcomes and conditions of play can become undesirable when criminals are allowed to participate without restraint.

This list contains principles that are often explicitly denied by observers and commentators. There are other basic principles that tend to be implicitly agreed on:

  • Effects are produced by causes.
  • Effects may not always be intentional.
  • Players may lack awareness of the game and of each other.
  • Useful information can be gained by careful study.

Personality

Aspects of this subject have been discussed here and elsewhere on this blog.

I have sometimes written of the human personality as a “point of cause” or as a “spirit.” But in this context, the more common expression will serve. That we are immortal beings, totally free and indestructible in our essence, is seldom taken into account by most observers. Most never consider the ramifications of this fact, even if they consider that it might be true.

This is a central fact of life that has been purposely hidden from us because of the supposed “Pandora’s Box” that would open if it were widely believed. To the extent that a population does believe this, it tends to become “less manageable” but not, I think, in a bad way.

The personality, as a package of attitudes and behaviors (or reactions), results from personal experience, conclusions, and choices, made – not over one lifetime as many assume to be the case – but over a much longer stretch of time. That beings can become “set in their ways” is explained in part by the actual duration of their experience, but also by the fact that most of it remains forgotten, or unavailable for conscious re-evaluation. This can even be the case for early experiences this lifetime, which accounts for the continued popularity of psychotherapies.

Though evolutionary psychology has made some promising contributions to human understanding, its reliance on genetic transmission of behavior traits hinders it, as this is basically a falsehood. Rupert Sheldrake’s theory of “morphic resonance” is closer to the truth.

Could modern technologies be a product of morphic resonance?

Games

Games make life interesting. “Any game is better than no game.” While this fact of life results in a baffling array of human involvements, it is a powerful principle that is too often overlooked.

Games may be played over a wide range of self-awareness and self-determinism. At the low end we have the game of the slave and the victim, and the slave owner and victimizer. Though the criminals that like to create slaves and victims tend to see themselves as “superior beings” they really aren’t. The “narrative” supporting such games just makes it seem that way.

At the top of the scale we have games that extend far above the level of play easily accepted or tolerated on Earth today. On Earth you have sports as good examples of higher-level games. They are usually seen as enjoyable for all levels of participant. They have the brilliant feature of never ending. There is always another match to be played, another chance to demonstrate superior competence and to “win.”

Political and business activities are usually degraded games based on the sports model. You have teams (parties, companies) they have goals (influence, profit) they have freedoms (rights) and barriers (rules). To the extent that all this stays reasonably balanced and above-board, these games can stay relatively sane, but as these games directly impinge on human life and well-being, they tend to be taken too seriously, and to become degraded through the influence of criminal personalities.

Politics and business in their current state are highly degraded, and are intimately involved in the negative outcomes we are currently experiencing and that we have been experiencing for hundreds, thousands and millions (if not billions) of years.

Criminals

My church has released three “video essays” on the subject of the struggle between the criminal and the honest being:

Honest People Have Rights, Too

The Third Party Law

The Anti-Social Personality, The Social Personality

These videos (essays) cover basic facts of life that lie behind the subjects of Ethics and Justice.

As might not be totally obvious in these videos, the process of bringing order into a community (or any group, including family, business, nation) does not involve simply making laws and then locating and punishing those who violate them. It involves locating criminals, yes, but not by the criterion of: You broke the law. And once located, the criminal need not be punished (punishment itself being a criminal idea) but only handled in a way that will render him less dangerous and less toxic.

We get at least three very important derivatives from this data:

  1. Justice does not equate to punishment.
  2. Criminality is not defined by lawbreaking but by a secret intent to do harm.
  3. Thus, criminal personalities may exist in high places, undetected.

Though the motives of criminals are often described as “predatory” or “parasitical” these will often be less obvious than intent, as measured by the traits laid out in those videos. And though the mob may scream for “justice” in the form of punishment, this only leads to more criminality in the end.

We should become much more aware of the fact that crime can and does exist in high places and that people in those positions may use their ability to “control the narrative” though propaganda channels to deflect attention away from themselves onto false targets.

The “mud slinging” can become so socially acceptable and pernicious that people of good will can be persuaded to participate in it, and in so doing, degrade themselves as they forward lies concocted by others for no other purpose that to cause conflict and confusion. This is the level that society has currently stooped to, and it is very disheartening.

I hope that this brief discussion might result in more clear thinking and right action.

Propaganda

29 July 2020

After supporting the U.S. war effort in the early 1900s, Edward Bernays wrote a short book in 1928 entitled Propaganda.

He opened the work with this declaration:

The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.

We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society.

Our invisible governors are, in many cases, unaware of the identity of their fellow members in the inner cabinet.

They govern us by their qualities of natural leadership, their ability to supply needed ideas and by their key position in the social structure. Whatever attitude one chooses to take toward this condition, it remains a fact that in almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons—a trifling fraction of our hundred and twenty million—who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind, who harness old social forces and contrive new ways to bind and guide the world.

Edward Bernays, Propaganda, 1928

Bernays, then, sees society – or at least a free and democratic society – as a kind of “chaos” into which the opinion leaders, named and unnamed, bring order and agreement. This is his explanation of why an “invisible government” is so necessary and why his advice on how to use propaganda is so important to heed.

Shocked?

If the reader is shocked by this seemingly ostentatious assertion that free markets, true and open information, and individual choice are insufficient for a “smoothly functioning society” to operate, join the club. Though Bernays’ book is still available in both hard copy and PDF form, no one in the mainstream is likely to let you in on this fact. Though it is studied in some colleges I am sure, you are already half way through the membership process for our modern ruling class, so it’s OK for you to know about it.

But our rulers are very unlikely to come right out and admit that they are practicing “psychological warfare” on a daily basis, even though Bernays did after the first World War according to one of his biographers.

And therefore, though I (and many others) can breezily say that at least 90% of the information you receive on public communication lines today (and probably some on your personal lines as well) is propaganda, we’d be hard-pressed to “prove” it to you. If you really want to believe that all the newscasters, all the politicians, all the activists – even “members of the public” that you see interviewed on the media – are sincere and only want you to know what the truth really is, go ahead.

Who can I believe?

Many many individuals and groups are clamoring to get your attention and put their message across. Some are sincere, while others are total criminals. People therefore are forced to make decisions about what they will pay attention to and who they will trust. Thus, this decision-making process is the first target for creators of propaganda.

There is no substitute for being a well-informed, widely-read, and discerning person. I can only share some of the basics that I think are important in your quest for true data. I have listed these before, but that list is lost somewhere in the archives of this blog. I don’t keep these written down anywhere. I sort of reinvent them as I see the need to apply them.

  • Cultivate a certainty that liars exist, including very bad and vicious ones. If this is not clear to you from history, then study some more history. This is part of being on watch for antisocial personalities. My church has a video on this subject, but it is widely covered elsewhere as well. This personality type has been extensively studied due to the amount of trouble it causes. Realize that no sector of society is immune from this. He could be a king or a coal heaver.
  • Learn to recognize emotional tones in speaking and writing. While people sometimes put on theatrics to get a point across, be much more cautious about the whiner, and about the person who chooses his words with overly-painful care. Those people aren’t in a good place and are prone to lie or have poor ability to see what’s really there. The one who is fearful or tells you to be afraid, the one who is angry or hateful or urges you to be so, are likewise in deep emotional trouble, and you trust them at your peril.
  • Favor those who invite you to consider the data they have presented and make up your own mind. This is a valuable and cultivated trait in the honest person, although if the situation is extreme enough, they may leave this out in the hopes you can tell that what they are describing is obviously true.
  • Favor those who invite you to participate in how they understand the world by attempting to provide educational materials and explain technical words you aren’t familiar with. If this is done with sincerity, it demonstrates their willingness for you to make your own decisions based on your own understandings.

What the hell is going on out there?

Everyone seems to have their own take on who is “good” and who is “bad.”

Your best bet is to attempt to rise above the immediate conflict – even though the outcome of that conflict might affect you personally – and see the broader picture.

How broad a view you get depends to a certain extent on how broad a view you expect to get.

For example, I assume that ET and past lives play a role in any major drama being played out on Earth, whether it be the current ones or any in the past. And if conflict is involved, particularly if it includes considerable violence and death, I assume the Third Party Law is in play. For me these are basic assumptions. Although this tends to leave a picture with lots of missing data, I assume that more limited views of what is happening are even more incomplete. This has to do with my training, but if you look for evidence of these factors you will find them. Witness the Bernays quote above. The purveyors of propaganda are purposely making themselves “invisible.” To me, this is tantamount to a confession of criminal intent. Why would an honest man hide? Only, perhaps, if he wishes to avoid being detected by a higher enemy he is trying to defeat. Still, if he thought it out better, he’d probably realize that it is saner to stay visible.

Oddly, as Bernays notes, “Our invisible governors are, in many cases, unaware of the identity of their fellow members in the inner cabinet.” (Cabinet in this case referring to a ruling committee, such as the President uses to help operate the federal government.) This means we are not necessarily looking at a single unified criminal operation. There could be several at work, secretly at war with each other as they all try to keep us unaware of them by promoting conflicts. This has been pointed out by more astute commentators in the past. Most try to oversimplify in this regard. They assume that the “opposition,” to be effective, must be fully organized. This is not necessarily so. They just have to be better organized than we are.

I won’t go into great detail here, as much as I am tempted. The data on this are not that good, which leaves me guessing a lot more than I’d like.

The mainstream media seem most intent on their anti-Trump campaign. This is obviously more important to them than the pandemic, as they have lied about hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) to make Trump look bad. HCQ is a valid anti-viral therapy, particularly when combined with zinc. The mainstream is so intent on destroying Trump that they are willing to see people die needlessly because doctors are not using HCQ when they should be. The mainstream has blood on their hands, but this is nothing new for them. “Conservative” or “right wing” media, led by Fox, mounts a constant barrage of counter-attacks against the “Left.” Though the “Right” occupies moral higher ground at the moment, they are not in fact well known for this, and their defiance is, for the most part, theater. The more careful thinkers on the Right are doing a better job of sorting this out, but not much.

Who wants Trump gone? The portion of the “invisible government” that runs the mainstream media do, that’s obvious. Some people think this is no more than idiotic partisanship. I think there is more to it. The “Left” is not what is poised to take over if Trump goes down. The Democrats as a political party have almost entirely destroyed themselves. This must be the work of the “invisibles” as well. Bernays says those in the background want smooth functioning. I think that’s propaganda! I think they want chaos.

Who benefits from chaos in the U.S. or on the planet? We have fingers pointing at some of the countries that have already gone totalitarian, or have always been. I don’t think that’s accurate. Governments have real work to do. The totalitarian ones are closer to the “ideal scene” for whoever is trying to muscle in, that’s all.

Some (Patrick Wood) think it’s the Technocrats. Are these the same people Bernays refers to? That’s very possible. Yet we see a deep insincerity in the Bernays vision, which is much less obvious in those who are stepping forward with Technocratic solutions, like “Sustainability” and Permaculture. So I believe the public Technocrats are often sincere. Poorly-informed but sincere. The hidden Technocrats are better-informed and so more deceptive. They are prepared to violate the “rules of Technocracy” to achieve short-term political ends. Psychiatry, as a guild, stands with the bad Technocrats. The others – of both persuasions – are scattered around in the corporate world, work as political activists, or occupy more harmless positions in society.

But we know (thoroughly confirmed by Farsight) that ET is also involved. The Reptilian faction has been heavily involved in genetic experimentation. Beyond these facts, the details are less clear. There are rumors that the Secret Space Program is assisting the Reptilians with soldiers and possibly scientists. There are also stories of an ET slave trade. Earth is already a prison planet, so it is little wonder that ET would have plans to exploit us for our resources and labor. “Reps” have a reputation for sucking planets dry then leaving them for dead. They are promising to spare various groups on Earth from this fate if they cooperate. So they are. That’s my guess about why the criminality has become so pervasive.

A person makes mistakes when under the influence of a suppressive person or group. That’s what we are seeing on Earth now. I hope it can be turned around.

Though these three look a bit other-worldly, I don’t think they are part of the problem…

Pretty girls riding on a fire truck in support of a WSU support group, Pullman, 2014.

How to Control Your Slaves

26 July 2020

The following essay is despicably plagiarized from one written by Christer Petley, professor of history at the University of Southampton in the UK. It was published in the online magazine Aeon on 1 Nov 2018 under the title How Slaveholders in the Caribbean Maintained Control. I presume the original essay to be an accurate portrayal of how white British slaveholders handled large slave populations imported from Africa onto sugar plantations on islands like Jamaica.

This rendition is severely edited and meant as a cautionary “dark satire.”

How to Control Your Slaves

While it is no surprise that the whip is synonymous with slavery: its continual crack an audible threat to remind slaves that their lives and bodies are not their own, and that they should maintain (outwardly at least) a demeanor of dutiful subordination to their overlords, this is by no means the only tool, nor perhaps even the best one, with which to control slave populations.

Though throughout the Americas, the right of masters to punish slaves through the “Mental Health System” is enshrined in law, the violence needed to sustain slavery may require additional measures. Punishments could include amputation, disfiguring, branding and more. Slaves could also be put to death – a penalty most often enforced during the aftermath of rebellions.

But physical abuse alone should not be assumed to be the only way to keep your various lucrative enterprises productive. It is impossible to get large groups of people to perform sustained labor effectively and consistently for years on end simply through doling out pain and raw terror. Even the most brutal of slaveholders are therefore compelled to develop a more sophisticated system of management that exploits the aspirations and fears of the people they dominate.

Creating divisions between slaves is essential to this. Enslaved people often outnumber “free whites” by a ratio higher than 10 to one, in some large enterprises it may be closer to 100 to one. Managers therefore need to divide slaves in order to rule over them. The importation of slaves from various different countries provides one excellent opportunity. As a manager of several large Jamaican sugar estates remarked in 1804, it was a general policy to have ‘a mixture of nations so as to balance one set against another, to be sure of having two-thirds join the whites’ (in the event of an uprising). The theory behind this is that slaves from one nation would refuse to join rebellions plotted by those from others, or by locally born slaves, choosing instead to serve their masters in the hope of rewards for loyal service.

Privileging some enslaved people above others is another effective means of sowing discord. Slaveholders should encourage complex social hierarchies amounting to something like a system of ‘class’. At the top of slave communities would be skilled men, trained up at the behest of managers to become process engineers, machinists, carpenters, welders, masons and drivers. Such men should be, in general, materially better-off than “field slaves” (most of whom may be women and children).

The most important members of this enslaved elite should be the middle managers, responsible for enforcing discipline and work routines among the other enslaved workers. These men are essential to effective enterprise management – a conduit for orders and, sometimes, for negotiations between overseers and the masses. But be warned: They are also among the strongest survivors!

The privileges conferred on the enslaved elite may take many forms: better food, more food, better clothing, more clothing, better and bigger housing, even the prospect (in some rare cases) that a master might use his last will and testament to free them. Conferring on enslaved people a full Christian name and surname – by baptism or some similar process, may help to distinguish them from the multitude. The Church is one of the pillars of our establishment, and so being baptized into it confers prestige.

As an owner you should understand its reinventive power. One owner reports that ‘many of the best slaves’ are christened in this manner, ‘whenever they deserve it; this makes them better slaves.’ (By which he means harder-working, more loyal.) None of this means that the more elite slaves should be invited to live as the equals of their masters. Far from it. But slaveholders know that things such as smarter clothes, superior nutrition, an occasional drink of ‘port’, or even initiation into the Church can help to diminish the prospect of successful open resistance. This, coupled with the inevitably grisly consequences of a failed rebellion, helps to persuade large numbers of enslaved people to attempt to survive their ordeal by negotiating within the system.

The various privileges extended to the more elite slaves help to create a conservative attitude among them – keen to protect what they have gained. They also produce an aspirational culture, of sorts, within the slave community – a bleak and tragic shadow of the ‘American dream’ of independence and riches that motivates most slaveholders. Those slaves who live long enough and are not physically or psychologically broken can aim to join the ranks of the skilled, privileged elite. And there is evidence that those who win the favor of their overlords, thus avoiding field work, will cherish those advantages. One slave in Barbados even killed his successor, and then committed suicide when a manager stripped him of his job as a security guard.


This advice may upset common assumptions about slavery – and about slaves. In the popular imagination there has been a tendency to perceive enslaved people either as downtrodden victims or as romantic rebels. It is a contradictory simplification. The bland confining categories of ‘victim’ or ‘rebel’ (or even ‘collaborator’) cannot properly capture the experiences or choices of enslaved people, including those of middle managers, of the clergy, or of security guards.

Those people show us, instead, that slavery is as complex as it is cruel. Negotiating its grim realities requires determination, skill, and selfishness. It is next to impossible to endure without making moral compromises. All enslaved people – from the newly trafficked to seasoned field workers; from children forced to work as soon as they could sit in a school chair, to experienced middle managers – respond to their predicaments in ordinary ways, albeit under extraordinary pressures. They do what they can to keep alive and, if possible, to capitalize on scant opportunities within the system in which they are trapped.

However complex and divided we make the slave community, however many people we allow to carve out precarious positions of relative comfort, make sure they are struggling to live within a system designed to promote disunity, anxiety and fear. Even the most valued of middle managers should be subject to arbitrary demotion. Some brave or desperate souls may choose to flee. But the fine-tuned system of divide and rule helps to deter all but the most determined of rebels.

With the outbreak of the Haitian Revolution in 1791 and the growing influence of humanitarian campaigning, we see a danger that the inner workings of the slave system will buckle and break. Don’t let them seize opportunities to undermine the world that the slaveholders have made! We must know that, in the end, we are doing the right thing!

Science and Slavery

24 July 2020

“What does the science tell us?”

This is one of the most ubiquitous phrases in modern rhetorical prose. For all intents a purposes, it did not exist as a phrase 30 years ago. What happened?

As the mask wars rage on on Facebook (and Twitter also, I imagine) I yearned for a better understanding of the underlying situation.

Human Rights

First up, the Draft Report of the Commission on Unalienable Rights got published, with a request for comments. I wrote a response on this blog, and emailed a copy to the State Department. They published it! So I sat down and read all the comments. They were for the most part not salutary.

Quip about Facebook

Then I heard this. I can’t remember now who said it: “Facebook’s product is people using Facebook. What keeps people using Facebook? Arguments!”

The Codevilla article

Next, I ran across a long essay entitled America’s Ruling Class by Angelo M. Codevilla, originally published as an article in The American Spectator in 2010. Codevilla served as a U.S. Navy officer, a foreign service officer, and professional staff member of the Select Committee on Intelligence of the United States Senate. He was working as a professor in international relations when he wrote the article. In the essay he posits the existence of a “Ruling Class” dedicated to the secular laws of science, and a “Country Class” desperately attempting to remain true to the higher laws of their faith.

The menace of Socialism

Most recently, I witnessed various exhortations and exchanges on the subject of Socialism and Marxism. We have the fact, for instance, that the original organizers of BLM are proud of their training in Marxist ideology. There are in fact many persons who think what this world really needs is more Marxism, or Socialism, and less Capitalism.

Talking past each other

And finally I realized that the “two sides” in most of these arguments were talking past each other. They had come to base their lives and world views on different sets of assumptions, and each saw the other’s assumptions as inferior.

The scientific/secular world view

I was brought up to value scientific and secular thought over “religious ideas.” I was never taught any explicit set of moral values. It took Ivan Illich, a Roman Catholic priest, to remind me (in his book Deschooling Society) that secular systems were experiencing possibly unintended negative outcomes in broad sectors of society. They had no moral compass.

At the time I was reading that book, we were also living through the Vietnam War. I had also read Hersey’s Hiroshima. While I learned of the civil rights struggle through magazine articles, I also sat on a high school “Biracial Committee” created as a response to racial violence at my school. I was very aware of negative outcomes!

The adults around me were oddly quiet about what was going on. I don’t think they had a clue what to say, and so remained silent.

And in this way a generation was spawned which lacked any moral education. Brought up without religion, we were taught to value empirical knowledge over faith, rational thought over belief. We thought we were right. But the “negative outcomes” raged on.

The faith-based world view

I was impressed by the convictions of the faithful, if not their behavior. Faith seemed to lead some to indulge in terrorist acts (Ireland, the Middle East). And I learned that even Nazi soldiers had believed that God was really on their side.

I had studied the history of India. It seemed their faith had not saved them from nearly endless warfare, either. Except, perhaps, for the legendary Ashoka, who had taken up Buddhism after witnessing first hand the appalling suffering caused by warfare. Ashoka had created a little bright bubble of peace and happiness on the Indian continent. It had lasted for, maybe, 50 years, yet is remembered to this day.

I also briefly studied the history of Indochina, with similar results. And I got a taste of what had been going on in the Islam world when I read a biography of T.E. Lawrence, and his own book, Seven Pillars of Wisdom.

I never really looked into the Enlightenment, the intellectual movement that set the stage for the “revolutions” of the late 1700s. But it seems that their emphasis on “freedom” came from the fact that the rational ideas that were being advanced by science were being opposed by a powerful and dominating church. When science finally won that battle, freedom no longer seemed that important.

Yet at the time of the Declaration of Independence, faith in God, as well as the freedom to believe as one wished, were both still important among thinking men. And we should recall that religion had always offered its own brand of freedom, the promise of a life in heaven, free of the cares and sufferings of earthly life.

And so the faithful continued to believe in the value of freedom, and placed it higher than the rationality of science and its technologies.

Fight to the death?

Codevilla saw a world almost hopelessly divided between an immoral minority who had gained power by gaining control over the production of many of the things people need and want, and an honest majority who kept the world running even as their resources were slowly diminished.

The Left – Right (Democrat – Republican) dichotomy was a falsehood, maintained for show, and based on a former struggle (over slavery!) that seemed distant and forgettable. The real dichotomy of freedom versus bondage went unrecognized, brushed off as an unimportant detail. In the world of the ruling class, slavery was inevitable. In the world of honest people, no means could be found to improve the situation. The fake dichotomy of left-versus-right was being constantly reasserted, burying the real dichotomy on a battlefield of vapid political discourse.

A synthesis

What I had learned about faith, morals, and intellectual freedom was both interesting and upsetting. And it would have remained that way if I hadn’t stumbled upon Hubbard’s synthesis offering a solution to the moral problems of science and the rational problems of religion. Hubbard had discovered, by rational means, the existence of immortal life in every human being, and by extension, in every living thing.

In so doing, he had become convinced that freedom and morality remained very important factors in life. And that we needed to apply those principles in all sectors of life, including the sciences and related secular endeavors.

Freedom, for the first time, became a rational idea. Not only could it be applied directly to the problem of spiritual liberation, but it could be seen as an essential factor in living, alongside barriers, and purposes. These were the three basic elements in all games. And play was at the core of human happiness. Freedom became a moral and ethical imperative because happy people were productive people. It explained why both slavery and total permissiveness are unworkable. They both result in no game, no happiness, and no production; death.

Exploring the intersection of science and spirit

Beyond the rarefied confines of Scientology (available for all to see on our own TV channel), lies the rest of the world, still struggling to make sense of it all. In exploring ways that I could connect with people to let them know that the problem has been solved, I have run into many different groups and individuals somehow making progress under their own steam. They are a proud and defiant lot, and most would rather die trying than admit they should have paid more attention to Hubbard.

Psychology and psychiatry

Meet the science-comes-first students and healers of the psyche! By ignoring the obvious (that the psyche isn’t physical) they have lost their place in the annals of history as a vanguard into a new age and ended up, instead, a pitiful footnote. But they are still trying.

The medical school at the University of Virginia has had a Division of Perceptual Studies since the 1960s, where Ian Stevenson did pioneering work in the field of past life recall in children. That work continues.

Jeffrey Mishlove has become a sort of intellectual overseer in the field of parapsychology, which has been widely studied for many years.

Kelly Brogan is a psychiatrist who leads the way into the brave new world of drugless health care. Watch out for her! Meanwhile, psychologist Linda Lagemann has defected to the world of Scientology where her work exposing the lack of morals in the “science” of mental health has been very valuable.

Remote viewing

Courtney Brown and his viewers at the Farsight Institute have managed to validate some of Hubbard’s most esoteric findings, though they have missed their chance, perhaps, at attaining true freedom. Maybe next life?

Experiencers and Consciousness

Former astronaut Edgar Mitchell saw fit to assist in the formation of a few different initiatives in this direction. His Institute of Noetic Sciences studies various aspects of consciousness and has a New Age feel to it. His Foundation for Research into Extraterrestrial and Extraordinary Experiencers has collected and analyzed the stories of people who have been interacting with “higher levels of consciousness.” Their findings so far are very interesting. There are many who may wish they hadn’t overlooked this work while they still had time to get prepared.

Modern headlines – a loose application of basic principles

Here are a few recent stories from CalMatters, an independent news organization, with my comments.

California is burning through 46 million masks a month as hospital systems and frontline workers face shortages

Can you imagine how many masks hospitals and clinics go through? They have to dispose of them every few hours. No one ever figured out how to reuse hospital masks. Too late now. The biggest mask manufacturers are in China. That seems a little ironic to me.

Speaking of China: Lovers of freedom see China as a huge problem because of Communism. While lovers of science marvel at what China has been able to achieve – by hook or by crook – technology-wise. But now that U.S. multinationals are heavily invested in China (and Chinese are heavily invested in the U.S.), we are bound together like Siamese twins who can’t learn how to be friends.

Schools opening for child care raise questions — and lawsuits

Many lovers of freedom don’t want to send their kids back to school. If kids have to wear masks and can’t interact physically, those parents would rather home school. These people widely feel that the primary purpose of compulsory schooling is daycare so both parents can work, while their children get indoctrinated into the dogma of secular science.

Meanwhile, the lovers of science want their kids in school so they can learn to be good little scientists while both parents work so they can afford their nice house and car and maybe someday college….

California college students appeal for more financial aid

One of the most amazing things that happened in my lifetime was the dystopian nightmare of college loans. Loans were offered to less fortunate students in the rather cynical (I think) belief that with the higher-paying job they could get after finishing college, they’d be able to pay back the loan.

The loans helped tuition prices spiral out of control. Someone was getting rich – not sure who. And more kids than ever were getting exposed to the message that devotion to secular science beats a life based on fundamental moral values. The result has been an explosion of criminal behavior in the new ruling class. You can still start a business and be prosperous without going to college. But you can’t join the new ruling class without going to college.

More on Human Rights

21 July 2020

In my attempts to get better informed about the work of the Commission on Unalienable Rights, I looked at some of the videos of testimony which they received from experts in the field. One video I watched was a presentation (speech) made by Thor Halvorssen of the Human Rights Foundation (HRF).

Perhaps Mr. Halvorssen’s defining experience in this regard is given here:

On February 1, 2005, our founder’s mother was shot by the Venezuelan government while she was protesting their corruption in the streets. But no matter what Thor Halvorssen did, no one would take action to hold the Venezuelan government accountable.

Human Rights Foundation website

Here we have a relatively recent example of a modern regime gone suppressive. It didn’t make this transformation as noisily as, say, Germany in the 1930s. But nevertheless, it did.

Venezuela was a developing democracy. But it was also rich in oil. And with those riches (or so it seems), temptations. In fact, the national government had never been very stable. Like all “third world” nations with valuable natural resources, its governments were under constant pressure to grant special deals and play favorites, both in the world arena and locally.

But I do not, in fact, know that much about Venezuela. It is just that this is one of many nations across the planet where basic human rights are no longer protected by legal institutions (if they ever were).

Governments attract criminals

The point I have always made about this is that the general population creates, or tolerates, governments in the expectation that a certain level of organized violence is necessary to protect the people from criminal organized violence so they can get on with life. Governments, then, are the people’s last line of defense against criminal incursions, and so a constant target for criminal infiltration.

If you do not “believe” that such a thing as a “criminal mind” exists, then we have a problem. All I can say is that when people who are able to look do look, they find it. The phenomenon has been reported by so many different observers (even psychiatrists!) that I see no good reason to challenge it.

The idea that the “line” between what is criminal and what is acceptable has been moving over the years in favor of human rights is persuasive, but in the end, hollow. What we say has never matched that well with what we do. And that pertains to criminals in particular. If a criminal thinks that verbal support for human rights will make him more popular or acceptable, he’ll say he supports human rights. But he assumes that all people lie about what they really think, and he knows he does.

Crime and business

Even criminals need some way to sustain themselves, so they either find ways to latch on to more legitimate human activities, or they die.

There are many mechanisms of attachment. Some criminals work to become licensed professionals, then use that license to protect their criminal practices. Others find ways to get rich, then find activities – legitimate or otherwise – to invest in so that they can live off profits without having to work. Some aspire to academic positions where they can have influence in government and industry while avoiding responsibility for the actions taken by others based on their false data. And, some seek to rule.

Though human trafficking was always considered morally repugnant, the fact is that this activity could be indulged in legally up until quite recently in history, in most places. Likewise, wars of conquest. Realize that India was “conquered” originally, not by the British Crown, but by a business operating under a crown charter. This business employed its own soldiers, its own negotiators, its own bureaucrats. This still happens.

But where a business, criminal or not, can work in concord with the government of the territory in which it is operating, such an arrangement can be mutually beneficial.

Business and government

In the end, many of us come to the realization that government is a kind of business. It’s “business practices” are a bit “odd” compared to ordinary commercial companies, but they share all the same basic elements and mechanisms. In such a wise, large governments and large businesses may often see eye-to-eye on many subjects.

It might seem that, considering the above, a culture that wants to do well should very adamantly demand that business and government should remain separated as much as possible. This may be a valid argument, yet most people, in practice, find it just too demanding.

Just as I, in helping my church to gather data about psychiatry – by long tradition an outlaw profession – learn more about its individual members and thus tend to feel more friendly to some of them, so it works in government, particularly where it is mandated to regulate businesses.

Under this same concept, any political philosophy that required government to operate commercial concerns, or cooperate very closely with them, would seem fundamentally flawed.

Socioeconomic “rights”

Scholars of the subject of human rights distinguish rights which are essentially political (such as freedom of speech) with rights that involve access to services that are often provided by the business sector. These are sometimes spoken of when referring to the ‘social safety net.”

The thing about these “rights” which Halvorssen points to is that they can be provided (or at least appear to be) by regimes that do not grant citizens the usual political rights. However, in this wise, the population loses its legal power and authority to correct any socioeconomic omissions. He assures us that this has actually happened in places like Cuba.

These “rights,” then can be held in front of a population like a carrot, tempting it to allow authoritarian rule in exchange for their basic freedoms. This is the dilemma of the slave. That the authoritarian usually lies in this regard is often overlooked by persons who wish to be charitable to authoritarian regimes, particularly ones that seem to embrace “socialism.”

The proof, however, is in the pudding. And if the population is not allowed to speak and report freely on what is occurring in the streets and towns of the nation, then how are we supposed to know if the pudding is worthy of praise, or a total disaster?

Full version of my featured image, a drawing done in high school.

Slavery

On July 27, 2018, the Human Rights Foundation released a report entitled Authoritarianism and Trafficking in Persons.

Modern slavery is an odd phenomenon. The planet now is more or less fully populated. Three are plenty of people in every region, country, of the world, to do the work needed to produce items for local consumption and for trade. Yet living conditions are so bad in some areas that many people would rather leave as slaves than stay. I don’t think this was true of the old African slave trade to the New World. My impression is that most Africans back then were forced into slavery on pain of death. Nowadays, slaves can be procured using advertising techniques.

Modern slavery, though illegal, is for the most part operated by business-like groups, just as it has always been. Suppressive regimes assist mostly by tolerating these activities, creating conditions that people wish to escape from, and providing labor pools in the form of detention camps or similar operations. This is not to say that authoritarians do not benefit financially from these activities. But if they are true criminals, this is not even their major purpose in life. They are afraid of other living beings, and wish them to suffer, which makes the suppressive person feel safer.

The report gives three examples and also discusses the U.S. role.

In modern China (though this may have been going on for centuries, since it also happens in Japan), refugees from North Korea are used as slaves. In North Korea, people who wish to leave and succeed, if later captured, are kept in prisons. They may later try to leave again. Meanwhile the prisons function more or less as slave camps, propping up the North Korean rulers. In China, enslaved people work as sex slaves or merely domestic workers, or factory workers.

In modern Cuba, Cubans are trafficked into the U.S. and other places for a variety of purposes. Cuba also serves as a relay point for some countries in Africa. Cuba presents itself as a “spiritual” country, materially poor, but happy. But it is deeply involved in the modern slave trade, and the HRF reports that its leaders personally benefit from that trade.

In Thailand, an authoritarian regime allows fishing businesses and others to enslave workers from its own country as well as people from other places. Some of those products I am sure end up in democratic countries like Japan and the United States.

This report gave these three examples. I can only imagine how difficult it is to extract true data from an authoritarian country. The people there are under constant threats of reprisal if they complain. But we know very well that many other countries have similar problems. Per an HRF analysis, which is updated every three months, over half of the population of earth lives under authoritarian regimes, and so are subject to impoverishment and slavery with no legal recourse locally.

"poverty"
Two color print from linoleum blocks, made in junior high art class.

Is the planet lost?

Things look really really bad to me. But that doesn’t mean that the situation can’t be turned around. After all, all those enslaved and suppressed people come back after they die, and perhaps some of them will end up in a place where they have more freedom and opportunity, will remember, and will be able to help all the activists already working on this issue to do something about it.

However, we are headed into a techno-machine world that has traditionally depended on slavery to operate. This is because life in such a place becomes so intolerable that people will only stay if they are forced to. Though experiments were made to see if a population, Matrix-like, could be lured into a sort of “happy slavery” using entertainment and other gimmicks, this does not seem to work that well, at least not on Earth.

How do we preserve sanity as our population expands and our space contracts? Though our current Secretary of State can proudly say that the United States still “leads the way” in the field of human rights, that’s not saying much. We stand today as a huge consumer of illegal drugs, slave labor, and other items and services produced by criminals. And it is not the State Department that can solve that problem.

List of rights

Though it seems like an afterthought, the rights in the Universal Declaration (see HumanRights.com), are listed below in a shortened form used with children:

1. We Are All Born Free & Equal. We are all born free. We all have our own thoughts and ideas. We should all be treated in the same way.
2. Don’t Discriminate. These rights belong to everybody, whatever our differences.
3. The Right to Life. We all have the right to life, and to live in freedom and safety.
4. No Slavery. Nobody has any right to make us a slave. We cannot make anyone our slave.
5. No Torture. Nobody has any right to hurt us or to torture us.
6. You Have Rights No Matter Where You Go. I am a person just like you!
7. We’re All Equal Before the Law. The law is the same for everyone. It must treat us all fairly.
8. Your Human Rights Are Protected by Law. We can all ask for the law to help us when we are not treated fairly.
9. No Unfair Detainment. Nobody has the right to put us in prison without good reason and keep us there, or to send us away from our country.
10. The Right to Trial. If we are put on trial this should be in public. The people who try us should not let anyone tell them what to do.
11. We’re Always Innocent Till Proven Guilty. Nobody should be blamed for doing something until it is proven. When people say we did a bad thing we have the right to show it is not true.
12. The Right to Privacy. Nobody should try to harm our good name. Nobody has the right to come into our home, open our letters, or bother us or our family without a good reason.
13. Freedom to Move. We all have the right to go where we want in our own country and to travel as we wish.
14. The Right to Seek a Safe Place to Live. If we are frightened of being badly treated in our own country, we all have the right to run away to another country to be safe.
15. Right to a Nationality. We all have the right to belong to a country.
16. Marriage and Family. Every grown-up has the right to marry and have a family if they want to. Men and women have the same rights when they are married, and when they are separated.
17. The Right to Your Own Things. Everyone has the right to own things or share them. Nobody should take our things from us without a good reason.
18. Freedom of Thought. We all have the right to believe in what we want to believe, to have a religion, or to change it if we want.
19. Freedom of Expression. We all have the right to make up our own minds, to think what we like, to say what we think, and to share our ideas with other people.
20. The Right to Public Assembly. We all have the right to meet our friends and to work together in peace to defend our rights. Nobody can make us join a group if we don’t want to.
21. The Right to Democracy. We all have the right to take part in the government of our country. Every grown-up should be allowed to choose their own leaders.
22. Social Security. We all have the right to affordable housing, medicine, education, and childcare, enough money to live on and medical help if we are ill or old.
23. Workers’ Rights. Every grown-up has the right to do a job, to a fair wage for their work, and to join a trade union.
24. The Right to Play. We all have the right to rest from work and to relax.
25. Food and Shelter for All. We all have the right to a good life. Mothers and children, people who are old, unemployed or disabled, and all people have the right to be cared for.
26. The Right to Education. Education is a right. Primary school should be free. Our parents can choose what we learn.
27. Copyright. Copyright is a special law that protects one’s own artistic creations and writings; others cannot make copies without permission. We all have the right to our own way of life and to enjoy the good things that art, science and learning bring.
28. A Fair and Free World. There must be proper order so we can all enjoy rights and freedoms in our own country and all over the world.
29. Responsibility. We have a duty to other people, and we should protect their rights and freedoms.
30. No One Can Take Away Your Human Rights.

Understanding Human Rights

20 July 2020

On 16 July, 2020, the U.S. State Department released a report put together by a commission created by Secretary Pompeo for that purpose. The report is entitled “Report of the Commission on Unalienable Rights.”

The State Department exists to assist our government in implementing foreign policy and to provide government representatives in countries around the world who act to protect U.S. citizens and interests in those countries, and to serve as liaisons to foreign governments. In recent years, dating back to the mid-1980s perhaps, our State Department has come to be known for its human rights monitoring activities. I am only aware of them becoming a major factor in diplomacy in the past 10 years or so. Previously, the byword of our foreign policy had always been “democracy,” not “human rights.” You can look at the founding documents of a nation and see whether it is a democracy or not. But how well it protects the rights of its citizens is more difficult to discern.

This report has been widely seen by Trump opponents as a sort of cynical way to reframe the issue of human rights in ways that support the viewpoints of the new administration. The whole gay rights question is de-emphasized, while religious freedom (or tolerance) is brought forward.

For me, those quibbles are not substantive. What this report does for me is give me an opportunity to repeat my view of the proper context for understanding the subject of human rights, note where the scholarly view has traditionally fallen short, and to see if I can find any evidence that this group of scholars has achieved a better understanding of the subject.

Spiritual background of the subject

It has been with considerable difficulty that any progress has been made in understanding the more basic truths that underlie our existence on this planet at this time. Search high and low, and we find minimal data on this subject that can be characterized as anything above the level of myth and speculation. I briefly summarize this data:

As individuals, as personalities, as beings, we began our journeys in this reality as non-material points of cause. We quickly assembled for ourselves a “playground” of sorts. Today that “playground” is known as the Physical Universe. As bodyless beings, we had no need for “rights.” We were, in our native forms, invincible and immortal. We could engage in games with each other of a most violent and furious form. But in our thirst for “experience,” we gradually added factors to these games that included concepts like “right/wrong” and “good/bad.” We chose to identify ourselves with objects we had created, and to accuse each other of “violations” whenever those objects became lost or damaged. Today, the primary object we identify with “me” is the body. Secondary objects include our possessions.

Out of what could easily be interpreted to be a decline in the level of game, we evolved sets of “rules” that seemed to be necessary to keep the game going at an acceptable level of play. One example of an early set of such rules is the Ten Commandments. Most human societies have such rules. Some of them are more severe and would be considered “less Christian.” The advantage of the more “Christian” rules seemed to be in the degree of security and happiness they secured for more players, the women and children in particular, but also many men who, not wanting or needing to be warriors, grew tired of being called on to fill that role.

The key roles in those traditional games of human society that most of us still value and seek to promote are reflected in our game of chess: king and queen, knight, rook, bishop and pawns. (Chess, by the way, seems to have arrived in Europe via Persia, and has several Asian variants.) We see in these roles: governance, military, the support structure for these (rook), religion or popular local management (bishop) and everyone else.

The need for a military role

The role of the “knight,” soldier or warrior, is to fight for the defense, or advancement, of some group, and be perfectly willing to die in that fight. Traditionally, the spiritual value of the soldier seems to rest in his ability to perfect his willingness to die, for in so doing, his courage is also perfected. As far as I know, these more spiritual concepts of soldiery are dead, but I could be wrong about that.

But what is it about modern games that continues to make this role so important? From my point of view, this devolves to the central and basic problem in any game but especially human games: Those who can’t or don’t want to play “by the rules.” And though for much of history “the rules” allowed for the pursuit of war, after our more recent experiences with this aspect of play (WWII in particular), humans began to get the feeling that we had taken this aspect of play too far, and it was time to outlaw it; to make it into a “bad” activity. Wanton violence had always been frowned upon, particularly when it was directed at the defenseless (anyone other than a “knight”). Now that officially includes the act of war itself. This is noted for its significance in history, though it has no particular bearing on the flow of this discussion.

What keeps the “warrior” role important today is crime and the violence that surrounds it. In my view, this has always been the more important role of the warrior. Though “crime” now technically includes war (making the soldier, oddly, into a kind of “criminal”) it can be more broadly defined as any action that violates the basic rules of the game. Crimes are compulsively committed by “criminals” but often by others out of desperation, greed, ignorance or other factors. When crime involves violence, a warrior is often called on to defend the victims, or to try to catch or stop the criminal. As the criminal often uses weapons, this explains why most “warriors” also prefer to be armed.

The basic rules of human games

Traditionally, human rules (or law) applied mostly to governance, management and warriors. These were considered the real players. But there has been constant pressure from the bishops and pawns to be included in these games as players, and so the rules, and their enforcement, have been gradually extended to include everyone. The traditional focus of law, however, remains.

The basic rules of play follow the basic needs of human groups to survive. These include some way to “own” and defend resources like land, food and shelter, the need to protect “innocents” (women and children and elders) so that the group can survive in body and in culture, and above these, some sense of justice, responsibility, beauty and virtue. These basic rules are “inalienable” in the sense that they go with the basic human game of life. If they aren’t followed, the game of human life could end.

In any attempt to list these rules, the notion of seeing them as “rights” appears as one way to frame them in language. But we could also list them out as a set of essential activities that require protection if the game is going to continue. There is also a sort of philosophical component to the list, which has to do with the level of society where these rules begin to be important. As social norms, they could be seen to apply most strongly at the group level, as that is where they must originate. But there has been a persistent urging to elevate the importance of the individual in the games of life. Historically, individuals (including great leaders like Christ and Gandhi) have suffered so often when the rules were applied to favor the interests of the group, that today it is seen proper to extend these rules to protect individuals and not groups only. In this sense, our current concepts of “rights” are anti-democratic!

Responsibilities of leaders

You cannot be a leader if no one is willing to follow you because you only look out for yourself at the expense of the interests of others. This has continued to be a huge problem with leaders. Yet most leaders, if questioned, would agree that they serve to forward the purpose of keeping the game going, and that means looking out for all the players and seeing that their ability to participate in the game is protected, and perhaps even enhanced.

In modern terms this means that leaders have a responsibility to their followers, their “people,” to protect the game and protect each one’s right to play. Beyond that, leaders may strive to enhance the ability of individuals to be players. But the traditional assumption is that this ability is not much in question; if given the right and opportunity, most people will do just fine as players.

The popular expectation of leaders, then, is embodied in the words of our Declaration of Independence (as a relatively modern example):

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”

The popular expectation is, then, that government will act to secure the rights of the governed to life, liberty (freedom) and the pursuit of happiness. In this tradition, there is no expectation that government can ensure that happiness will result. In more modern traditions, this expectation sometimes plays a stronger role.

Most bluntly, though, what this reduces to in terms of the activities of government is to protect its population from criminals and criminal acts. Of course, if the government itself turns criminal “we have a problem.” But this was never the primary concern of the governed, from what I can tell. They needed the basic protections against theft, violence, famine and so forth that threatened their survival on a daily basis. They assumed that governments could be capable of this, and were not quickly persuaded that governments would lose that capability. At the local level, the police were seen as the protectors, and as long as there were a few police around, things should be okay. At the local level, the police held the warrior role.

Governments as criminals

The picture painted by the history of human rights is one that seems quite contrary to the above expectations. Governments and tyrants are seen as the great criminals of history. And so our “rights” are framed in the context of protecting us from government infringements. But this does not necessarily coincide with the experience of the people. The level of government where those battles over “rights” were fought was usually the national level. Yet the reach of national governments rarely extends to the daily lives of people. Most people deal first with local governments, local police, and local criminals. Their concerns are usually focused on crime and the police, and not on government or legal concepts.

This, then, I see as the proper and more understandable context of Human Rights. In this context, governance and warriors are assumed to be in a position of being able to protect the rights of the people against the encroachments of criminals. The big question is how successful they are.

To get all caught up in the problems of criminality in governance, while relevant, misses the point. The problem we have as we attempt to play the game of human life is crime, not government. The stress of any campaign to strengthen the protection of human rights should be aimed at the correct target: Crime. The correct target is not governance, or warriors. They only become targets if they go criminal. And though this is a very common problem, to dwell on it as if it were central is incorrect.

The report mentioned earlier – the supposed raison d’etre for this piece – contains but one paragraph that I could find that addresses this most important and central theme underlying the subject of human rights:

Rise of Human Rights Violations by Non-State Organizations.

Non-state actors have long posed a challenge for human rights, which paradigmatically apply only between nation-states and the individuals under their jurisdiction. Recent years, however, have seen an alarming multiplication of the number and diversity of non-state groups responsible for large-scale human rights violations including, for example, terrorist groups, transnational organized-crime networks, purveyors of child pornography, and organizations engaged in human trafficking. These non-state organizations are often based in fragile states that lack the capacity or political will to address the abuses originating within their territories. In such weak states, the relative power and autonomy of multinational corporations and other business enterprises can present complex challenges for the promotion and protection of human rights as well.

Report of the Commission on Unalienable Rights

And there it is. The above paragraph succinctly states the core of our problem. It lists all the important criminal players, along with some (legitimate businesses) that can turn criminal. I believe it underestimates the problem of “weak states.” This has been a concern for centuries, even in “developed” countries. The main problem in the past was that the criminals were often able to persuade governments to legalize – and protect – their criminality. This remains a major concern to this day, in all nations.

Strategy for improved success

Laid out this way, I hope a way forward becomes more clear. It begins with naming the real target responsible for human rights abuses, the criminal. This target must be more fully understood. Its tactics must become well-known and counter-tactics must become more fully developed. In modern times, this means far more than “wars against…” This expression has been applied so variously to so many different activities, and with so little result! It means a revival of dialog that will result in the establishment of best practices in all sectors of society where crime might lurk. The distribution of criminals in society is perhaps the key to understanding why this viewpoint is not more widely used. Crime lurks in all sectors; none can claim total freedom from it. Thus the need for counter-balancing structures (such as those set up by the U.S. Constitution) that will assist to “keep everybody honest.” This understanding also frames the problem of gaining enthusiasm for a real crackdown on crime.

The basic strategy, then, would be to enable and strengthen the various elements in society that are expected to play key roles in the restraint or elimination of crime. This includes all individuals who wish to participate as players in the games of life. They need basic information to counter the disinformation they often receive from criminal interests trying to confuse them and their allegiances. But the focus of our more visible efforts would be aimed at the levels of management, up through the warrior classes and of course including the governing classes. I use this terminology because it matters not to me exactly what system any particular nation or culture uses to achieve human rights. It matters much more to me that human rights are actually achieved. Thus, the managers, the warriors, the leaders must have programs of education and training made available to them that will appeal to them, speak to the problems they face, and help them to successfully overcome those problems. What I am saying, then, is that they have been missing a technology. And that is the technology of how to protect the human rights of their people against criminal incursions. They will never have success in this if they cannot find a technology that works. We can talk about human rights until the end of time. If we don’t know the basics of how to achieve them, they will never be achieved.

Ann Arbor Townies!

19 July 2020

It all started with this graph…

It was posted in the Facebook group “Ann Arbor Townies” with the comment “Looking pretty good!”

Some “townies” didn’t know what the poster meant. Others asked why he didn’t look at the whole state, or number of cases…

On top of that, almost all “townies” are crazy about masks and think they are vital to saving lives. I had data to the contrary. I’d just gotten it from a Canadian physicist who volunteers at a civil rights organization in Ottawa. His name is Denis Rancourt. I was watching an interview with this guy on Mercola and answering various derisive comments on Facebook more or less at the same time.

Rancourt has a theory that this disease is transmitted mainly by “aerosols.” Aerosols are particles that remain airborne because of their small size. When inhaled, such particles are most likely to make it all the way into the lungs. Larger particles may not get that far, and are less likely to be inhaled at all, as they fall to the ground faster. He reached this conclusion after reading several studies that found that wearing masks in hospital settings does not protect caregivers from catching transmissible diseases. There is a significant body of literature on this, as flu and some more serious diseases are transmitted this way.

Because of his physics background, he sees several obvious conclusions that come from this. First, the disease will stay in aerosol form longer in a dry climate. Humid air tends to cause water-based aerosols to coalesce into larger particles. Second, masks are not effective because aerosols can get around them. This would explain the results of research studies, and the fact that caregivers in hospitals have been getting sick even though they are suited up. And third, “precautionary” actions taken after the pandemic was announced probably increased aerosol concentrations in spaces where a lot of vulnerable people were staying, such as nursing homes. Staying inside tends to increase the chance of being exposed to concentrated aerosols; they dissipate more quickly in the open air.

Looking pretty good

What is a “good” graph in relation to this disease?

It is a graph that peaks, then goes back down and stays that way. That’s what the graph he posted does, and it should mean that the disease has stopped spreading.

But you can’t easily measure disease spread directly. That’s because it would require the entire population to be tested every week or so. That hasn’t been done anywhere, although perhaps a few countries (South Korea? China?) came close. So, if you want a graph that represents what is actually happening in the population, you have to use some other measure that is easier to make, and assume it comes close. The posted graph showed daily number of patients admitted to hospitals who tested positive for COVID-19. But those statistics aren’t widely published. What is being widely published is COVID-19 deaths.

The Financial Times put up some web pages that give such figures. They were capable of this, perhaps, because economic data are gathered and displayed in a similar way. However, the graphs aren’t dated, instead they show “number of days since first significant number reported.” I don’t think they should have done it that way. But, they are pretty good graphs anyway.

The death proxy for disease spread

Here are some death curves for Michigan and some other states:

This is “deaths per million” so it is basically death rate. In this way you can compare different states regardless of total population. This graph is also logarithmic, which allows larger numbers to fit into less height.

I’m not ready to say “ahah!” based on these graphs. But you see how similar the shape of this Michigan graph is to the shape of the Michigan hospital graph. The peak takes about three weeks to develop, then gradually drops and stays lower.

Per the theory that drier climates, along with staying inside more, enhance transmission of the disease, we can possibly see why Michigan spiked early – it was still winter, cold and dry – then has stayed low more recently – summer is very humid in Michigan. California, Florida and Texas all have similar curves. Those states have milder winters, which means people are outside more in those months. Humidity is highly variable across these states, but all of them have areas that get much hotter – and sometimes drier – during the summer, pushing people back inside (if they have air conditioning). That could explain why their graphs aren’t staying down as well as Michigan’s.

Case graphs are a different shape

You can see that these case rates per million are all very similar for the states I chose. Some states are really different, but you can see where most states fall from all the gray lines. None of these are the bell shape you would expect. But testing is like the stock market. It can change based on emotional reactions. So this is more likely a graph of testing rates. In any case, useless to take numbers from because we know full well the data are incomplete.

What about improvements in treatment?

Could the death rates have anything to do with what treatments protocols are in use in different hospitals? I don’t have enough data to be certain. I know in the north and east, doctors have a reputation for being more entrenched and elitist. In the south and west, less so.

I know that on the MATH+ team, we have three southern doctors, three northern doctors, one from Ohio, one from the Bay Area, one from Norway and one from Guernsey (UK). The guy who was talking about hyperbaric oxygen was from Louisiana. The doc I saw talk about hydroxychloroquine was from New York City, but he sounded very lonely.

There is doctor resistance to many of these treatments. I agree with Kelly Brogan when it comes to that; they just haven’t really figured it out yet. Kelly thinks it should be possible for most people to get by without any medications throughout most of their life. And she’s right. The truth has power – may all doctors be warned!