Archive for June, 2021

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.

World’s Strongest Man…qualifiers

19 June 2021

Without an audience-eye’s view of the events, I didn’t expect to see much of the actual competition or competitors.

This is mainly a story of what it looks like behind the scenes, as that was my viewpoint.

June 15th, first day of qualifying events

I missed all the events on Tuesday, as I hadn’t studied their schedule at all, plus I got up late.

Here is a view from that day, with everyone deployed on the lawn.

June 16th, second day of qualifying events

I arrived too late to see the morning event. They were already moving that equipment into a truck.

As I walked around to the side, I found this little toy in the lawn and set it out on a manhole cover that for some reason sits in the middle of that lawn.

Over by the train station they are setting things up for the train pull. I don’t know…isn’t that car going to be too heavy?

The camera drone is tested, and then the competition eventually begins:

The first guy tries real hard. He can’t budge this train car.

Here is a shot of what the second guy looks like in his harness.

He can’t move it, either. They finally announce that the car wheels appear to not be free enough, possibly due to the brakes not being fully released. I think it was just too heavy.

Hours later, they have decided to use the little half-length engine, and they have switched to a push format, rather than a pull. This works, but I can’t see the athletes at all from where I am.

I try going round to the back and peering over the fence. But the view is pretty well blocked by the crowd, the crew, and a low fence.

June 17th, third day of qualifying events

Again I miss the earliest events, which are scheduled to start at 8, but usually start later. Between each event there is a rest period for the athletes. So it’s hard to squeeze in more than three events per day.

This day is HOT, so they have emergency personnel standing by.

A weight lifting event is taking place, but all I can see is camera equipment and bodies.

Here, two camera technicians have a conversation.

One of the athletes signals to the crowd as he finishes his attempt.

While others wait their turn.

Mark Felix was the only black man in this competition. Seen here wearing Boudreault’s shirt?

Here I catch one of the contestants lifting one of the huge barbells.

And then, another:

And one more:

The weight lifting ended. I missed the next event but returned later for the “stone off” event.

A security guard told me he thought they were letting extra people in. So I went over and asked. And they let me in!

This is what the equipment for the “stone off” looks like. There are five “stones,” each heavier than the last. Two men compete each time.

I stayed in the shade, so didn’t get the greatest view. Here, two competitors are near the end of their run.

And here another pair begin their round.

The Stoltmans figured prominently in this year’s events.

Friday was a day off, then come the two days of finals!

World’s Strongest Man…preparations

16 June 2021

World’s Strongest Man is a TV franchise and athletic competition that has existed in some form since 1977.

I had never heard of it.

However, on a recent walk to the park in Old Sacramento, I was greeted by this sign:

At first, I thought it was a competition sort of like the Olympics. But it isn’t. It is filmed like a TV “adventure” series, in line with many other similar shows that have sprung up, particularly since cable TV got all its channels. There are about 25 guys – really big muscular dudes – who operate basically as paid actors, even though they are also competing to win the annual title.

On Monday the 14th I came back to see what was going on, as the actual competition was scheduled to start the next day. I was surprised by the extended perimeter and all the camera equipment, as I hadn’t fully read up on it yet.

They had already placed the main “prop” for the weight lifting event to happen the next day.

There was lots of equipment and people moving around.

I went around to the back, as I had read they were going to use some train cars for some of the events.

They had parked several engines in a manner that seemed to be aimed at blocking the view from the rear.

However, there was one beautiful old engine on the turntable, which they were planning to use in one of the strength contests.

People who want to be in the audience that gets filmed have to sign up in advance, as there is a lot of paperwork involved in being an “extra” on a film set. There were only so many slots available, so they filled quickly (I was not aiming to be an extra).

The contest then started in the morning of the next day. As it is predicted to be over 105ยบ F on Thursday and Friday afternoon, they may adjust their shooting schedule a bit on those days. I am putting together some photos for a report on the contest proper, to appear later.

School of Rock Returns … and other events

9 June 2021

When I finally found the School of Rock Elk Grove’s Facebook page, I learned that they were having a third big concert on Sunday June 6th. It was scheduled for Noon to 9pm. I arrived just after noon, and only stayed a little while.

“Backstage” above, and below, from the audience.

They were playing under an amazing young jacaranda tree that currently looks like this:

Meanwhile, in the park…

I usually don’t walk through at lunch time on the weekend. All the picnic tables were taken!

The live artists that I had seen earlier in the week had left this behind:

Did he really mean “You’re” instead of “Your?” Probably.

Elsewhere…

The next day I took my weekly grocery shopping journey and found these amazing day lilies in Folsom.

I spotted this stand-up paddler on the Aquatic Park lake. Some geese swam right by him.

AA

And I saw a young buck further down the trail. As usual, he didn’t really want to pose for me.

Santa Fe Super Chief engine

On my next visit to Old Sac, a new engine had appeared in the yard!

The man who was handling this engine and the switches told me (because I failed to recognize it myself) that this was one of the “Super Chief” locomotives, a famous and iconic diesel engine of a slightly earlier era. He told me that they have the air brakes working on this one, but not the motor.

With the help of an engineer, they used a working engine to push this one beyond the track switch that leads to the shed. This is a rather unique switch in that it is both 3-way and manual.

After the man switched the lead-in track to the middle stall in the shed, the engineer moved over to a half-length engine, coupled it to the Super Chief, then pulled it into its place in the shed. I suppose they will work on it there, and perhaps get the motor operational.

This engine had been sitting in a shed at the Railyards, which is way over on the other side of the Amtrak station, and just today had been brought over here. So I was very lucky to see it while it was out!

Should we blame it on the humans?

This message, chalked onto the sidewalk between DOCO and the Old Sac Tunnel, is worthy of some philosophical discussion.

Say you were in a super-advanced rat colony where the rats had developed a full civilization, complete with philosophers and politicians and police. Something like Animal Farm (Orwell, 1945).

The colony, after some time, found that it was not doing so well. There didn’t seem to be quite enough food to go around, and the bedding was getting considerably soiled and stinky. The politicians tried to correct this by setting stricter rules, which the police rats dutifully enforced. But some of the philosophers became convinced that, as rats were “just animals,” there must be something wrong with them that makes, them, ultimately, suicidal as a species. Thus, the situation was, ultimately, hopeless.

Only one rat was brave, quirky, or insightful enough to ask this seemingly irrelevant question: “What about the humans who take care of our cages? Don’t they figure into our problem somehow?” The rats, being proud as rats tended to be, did not want to admit to themselves that they were actually living in cages and were therefore under the sway of “higher forces” who “took care” of them. His idea to teach everyone how to live in the wild, then stage a breakout, was roundly condemned, and he was put on half rations, socially ostracized.

And so, the rat colony did, in fact, die out. Except for the one philosopher rat who, in the end, managed to escape and live out the rest of his life as a “free” rat, under the house of the rat keepers. This was, of course, little consolation to him. He had not even found a female rat that would agree with him, and so his ambitions for Rat Freedom died with him…

Blame versus responsibility

Those rats were in a bad situation, no doubt about that. And so are we humans, here on Earth.

But the primary problem for the rats was believing they were “free” when in fact they were living in a cage.

And that is the same problem that we, as humans, are having.

Fortunately there are I would say roughly 100,000 humans on the planet right now who do realize what the actual situation is, and are trying to get themselves up to the point to where they could actually survive as “free beings.” But, they want to take ALL the humans here along with them to a new life of freedom. And many of those humans (even me!) are not convinced that a slave life is really worth changing into a free life. It takes a LOT of effort to learn how to live free! To look at the entire job, all the energy and time it requires, is just too overwhelming, even for a human like me who is completely aware of the situation and the consequences of inaction.

The difference is the difference between blame and responsibility. A person who wants to be free has to accept the responsibility level – the causative approach to life – that goes with being free. The ones who want to be slaves can continue to blame others for the situation they are in. They can even blame the prison guards – if they ever figure out that they are in a prison! But that, of course, won’t get them out. And if they did get out, they would flounder around, not knowing what to do, and eventually find some new way to get trapped, probably.

So this is the big challenge for all those who want a better future for themselves and everyone else, too. They have to get their fellow slaves (prisoners) to realize they are slaves, then to take the responsibility to free themselves.

The New Normal

5 June 2021

This is the Flatstick, a “theme bar” located across the street from my apartment building. I’ve never been inside. The humorous (?) sign to the left is what caught my eye today and what this post is mostly about.

If it hadn’t been for an event just down the street at Solomon’s Deli, I might have saved this post for a later date. But with three visuals and this much intellectual “meat” to try to digest, I figured I would try writing something this afternoon.

The “new normal” is full of cognitive confusions

Most of us want a better life and a better world. Some of us think everyone on this planet wants this. A few of us are very sure that assumption is incorrect.

Many then ask, well, why don’t we have a better world? Most have no real idea, so they are willing to go along with one of the many theories in current fashion about why this planet is still so messed up. A few of us are quite sure that all these theories are incorrect or incomplete.

Learn better behaviors

The theory being put forward, apparently, by “modern” psychology, is that we all need to learn to behave “better.” If a person can’t learn to behave better, they deserve to be shamed, hated or … killed? … in the hope that this will cause them to learn their lesson. Of course, if it seems that a mental illness is causing the problem, then the person belongs in therapy. Maybe our ideas about “right behavior” also need to change, so we can be kind to more different types of people.

The whole theory expressed – however imperfectly – above is full of assumptions that many not be (or aren’t) true:

  1. All our major earthly problems stem from not being nice (kind, considerate) to each other. (Really?)
  2. The way to make more people act kind is to train them to act that way. (Okay…)
  3. If a person can’t be so trained, he must have a mental illness of some similar condition requiring therapy. (Who makes this decision?)
  4. Mental illnesses respond to drugs because the mind is in the brain. (This is categorically incorrect.)
  5. Maybe the behaviors we used to think are bad (lying, cheating, stealing…) really aren’t that bad, because we’ve never been able to get anyone to stop doing them. Maybe we just have to accept these behaviors and learn to be kind to those people, too. Then the world would be a much better place. (This, of course, is totally insane.)

Faith, freedom and honesty

This encapsulates the approach of most who today call themselves “conservative.”

If a man of faith is given freedom, then he will do good, because he will be motivated by God, and God always does good.

You can tell a man of faith by his honesty level. Those who lie to gain advantage are not persons of faith.

God’s law is above civil law and guides the conscience. Civil law guides the day-to-day dealings of men and women. Abide by the first and enforce the second, and that should be all that is needed.

This approach has been somewhat useful over a long period of time, but is hard on real criminals, who are incapable of being honest. Thus, this approach is constantly being fought by criminals, who constantly seek to give religion and related subjects a bad name. This has led to the secular behavioral approach, given first.

Conflicts

Secular behaviorism is currently considered more “liberal” and enlightened than faith-based approaches such as classic conservatism.

The problem is that in faith, or in any religious belief, there lies a grain of truth which will never be forsaken by the faithful. And so the faithful will never, never, never be persuaded to embrace secular behaviorism in any of its forms, particularly in its current form, which seems to show “mercy” for criminals.

The grain of truth cherished by the faithful is that there is a power higher and more lofty than the powers of the physical universe; that this power, in fact, created the physical universe.

While it is technically incorrect to attribute this power to just a few beings, or gods, this mistake does not cancel the truth of the more basic assertion. And so a belief in Spirit lives on, and it will always be opposed to the denial of Spirit.

The traditionally faithful tend to gravitate to certain moral teachings for the reasons that they are part of their sacred texts and also seem sensible. In a more traditional moral system, sexual relations between same-sex individuals seems ridiculous, or wrong, because it does not forward God’s work of perpetuating the race. Similar arguments can be made against killing an unborn fetus or trying to change one’s body to match one’s fancied gender orientation.

But because the current “liberal” approach is so anti-Spirit, conservatives have had to make a place for people who are “socially liberal” but can’t stand the thought of handing power over to lunatics. This has given the Left the poetic license to brand conservatives as totalitarians. Currently, the Left is much more intolerant than most conservatives.

Is the “old normal” really that bad?

A bar run by a reasonably sensible conservative would not treat any of the “sicknesses” mentioned on that sign as good enough reason to kick you out of his (or her) bar.

COVID-19 is a treatable and fairly mild disease that most of us should now be immune to.

Racism is an archaic mindset that seems out of place in the modern world. But there’s no reason to assume it would prevent someone from being a perfectly civil bar patron.

Same with homophobia.

What we had with the “old normal” was a general agreement that truth was valuable and worth pursuing, and in a like wise, honesty was worth practicing.

We were discovering that politicians, news casters, scientists, even doctors, could play the role of criminal and lie to us. We discovered that we needed to trust our own sense of rightness more and question “authority” more. That freedom was workable in the context of human rights, but not in the context of absolute freedom for anyone to do anything they wanted. We were beginning to discover that a certain type of personality was trying to take over this planet and destroy all our progress towards real truth and understanding and replace it with a new updated sort of superstition and slavery.

So they decided to accelerate their efforts, and made great progress in that direction over the last year and a half.

Do we really want that to be our world? Will it really result in more kindness and generosity, less suffering and fear? Will it end war, sickness, pollution or global warming? If not, why should anyone support it?

These are my questions to you.

Birthday celebrations at Solomon’s

Hey, to me this was strange. But I could tolerate, I guess, a guy dressed in a rainbow skirt wearing a colored wig and way too much makeup hosting an event at my local Deli…

To be hugged by such a dude might be a bit much for me. But look, ma, no masks! Could we maybe inch our way back to the old normal?

Turtle

2 June 2021

Ever wish you were a turtle?

A few days later, I watched one turtle swim up and join the other turtle on the log. It wasn’t real easy. It took some real striving for the second turtle to join the first one. I imagined that they are in love…