Archive for February, 2018

A New Leaf

20 February 2018
fruit tree shoot

Springtime in Seattle, 2012.

In English we have an expression “turn over a new leaf” which means to make a new start. It literally refers to a page in a book, but of course this meaning of leaf is closely related to the one illustrated above.

As has already been mentioned in the previous post, my desire to build a new relationship with my church led me to the realization that my public-facing communications could use a change of context.

The Situation

Early this lifetime I came to a conclusion that I hope most can agree on: There is a situation on this planet. Situation is here defined as a major departure from the ideal scene.

In my younger years (the early 1960s) I was under the impression that we as a nation (the U.S.A.), if not the entire planet, were working towards an ideal scene. Here it is as expressed in one of our founding documents:

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, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Then near the end of 1963 a duly elected – and rather popular – President was shot to death in public during a parade while he was visiting a city in Texas. A new administration took over from that man, which resulted in our country becoming very deeply involved in Vietnam, a war Kennedy hoped could be kept under control using only Special Forces troops. As more and more of our men died there, our involvement in the war in Vietnam became more and more unpopular, and was finally ended. The “Communists” then won the war, because they were more sensible rulers than those left in power by earlier colonizers and other outside interests.

Our government had immensely failed in effecting our “safety and happiness.” That failure was so obvious, it’s almost as if it was planned; and it may well have been.

To this day, there are huge holes in our understanding of what was really going on during the first half of the 20th century. And those holes only increased in size when we tried to look at and understand more recent events.


One person – with his group – was working to fill those holes with data that might actually be helpful to people. However, his communication line to the public was cut by mass media outlets controlled by men allied with psychiatry, which opposed this man and what he was teaching. This is known data, not supposition.

So an office in the Church created its own communication line to the public, and called it Freedom Magazine. Many of the first articles in that magazine were penned by L. Ron Hubbard himself. He wanted the general public to begin to notice the connection between what psychiatry (as a movement) was doing and saying across the planet and what was happening to us here in the U.S. Some did. Freedom Mag’s message, though, did not reach me until years later.

In the early 1980s I finally learned that the psychiatry or “Mental Health” movement was being pushed forward by men who shared certain personality traits than most of us would recognize as insane or psychotic. Furthermore, as anti-Scientologists they definitely qualified as Suppressive Persons.

It was our challenge, then, (in the political sphere) to somehow remove those people from the communication lines of the planet. In the early years, those lines consisted mostly of English-language newspapers. Later those lines became dominated by radio and television. And now, since the the 1990s or so, we also have the internet which now feeds into a vast network of mobile “smart” phones.

These communication networks are not evil in themselves, but the persistent attempts by persons of criminal intent to dominate those lines has drastically reduced their usability (and believability) to the point that many people – including many Scientologists – will not use those lines for anything other than gathering the most mundane forms of information, or commercial uses like shopping and banking.

The Search for Reliable Information

I didn’t get on the internet in any big way until 2009. Wikipedia was already very well-developed by that time and had become the de facto source of information about almost anything. However, on topics where facts or intentions are hotly contested, the “establishment” position tends to win out on Wikipedia, on TED, on all the major news sites, or any site attempting to present reliable information. This goes for almost any topic other than the most mundane (weather forecasts?) or boring (electronics and coding?).

What I did at that time was to start my own blog. There I would present and compare data from multiple sources in the hopes of giving readers a more insightful view of things than what was being fed to them by the mainstream sources.

This activity had two main problems: 1) nobody read it, and 2) too many of my non-church data sources were questionable or salted with anti-Scientology sentiments. I was trying to demonstrate to my readers that there existed certain basic phenomena of life that were widely agreed on and widely researched. Yet I kept falling over enemy data that had been insinuated into many of my “alternative” sources. Many involved in that work were only too eager to believe that Scientology was just another con game that could be dismissed and not taken seriously.

The Church, for its part, decided to buy an entire studio complex in Hollywood – a location I am very familiar with that used to house a local Public Television station – and set up its own content generation facilities and media channels. This project is on the verge of launching as I write.

My own response is to revise my site to make it more resource-oriented and less discussion-oriented. I am also beginning a project to connect to like-minded bloggers.

Technical Limitations

The internet was created to provide its initial users (mostly data scientists in academia and the military-industrial complex) with faster data sharing capabilities, which data might include – in the case of the military – strategic and actionable data of a confidential nature.

Some of the earliest websites looked basically like search windows and were used to find scientific papers and other technical information, somewhat on the order of a giant library.

Additionally, any services that earlier used telex lines were obvious candidates for switching over to the internet. This included news feeds, stock tickers, and private messaging of course.

But it was not long before commerce was being conducted over the internet, and this use quickly became the dominant use. About 1/2 of all internet websites today are .com sites. And this means that what most website designers are trying to do is maximize traffic. Today, social networking is widely understood as a way to give commercial sites access to a lot of potential customers. The sharing of useful information on the internet, its original educational use, has been buried under all the subsequent traffic; a development that should have been quite predictable.

The blog is a sort of personal news feed service. It presents your posts in reverse chrono order, most recent on top, like the news. “Free” blogs are used – often blatantly – for advertising, and so are “free” e-mail and social media accounts.

About two-thirds (68%) of internet users disapprove of search engines and websites tracking their online behavior for the purpose of ad targeting.
– Pew Research, 13 March 2012.

While internet shopping is very popular compared to using the internet to seek useful data or advice (except as it concerns which product to buy), many people use the internet for that purpose or assume that it can be used that way. This group especially includes young people in school. I know it also includes all sorts of engineers and other “geek” types.

People want good data, but the internet concentrates on giving them news, blogs, ads and messages commonly associated with entertainment or commerce, not associated with making smart decisions.

Thus if I want to use my blog to help people make smarter decisions in their lives, I must realize that this is not what my blog was designed to do, and I am going to need to compensate for that.

The changes I will be making in the site reflect that realization.


The Lands

8 February 2018

dead trees along american river
…This being background data on a new writing project and WordPress site…here…

Scientology in the context of the New Age

For years I had been following various “New Age” personalities and “alternative” websites with the hope that a familiarity with their subjects matter would assist my purpose of influencing them to expand their areas of awareness to include Scientology. Not Scientology as an organization necessarily, but certainly Scientology as a subject.

This strategy has not yielded fruit. I was – very loosely speaking – a member of this “community” before I got involved in Scientology. However, the “community” appears to more closely resemble a house of cards.

During the age of industrialization, followed by an age of computerization which is what I grew up in, many of us have been disturbed about how things have been going. Blacks now have civil rights, yet they are incarcerated at a rate of 10% or more (depending on their age) versus 2% (roughly) for whites. (This is from Pew Research, 2013). And that is a marked increase over the years 1960 to 2010. Loan money for college tuition and housing purchase has become more and more available, yet real wealth continues to concentrate amongst a tiny minority of the population. The old futurists told us technology advances would make life easier, but instead it has become more hectic and (for many) more stressful. We fought wars to “make the world safe for democracy,” but instead seem to have become one of the world’s most vicious warmongers.

Many of us who saw these problems were also presented with various alternative paths for handling them that seemed more or less promising. There was the “drop out” path, famously expressed by the psychologist Timothy Leary. Behind that whole movement – we have since learned – were individuals from the CIA, and perhaps other oddball agencies. They seemed particularly interested in testing LSD on the population. Another offering – made by many, and interestingly including Leary’s Harvard associate Ram Dass – was to meditate. Of course meditation is just the most obvious aspect of an array of teachings loosely based on Hindu and Buddhist ideas and amplified by various Europeans and Americans dabbling into the realms of spiritualism, channelling, etc. Another path offered was to “solve it with technology.” Perhaps the epitome of this idea today is “Transhumanism,” the concept that technology might at some point make the human body passé. And then there was Scientology.

When I was a teenager, “New Age” ideas were getting quite a bit of exposure, but not with that label. The choice of this particular term by more modern writers is most likely an expediency; it is simple and sounds catchy. However, Theosophist Alice Bailey used this expression in at least two book titles, as did many other and diverse writers of earlier times. According to Wikipedia, the movement as we know it now started in the UK in the 1970s. Again, rumors of CIA interest in these ideas and the personalities that promote them do not abate.

In those days, the media was more involved with New Age topics than they are today. You could hear reports on NPR about “magic” healers in the Philippines. In 1972 NBC aired an edited version of the 1970 German film “Chariots of the Gods” about theories of ancient ET visitations, based on a book by Erich von Däniken. The TV sitcom “My Favorite Martian” had already enjoyed a long run from 1963 to 1966. It was followed later by “Mork and Mindy,” with spooky shows like “Time Tunnel” and “Bewitched” filling in between.

The New Age mixed allusions to modern scientific discoveries and ET visitation with an Eastern-style spiritual approach to come up with a narrative that captured the attention of many young people of those years who might have otherwise found more effective avenues (such as Scientology) for acting on their outrage over the crime, war and pollution which continued to plague their “modern” world.

I was peripherally involved in several groups: The Henry George School promoted the work of a late 1800s intellectual who also had interests in spiritualism. Planetary Citizens – led by visionary Donald F. Keys – told us about channelled messages that could save our planet. Planet Drum Foundation – an ecology education group promoting the ideas of devolutionist Peter Berg – used memes from aboriginal cultures mixed with the concept of “bioregionalism.”

A commonality among all these groups was some attempt to interweave politics with spiritual knowledge and values – the most basic being long-term (as opposed to short-term, one lifetime) concepts of ethics. The realization that after death one will return to continue living on this planet is considered crucial to appreciating the validity of longer-term ethical principles. However, these groups largely failed in their goals because they had no way to bring about this fundamental realization. Scientology does have ways to do this. However, in developing those processes, Hubbard came to understand that a much fuller recovery of spiritual abilities would be needed to enable people to confront the task of cleaning up Earth, to say nothing of all the other inhabited planets.

I remain a Scientologist because I agree with Ron’s conclusions, and because we have an organization that could achieve our vision of a planet free of war, crime and insanity…and after that, other planets.

Adverse Reactions

As mentioned earlier, I wanted to get some of the New Agers I had run across to at least look in the direction of L. Ron Hubbard’s work. But they don’t seem to want to. This is a clear sign that someone has been actively working to frighten them off. The movement is well aware that there have been campaigns (often blamed on CIA or similar operatives) to sow divisiveness in the community. If we can take that as a given, then we can only assume that those efforts have included badmouthing Scientology. As these efforts are obvious on the internet, they must come from somewhere. And those persons could be imagined to be interested in seeing that New Agers don’t connect up with Scientology, just as they are obviously interested in keeping away the general public.

Thus, my colleagues at the church have suggested that I might be happier if I were less connected to the New Age world and more connected to some activity involving less outside interference from secret antagonists. One idea I had was to greatly increase my writing output. It’s a low-cost activity that I am familiar with.

Inspirations from odd places

I had recently been exposed to a film story called “Blade Runner 4049.” Though I found the story overly complex, its vision of our future is not that unusual in contemporary fiction. I particularly recall from the movie an area called “San Diego” that had become a huge dump and salvage yard for the Los Angeles metropolis. The piles of junk went on for miles and miles in all directions. It was also pointed out that there were no living trees in the environment. It was noted that at a “rebel” outpost, a dead tree had been kept standing using steel cables.

The Blade Runner story is a “loose adaptation” of a story by writer Philip K. Dick. Philip is considered an important science fiction writer. Born in 1928, he was influenced by the somewhat older sci-fi writers of the pulp days, such as Hubbard and Heinlein, but also the “beat” writers like Jack Kerouac. He died at only 53 under circumstances that remain poorly understood. He was a drug user, that is for sure.

In Dick’s book, the dystopia evident on the West Coast was brought about by war. In the movie this is not mentioned, except for a reference to a “high radiation” area near Las Vegas. In both stories, androids apparently designed for robotic tasks (I don’t believe it) acquire their own sense of humanity and wish to have equal rights with humans and an end to the control programming. Science fiction writers who have gone down this road seem to be of a mind that something like this could happen. They don’t try to understand why. The difference for me is that I now know why. The design and manufacture of human-like androids would be seen as a dangerous and stupid activity by anyone who understood the likely spiritual outcome of it. The androids in the film, called “replicants,” would be even more susceptible to this problem, as they are almost totally biological.

Bicycling downtown through the riverside park, I noticed a large stand of dead trees that has always been there, but seemed unusually gloomy with no spring foliage to offset the grayness. And I thought, “this is the Land of the Dead Trees.” And so I began to formulate the starting point of a story.

I am incapable – even if I wanted to – of writing an ordinary fiction story. I have been exposed to too much actuality that is much stranger than most “fiction” written these days. The trick would be to start with how things are now and somehow show how the situation could be improved.

That leads to Edward Bellamy’s “Looking Backward” which employed a similar technique. But I have no use for his time traveler. I can simply assume a viewpoint of some future time and “look back” to now.

phto with added effects

The photo above with two effects added to it: “oil” and “sepia.”

Museum Day

3 February 2018

fruit tree blooming

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that here in the middle of California Spring would start a little earlier than it does in Pullman, or Seattle. But this is the beginning of February, and the fruit trees are blooming and it’s over 70 degrees outside, and I am a little bit surprised.

On top of that, today is “Museum Day” in Sacramento. (I’ve never heard of anything like that before!) On Museum Day many museums in this area forego their usual admission price and just let anyone who walks in look at their exhibits. Well, I thought I’d take advantage of this day, so I decided to go back to the Aerospace Museum of California out near the old McClellan Air Force Base, which I visited when I was here last summer. It’s not my favorite museum, but there’s lots of cool planes there, I used to be into model planes, and I like to collect photos of planes, so it seemed like an ideal opportunity for me. It’s also not too far from where I am living, so I could ride my bicycle out to it.

I was a little surprised, also, that so many others also took advantage of this day. The place was very crowded.

crowds at the museum

Outside in the “yard” there was almost a festival, or carnival, atmosphere. Kids waiting to look into plane cockpits, or sitting eating “Hawaiian Ice” or asking their parents questions about these huge machines. I got lots of photos.

outside in the plane yard

If you are actually interested in plane engines (they have a ton of plane engines), planes, jets, flight trainers, cockpit instrumentation or similar, this is a great museum to visit. I suggest you wait for a more normal day, though, and go ahead and pay the $15 admission.

I personally find the excitement in advanced weapons delivery systems a bit disturbing. It is similar to our fascination with action movies and in general lives filled with tragedy. That this is par for the course on this planet should be understood by now (if not very understandable), but I am glad to know, from a personal point of view, that it is more understandable now than it once was.

A bit of magic in this day

Here’s an image that seems to convey the spirit of this Museum Day here in Sacramento. I shot a picture of a helicopter I had toured, and when I reviewed my photos I found this image of a boy jumping in excitement. Per his shadow, both his feet are in the air in this image. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I dream of lifting off the ground and just flying around wherever I want to go with my feet just a few inches off the surface. So this image has a little magic in it, as far as I’m concerned.

boy jumping

The bees were out today, too. A good sign.

Bee on a fruit tree flower

A happy bee makes a happy life.