Archive for August, 2020

Death Wish

31 August 2020

References:

Lecture of 24 Nov 1953, afternoon.

Eric Metaxas interviews Mallory Millett about her death experience.

Documentary: How Video Games Changed the World

Boredom, frustration, and the desire for a new game

Most have been explaining what has been going on in our world in terms of political upheaval. Well, that’s true. But what underlies this? How is this tied in with human nature?

One answer lies in the subject of games, and how beings feel about games. Beings, down deep, love fast, hot games. Beings, down deep, are easily bored and feel suppressed by the sameness of routine, or of some sort of long drawn out struggle. Beings, down deep, like to be able to get out of a game, or end a game (for themselves) as much as they like to start games or play games. Beings, down deep, enjoy novelty and challenge and momentary flashes of beauty.

Current scene

The game of life on Earth right now is, frankly, boring to the point of inducing sleep. Years in school, followed by years in a job that really isn’t that challenging or interesting, years of striving to keep things the way they always have been, all wears thin if you’re the second, third or fourth generation playing this game. It’s time for something new, something different.

The “old fashioned” way to leave an undesirable game is to “drop the mockup” (otherwise known as dying). Dying is a bit of a game in itself, as the body sort of likes to drag it out, and all your friends and family and community really don’t enjoy the messiness and suddenness of it very much. But that’s always been the basic way to get out, to leave, to find something more fun, more interesting, more beautiful, or just different, to do.

The crime of dying

But here in a society like ours, dying is a crime. It’s illegal, and of course, killing someone else is highly illegal, and should be, since that’s ending their game without their permission. The only “legal” way to die is to get in harm’s way and hope it happens. This is the tradition of the soldier, and of the revolutionary.

When Mallory Millett told Eric Metaxas how much better she felt out of body, with all her perceptions fully turned on, without the body dragging her down, he reacted rather poorly to the whole idea. He is having fun here on Earth playing the game he’s playing. And she, giving birth to her baby, but also tired of her life and the demands it placed on her, was having absolutely no fun at all. Death, for her, was glorious, and she didn’t want to go back. But in this place at this time, you always have to go back. If your body can still support life, you’ll get a little message “it’s not your time yet” and be sent back. And if your body is beyond repair, you’ll be given the once-over to make sure you forget what you really are and what you really want, and then you will get sent back to Earth to pick up a newborn baby. You’re lucky if you get to choose which one.

Improving the game on Earth

So, going out and flinging yourself off a rooftop, or getting involved in a war or a riot, won’t do the trick. You’ll end up back here stuck in a game very much like the one you were trying to exit.

Improving the game involves, mostly, improving your ability to create games and play games. Improving your ability to become the Evel Knievel of your own life (a famous motorcycle stunt man, for any that don’t know).

This involves restoring more of your innate spiritual abilities, such as the ability to go exterior with full perceptions without dying. Unfortunately, the guys in charge down here (as well as the ones in charge up there – same guys, more or less) don’t like this. They hope that they can make you dull-headed enough to play along with their game of assembly line manufacturing and intergalactic trade (or whatever they’re doing). Well, maybe they find that fun, but why at your expense? They can get robots to do that stuff. Why try to turn you into a robot?

Truth is, those guys are stuck in an old pattern that they are probably bored with as well. In any case, they don’t have the right to impose their game on you. But if you are going to escape that fate, then you are going to have to go “up scale” until you can provide yourself with a game you like which your environment (the old guys) can tolerate, until you get around to handling their considerations about how precious their games are compared to yours.

And that’s the way to improve the game without going through the knee-jerk reaction of death. I can sympathize with the death wish, but death doesn’t work any more. Luckily for us, there is an alternative.

Missing Threads

30 August 2020

Spoiler alert: The missing threads are:

  1. Criminality.
  2. Mental technologies.

I’ve been immersing myself in a lot of “popular culture” lately. I re-listened to the BBC’s version of Asimov’s Foundation trilogy, as mentioned earlier. Yesterday I watched most of a three-hour event in Utah that happened very recently. And this morning I watched a three hour video dissertation from BBCer Adam Curtis that he has titled Hypernormalization (2016) after a concept put forward by a Russian writer at the time that the Soviet Union was collapsing. Curtis also created a set of videos about modern psychology and Ed Bernays called The Century of The Self (2002).

I have also recently watched several videos concerning the Critical Theory problem in academia and the resistance to Intelligent Design in biology.

This post has to do with what I see as missing from these stories. I’ve already stated them above. In Foundation, psychology plays a prominent role in the story, but criminality does not, except in the character of the Mule, a mutant with special psychic abilities. And that doesn’t count. Asimov, as do most serious historians, treats criminal activities as a part of human nature and otherwise disregards them.

The Utah gathering was about loss of freedom due to lockdowns and other related events, and what to do about it. It featured Del Bigtree, the maker of several recent films pointing out weaknesses in modern medical institutions. That event avoided the subject of mental technologies. One of its principle organizers is an ex-psychotherapist. She was packing a side arm that day.

And the long video concept piece, brought to our attention by Joseph Mercola (MD), tried to explore the intersection of these two threads without really mentioning either of them, treating the whole thing as a sort of hopeless inevitability, a part of a pattern that we might never rise above.

The Ethical Story

The story being told from an ethical point of view focuses mostly on:

  1. Loss of civil liberties. Stated as rights, these include the right to a fair trial, the right of movement unless properly charged with a crime, the right to freely congregate and speak your mind, the right to vote or abstain from voting, and the right to participate in governance.
  2. Loss of wealth. Stated as rights, these include the right to own property and the right to protect it, the right to engage in commerce and the right to work.
  3. Loss of power. Stated as rights, these include the right to life, the right to procreate, the right to an education and health care, the right to some form of social security, the right to express yourself, the right to practice a religion or refrain from doing so, and the right to be responsible for making your own decisions.

The focus in this discussion is usually on government.

But who, really, doesn’t want us to have civil liberties, wealth and power? The criminal. All these threaten the criminal much more than they do honest men. And criminals are contributing enormously to these losses, both through corrupt governance and otherwise. The focus of the Utah gathering was on the apparently sudden increase in the power of doctors. But they couldn’t explain why docs were suddenly so eager to rule, although a connection to Big Pharma was clearly seen.

The Technical Story

Suzy, a therapist.

When told in terms of technologies, the story tends to focus on their failure or corruption:

  1. The failure of the political and legal systems. Such as in the case of unjustified deaths, and the failure of police to control rioters. And in the failure of elected representatives to listen to the voice of the people, or to reason.
  2. The failure of education and academics. As in the over-politicization of teaching, disastrously incorrect research getting published, and academic people getting fired for speaking their truth.
  3. The failure of medicine. Their apparent inability to figure out what to do about any of the coronaviruses. Their neglect of nutrition. Their apparent arrogance regarding non-medical alternatives that seem to work better.
  4. The failure of the business world. To keep its ethics in and its products and practices safe and effective. The apparent sacrifice of lives for profit.

Society is full of incorrect technologies. We know that now, at least. It is the ethics problem that keeps better technologies from being used. That’s because criminals are afraid of people who are honest, intelligent, healthy and productive.

The answer to failed justice is Ethics Technology. The answer to failed schools is Study Technology. The answer to failed health is Auditing Technology. The answer to failed business is Management Technology.

All these technologies exist and are is use. But they are not in wide use because of the undue influence of criminals in all these sectors.

Per Ron’s analysis, the main vector for corrupting society was the false technology of “modern” psychology.

In justice and law this favored a “victim” / Big Brother approach. In education this favored leniency, pampering students and false study methods. In medicine this favored the bio-medical model of etiology and treatment. And in business this favored consumerism, entertainment in place of real production, and deception in advertising.

I am not trying to be thorough here. This just gives you the general idea. We know that “psychological warfare” is widely used in politics. But states have become similar to large corporations. They seek profit and continuance over the general welfare. Likewise, medicine now serves criminals, and is marketed with some of the most dishonest “science” ever seen. Science itself is not far behind, especially biology, where Natural Selection has long since been disproved, yet Intelligent Design is ridiculed as a religious insurgency.

It is as if the rulers, whoever they are, float along in their own little world, untouched by the concerns of everyday life. That’s no way to stay in power!

Patching the hole

Do we patch the hole or get a new pair of pants?

Revolution now would result in the loss of what remains of our garment!

We must attempt to keep things patched up until saner people are in place to take over. Learn how to do a Touch Assist or a Locational! Learn how to clear your misunderstood words!

The new world looks different, I think. We will have to solve some of the riddles that our founders wrestled with, and handle some of their blind spots.

I see the need to reshape our vision of business, and multinational corporations in particular. These organizations are too big to escape the guiding principles that we use for governments.

Religion will be reborn with a new recognition of the existence and power of the spirit. The concept of God will likely live on, for spirit had to come from someplace. We, on the other hand, will have to take responsibility for the creation of this universe. That was not God’s work, it was ours. And in owning the universe, it can finally come under our control to a much greater extent. We will really need that in the coming millennia!

Look ahead! There waits eternity. Why wear the same old torn up pants when you can make a new pair?

Meanings of Freedom

25 August 2020

Let’s talk about freedom.

I’ve mentioned it before, such as in my article on human rights and in a related article.

Freedom is one of the three elements of games, along with purposes and barriers. A “fun” game provides a good balance between freedoms and barriers, as well as having a purpose that the players see as worthwhile.

Evolution of civilization

I recently reviewed the story of The Foundation by American writer Isaac Asimov. I used the BBC radio drama for my review, figuring it would take less time (8 hours) than locating and reading the original books. I wanted to remind myself of the role of the library in the story. I had remembered the records in the library as consisting of silver discs, but the BBC version describes them as microfilm.

In the Foundation series, Asimov lays out a version of a theory of the evolution of civilizations that was gaining popularity in his day. It deals with the tensions between freedom, power and the technologies of power. It is a bit simplistic, but the basic concepts still survive.

Each new technology, as the theory goes, begins with a freer time and ends in a tyranny, as the next technology of power begins to take hold. Asimov started with the technologies of brute force, then of trade, then a return to brute force assisted by psychology, then to some form of psychology-based society that would no longer require brute force and its dehumanizing tendencies. The essential freedoms sought in these stories were: freedom from tyranny, freedom to trade as one pleased and freedom to amass wealth unhindered by criminal claims against it.

Artist’s idea of a great intergalactic library.

Devolution of civilizations

The actual story of “civilization” seems to take a rather different course.

I cover it briefly in Understanding Human Rights. The game devolved from a high-freedom, low-barriers sort of free-for-all towards a low-freedom, high-barriers super-controlled system. The control factors (barriers) included threats of violence, secrecy, the creation of an inability to remember, and the cultivation of a lack of self-awareness, as well as the technologies of “mind control” and propaganda that so thoroughly enthrall this generation.

Here on Earth we are somewhere on this downward spiral (called that because of its similarity to how a damaged airplane spins out of control as it crashes.) We in fact seem to be passing through a transition period between having more freedom on the internet and having less. Other freedoms were doing OK in the US until the pandemic came along. Now our freedoms to move around and to work for a living have been greatly restricted for some time. This is a very bad sign.

Traditional freedom

The “classic” freedoms of the Enlightenment were centered around a newly-established freedom of speech and a commensurate limitation of government to punish this freedom. Big business was not seen as an important player in those days – big mistake.

It was thought that combining basic freedoms of thought with a limited government and the right to bear arms would be enough to create a workable balance between rulers and the ruled. But this balance was already being compromised by business concerns that were using slaves in agricultural factories and mining. As business became more powerful through technology innovations and the popularity of manufactured goods, those leaders, unhampered by the philosophical constraints of the Enlightenment, sought to establish a modern slave model in whatever way they could.

By the time of the second world war, we have the Chaplain of the United States Senate, Peter Marshall, telling us, “May we think of freedom not as the right to do as we please, but as the opportunity to do what is right.”

With that sly twist of words came the downfall of traditional human rights, even as the United Nations, under the direction of Eleanor Roosevelt, attempted to remodernize and reinvigorate ideas of basic rights and freedoms. Neglecting the rise of power of the business world, we had allowed them a greater and greater slice of the “power pie” with none of the traditional protections our founders had conceived to limit the power of government.

Modern arguments about freedom

Assisting the business world in this takeover has been “modern” psychology and its derivative disciplines. See my article on propaganda.

Rather than bloviate over-much on this subject, I will take one example of this that I have studied. It involves a French man named Michel Foucault, one of many thinkers of the last century to advance a variety of ideas that have been lumped together under the description “critical theory.” A key principle of this approach is that truth is relative, as we have historical proof that “truth” was invented by power groups to maintain their dominance and for no other reason. Thus any “truth” can be suspected as being really no more than a form of political propaganda, and so also our ideas of what is moral and what is ethical. It is all relative to who is in power.

It might be mentioned here, as was made very obvious in the Wikipedia article about Foucault, that he was gay, promiscuous, fond of sadomasochism, supported pedophilia, and died of AIDS, supposedly by engaging in unprotected sex in the gay bath houses of San Francisco.

By the time of his death, Foucault had a wide following in the US due to his lecturing at several college campuses, including Berkeley and UCLA.

To me, his theories amount to little more than attempts to justify debauchery, a lack of any moral compass, and thus, criminal behavior. These then, are the new “freedoms” opposed to the traditional rights and freedoms of the preindustrial era. They arose, we may suppose, from our failure to instill the values of the Enlightenment in the business world, and thus its continued focus on profit, propaganda (psychological warfare), war, and political domination through popular acquiescence and personal threats.

The grasshopper’s dilemma

I don’t know how fitting this is, but I ran across this old drawing and wanted to use it.

As depicted in the old fable, the grasshopper’s dilemma is whether to enjoy the moment and avoid preparing for the challenges of winter, or to waste a perfectly good summer worrying about what almost certainly lies ahead.

Although we know that grasshoppers die off in winter, but their eggs survive to hatch the following spring, if we see the grasshopper’s year as related to a human lifetime, then we see, perhaps, a story of how profligate (criminal) behavior can end in misery. However, these days we are shown, as a sort of model of modern success, how a shrewd businessman (like Bill Gates) can live the good life and also amass a fortune to “help others.” It seems like a model worth aspiring to…if it were true.

Complaints from a New Age psychiatrist

Kelly Brogan is one of the prettiest and most effective psychiatrists that I am aware of. Her decision to stop using psych drugs in her practice (and preferably no drugs of any kind) and to take on a new mentor (Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez) has led her to practice a “new” form of medicine, and also to radicalize in the face of irrational criticism clearly aimed at nothing more than protecting the status quo. It is also the only reason I would hold her up as any sort of a hero.

Kelly exercised the traditional freedoms of intellectual thought and independent action. This is one of her conclusions:

Spiritual freedom

It is good to know something about the subject of spiritual freedom. While it is not a subject that directly impacts day-to-day life on Earth, it gives us a reference point about what ultimate freedom is and then can, perhaps, inform us as to what might be an ideal balance.

I have not tried to address here the desirability of the “free-for-all” condition that I alluded to towards the beginning of this article. It is too fantastical for this world, and almost certainly would be too chaotic. Yet, in contemplating it, we may come to realize the true agonizing boredom that would be produced by an environment that was totally safe a predicable.

The missing element, of course, in most (if not all) previous analyses of the human situation is the spirit, its characteristics and its history. No other modern thinker or researcher has come close to describing the spirit as well as has Hubbard. That his work remains largely undiscussed is an omission I will never cease to decry. I supplement my references with better-known work when I can, but there is really no comparison. I just want to make that clear.

The spirit, as an individual and a personality, is fully capable of leaving the game of life in a body-oriented “civilization” entirely if he fully desires it. Few really do. Most sort of enjoy this game, at least for now. And beyond that, we are all – for all intents and purposes – trapped in this game for the time being, and have responsibilities and connections that would be difficult to turn away from without moral repercussions.

But that is, basically, the ultimate freedom: To go somewhere and create one’s own space and one’s own game in that space, and to have full control over who may enter that game and likewise to have full control over one’s choice to be involved in any other game that invites players.

I hope the above description gives the reader some sense of how far away we are from that ideal here on Earth. But I hope this also serves as a warning. Do not be intoxicated by the tawdry arguments of the criminals of this planet, who want little more than the “freedom” to enslave everyone else, and so “rule.” Their invitations can sound very alluring. Resist them!

Rumblings

17 August 2020

Last night we had a lightning storm and a brief rain.

That almost never happens in the summer here.

I took over 150 shots of the sky, hoping to catch one of the flashes.

There were some truly amazing discharges; I got three good shots.

Flash

The first shot I got left the impression of a daylight scene in my image.

But you can see a glint in the windows of the building across the street.

Apparently the lightning bolts that illuminated this image were reflected in the windows of that building. However, we are more-or-less obviously looking directly at them as well. Which means what we see in those windows must be a reflection of a reflection! Close up:

The next morning we see that there is indeed another building reflected in these windows – the building immediately behind my building.

The reflection from the building behind me shows a distinct double-strike, washed out almost completely when looking straight at it.

Inter-cloud

The other interesting strike I captured was an inter-cloud strike.

As I said, there were so many other awesome strikes last night!

It’s very rare to get a storm like this at this time of year here in the central valley. Unusual times.

Master of His Universe

16 August 2020

Democracy and Minorities

12 August 2020

Simplistically, democracy means “majority rule,” right? So, what happens to the minorities in a Democracy?

I chose as my featured image a picture of a family. Though this isn’t totally analogous to a group like a nation, we may suppose that larger groups tend to use the same patterns that are successful in smaller groups.

Hence, we start with the family, the most basic small group. We might say, especially these days, that the father and mother rule together, in a sort of cooperative arrangement where some tasks are handled more by Dad, and others handled more by Mom. Considering that children need care and supervision as they grow, we can see how this arrangement would be helpful even if there were no biological connection between the parents and the kids.

I should note the obvious just to make sure we don’t miss it: The kids are in the majority. The adults are the minority, but it is just assumed they are the best choice for managers in the family. These days I might get some arguments about this, but probably not too many.

Larger groups

I didn’t want to just strew this post with photos, but I do like to show what I’m talking about. So, here is a small-ish corporate group that works in Manhattan, as photographed by professional photographer Mark McQueen:

You can’t really tell from this photo how this group is structured. But if it is like most companies, it is divided into roughly-family-sized working groups, each handling a specific set of tasks, coordinated by an executive group, with one “chief” executive who is responsible for making the ultimate decisions, when it comes down to that. Ideally, each group leader knows their job well enough so that the top person’s main job is just to keep informed and keep things coordinated, not to micro-manage.

And that is the basic workable pattern on which all organized groups are based. Even disorganized groups will tend to look for a leader, if it seems that leadership is called for.

“Majority rule” isn’t the fashion in this pattern, either. So, where does it come from?

Policy and the consent of the governed

There are some people missing from the above photo: The policy makers. In the business world, this is usually left up to the Board of Directors. In a democracy this becomes the Legislature or Parliament. And “policy” becomes “law.”

What were the problems that this arrangement was trying to overcome?

It should be noted at this point that the “conventional” model for corporate management is not the only model in use. The Spanish (Basque) Mondragon Corporation functions as a federation of worker cooperatives, though it appears outwardly as any other large corporate entity.

More generally, it has been long acknowledged among managers that things go better when “workers” (or whoever is being managed) are included in any major decisions, particularly regarding any major change of direction. Good mangers at least “feel out” their people, if not observing some more formal (policy-based) process when hit with any major changes or shifts. I wish my own parents had done this more often.

The idea is to gain the “consent of the governed,” which concept is included in our Declaration: “… governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…” The Founders stated this concept in lofty terms, informed as they were by centuries of political philosophizing. But it’s basically just good sense. Isn’t it? Seems that way to me.

Rulers will always be a minority

Here’s another family photo. The Elders stand above, the younger ones below. If every single child and grandchild and great-grandchild had been present, it would be even more obvious that the Elders are in the minority. Yet, in life, in business, and in politics, we normally allow them to rule.

Let’s go back to the basic family pattern. You don’t need a lot of people at the top. In a pinch you could get by with just one. Two tends to work better. For a larger group, an executive council of four is a good number.

And any well-run group that intends to survive, or even expand, usually expresses in basic policy (in the U.S. that’s the Constitution) that leaders and managers need to maintain good communication with their people and seek to gain wide agreement for policies and activities that will affect their people. And so we have Democracy as a formal method for providing periodic “consent of the governed” to those doing the governing (the “ruling class”). Done well, this tends to legitimize policy decisions and make implementation go smoother. Done poorly, it can create more problems than it’s worth. And these days, it is often done quite poorly.

What about real political minorities?

Any group, especially where it’s rulers have a policy of ignoring their wishes or their humanity, can have difficulty getting a fair shake from mangers and policy-makers. The common result is violent protest, particularly as the injustice of the situation becomes more and more obvious.

That this is a dangerous path should be apparent, but that it will certainly not be productive is not. We celebrate our own violent revolt following the 1776 Declaration as a pivotal moment in world history. But all-out war does tend to open up Pandora’s boxes of “unintended consequences.” It, for one thing, tends to indicate to a people that further violence may result in further gains. This is seldom true.

If we had negotiated peaceful treaties with indigenous Americans, and honored them, life for them could have been much different. If we had negotiated the abolition of slavery before our war with Britain, things could have turned out much different. From that point of view, we forced those minorities in the direction of violent action. The indigenous people rose to the occasion, and got badly beaten down. The slaves, then ex-slaves, controlled their desire for violence and won an enduring place in American culture.

However, the classic case of a “political minority” is the case of an immigrant population, more-or-less forced out of their homeland, to arrive on some foreign shore speaking a different language and bringing a different culture with them. The American colonists once occupied this position, but with the backing of a heavily-armed imperial government, they overwhelmed the majority inhabitants and set themselves up as the new rulers. In current times, we don’t consider this a probable scenario, except possibly if the invasion came from outer space.

We do see various modern examples of this, including the migration from the rural South to the urban North, as well as various other significant migrations to the New World via both the Atlantic and the Pacific, as well as recent movements of people out of the Middle East and into Europe.

Thomas Sowell has taken an economist’s view of some of these populations. And though I am not entirely familiar with his work, I have seen him speak. The way this usually works, when it works, seems to be when the group begins in their new environment as a relatively powerless, but culturally cohesive, community. In other words, they remain “segregated.” Then as they grow stronger in their environment, their younger members, nurtured by the safe space provided by the community, begin to reach out towards the majority culture and economy. As some of them make it, they bring more with them. And they eventually become a part of the larger culture, at least in some important ways, and then gain their share of clout.

Sowell noted that this is where black communities were headed in the time of Jim Crow and redlining. But then a white-supported policy shift, touted as a “war on poverty,” began breaking up the safe spaces where young blacks could get a start. Welfare rules favored single mothers, and so the basic family pattern in those communities was directly attacked by the mostly-white ruling class of those times. And the advances that blacks had made, even with Jim Crow breathing down their necks, was eroded by a program that was supposed to help them, but was not really their program.

The real political minority is the ruling class

The ruling class has only two ways to remain in control: Management skill, or coercion.

The Vancouver B.C. 72nd Seaforth Highlanders in ceremonial garb, 1928.

And coercion does not result in “good control” but only an appearance of control, based on fear. So the ruling class really has only one way to maintain good control: Management skill. And this, unfortunately, it lacks in sufficient quantity. And in this lack, it has resorted, too often, to various coercive tactics. While most see this failing as some sort of “natural” process of decay, I don’t. I think managers have been pushed in this direction, but in ways that have been very difficult to trace to their sources.

There are certain fundamental rules of good management that are being violated today, and have been for some time. Most of them go unnoticed and uninspected.

One important law of management is that any person will tend to feel intimidated when put in an asymmetrical power situation. An intimidated person will remain weak and less productive in his work and his life. A classic example of this is Federal Income Tax, and all similar federal programs that force the individual to deal directly with the central government. Ideally, the individual would have all his legal dealings with his local government, and would feel he had a voice and could defend a position in that group.

This is one of the greatest arguments against “socialist” systems of all kinds, as well as any form of autocracy. It is almost never listened to.

Another basic law is that data at all levels should be true and accurate. If I were running any “justice system” I would make this the first and most important role of all its agents and officers. Today, not even journalism is willing (or able?) to find the truth and report it. That has to change!

As the “ruling class” extends into the business world, I don’t think large businesses should be seen as very different from large governments. I think there are “bad apples” hiding out in the world of multinational corporations that have been continuously seeking to have them treated in law as “legal persons.” I believe that beyond a certain size and scope they must lose that privilege. Those groups have a long and sad history of trampling countless lives in their pursuit of profit. It is long past time to end that. Groups with that much power should be under some sort of democratic control, and be held to certain basic legal standards. We can’t have real democracy where we allow corporate tyranny. It has almost destroyed our Republic.

Let us return to the pattern of the family. It isn’t perfect, but it is the most workable, most durable pattern that we have.

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 is 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….Three showed up 14 August! Here’s one of them:

…plus another peaking out in the background.

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.