Art Fair Sacramento Style

8 September 2021

This park is on my way to Safeway, if I walk. I don’t go to Safeway that often, but in the summer when it is really hot, sometimes it is easier than going to my more favorite place in Folsom (which is also less expensive).

I knew that this event was going to be happening, and I went there on Saturday afternoon. I actually needed to shop at Safeway, so I walked to this park and took a bunch of pictures, then returned later and took a bunch more pictures.

That they let all these artists draw (or paint) on the sidewalk is a little amazing to me. In a little while their works will be rubbed out. But that is the hallmark of modern life; everything is transient.

Music

There was a music stage, a seating area, and behind that a beer garden. When I arrived, these guys were still playing. Dixieland style jazz.

They were then replaced by a rock (grunge?) band. And when I returned, a country band complete with fiddle set up and started to play.

The chalk art

There were artists all the way around the park working on their paintings. All the paintings faced out toward the street. But sometimes I photographed them upside down. Some of these photos look a bit odd because I have flipped them upside down to give you the “proper” orientation. I revisited this painting of guys playing basketball. Here’s how it looked a couple hours later:

A few artists were right there working and others had finished, or were taking a break.

Designs ranged from sublime to… less sublime.

Some art promoted businesses or organizations.

This one referred to a Bible verse:

The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.

The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it.

Revelation 21:23-24

Vendors

I did not see as much original art as I would expect at a “real” art fair. These were mostly vendors of others’ creations, though some were probably locally made and being sold by the artists. There were also some produce and eats being sold there.

I was desperate for a new phone case, as my old holster, which I originally got for my camera, was too small for my new (free!) phone. I didn’t find exactly what I wanted but settled on a little oversized wallet-purse that can be worn on the belt. It has a Starfleet Command emblem on it; very cool!

Urban junk

On my way back I took this photo. I regularly take photos of manmade objects that are interesting but not very pretty. It is amazing to me what sometimes turns up next to the street. As if it really had to be there. As if there was no concern of this pipe being burglarized or run into be a car or truck!

Flight Simulator Returns!

31 August 2021

It has been ages since I wrote an article about electronics and coding, and in particular about this project, my flight simulation control panel.

This is not a coding blog particularly, but I did include a lot of code in the earlier article. In this article I plan to stick to basic concepts for the most part.

The Panel

I bought this panel years ago as a used piece of electronics equipment.

All knobs removed for easy removal from chassis.

It was part of a Cessna flight training system marketed as FS-100. I just wanted a nice-looking panel with a bunch of buttons.

What I got was a “smart” panel with a built-in microprocessor, serial port, etc.

In the first iteration of this project I replaced the installed MPU (socketed, fortunately) with a unit from Digilent. The only problem with that one is that it operates at 3.3 volts, while this panel operates on 5V.

When it came time to try again – this time with no computer interface – I opted to use an Arduino (Uno – clone made by SparkFun) operating at 5V.

The panel includes latching pushbutton switches, momentary pushbuttons, including some rocker switches, potentiometers (“ENGINE”) and rotary encoders. Since there was room on board, I replaced one set of rotary encoders with a potentiometer.

There are several Arduinos involved in this project. That was one of the challenges of it – to get them to work together. Rather than mount each Arduino in the housing of the peripheral, I put them all together in a separate mini-rack. This was not efficient wiring-wise (or aesthetically), but I wanted to leave the peripherals as generic as possible.

The panel is set up electrically as a small bit of addressable memory. It contains six octal latches with tri-state outputs, configured as buffers. In addition there was special circuitry for the rotary encoders. Though I did my best to figure it out, I could not get full functionality from the encoders this time around. The pots are simply buffered with a quad op amp.

I added two extra latches on a daughter board (as there were 8 possible channels wired into the board.) But so far only one has proven very useful. It stores which encoder was moved last.

In the current design the panel is polled about once every millisecond. The encoder data is definitely the trickiest to capture, but the momentary pushbuttons also prove interesting.

The problem with pushbuttons – any switch actually – is that they can produce multiple false on/off signals as they open and close. These can be suppressed by capacitors, which is what was done with this design. But you don’t want the electronics to think the button was pushed multiple times when it was really only pushed once.

On this board, latching devices (flip-flops) were used with the rotary encoders, but not with the rest of the switches. The best way to make sure one push is not miscounted as more is to introduce a time delay between when the switches are sampled.

Panel interface code

Most projects used to demonstrate coding concepts on the web are not as involved as this one. And thus, some concepts are not well-covered.

If you plan to poll a large array of switches or other sensors from an Arduino, you are pretty much on your own. I hope the following conceptual information is helpful in this regard.

I could afford to use four Arduino pins as my polling (channel select) outputs, giving a possible 16 channels. As the panel only has 8 channels, and the most significant bit (MSB) on the channel selector is a positive logic enable pin, the panel actually corresponds to channels 8 through 15 (starting with zero) in this system.

There is no simple way with an Arduino (as far as I know) to select a set of pins and treat them as the digits of a binary number. So I wrote a SWITCH statement (inside a void function) to list out all 16 possible combinations of pin outputs and choose the right one for each channel number.

Similarly, there is no super easy way to collect binary data from a set of pins acting together as a data bus. But there is the bitWrite(variableName,place,value) function to make this easier. A typical line of code for turning logic states on a data bus into a number (in this case an 8-bit byte) looks like this:

bitWrite(targetByte,binaryPlace,digitalRead(busPin));

Once the 8 bytes of data from the panel are captured, more work can be done with it.

I want the data being sent to the display Arduino to be fairly stable and actionable.

The analog values are fed to the analog pins and converted to byte values.

The states of the latching pushbuttons can be forwarded as they are.

But I wanted to convert the momentary pushbuttons to more stable toggled values (push it once, it changes; push it again, it changes back). One of the channels on the panel board was giving me unusable encoder data, to I created my own byte of data containing 8 separate toggled states, and this was what was sent along to the other Arduino.

Solving encoder direction

Try as I may, I could not recover direction of rotation from the rotary encoders as they were wired into this board. If I had designed the board from scratch, I would have done it differently.

So I had to live with the sorry reality of only having pulse data from the encoders. I decided that the momentary pushbuttons could be put to best use to switch the direction of the encoders they were related to.

I first wrote some code that I hoped would prevent the direction data from switching back and forth too quickly or erratically. I did this by including a variable to count the number of loop cycles, and only updating the pushbutton data after a certain number of loops. As there are 12 pushbuttons, I had to store their states in an unsigned integer 12 bits in length (4,096 different combinations). I used the exact same bitWrite() function, but this time combined with bitRead() like so:

bitWrite(result,binaryPlace,bitRead(byteFromPanel,binaryPlace));

I then test the value of this number to see if any of the pushbuttons have been depressed. Appropriate logic was included to switch the bit of the target byte if the pushbutton had been depressed, otherwise leaving it as it was. The assumption was made that only one pushbutton would be pushed at any one time, leaving only 12 possible values for the number if one of its digits was low (zero). This again uses the SWITCH function. Both of these little routines were written as local functions that are called by the code inside the main loop.

There are five encoders, so five out of the 8 bits of the “toggles” byte record encoder direction, and the three others have other meanings.

I also process the encoder values on this board, and so send actual byte values (0 to 255) for each of the encoders for use by the display board. Again, the assumption is made that only one encoder will change position at one time.

Serial communication with the other Arduino

As is somewhat obvious from the most popular internet articles on this topic, very few hobbyists explain online how to successfully send 17 (in this case) bytes from one Arduino to another beyond the obvious admonition that they both have to run at the same baud rate.

I used the SoftwareSerial library on the panel Arduino, and the built-in Serial function on the display Arduino. But that detail is not important. I also decided to use a handshake line (sometimes called a “hard handshake”) rather than using a character sent on the serial line. It is difficult for me to judge how well the handshaking actually works, but I only got the receiving board to duplicate the full message by writing this code:

digitalWrite(readyPin, HIGH); // This is the handshake line.
delay(1); // Needed?
while(Serial.Available<17){} // Wait for buffer to fill up.
bytesReceived = Serial.readBytes(panelData,17); 
// panelData is the received data. bytesRec'd is for debug purposes.
digitalWrite(readyPin, LOW); // Lets the other board know that this board is busy with other things.

The individual bytes sent are then pulled out of the array they were read into.

This is lot like sending and receiving a character string, but with binary number values only.

The sending board, for its part, waits for the READY signal before sending its data:

serialPort.write(messageArray,17); 
// This uses Serial.write() so that the proper numeric values are preserved.
// messageArray is an array of bytes.

I also use empty WHILE loops to wait for the ready pin to go high before transmission, and low after. This code is working for me, so I am not interested in playing around with it further.

Driving the displays

All the displays are backlit character LCDs, but there are five of them!

The displays on the right were too bright, so their contents were edited into this image.

I had originally wanted to use a graphic display on the right, but I couldn’t get the one I had to work. It uses serial commands. I then tried replacing it with I2C (two wire) displays, but it turns out that you can’t drive regular LCDs and I2C LCDs from the same code. At least not in a Uno. So, I wired ALL of the displays the “normal” way: Five data lines, plus an enable line for each display. The data lines can be bused. This gives us 10 lines in all, out of the 14 possible on an ordinary Arduino. Close! A line driver is included for the data lines (and three of the enable lines). This does not cause any timing problems, I am glad to say.

The ribbon cable

I know. It’s really ugly. But I’m glad I did it this way, as I can take out each part without reaching around to the back or anything like that. It is bothersome enough to unplug and re-plug the ribbon cable. I think I might try some sort of fast serial connection if I had to do this over (which I may!).

It’s a 34-pin cable, just enough for this project. They are all over the place because they were used in old computers, but no more.

However, finding boards that accept ribbon cable headers is not fun. I used a special little board from SchmartBoard for this purpose, but there are a few other options out there.

I have yet to add code to the display board to bring the simulation to life. Another day!

Socialism: The Gateway Drug of Politics

28 August 2021

Many think of Karl Marx as the “father” of Socialism.

But I think of it in its modern form as starting in France in the early 1800s. Marx wasn’t even born until 1818.

Most forms of Socialism were a reaction to the effects of industrialization on cities, transforming them from refined habitats for the well-to-do into grimy places full of slums where the workers lived. In my brief exposure to socialist-type writings (such as Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward) I did not detect any great awareness of rural society and how it compared (for the poor) to urban life. Though urbanization eventually became a path to upward mobility for many economically disadvantaged people, in the early 1800s it was not clear that any such thing would ever occur.

The actual phenomenon that troubled many thinking people of those times (and earlier) was what seemed like conscious attempts by members of the elite classes to maintain a disadvantaged class that they could take advantage of. In those years, the European world was just beginning to realize that slavery was wrong, but also arising were new theories about human nature that would justify the mistreatment of people in new and “more scientific” ways.

Opium of the people

Marx famously described organized religion as the “opium of the people.” It is clear from this statement – and many others of course – that Marx had problems with all elements of the “status quo,” not just the behavior of the wealthier capitalists. Marx himself was a sickly person who had trouble holding down a job and doing right by his family. So, besides trying to explain why so many workers were so willing to live in poverty, he was also trying to explain why he, an educated person originating from the upper classes, was also having so much trouble.

Following in the line of many earlier troubled thinkers, he was unable to become self-aware enough to notice his own complicity in his problems and chose instead to blame them on “the system.” He called this system “capitalism” and blamed it – or so it seemed – for all evil in the world, including his own psychological problems.

I hope you can see that this is a ridiculous claim. Though many churches, businesses and government institutions were run by very short-sighted, if not vicious, men, they were following patterns that seemed to work for them and to some extent for society at large. It was their own spiritual weaknesses, I contend, and not “the system” or “capitalism” that was responsible for the results they were getting.

If anything, religious study, whether that be the Bible, Buddhism, or Lao Tzu, would have assisted them to rule with more humanity and humility. They, on the other hand, were being taunted by the allure of materialism, which they were helping to strengthen with their manufacturing efforts, their marketing to the public, their support of the hard sciences and engineering over the humanities, and their own conspicuous consumption.

And Marx was also a materialist!

Damned lies, and more damned lies

“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” This is a quote from Mark Twain (1835-1910, for reference) which he attributed to a politician of his age, though we cannot find any evidence that the particular politician in question ever said it.

But Twain was often cursing popular leaders for how deceptive they were, and in this he was, I am sure, quite astute.

It is just that he wasn’t really saying anything new. Some of the most cherished narratives of this planet are based on lies. Everything from biblical Genesis, to the Vedas, to Darwin’s theory of evolution, the Big Bang and New Age “ascension.” Someone’s been doing a real good job here on Earth of hiding the truth from us.

Marx in his turn promised that all we had to do was replace Capitalism with Socialism and everything would be fine. On this planet? Really? But people believed it. Marx advocated for violent (if necessary) “revolution” to destroy the “status quo.” And we got a classic example of this in Russia in 1918. China worked a little differently but resulted in the most enduring Communist regime so far. Western democracies also played around with Socialist and “welfare state” ideas to deal with the collapse of older safety net systems in the face of — what?

If you ask a psychologist what sort of personality lies the most, they should answer you “the psychopath.” And if you then ask them what we can do about it, they would normally answer “it’s incurable.” If you ask a Scientologist the same question they will tell you, “the Suppressive Person; keep them out of positions of power, they are pure poison.” It’s basically the same answer with slightly different concepts.

Was Marx a psychopath? I can’t answer that question. He acted a lot like one. Was Hitler one? Most of us think so. Who else? We know several psychiatrists who have been caught behaving like psychopaths. Undoubtedly there are many more like this in positions of power, as they are attracted to such positions. There are also the millions who operate at lower levels in society. They cause plenty of havoc, too. So, why all this talk of changing political systems? Why don’t we attack the correct target?

A problem of responsibility

If you fell sick, would you be willing to take total responsibility for the illness, rather than blame germs, or something else, for “making me sick?” If you could, I guarantee you would get well faster.

We have similar problems in many other areas of life, including especially politics. We want our governments to be as strong as the criminal organizations they oppose. But expecting our governments to fight criminals is the perfect way to transform governments into criminal organizations. Because the criminals will feel threatened and thus plot to take over. And they are often successful. And that’s when you get a “status quo” which is totally intolerable!

If you got sick and were knowledgeable enough to look around and find the psychopath in your environment that wanted you to be sick, and then competently handled your connection to that person, you would be on your way to staying permanently well. But that takes a lot of responsibility on your part. You have to face the fact that you must have been willingly involved in a toxic relationship.

It is similar in politics. If we don’t take sufficient responsibility for our own condition and the choices we made to get into them, we’ll never get out of them. Though the first step is to handle the suppressive connections, after that you have to go ahead and take responsibility for handing the reasons you agreed to those connections. It’s not always easy to do. Anyone who says it is is lying. But if you want to really improve your life and the lives of those around you, you have to take that much responsibility. It’s not easy for me, either. And I’m the one trying to remind you of this!

Temptations versus real answers

Most of us wish that we could do better, that life could be easier, that we could be as secure in life as the rich guy who lives on the hill. And so when something happens that threatens our income or our health or our children, we tend to curse the situation, blame it on others, and look for someone else to rescue us from something we obviously weren’t to blame for.

It’s probably true that some of those rich guys out there didn’t really earn their riches honestly or under their own steam. But some of them did. And if they have managed to remain in good shape for a long period of time, chances are they are very able beings. You have the choice to simply resent them and their “privilege” or to do something to strengthen your own life, and confront and handle your own toxic connections.

Are there “systemic” problems in this society that unfairly support those who are already successful? Undoubtedly.

Will a “new socialist (progressive or ?) revolution” solve those problems? No!!! The best you’re going to get is a band-aid.

Will a thorough study of the psychopathic personality and how to deal with it solve those problems? It would be a good start.

And after that, we need to follow through and strengthen ourselves spiritually. That’s the permanent answer. At least it is in theory! We won’t know for sure until more people actually try it. But for sure, no “system” no matter how tempting or well thought out will solve life on Earth. Our problems didn’t even originate on Earth! And if you haven’t discovered that yet, you still have a long way to go!

Could all this talk of a way out just be a “higher level” delusion? I suppose it could. But it has worked for some people. Why not give it a try? What do you have to lose? Your problems? Don’t worry; there are plenty more where those came from!

Return to San Francisco

18 August 2021

Yesterday I had the opportunity to return to San Francisco. I last visited there in 2016.

My friend had an appointment at Pier 39, so we rushed there without any stops for picture-taking.

We used a streetcar (an electrified bus running on railroad tracks) to get from the Ferry Building to Pier 39. The city has acquired several old streetcars from other cites and fully renovated them. The one we took was marked “Chicago” and was beautiful inside and out.

Pier 39

Pier 39 is basically an outdoor mall specializing in restaurants but also having other shops. There is a marina located there, and in recent years it has also become famous for being the camping grounds for sea lions.

It was a beautiful sunny afternoon, and Pier 39 was crowded.

The diversity of the crowd was amazing. I did not take any time exploring the shops, but you can see just from the above photo how much is going on there.

Out at the water we are first confronted by a view of Alcatraz Island.

There are sea birds all over the place, and the gulls will come right up to the railing and stand on it.

I saw a pelican land and preen itself.

The sea lions are of course the main attraction. They make a lot of racket, as the males like to assert their territory with loud barking, and the younger males like to fight with each other.

After going around to look at the marina, I found the end of Stockton Street and started walking up it.

This north end of Stockton is full of low apartment buildings and includes several schools. I never lived in an environment this urban while I was growing up. Can you imagine doing so?

Francisco Middle School

The next hill over is probably similar but has more big apartment buildings. Here is a view down Chestnut:

Telegraph Hill, with Coit Tower, is quite close by. Here is a view of it from Stockton and Lombard:

Near Columbus is a little urban park, Washington Square:

Next up, an area full of local restaurants:

Chinatown

And then we are into the food shops of Chinatown. I took this same route in 2016 and remembered many of these stores.

This shop has a completely open front.
All kinds of seafoods.
Dried foods.
Another open shop.

The place was very crowded this afternoon!

Then we get to the tunnel at Sacramento, which is where I usually decide to turn down Sacramento.

View from just above Willie Wong Playground.
Grant Street.

Grant Street is the center of old Chinatown (at least the tourist part). I don’t recall seeing these lantern decorations before, though.

Down the hill is the business district, starting roughly at Montgomery.

The roman numerals say “1902.”

In downtown, BART is deep underground, as the local streetcars also run underground on this part of Market Street.

A train to Richmond arrived shortly after this shot (made at 4:47 PM). I was able to get to Richmond it time to catch the 5:30 train back to Sacramento.

The ride on the commuter train (Amtraks’ Capitol Corridor) is normally quite smooth and quiet; in stark contrast to the singing electric motors and screeching wheels of BART trains. Though the train must give a whistle call at each crossing (long-long-short-long) and the conductor’s announcements can be annoying, or amusing, the “big” train is my favorite way to make longer trips.

I Visit Downtown Berkeley

9 August 2021

I have been neglecting my blog!

Here are photos from a trip I took on the 28th of July (2021) which included a late afternoon visit to the downtown area of my hometown, which includes the entrance to the UC Berkeley campus.

I have previously mentioned the corporate takeover of the city, which includes downtown of course. With corporate interest comes corporate dollars, and new construction and renovation projects. The downtown area is full of them!

Main entrance to BART.
An extensive public gathering area has been modernized.
View from Allston Way towards the south looks familiar.
The library, where I often visited 40 years ago, is still there.
Some storefronts have been modernized…
…while others maintain the traditional look.
Shattuck Square has received numerous upgrades since I lived there.
But many traditional buildings remain.
Here we have a mix of newer and older facades.
Snoopy’s was an ice cream parlor, though I don’t remember it by that name.
Here is one of the newest and tallest buildings.
Here is a great example of the “funky corporate” look.
The campus entrance has retained its traditional look.
But the view from the front lawn includes modern buildings.
Inside it looks the same.
The Lawrence Berkeley Lab can be seen on the hill in the distance.
This view includes the Campanile.
Here a modern building has been added…
…and some art.
I return past a stand of colorful rental bikes…
…and a busker, a young woman, and an ancient telephone kiosk.

Bluebirds

14 July 2021
22 June.

I get over to the park in Old Sacramento whenever I can. It gives me a nice walk, and I am usually able to stop for a while at the picnic tables set up next to the lawn.

As I have mentioned before, birds will sometimes come over to “visit” me. Now, I could tell you that I invite them and express my happiness to see them when they show up. But that would seem like a big ho-hum to most of you, right?

I already knew that animals can communicate with people (and with each other, of course) but only on a telepathic level. So if a person can raise their telepathic abilities, they can “talk” to animals. The leading light in the field is a South African woman named Anna Breytenbach. Well, I personally don’t particularly aspire to that, but I know that “being more present” will assist to make this possible

In Old Sacramento, the first bird I noticed was a hummingbird. That was many months ago. Later, a young blue jay would follow the hummingbird over to visit me. Then more recently, this bluebird showed up. In the above photo, he has been attracted by a spilled bit of mac-and-cheese. But he stayed around for some time and let me snap his photo.

Now (the below photos were taken on the 12th of July) the bluebird chicks have also visited me. I only assume that they are the children of the male shown above.

There are about five sycamores growing at the side of the lawn where the picnic tables are. Three of them are losing their leaves, and one looks a bit dead. It could be that the early-summer high temperatures have forced them into dormancy, or possibly even killed them.

But down to a brown patch of lawn under these trees came these three juvenile bluebirds, two females and a male. I had my “real” camera with me, so the photos aren’t bad. The birds hopped around on the ground for several minutes and I took over a dozen shots.

Animals are funny when they are trying to communicate. All my information about this is from videos Anna has made. They won’t walk up to you and look you in the eye like a human will do. They’ll just stand nearby and act like they are doing something else. Of course, because I’m not telepathic, I have no idea if these animals were really trying to communicate, or what they might be interested in. I just thanked them out loud for stopping by and letting me photograph them.

In other news…

I have accumulated many more images in recent weeks. The above one is cropped from a photo I took with my phone while riding back home from shopping. This is probably the same heron that has been visiting the dog run areas at Hagan Park for a year or more. I usually don’t catch it in flight. Herons are quite large birds (in wing span) so seeing one fly is pretty special.

Perhaps I will eventually post some other pictures, but they are pretty random, so I might not bother.

Here are some other topics that are currently floating around in my universe:

  1. Critical Theory: What would happen if we applied Critical Theory to the “constructs” that it itself assumes are correct or workable, such as evolutionary theory, materialism, or the desirability of freedom?
  2. Socialism: Does the appeal of socialism have to do with the fact that most governments today include elected representatives and are seen as there to serve the people? Are communal-oriented businesses (like Spain’s Mondragon Corp.) perceived differently? If more people saw businesses as serving them rather than shareholders, would a population be more likely to embrace fascism?
  3. Psychedelics: Who is pushing for the use of psychedelics in mental health treatment and why? Is there any substantive difference between this current campaign and earlier pushes to medicalize mental health treatment?

Tolerance

26 June 2021

From Merriam-Webster online:

Tolerance: “Sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one’s own.”

Intolerant:

“a: unwilling to grant equal freedom of expression especially in religious matters.”

“b : unwilling to grant or share social, political, or professional rights.”

The engineering definition of this word is also pertinent to my discussion.

Tolerance (engineering): “The allowable deviation from a standard.”

Tolerance has been the watchword of the liberal. (“One who is open-minded or not strict in the observance of orthodox, traditional, or established forms or ways.”) And at contentious moments, liberals are likely to accuse conservatives of being intolerant.

The paradox of tolerance

This was first voiced in the modern era (1945) by philosopher Karl Popper:

“…the paradox of tolerance: Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance.”

For an individual or society to show tolerance and remain so, their tolerance must have limits. And so, the engineering definition of this term is worth considering.

In a designed system, as long as all parts function within their specified tolerances, the entire system will continue to function adequately. When as little as one part falls out of tolerance, the entire system can cease to function!

And we do, in fact, live in a “designed” system, where we – human beings – are the most important parts. As in a machine, if any single part begins to operate beyond its specified tolerance, it must be removed and replaced, or repaired.

Societies principally use law for this purpose. When applicable, this may include religious laws or moral codes. In secular societies attempts have been made to include all important moral limits in civil law. The big problem has been that true repair seldom occurs.

A spectrum of tolerance

People, as you may have noticed, fall somewhere on what might be seen as a “spectrum” of how tolerant they are willing to be of others. The less tolerant may be referred to as “strict” or worse. The more tolerant may lapse into being “too lax” or “permissive.”

What factors drive these variations? As much as I wanted to write about this subject, I had no exact idea of how I might explain the variation we see in people on this subject. The best I can do is refer you to the Emotional Tone Scale. A person’s emotional response to any given situation can depend on many different factors. But two important ones are: 1) where they prefer to be on the tone scale and 2) how free they are to move up and down the tone scale.

Both of these factors are involved with what could be called the study of human psychology. Without getting into this too deeply, various incidents in one’s past can hold one’s attention out of the present moment and stick them in the tone level of that incident. If it was a scary incident, the person will tend to get stuck in fear. If it was an angry incident, then in anger. The lower tones (like grief or apathy) tend to be more “sticky” than the higher ones (like boredom or cheerfulness).

Educational influences from family, group or society can also train people to react certain ways in certain situations. But these influences tend to be less powerful, unless the “lessons” were laid in with pain or threats of punishment.

From this discussion, you might see that it is a little hard to tell how a person will react in any given situation, but the more stuck they are in apathy, grief or fear, the more likely they are to react at that level. So some people – and in particular the more dangerous people – are more predictable than others.

It should be noted that “intolerance” is often associated with conservatism (3.0), anger (1.5) and to a lesser degree with lower tones. While “tolerance” is often associated with cheerfulness and boredom, but also with the lower tones of fear (1.0), grief (0.5) and apathy. However, the “intolerance” of a conservative is of a very different quality to that of a person stuck in anger, where it could turn violent. And the same goes with the higher-toned tolerance of someone who feels confident in their ability to handle “unusual” situations, compared to the lower-toned tolerance of someone who is simply too afraid or hopeless to object.

Thus, what we are really seeing at the higher tones is a saner approach to tolerance, where it has limits that the individual is willing to enforce on the people around them. At the lower tones, the being may really be intolerant of almost everything happening around it, but may fake “tolerance” out of cowardice or uncertainty.

The reality of what it means to be tolerant

In fact, the need to be “strict” or “intolerant” varies with different situations. A high-toned person can tell the difference between different situations, and adjust their tolerance level to one appropriate to the situation.

An instructor of airline pilots must be extremely intolerant of flubs committed by his students, but should be able to come home and “relax” with his kids and let them horse around a bit.

Anyone who is new to a job or position has the right to expect some tolerance for errors at first, but less tolerance for errors when they become a seasoned professional.

The problem of social classes and dogma

When we get into questions of social mobility and civil rights, we run into more problems with tolerance because these subjects deal with lower-toned situations.

People in politics, for instance (which can include many people besides the elected politicians) normally feel under some stress to defend their positions from attack. This can easily leave them with a fear mentality. They have developed as a class a sort of catty or covert way of dealing with both allies and rivals. Anyone who doesn’t follow these niceties isn’t “playing by the rules.” This led many, for instance, to blindly criticize Trump, as he never agreed to behave this way. Sometimes their criticisms had some substance, but they were just as likely to be totally irrational, as operating from fear is not going to result in rational behavior.

More generally, the various different social strata develop different cultures with different levels of tolerance along various dimensions.

Someone in the upper classes may see clear speech as an important survival factor, and be intolerant of slow, slurred, or ethnic speech. However, they may tolerate grossly immoral conduct in one’s personal life as long as it is kept hidden.

A working class person may show intolerance to over-dressing or ostentatious behavior, but be willing to tolerate a certain level of sloppiness that would be unacceptable to a professional person.

In some scientific circles, expressing disagreement with the basic theories that everyone has agreed to can result in the loss of one’s job. While in arts and entertainment, wide variations in appearance and behavior are normally encouraged.

I have experienced a lot of criticism (online) for asserting the importance of Spirit in understanding life. This is a problem of dogma which has actually been laid in at a very low tone level. Any contradiction of this dogma will tend to produce an anger reaction, or else irrational ridicule. Other conflicts between religions have had similar causes.

Tolerance and criminality

Criminals are uniformly low on the tone scale, and we see grossly irrational behaviors from them when it comes to tolerance.

An angry criminal can be violently intolerant to the point of murder. A fearful criminal (more common) can feign tolerance for all while secretly trying to do everyone else in.

Any society doing even half well does not tolerate criminal behavior, as gone over earlier. So criminals have the problem of being constantly not tolerated (as they can’t help themselves from feeling the way they do, and attempting to act on those feelings.) Under these conditions, locking up a criminal does nothing for them. The truly dangerous need to be separated from society, but would do better if they had access to a very large open (but secure) space. And the ones who aren’t so separated will usually be found secretly working very hard to get society to tolerate criminal behaviors.

Special issues in the news

A biological man who wants to compete as a woman in women’s sports is being a criminal. I’m sorry, but that’s my view.

Two men or women who want to “marry” each other are spitting at the tradition of marriage as the foundation of family life and of society. But perhaps they can be tolerated, as some even wish to raise children.

The problem of gender identity is misunderstood because most people do not realize that we are immortal spiritual beings. As I have stated elsewhere, I believe that most people would be willing to live with the gender dictated by the sex of their body if they knew that as beings they have no gender and as immortals, they will always have another chance to “get it right.” Without an understanding of Spirit, the subject of gender becomes a totally confused mess.

And then there is Critical Theory. This movement comes from a very low-toned and messed up place, for they somehow think that they can achieve total tolerance for the oppressed by being totally intolerant of the oppressors. This sounds to me like a bid by the criminals to be allowed to run free and do whatever they want.

Yes, there are sticky patterns of racial and ethnic injustice across this planet. But these cannot be understood or resolved without an appreciation for Spirit and a recognition of the existence of Suppressive Persons, neither of which Critical Theory does. For a society to survive well, anti-social acts cannot be tolerated. Critical Theory does not accomplish this, and so it cannot succeed. It, instead, tolerates crimes against anyone who can be identified as intolerant, not for their personal actions, but due to some group they supposedly belong to. This becomes a suppressive generality, a sure sign of criminal thinking. We don’t need Critical Theory to bring true justice to this planet; we need Scientology Ethics!

World’s Strongest Man…as metaphor

23 June 2021

Metaphor: a figure of speech in which a word or phrase literally denoting one kind of object or idea is used in place of another to suggest a likeness or analogy between them. Merriam-Webster online.

I could not restrain myself from waxing philosophical about these games.

On the face of it, World’s Strongest Man is an annual competition where several really buff guys all try to excel in various events having to do with lifting, pushing, pulling and throwing heavy objects. The one who does the best earns the title of “World’s Strongest Man” for that year. They “represent” different countries, but this is not stressed, as most of them are from the U.S. The annual competition is also made into a series of TV episodes which in theory will be entertaining and help the sponsors get brand recognition for their products.

Beyond this, it should be noted that, though the competitors take it seriously, and fans all have their favorites, in the end it is not a matter of life and death who wins or loses, and if you were caught cheating in order to win, you would be thrown out. It’s a game in the long tradition of sport. It is expected to be played honestly and its purpose is primarily entertainment.

In these ways, it differs from some other games, or contests, played in this universe. While in the context of Spirit, the elements of fair play and entertainment may still be present, in our context, the context of biology living on a frail planet, these same games become filled with deceit and dire, if not murderous, consequences.

This is a force universe

My teacher often mentions that this universe is ruled by the laws of force. To survive well as a spiritual being in this universe, or a group of beings, requires a proper balance of force and intelligence.

Thus a single tremendously powerful being can be defeated by a less powerful group of beings if they can outwit him.

And so a contest of strength correctly points out the importance of being able to muster sufficient physical force to deal with the situation you are facing. But it downplays the range of intelligence that can be brought to bear.

Thus a weak being, or a group of them, may acquire a weapon or organize a plan of attack that allows them to overwhelm a much stronger being who is acting stupidly. He may complain that they didn’t play fair. But in a universe ruled by force, “fairness” becomes a relative concept. If you are overwhelmed by an opponent, you may lose your right to complain that the rules were broken. In the end, your only sure defense is to be able to muster enough force and organization to keep you opponent at bay. The history of Earth is full of examples of individuals and whole peoples being overwhelmed unfairly by individuals or groups possessing superior strength or intelligence. In a universe of force, these “wrongs” can never be righted, through there may be a spiritual price to pay.

The ugliness of strength

It may occur to some that these strongmen, even though good musculature has a certain attractiveness, are not very pretty to look at. Writers and thinkers have been playing with this theme for a long time. I think of Beauty and the Beast as a very good example of a magical story that covers this topic. The beautiful woman – representing the nurturing side of life as well as the literal feminine – must be willing to get over her revulsion to the ugliness of male strength and what it can be used for (to kill game in a hunt, for example) in order to have the man as a “handsome” mate and friend. The man, in turn, feels obligated to give the woman beautiful gifts and a castle in order to convince her that he is worthy of her love.

This is also an issue for many of us individually. Many feel compelled to embrace vegetarianism for no more good reason than the ugliness connected with killing animals. It is also common practice for the woman to enhance her beauty with makeup or clothing, while men who pay too much attention to such things are considered “effeminate.”

The game of politics

On Earth at least, the game of politics – as opposed to sports – is considered to be one that will never be played fairly. “All is fair in love and war,” as they say.

Yet we often see sporting events – particularly those involving male strength – as metaphor for the game of politics. Were it so!

In some ways, the history of politics on Earth – and in this universe – has been a history of attempts – mostly failed attempts – to bring rules to the game that will somehow stand as unbreakable. But in a universe ruled by force, a superior force combined with intelligence can always take over the game and set new rules. We have seen this happen over and over again.

To extend your credulity overmuch, I offer you the example of The Domain. This group has been one of the oldest and most powerful groups in this universe for a very long time. One reason for their power is their superior intelligence in the subject of organization. To quote from Alien Interview:

“As I mentioned, there is a very highly regimented and fixed hierarchy or “class system” for all IS-BEs (Immortal Spiritual Beings) throughout the “Old Empire”, and The Domain, as follows:

“The highest class are “free” IS-BEs. That is, they are not restricted to the use of any type of body and may come and go at will, provided that they do not destroy or interfere with the social, economic or political structure.

“Below this class are many strata of “limited” IS-BEs who may or may not use a body from time to time. Limitations are imposed on each IS-BE regarding range of power, ability and mobility they can exercise.

“Below these are the “doll body” classes, to which I belong. Nearly all space officers and crew members of space craft are required to travel through intergalactic space. Therefore, they are each equipped with a body manufactured from light weight, durable materials. Various body types have been designed to facilitate specialized functions. Some bodies have accessories, such as interchangeable tools or apparatus for activities such as maintenance, mining, chemical management, navigation, and so forth. There are many gradations of this body type which also serve as an “insignia” of rank.

“Below these are the soldier class. The soldiers are equipped with a myriad of weapons, and specialized armaments designed to detect, combat and overwhelm any imaginable foe. Some soldiers are issued mechanical bodies. Most soldiers are merely remote controlled robots with no class designation.

“The lower classes are limited to “flesh bodies”. Of course, it is not possible for these to travel through space for obvious reasons. Fundamentally, flesh bodies are far too fragile to endure the stresses of gravity, temperature extremes, radiation exposure, atmospheric chemicals and the vacuum of space. There are also the obvious logistical inconveniences of food, defecation, sleep, atmospheric elements, and air pressure required by flesh bodies, that doll bodies do not require.”

This quote does not mention the importance of free beings in this structure, as today there are few, if any, left. It mentions their power (strength) only indirectly “… provided that they do not destroy or interfere with the social, economic or political structure.” Free beings, in fact, did have the power to do such things, and that’s why most if not all of them ended up being “limited” in important ways. Apparently free beings were not considered trustworthy, though I can think of many less honorable reasons why they may have been wiped out. But the result of this is that The Domain is now struggling a bit, as free beings were an important part of their success. Needless to say, the other forces in this universe, and particularly the remnants of the Old Empire (mostly Reptilians) also developed ways to limit or trap free beings. So whether the loss of all free beings was the fault of The Domain itself, or pushed along by the efforts of their competitors, the result has been bad for everyone involved. Because they had no way to “unlimit” beings after they were limited. They had no way to reverse the process, to restore, revive, or salvage a crippled free being to a state of perfect health and freedom. The big secret of our planet is that this has been accomplished here. Hubbard (a former operative in The Domain) figured out how to do this. And my group is in the process of making 10,000 free beings on Earth. This promises to be the start of a universal salvage operation, assuming we are able to complete this work before Earth is crippled or destroyed.

The promise of the free being

If we can succeed in restoring some beings to a free state, complete with the wisdom gained during their long descent into the relative slavery of flesh and blood, the future holds great promise.

Hubbard called this promise the New Civilization.

The new free beings will be able to generate the force (strength) necessary to protect planets and societies from undue attack. Free from such attacks, those societies can concentrate on reviving even more beings to a fully free state. These societies will operate on the intelligence gained from billions of years of living experience, and will be able to honestly work for and defend the cause of spiritual freedom in this universe. Spiritual freedom alone can combine the physical strength and spiritual intelligence needed to maintain a state of exhilarating playfulness in this universe, a state only dreamed of up til now, and only briefly, if ever, previously attained.

Like the human child, the years of carefree fun have always been too short. Too often cut off early in life by the mistreatment of some suffering adult, or a war, or a famine, or some criminal act. And if none of those misfortunes befell the child, then certainly puberty and the emotional pressures surrounding sex would end the fun soon enough, even if seeming to replace it with a new form of fun. Sex is a highly degraded form of “fun” compared to what is possible to experience in a freer state.

Think of, for example, how amazing a contest for the “Universe’s Strongest Man” could be! Instead of playing with little stone balls in a park in Sacramento, they could play with planets or stars (not populated ones!) in a playground as big as a galaxy! All brought to the comfort of your home by universal TV. Or leave your body and go out to watch the games in person!

World’s Strongest Man…Sunday

20 June 2021

Today, Sunday the 20th, was the final day of the contest. Ten men were competing and the top guys were extremely close, as measured by the point system that they use. I didn’t think I would be let in to the audience, as many people were expected to show up. But a kind lady who recognized me from Thursday called me over before the last event started and asked me if I would like to get closer, then gave me a wrist band when I said yes.

Log lift and Knaak deadlift

The first two events of the day were slightly unusual lifting events. (The last event is the most unusual.)

In the log lift, a weight shaped like a log must be hoisted and held above the head for a split second. Here is a demonstration of what that looks like:

Note that the “log” has bars on its ends where weights can be added to increase its weight in increments of 10 kilograms. Unlike a barbell, where its center of gravity can be kept very close to the body, the thickness of the log means it must be swung a bit away from the body, making it harder to control. The weight of the log is increased until only a couple of the guys can raise it all the way over their heads. Here is one of the taller athletes demonstrating two good lifts at different weights:

This event was held next to the “train station” where the park sells tickets for a short train ride, and a shed houses several train cars and at least one engine. People who were not part of the crowd did have the benefit of standing in the shade across from the station, instead of in the sun…

The overall scene looked much like the events held here on other days.

Knaak is a company that makes tool boxes of all sizes, designed for rugged professional use. The “Knaak Deadlift” uses toolboxes as the weights instead of regular barbell weights. The athletes have to repeatedly lift this weight to knee level until they run out of steam or out of time. I got no good photos of this event, as all the action was too low for me to see.

Atlas Stones

The last and crowning event of the competition is called “Atlas Stones.” Here is a view of the setup from after the event ended:

There are two sets of these balls, so the athletes compete in pairs. The event is timed, but if one guy can’t get all five stones up onto their pedestals, then the other guy wins.

Before I got in, the overall scene looked like this:

Here is my best shot of a guy actually lifting one of the heavy balls up onto its pedestal:

Here is a photo of the winner, Tom Stoltman. He elected to do the event without a shirt. They also get to use this gooey stuff called “tacky” on their hands and arms to counteract the tendency of sweaty skin to be slippery.

Tom’s older brother Luke also competed this year. But Tom did considerably better this year than his brother.

Here we see the pretty interviewer lady talking to Tom after he won this year’s competition.

The awards

Brian Shaw, long-time favorite of U.S. fans, talked to the crowd at the end of this year’s competition.

Then the awards platforms were set up, and all the ten finalists were called out and acknowledged.

This year, guys from the U.S., the U.K. and Canada were the top winners.

Father’s Day

Today was Father’s Day. Though several of the athletes are undoubtedly fathers, Brian’s kids were in the crowd, so he was specially acknowledged, along with all the fathers in the crowd.

There he is with his wife, showing his sons his award.

It was another hot day, somewhere near 100 degrees that afternoon. We were all happy to get out of the sun.

World’s Strongest Man…Saturday

19 June 2021

On Saturday there were three events for finalists and I attended all of them. So did a bunch of other people.

Barrel carry

I got to the morning event while it was in progress.

You can see one of the athletes back by the tents.

This event consisted of carrying a frame of four barrels on one’s shoulders, then another frame of two lifted with the arms.

With the crowd, I couldn’t really see the competitors. But here’s one having a conversation on camera.

This guy could probably see the scene a bit better.

It’s all set up so the cameras get the best views.

Turntable

They didn’t officially have an audience for the turntable event, but some of us peeked over the back fence…

Again, the athletes were difficult to see. This was a timed event. How fast could they turn the train on the turntable about 180 degrees? After every try, the turntable was returned to its original position using its built-in motor.

Here is a typical view of a contestant’s torso and legs.
My best picture of the cute interview lady.
Drone technician at work.
There are at least two guys who carefully watch each effort (white shirt, black hat).
Mr. Felix takes a short rest.
During each run, the mobile cameraman has to run to a new position.

Keg toss

The day ended with a keg toss. I got numerous photos of kegs in mid-air.

The above shot is from near the end of the event. Notice the height of the bar relative to the building.

The bar started out at 6.75 meters. Just about everyone made this toss.

Here’s a closeup of an athlete knowing that he made it over the bar, with the keg falling on the other side!

Above shows an intermediate position (7.25 meters?) and two guys watching from the roof. Later they took their canopy down and left.

Here I caught Brian Shaw just as he released a keg, on its way up.

Outside the fence

Several of us did not get tickets to be up close, or perhaps did not want them. I couldn’t help but photograph some of the others, most of whom braved the afternoon sun while I stood in the shade of a parked ambulance.