Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category

Old Issues – New Issues

14 December 2020

The Process

I go lie down in bed. If there’s something on my mind that’s a little deeper, it will tend to bubble up. I’ll get emotional about it.

I might be able to tell that it is really meaningful.

If it seems really meaningful I’ll get up and write about it or do something about it.

This has happened two or three times already this evening.

This isn’t normal. It’s my current process for handling an extra heavy emotional load.

If this in TMI for you, you are welcome to just skip it.

Old Issues

Tonight I recognized some old issues that I was sort of pushing off on my friend but that – surprise! – I had never really handled myself.

Decide what you want to do!

A situation comes up. It was probably an unexpected situation. And now you’ve got to decide what to do about it. And maybe you work it out all by yourself or maybe you talk to someone close (or not so close?) about it. And the result is supposed to be that you decide what to do. If you don’t decide someone else will decide for you, right? Wouldn’t you rather stay in control of your life and make your own decisions?

And this process is supposed to result in a goal and a plan of action. I’ve done this lots of times for more minor actions. Like moving back to California (twice). Like finding a job. Like getting products at work.

But to decide this for all aspects of your life over a short space of time? That’s more of a challenge.

Aren’t you supposed to help me with this?

When you are young and still trying to cope with your current life and all the changes that have happened since the last time you were a kid (particularly because you probably can’t even remember the last time) you kind of expect that maybe an adult (like your parent?) would sit down with you and help you to sort stuff out.

How many of you out there have gone through such a process with a parent? Or maybe a teacher or a mentor or even a counselor? I’d like to hear from you all about your experiences!

I’m fond of saying that my parents weren’t exactly there for me, but they aren’t here to defend themselves now, so suffice it to say that I never really did this with either my dad or my mom while I was growing up with them, but a little more with my mom after I left home.

When you are older, who replaces your parents when you need to get an exterior look at something that is making you feel very weak and little? The most obvious answer is your spouse. But these days, approximately half of all U.S. adults live as singles. Who do those people turn to when they need to get some perspective on their lives?

Why won’t you let me help you?

A friend of mine who I should probably consider a dear friend even though we don’t know each other that well was willing to help me with this recently. She’s my age, but more learned and more emotionally mature. She came up with the observation that this all centers around the subject of help. She suggested that I review some materials on the subject, which I fortunately have copies of. I have been reviewing those materials.

Help is a very interesting subject! It’s a very emotional subject because it is very very basic in this world. When the worms reproduce in the soil underneath a lawn, then a robin comes along one day and spots one and pulls it out and eats it, was that not a case of the worm helping the robin? Might it even be true that in some way the robin helped the worm by allowing it to fulfill its purpose of being food for higher life forms? The argument could be made. So help isn’t necessarily all sweetness and light, is it?

Way back when we were all bodyless spiritual beings – I’m talking way way back – we really didn’t need that much help from each other. But, we wanted to play together (the analogy with children at play only stretches so far). One being might make some creation and throw it in the direction of another being to see how they would react. Now, if the second being just ignored the “pass” (seeing a sexual connection here? That’s OK…) the first being would not consider that helpful. He might get pissed off at the second being and try to entrap him with flaming plasma or something (I just made that up). On the other hand, if the second being responded by sending a creation of his back in the direction of the first being, that might be considered helpful. They might even get together and have a relationship!

Other responses might also be considered helpful. The second being could blow up the first being’s creation. Or he could change its color and throw it back. You can see how eventually some sort of game could develop with “rules” about responses that were helpful versus ones that weren’t. It would all be totally subjective, but it would be a game. They are a couple of immortal spiritual beings! They don’t really need any “help.”

Fast forward billions of years, closer to present time. We’ve all become involved with biology. The rules of the “game” (if you can still call it that) are a little more obvious. And the actions involved are a little more…graphic, I guess you could say. Feeding someone is considered helpful. So a farmer helps others by feeding them. And they help him by buying the food instead of stealing it, so he can afford to replant each year and also feed his own family. A mother feeds her baby my nursing him and so on. Pretty obvious.

But the problem of failed help can come up. The farmer’s crop fails. The mother’s milk dries up. Oh no! Everyone has their stable data upset! How will they react? The situation suddenly becomes new and confusing. The baby could cry. The little boy, hungry, could get angry at not being fed and run away from home. The people who depended on the farmer could riot and burn down the farmer’s house. Failed help, then, can result in the person who expected that he could help finding himself resenting those he hoped to help. He failed to help so now he hates the objects of his help? Sounds nutty, but that’s life for you.

And so, all sorts of strange attitudes towards help can pop up and cripple individuals and their groups. A person can reject help even though he obviously needs some. A person could refuse to help another even though he could obviously provide some. Oh my goodness what a sad situation!

My family and my relationships…

And so it was that, though I expected help from my parents, it seldom arrived. They provided the most basic help: food, clothing, shelter, health care. That might be good enough for a farm animal, but that’s not quite going to cut it for a human boy trying to grow up into a man. There were obvious attempts to provide educational opportunities and fun family activities. The help landscape was not a desert, but more like a savanna when I had hoped for a forest.

And so I learned to not ask for help, and to figure out my issues by myself. This could be considered laudable in some respects, but it is missing at least one important ingredient: Without a second terminal in the picture, it becomes extremely difficult to have enough space to be truly sane and inventive. Solutions created in a space that’s too small and cramped will result in solutions that, frankly, are a bit half-assed. This, unfortunately, characterized many of my solutions to many of the situations I ran into growing up. The first big one being the loss of my friends, including my dear girlfriend Linda, when my family moved from California to Michigan.

What am I supposed to do?

When I was nine and living in the Bay Area, my answer would have been: Grow up, go to college, marry Linda, raise a family and live a “normal” life.

By the time I was about 15 the plan looked more like this: Don’t grow up – be an irresponsible playboy for the rest of my life, don’t go to college, follow my passions instead of putting common sense first and live an “abnormal” life.

By the time I was 25, I had finally found someone (Suzy, a child psychologist) who was willing to be a second terminal for me so I could straighten some of this shit out. With her help, I learned to:

  1. Dress like an adult.
  2. Find enjoyable play activities with other adults.
  3. Have adult girlfriends.

However, we never worked out college, my passions, or my determination to swim against the prevailing current. Perhaps this was just as well. I ended up learning a lot from “growing up” but I also learned a lot from “being different.”

However, there was a crucial skill and awareness I did not acquire: How to provide myself with one or more stable terminals who I could work with to create my future. This was especially critical because I no longer envisioned a mainstream future for myself. Some would argue this was a mistake. It meant that people, particularly women, who could fill this need would be few and far between. And that my friends, is an understatement in describing what I experienced!

But wait – so, what is it that I’m really supposed to do?

In a nutshell, I walked into adult life with a fragmented and incomplete vision of my own future, largely manufactured by myself without any direct consultation with another person.

Would I eventually work in the arts, as I had envisioned when I was 15? Would I create a space for children to learn in a more hands-on, trial-and-error (sometimes known as “heuristic”) fashion, the way I had learned so many things? Could I create an organization that would promote group dancing as an ideal way to attain physical (and mental) health? Could I come up to the level where I would be able to train and organize musicians, technicians, and other personnel to put on dance-exercise events and create some sort of enterprise that could be economically viable?

The above was one version of what I hoped to be doing for the rest of my life. It didn’t exactly turn out that way, but that’s not the point of this article.

Can I help her master a situation that I would have been unable to master when I was her age?

I find myself associated with a woman who is about as old as I was then. Her situation is in some ways much more complex and brutal than anything I ever experienced. It, in fact, comes very close to being overwhelming for both of us. It is a situation the likes of which I never imagined getting this close to in my lifetime. This kind of thing never happened to “nice college-educated people.” Yet it is happening to her, and similar things are happening to many other women (and men) in her age group.

An aside: I should have seen it coming.

I should have expected the Big Bad Asses to pull a bait-and-switch scheme on the entire planet to sell it on slavery. I should have expected them to come up with something really scary like a “new” virus (that really isn’t much worse than all the “old” ones we’ve already been through). The evolution was choreographed quite masterfully. And we are at a point – right now – where they seem to be on the verge of success.

I should have expected this.

I knew there were a bunch of guys out there who wanted to enslave the planet and needed to cripple the United States – the planet’s biggest defender of basic human freedoms – to do it. I knew these guys had total control of the mainstream media outlets, so could orchestrate a multi-faceted propaganda campaign that would leave few stones unturned. I knew they had the doctors in their pockets. I didn’t know the new Tech companies would be so compliant, but should have guessed. And so it happened!

Duh.

Meanwhile, young adults – boys in particular – were being crippled by chemicals in their water, their food, their vaccines, and in drugs they were forced to take for their “mental illnesses.” On top of this a criminal philosophy which used to be known as Marxism, but it now known as Critical Theory, was sweeping through the humanities and being pushed in schools, businesses and the media. Its basic goal was to convince an entire generation that a criminal takeover was the only way to solve the persistent problems that we continued to create for ourselves – particularly in the “free” countries.

And so freedom itself came to have a bad name. Many of the younger generation don’t see any value in freedom. They are sold on the idea that freedom just results in crime. That it’s not something that is vital to our spiritual or mental health. And so a whole generation (almost) is fine with wearing masks that don’t work, participating in lockdowns that don’t work, and losing their jobs so they can’t work, just because the “experts” and the media insist that something really awful will happen if they don’t “follow the guidelines.” The only thing “awful” that would happen if we were much less compliant is that they would lose their power over us! Yet few see the pure evil in their actions and exhortations.

Very few people now are educated about what criminality is and what sociopathy is. A lot of people think these behaviors are just normal and that we have to live with them. If someone gets too scary, we can always send them to a psych hospital where they will be forcibly drugged and made compliant – or else. Actually, psych wards and prisons are used to identify persons who might be useful to the Big Bad Asses as terrorists, and such persons will often be released as “cured” so that they may perform this function. To keep the threat looking real, this is an important part of the plan.

Back to my friend.

This woman seems very intent on sorting out her own life. Perhaps she will find someone to help her. But as she is trained in the helping professions to assist others in situations similar to her own, perhaps she feels that she herself is the most qualified!

Yet she complains of feeling “introverted and exhausted.” Too little space! She needs another terminal to help her open up her space. Not to think for her! Just to help her find the room she needs to really think for herself.

When I was her age and in a similar but much less extreme situation, I failed to understand the true benefits that another terminal could have provided, and did not expect much from the one I did find, nor continue to look for a better replacement. And so I failed myself in many ways.

And now I offer myself to her as one who can truly help? Perhaps she has been wise to reject the offer. This is my great dilemma. Am I helping her enough, or failing her? It is indeed a great dilemma for me now.

You think I am making this all up?

This is not the time or place to sort out political theories. A girl is in trouble. Can I help her through it or can’t I? Either way, I will lose her – like successful parents lose their children – to the world of adult life. But perhaps if I continue to care about her, and am honest and real about it, and actually manage to provide her with information that will help her make better decisions, she won’t end up like I did, and will keep me a bit in her life.

Who wants to be 66, alone, and constantly emotionally needy? It is a form of torture I dearly wish now I could have avoided. Though my breadth of understanding of life somewhat makes up for the isolation, it seems now that I could have done so much better, been so much more effective.

If I had just had someone there to help me when I needed it the most.

If I had just been more willing to ask for and accept help from others.

If I had just been able to recognize when someone else needed help but didn’t know how to ask for it, and then helped them.

Well, I still have a little more time this life to get it right.

And yes, I guess I am making all this up.

It’s my life; what other choice do I have but to create it myself?

Liberals and Conservatives

23 October 2020

I’ve been hearing a lot about right versus left these days.

I don’t agree with this way of looking at life.

Both liberals and conservatives are near the top of the human tone scale. Real liberals are actually a bit higher in tone.

In a sane and sustainable society, liberals and conservatives work together to find new games to play and keep those games ethical. The liberals are good at spotting new opportunities for freedom and expansion, and conservatives are good at setting reasonable boundaries, often in terms of moral or civil law, or policy.

Here’s an example where the liberals (in this case the children) discovered a new opportunity to play when the sprinklers went on in the park they were visiting with their parents. The conservatives (the parents) stood back to watch. They would help decide when it was time to stop and dry off and eat dinner.

Suppression

robot ape
Remote-controlled fighting monster from Japanese magazine.

Now let’s imagine that a huge scary monster appears in the park.

The liberals could invite the monster to play with them…but, let’s say they feel too intimidated. Their fallback position on the tone scale is protest (antagonism). “You’re too big to play with us! Go away!”

Meanwhile, the conservatives will be saying, “Sorry, monsters aren’t allowed in this park.” If that doesn’t work, their first fallback position is anger. They’ll call the police to arrest or kill the monster. But that’s irrational. What if the monster has friends which will come to his aid if he’s attacked? We haven’t even really tried to communicate with the monster to find out what it wants.

The liberals have a second fallback position – fear. They can run away and then plan a covert way to defeat the monster, possibly by poisoning its food. This is also quite irrational (criminal, in fact), and could lead the monster to decide that they are his enemies, and so attack them.

The conservative’s second fallback position is to surrender (propitiation). In doing this, they might save their skins, but they’ll lose their game.

History

History is full of examples of liberals and conservatives caving in in the face of suppression, reacting in ways that aren’t very pro-survival.

It is fairly easy to get liberals to protest if you can convince them their freedoms are being threatened. And if protest doesn’t work, they can often be convinced to assist criminals to undermine “the enemy” by covert means. This traces a descent away from thriving through protest or rebellion and on down to criminal practices like most forms of communism.

It can be more difficult to dislodge conservatives from their basic faith in their beliefs, moral teachings, and laws, but if they can be convinced that they are threatened, they may make a valiant effort to stop or destroy the threat (military action, fascism). And if that fails, they may be convinced to agree to subservience.

Colonization

A classic case of this was the whole Western colonial adventure. Liberals saw the Americas, as well as much of Asia, as potentially new playing fields for new games. To win these areas for their use, they engaged in games of conquest. Conservatives failed to curb the willingness of liberals to fight or enslave indigenous people to get what they wanted. Thus, many liberals turned into criminals, and this led to a long and abiding hatred for them among many indigenous peoples.

Suppressive persons lied to everyone. At first they used sectarianism, claiming the indigenous cultures were “savage” and “godless.” Then after everyone was Christianized, “race science” and later Eugenics were used instead. And the blood did flow. This was all promulgated by real criminals through various lies designed to get different groups to fight each other rather than work things out peacefully.

There are still many who believe those lies. I recently saw a very rational interview with a white separatist. He didn’t want to kill anyone. But he firmly believed that the color of his skin was important in many ways, and that racial mixing would ruin that special quality.

In India, the Caste System got much worse after the British learned how to use it to keep Indians divided. Many of the current caste “traditions” in India were actually installed by the British in the 1700s or 1800s. India was recently found to be one of the most racist countries in the world, while in fact it is also one of the most racially-mixed.

Liberals and conservatives should learn to get along.

The tug downwards towards irrational and violent behavior comes from real criminals. I have gone over this many times. These people are spiritually sick, and are afraid of honest people, so try to find ways to make them fight each other.

What the honest people need to do is figure this out and stop playing that game. They need to widely educate the population about the suppressive personality, and teach everyone the best methods for detecting such persons and disengaging from them.

Suppressive persons do not benefit from punishment, though some may need to be isolated (quarantined). It is important to keep them away from positions of power and authority, and the public must remain constantly vigilant on this point. In our current situation, a free press – and free speech – are very important mechanisms to protect us from criminals getting into power, as it is not yet feasible to establish a proper system of Ethics.

We have dropped below this point currently, even in America. The “press” is largely no longer free, but controlled by a few companies tied to criminal groups. The “left” is in a constant state of protest, doing little or nothing truly creative, and being totally uncooperative with their conservative brethren. Honest conservatives are trying to hang on to traditions they know are workable. But in the face of a broadening reality among the peoples of Earth, these traditions can no longer be applied everywhere they are needed. Meanwhile, they are too blind to the lies being fed to them, and to the importance of working with real liberals to keep society creative and flexible.

Conservatives must inform themselves of the discoveries and technologies that are actually keeping the planet running at this point. And they must realize that their religious beliefs may require a little modification due to new and more reliable proofs of individual spiritual existence. They must seek to nurture liberalism in themselves, along with the ability to move around on the Tone Scale as appropriate for the situation. They must also continue to nurture their faith. It is a very important part of life.

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.

Ann Arbor Townies!

19 July 2020

It all started with this graph…

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

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

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

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

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

Looking pretty good

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

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

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

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

The death proxy for disease spread

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

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

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

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

Case graphs are a different shape

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

What about improvements in treatment?

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

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

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

Monkey See Monkey Do

15 July 2020

I have been on social media a lot lately. And many people I am connected to are caught up in the head games that get played on social media, mostly concerning politics. I was having difficulty seeing exactly what was going on. But after watching several longer videos posted by various persons, I think it’s becoming clearer.

Trump

The Trump game is highly visible. It’s been almost four years ago now that Trump came out on top of the Republican heap, then went on to narrowly defeat Hillary. I voted for the Libertarian in that election.

Election commentators noted that Trump was unwanted by both parties, but somehow garnered enough popular support to squeeze out his main opponent. It has since come to my attention that the Electoral College was put in place to give rural voters (farmers) a little more say in picking the President, as otherwise the cities would tend to dominate national politics. However that may be, this was the obvious situation in that particular election.

As most of us are aware, “the Left” currently dominate mainstream media. But there is at least one “Conservative” news outlet, which is Fox. Though it is a little surprising that there is not a more even split, since both sides are well-funded and can afford to support high-profile mouthpieces, what surprises me more is that so much of the news is so obviously partisan, as in the “old days” many news organizations saw their job as exposing corruption, regardless of its sources.

News outlets have always also served as propaganda mouthpieces. But when I was young, William F. Buckley (a famous conservative commentator) had his own TV show on PBS, and the news helped tear down the Vietnam War, even though it was started by a Democratic President.

I bring up the Trump game first because it is so well-known and obvious. The game seems to be that Trump asserts some belief, or policy or does something as President, and then the media tries to tear it apart. Then Trump supporters feel they have to prove the media assertions wrong or untruthful. And it goes round and round because the original objection was often based on obvious facts, as Trump, in his day-to-day activities, is obliged to make decisions and say things and do things in public regardless of how well-informed they are and in spite of the fact that they are almost sure to piss someone off. That is the nature of politics in a democracy. The best thing for his supporters to do would be to just laugh at the derision and move on. That’s what Trump does.

The Color Revolutions

The “color revolutions” were a series of events that resulted, basically, in the installation of political groups in several countries of the former U.S.S.R. that were more willing to cooperate with Western-controlled financial and political interests.

I saw a quite long discussion-type video that quite definitely, if inelegantly, tied Soros funding to the civil unrest that characterized these uprisings. Soros ostensibly operates in the interest of “free and open” societies. The commentator, however, found definite links between his work and the financial interests of “globalists” many of which currently are posing as Democrats or “Left.”

For example, in the Ukraine, the government there had been investigating an investment group called Burisma that was trying to establish energy companies in Ukraine that would compete against state-owned companies in the Ukraine and in Russia. However, Ukrainian politics were Russia-leaning, and Burisma was guilty of some corrupt practices that a Ukrainian prosecutor was investigating. Soros helped finance the violent overthrow of that government, which was arguably doing the right thing ethically, with a pro-West government that would be willing to call off the Burisma investigation in exchange for a billion dollars worth of loan guarantees backed by Western interests.

The “color revolutions” led to many countries having an increased reliance on Western sources of funding over Russian (or Chinese?) sources. They are characterized by Wikipedia as non-military or “popular” revolutions (though not necessarily non-violent) and the Soros tie (via NGOs that he funded) is mentioned in that article, and is notorious in “right wing” circles.

What Soros seems to have done is latch on to more-or-less legitimate political debates in various target countries and push the scene in a direction that favored Western financial interests. The groups he funded forced political changes that were financially advantageous to people who Soros was supposedly working with, while actually bypassing the normal democratic systems that were being put in place in those countries. The groups he funded often included media organizations that would generate favorable content (propaganda).

Systematic Racism

A huge issue in American politics has been one currently being called “systematic racism.” This has to do with a set of socio-economic outcomes that have been demonstrated in many studies to correlate with skin color. For all intents and purposes, this problem, as a sociological phenomenon, is a known fact in the U.S. and has been since Europeans arrived in the Americas roughly 400 years ago. Before slavery was outlawed in the Americas, slavery was the dominant issue, though since the slaves were largely dark-skinned, the component of racism was always implicit in those debates, if not talked about directly. After slavery was banned, the problems continued, but they had to be labeled “systematic racism” as now racism is technically illegal.

What we have seen more recently is several new political and media groups formed up around this issue. Traditionally racism had been the focus issue of groups line the NAACP, the ACLU and the Congress On Racial Equality (CORE). It had also been taken up by white liberals and usually neglected or dismissed by white conservatives. But now these new groups are on the scene. The most visible is BLM (no, not Bureau of Land Management – a common ploy is to come up with “new” acronyms that are already taken, and thus confusing). BLM started in 2013 after the Trayvon Martin shooting. This and similar groups get financial support from Soros through his Open Society Foundations. Group organizers often have ties to older disruptive movements in the U.S. like the SDS, Marxism, and Communism.

A key function of these groups is to generate propaganda. For all I know (though I have no particular proof), propaganda on both sides of the issue is being created by the same people, or system. One set of propaganda will state that an issue (such as racism) demands attention, usually with the implication that the situation is bad enough to justify extreme action. Another set of propaganda is put out denying the reality of the issue or accusing the other side of having ulterior or criminal motives.

Thus, while liberal outlets cover police killings of blacks and other more extreme evidences that racism is alive and well in America, conservative outlets carry interviews with black people (usually famous) who claim they have never experienced any discrimination or forward rumors that the rioters were members of AntiFa. These “opposing” stories just serve to inflame people, as the evidence of the problem exists, not only in history, but in the very efforts of the deniers. Thus, the propaganda used by “both sides” only makes the problem worse. This would indicate that the intention of most if not all of the propaganda is to create violence, not to make people “more aware” so that “solutions” can be worked out.

COVID

Here we have another issue where propaganda is being used. The dynamics of it are a little different than the race issue, as it arose suddenly as a new problem, but it is a problem that we have systems in place to handle, that have been more-or-less successful in the past.

Nevertheless, at the propaganda extremes we have the new virus represented on the one hand as a coldhearted killer of seniors, and even young people, that we must isolate ourselves against until it can be tracked down and totally eradicated. On the other hand, the virus is being represented as a total hoax.

The fact that many doctors have developed successful treatments that improve one’s chances of surviving a virus attack is oddly absent from most news coverage, indicating that the coverage is forwarding inflammatory propaganda and not really aimed at resolving anything.

All rational discussion of the more general public health problems on the planet that have contributed so much to patient deaths from COVID-19 have been almost entirely absent in the news.

The Pattern

So we see a similar pattern again. On the one hand, an obvious problem is amplified into a situation requiring an extreme response. Those who don’t like the response are invited to choose propaganda designed to make them look like idiots. The truth of the situation is approached as little as possible in the propaganda, as that would lead to more rational handlings that would not benefit the people behind the propaganda.

In simplest terms, criminals exist who wish to keep society in a turbulent state so that they can operate without too much restriction.

Not only will these criminals take advantage of any major issue that pops up in society, but they will work to create issues out of nothing, or keep the most convenient ones (like racism) going forever. And they do this through propaganda that they offer to various persons and groups who can be persuaded that using it will benefit their cause.

The purpose, however, is not to support any rational cause. The purpose is to create upset in society. The propaganda, even when subtly done and seemingly corresponding closely to fact, will nevertheless include twists or falsehoods that make the situation seem much more scary than it really is.

Though I can’t prove it, the same group may be creating propaganda for “both sides” of the issue. It is often designed to make one side look more sincere and the other side look like fools, thus reducing the chances of having a rational discussion.

This basic pattern aligns with LRH data on how Third Parties create conflict. This data has proven workability. We should not overlook it!

The New Barbarians

8 July 2020

This began with the question, “What happened in the 1800s?” You can see a timeline of events on my other blog, if you wish to familiarize yourself with the period.

The featured image is of my 1980 girlfriend wearing an Indian costume for Halloween. Sorry, sweetheart, it was the best illustration I could come up with!

Themes

Certain themes stand out for the period, also known as the “19th century.”

  1. Empire
  2. Technology
  3. War
  4. Genocide
  5. Exploitation

If our only problems were Empire and Technology, I would be relatively happy. However, they always seem to be accompanied by the other three. Always…always.

Empire

While the concept of Empire was slowly dying out in Europe, it was slowly growing in the United States.

In Europe, the most notable players were the Germans, Austrians and Prussians. Britain (the “United Kingdom”) of course actually maintained the grandest empire throughout this period. But you could see that it had grown weary of the endless struggle that seemed to be involved in maintaining unquestioned domination.

Not so, the Americans! While Europe consumed itself in seemingly endless conflict, starting with the Napoleonic Wars, America looked westward with the utmost enthusiasm.

The concept of “manifest destiny” was concocted to convince the power-happy overseers and the power-hopeful underlings that they were all on exactly the right track. While the aboriginal peoples looked on, shook their heads, or fought against it, and died.

Technology

Though we like to think of our electronic age as the quintessence of technical innovation, it does not match the amount of pure force leveled against the environment by the inventors, industrialists and armies of the 19th century.

Ushered in by the Age of Steam, gasoline power was already well on its way to dominance by the end of the 1800s.

Dynamite was invented. The use of structural steel, replacing wrought iron (Eiffel Tower), became more and more common in civil engineering.

Several agricultural machines were invented and put into use during this period, as well as the typewriter, the sewing machine, photographic film and camera, the phonograph, electric lights, and finally, motion pictures.

Psychology also took its modern form – a sort of behavior modification technology – towards the end of this period.

Still, most Americans were using the good old fashioned firearm to get people to do what was requested of them. Major bank and train robberies began to show up in this period.

War

Europe seemed constantly embroiled in war during this period. If it wasn’t Napoleon, it was the Turks (Ottoman Empire) or the Germans, or Austrians, or Prussians. Or maybe, sometimes, the Russians (Crimea).

In the U.S., there was the War of 1812, the Indian Wars, the Civil War, and the war with Mexico over (mainly) Texas, and the Spanish-American War. It seems our Army, Navy and Marines were constantly busy.

Troops also helped capture Hawaii for the United States, so that Dole could sell his pineapples in America duty-free. And if you think there is any other reason Hawaii is a U.S. State, look again!

We also wanted the Philippines and Cuba, but we only got Puerto Rico and Panama, as well as Florida. California, etc, had been captured earlier from Mexico.

Genocide

Empire, it seems, has never been averse to genocide. In the U.S. this meant, at first, the Native Americans, then later, black slaves – now freed. There were also other ethnic minorities involved, like the Chinese. Meanwhile, the Irish kept having problems with the British, presumably because they wanted to remain Catholic.

This was also happening to indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities in South America, Australia, Africa, and Europe.

Exploitation

Though much of what happened along these lines is covered under Genocide, we can often see beneath the killing the lust for resources that seemed to be inspiring it.

During the 1800s, this was still expressing itself mostly through agricultural commodities. According to Wikipedia, forest cover in the U.S. dropped from 990 million acres (estimated) before westward expansion to about 700 million acres at present. This was mostly in the form of clearing the land for monoculture (a newish term for one-crop industrial agriculture).

We also have a lot of mining going on in the 1800s (copper, iron, coal) which has always been a very polluting activity.

The 1800s also saw the rise of the “modern” labor movement (now entrenched in some areas and threatened in others). In those days, leading a labor protest was considered a treasonous act.

On top of that, all of the Americas used black slaves. It is difficult for me to decide exactly how much black slavery was driven by economic incentives, and how much by some deeper, uglier need for an ultimate “underdog.” The Hindus of India had their “untouchables” for thousands of years before Europeans figured out how to steal Africans for enslavement in the Americas. Why didn’t the white upper classes just work harder to enslave the white lower classes? I am guessing that someone decided that using Africans would be a better plan.

Now that that’s legally over, other forms of enslavement, such as debt slavery, are having a comeback. We also have “newer” forms of exploitation now, based on the “pioneering” work of Wundt and his “psychologists” which began towards the end of the 1800s. Now the powers that be can replace blatant lying and blunt force with “more refined” techniques of persuasion. Doesn’t make it any less criminal, from my point of view; maybe even more criminal. If someone pointed a gun at you, you could at least shoot back.

What of the Arts, Literature, Theater, Academia, the Civil Rights movement?

The best way for a wolf to hide is by donning sheep’s clothing.

People, left to their own devices, would include plenty of enjoyable activities in their lives, if history is any guide. The ruling classes have always appropriated the arts as a kind of escape, or cover, from what must be their raging consciences. After all, leadership is necessary. (I actually agree with that.) If it becomes difficult or unbearable, well, too bad – it still must be done.

In my brief search into the 1800s, I found that Jefferson had hoped that slavery could be abolished in the United States by the beginning of that century. The beginning! Slavery was a huge issue from the very beginning of the Union of States! Lincoln tried to handle it, but then he got shot. And, by force of social pressure, slavery was replaced by its somewhat obvious precursor, racism.

Racism was already a “science” by the beginning of the 19th century. But that – it seems to me – was only done to give racists better talking points. Even Jefferson, apparently, was oblivious to the fact that blacks had totally identical capabilities to whites, until he made the acquaintance of an educated black man in 1791. He marveled at this as some sort of revelation!

And so (need I mention it) it continues to this day. Some sort of seething madness remains alive in the population, seemingly incurable, seemingly impossible to wipe out.

The new barbarians

But when all is said and done, the United States became the home of the new barbarians. The United States now spends more to defend its political position in the world using military might than the next ten largest nations combined.

defense spending comparison courtesy Peter G. Peterson Foundation

And that’s only the military expenditures! What about propaganda, and other technologies of control? The “mental health” system in the U.S. makes over $200 billion a year. Could that be one of the newer methods? Total annual “health” expenses in the U.S., by the way, are over $3 trillion.

“Barbarian” comes from a Greek word imitative of unintelligible speech. The Greeks originally applied the term to the Persians, a culture of roughly equal stature to theirs (if not higher). The Romans, as their culture decayed, applied the term to the various tribes trying to move in on their lands. The great cultures of history (after they stopped being so great) have always been swept away by “barbarians” who in turn developed the next “great” culture. Is modern Western culture really that superior to that of the ancient Persians? Certainly, for most of us, it is more comfortable. There is something to be said for that. But will that comfort alone get us to where we need to go? Of course not!

The challenge

The chance we had – made possible in part by our new-found level of comfort – was to reach beyond the old hackneyed attitudes and expressions of our predecessors to find a new understanding of the human condition which would lead, for once, to a real improvement of the human condition. That chance – I fear – is quickly running out. I, for one, hope we make it. And if that makes me a “barbarian,” so be it.

Footnote

In viewing a newly-released report from the Commission on Unalienable Rights (established last year by Secretary of State Pompeo), I became interested in the distinction between the words “inalienable” and “unalienable.” I was reassured by grammarist.com that the words have identical meanings, and the different prefix reflects a change in English that occurred – are you ready for this? – in the 1800s. The article about this referred me to the nGram for these words:

Signs of the Times

16 May 2020
state parks flatten curve sign

…being a collection of images of local signage, mostly recently posted….

Older Signs

I think the first time I got an idea that I should take pictures of signs was the first time I saw this one in Folsom. It’s cute, sort of witty, right?

attentions dogs!

This next one is everywhere on the bike paths. I thought I should include it because of how confusing it could be if you didn’t know the context. Some people don’t know why this should be done and/or don’t do it.

walk left, ride right

And please limit your bicycling speed to 15 MPH! If I could go that fast, I could get home in less than an hour and a half. It usually takes me close to 3 hours. I figure I ride at about 6 MPH. The “racers” maybe go 10.

bikes stay below 15 MPH!

COVID-19

“Social distancing” (whatever that is) was one of the earliest concepts introducing into the pandemic “handling.” (Sorry about the quotes, but several sources including my gut call BS on a lot of this stuff.)

social distancing (winco)

Instruction signs were also posted along the bike path, but I haven’t seen them recently. Here’s another one in town:

keep US safe

Later on, WinCo put this one up…

leave your bags in the car

…then stopped charging for plastic bags. Here we have a huge plastic conservation initiative defeated by a microscopic RNA fragment!

And worse than that, the playgrounds are closed. This breaks my heart.

closed playground

I don’t know how the kids can stand these limitations on their movement.

I know a lot of them are learning how to ride bikes.

shelter in pace virtual run

I’m not sure what a “virtual run” is, but I guess these guys have it all figured out.

Closed restaurants

restaurant open for take-out

There are lots of signs like this around town. This restaurant is a very upscale place (across from the light rail station near downtown) so the sign had to look good.

There are roughly 1,400 restaurants in and around Sacramento (California Restaurant Association figure). The street I return on (L Street) is full of them. A cluster of rather chic ones occupies the ‘teens streets area.

thank you for supporting local businesses

Heroes

Suddenly health care workers are “heroes.” Are they getting hazard pay?

Heroes work here - Sutter

This sign is at the Sutter Health center. Sutter is a not-for-profit health care company that operates numerous hospitals.

health care heroes and home for sale

Kaiser gets to toot its own horn, I guess. It is the biggest health care provider of its type in the country. The Plan is strictly non-profit, but doctors can form for-profit groups within the structure.

Though I included a “home for sale” sign, the housing market does not seem to be particularly involved with what is going on right now.

Enjoying the early summer

party at a park - with social distancing

People who want to have an outing in the park usually try to pay their respects to the current restrictions.

people rafting on the American River

Rafters? Maybe not so much.

Medicine

At this time, perhaps more than ever before, the world of medicine has intersected with the world of public life. The result has been – from my viewpoint – a disaster.

learn pharmacy ad on train

The world of medicine is attached at the hip to the world of pharmacy. This is not because drugs have been found to be the best way to treat illnesses. But they are certainly the most simple-minded way to treat illnesses. So everyone agrees. And pharmacy has become big business.

Birds and Flowers

What would my weekly post be without some bird and flower photos?

brodiaea

This flower looks a lot like the ones I identified as allium (wild onion) earlier, but this new one is brodiaea.

asters

These asters appeared “out of nowhere.” Flowers really change a plant’s character and visual impact.

bluebird feeding young

The bluebird is now busy feeding its young. I can hear them tweeting inside their box whenever more food arrives.

And the geese at Hagan Community Park have been very productive this year!

Geese with many goslings

Vacant Urban Land

6 May 2020

Every time I go down the stairs to get the mail, I have to look out on this scene across the street.

This used to be the location of the “Clunie Hotel.” I believe it was burned down about ten years ago. This lot appears to have been vacant for quite some time.

This scene keeps hitting me in the face as “wrong.” So I wanted to write about it.

Other unused land

There are several pieces of land close to city center that have been marked for redevelopment but so far stand empty and unused.

One such area in Sacramento is the “railyards” area just to the north of downtown. It was established around the time of the Civil War as a major maintenance depot for local and transcontinental trains. A plan to make this area into a living part of the city has been on the table for years.

sacramento railyards looking into the city

If you get up on that overpass (which goes over the existing rail line) and look to the north and east, you see how large this area is.

railyards area looking away from the city

As was obvious from the previous photo, the city has already put in a road grid with street lights and storm drains. Nothing else has really happened, though, since that time.

Vacant land in the “old days”

In the mid-1800s, as California opened up to immigration from the Midwest and East, people who could afford to would go in and buy large quantities of land and then sit on it until the people came, and sell it to them at a big profit. This has been called “land speculation.” This made a few folks very rich and started a popular trend of “investing in land.”

Well, back then there was a lot of open land and most U.S. cities were still quite small. The money was thought to be in agriculture until industry started to build up in cities.

In the late 1800’s land speculation was a big problem in cities, too. It kept urban land out of production and forced workers to seek cheaper lots further away from where they worked. A thinker of that time, Henry George, proposed that communities should force more urban land into productive use by taxing only the value of the land, rather than land plus improvements. He argued that communities owned their land and gave it value by their very presence, and that land “owners” really only owned the improvements they added to the land to make it productive. A “land tax” would provide incentive to someone holding title to land to make it and keep it productive.

Various modifications to this scheme were tried in a few places, sometimes with good results. But most areas stuck with the traditional way of valuing land, which meant that the owner was basically penalized for improving the land to make it more productive. There was pressure from land owners to keep property taxes low, and cities started relying more on other forms of tax, like sales tax. Investing in land continued to be a “thing to do.”

Vacant land now

Today there is still a problem with unused/undeveloped land in or near cities. The problem these days tends to be that the original owner cannot afford to continue to use the land. They have experienced some economic setback that prevents them from repairing or replacing structures, keeping up mortgage payments, or even paying property taxes. When taxes go into arrears, the county or city government usually gains control of that land. If one defaults on mortgages, the lender will foreclose. But most lenders are not prepared to be land owners and will try to get the land resold as soon as possible. There is still room for land price speculation in these scenarios.

The most common solutions I have found for getting land into use are to either tax it more heavily until it goes into use, or get it into the local “land bank” where it can then be sold cheaply to someone who promises to actually use it for something productive.

Per reports I have read, penalizing vacant land owners does not seem to work that well. They just find sham ways to get the land to appear on paper like it is in use. I suppose such people are speculators, or they would just sell the land and rid themselves of the problem.

Land Values and Property Tax

Most land is assessed for tax purposes by an “Assessor” who follows certain guidelines of good practice, along with whatever the law in his state dictates. It is usually assessed at some percentage of what he thinks it would sell for if put on the market for sale. He compares the land to similar land that has recently been sold to estimate this value.

This is a problem for most municipalities when there is an economic downturn, because the sale price of unused land tends to decrease, and so their tax revenues. If they don’t have a land bank system set up, they can’t do that much when an owner defaults on his taxes except to hope that a new owner will come along who can afford to pay the taxes.

City (urban) planning

The problem of how communities could get more control over their land and how it is used has been a big issue for quite some time. Most communities do not want to challenge the “free market” aspect of land ownership and use, yet have made various attempts through “zoning” and other urban planning strategies to increase their control. Sometimes this process just results in stalemates, because existing residents will pile up against some new idea for using land in their area in fear that it will result in reduced property values (their “investment”).

There is also a push for more open space among some sectors of the urban population. This usually means turning a lot into a park, which the community will then have to maintain at its own expense.

However, none of these dynamics are very evident in downtown Sacramento. The residents here are mostly not land owners and not organized. The land owners are mostly governments, developers, and some big corporations. They normally have buildings on their land (which may include nice park-like areas) which are there for commercial (or governmental) purposes. If a major player wants to build a skyscraper next to my apartment building, they’d probably get their way, though the parcel is currently part of a “special planning district.” Special districts offer incentives to developers to provide certain types of business and residential spaces in their areas. The city planners want K Street to be a “multi-use” type of street, which means more people and less cars. The overall idea is to reduce the costs of commuting by allowing more people to live near where they work and/or near public transit (although public transit isn’t currently less costly than cars, just more compact).

How all this has impacted the plans for the vacant lot next to my building is hard to say. I don’t know how to find out what the current owner is planning to do with the property. And then there is the issue of the economy….

Criminals create poor economic conditions

If a criminal element or operation is bleeding the economy generally, everyone suffers and regular expenses, like taxes, mortgages, and construction loans, become more difficult for everyone to afford.

Criminals find their way into communities by various means. Some (like psychiatrists) pose as “experts” who know how to handle some sort of problem plaguing the community. This can also be done on a “protection racket” basis. In this operation, the criminals create a problem in the community, then offer themselves as the solution to that problem. This has happened in some places in Central and South America where criminals now “run” whole neighborhoods or towns, because they caused so much trouble for the existing honest managers that they gave up and left.

Crime is no minor concern in today’s world, and there are lots of pressures in the direction of increasing use of criminal methods instead of honest methods in handling situations in life. Such is our current condition in this “COVID Crisis” per my best estimates.

It should be noted that the Nazis started in Germany as a more-or-less popular political party and ran the government there for many years. This is even though they openly supported Eugenics and other racist ideas. Eugenics was also widely supported in the United States (and many other places) back then.

Any concentration of power is attractive to criminal elements because if they can gain some control of it, it gives them more “freedom” to commit more crime. This should serve as a warning to anyone who seeks to concentrate or centralize power and authority to “solve” local or world problems. It won’t work if criminals take over, so you need an active and working protection against their incursions. We already have the IRS in the U.S. It has only been kept somewhat in line by good sense and constant oversight. It has had many criminal episodes, and is based on a basically criminal idea.

Remedies

If the lot across from my building is vacant because of unfavorable economic pressures, then Sacramento is still dealing with a criminal scene somewhere in its midst. I’ve spotted psychiatry as one for sure. It is strong here for some reason, but just as ineffective as always, and so should really be fired from its current position controlling “mental health” in the city. For now we can use psychologists who are a little more ethical.

Major drug trafficking lanes run through the city, so there is some criminal attention on letting their traffic pass through on the freeways. They probably also traffic people (slaves) on the same routes. There are probably a variety of other unseen forces at work, as this is, after all, the capital city of one of the largest states on the planet.

Remedies in terms of law, policy, and “community development” are often discussed on the internet. Getting the bleeding to stop by kicking out the criminal elements in a community or society in general is less commonly mentioned, but I think is obviously a more key action to take. Not only will criminal activity ruin a community financially, it will ruin it spiritually, too. And then reviving it will become that much more difficult, because somewhere along the line it started to decide that it was easier to give up and die.

This is, in essence, what had been happening to various communities – including the global community – over the years as the pressure from criminal interests and activities has increased. They are, individual by individual, beginning to give up.

This is an old pattern. It has caved in – if not entirely erased – many civilizations on this planet (to say nothing of other planets). We now have technology to remedy this problem, but it goes up against an attitude of defeatism that actually runs quite deep.

However, if we don’t take the needed steps to revive ourselves, we could all end up living like this guy:

tent of a homeless person.

And the whole city will look not much different than these vacant areas he looks down upon. If buildings remain, they will be unusable – no electricity or water – and probably guarded by armed gangs as superior shelter. This is what we get if we give up!

Tidbits

26 April 2020

…consisting of somewhat random notes.

The Arboretum

It was warm this weekend! And when it gets hot – which means I get hotter on my ride home – I usually stop at the arboretum (UC Sac State) along the way.

butterfly bush flowers

Here is the butterfly bush mentioned on the marker above. Exotic!

And an iris.

iris

Nearby were some calla lilies.

calla

This is quite a peaceful place. And popular as a way to take in a short walk.

There were a lot of people out Saturday. The regular bike racers, plus a ton of families with kids.

The weather, predicted to be partly cloudy, turned out mostly sunny, and I got burned.

eArt Projects

At home I have been working – almost feverishly – on putting together some systems that will allow me to continue to develop more electronic art.

I worked a lot on an oscillator made from an old IC known as “XR2206.” This IC is considered very outdated, yet it continues to have popularity among hobbyists and can still be obtained from electronics surplus stores. One wonders, though, why these parts are surplus. Could it be they were rejected by the original manufacturers due to being out-of-specification?

What I know about this IC is that it has been hard for me to work with in that it does not deliver the full functionality it was specified for. In theory, you can get a 2000:1 frequency range out of this part, but this is difficult to achieve because at higher current levels it begins to go unstable or stop oscillating.

Still it is a great way to get a sine wave for testing purposes with just the turn of one knob. And that’s all I needed it for.

XR2206 oscillator

This is an important part of my “analog” rack. This rack is for developing different ways to process sound and turn it into signals that can control light (LED) displays.

Below the oscillator is an open section where boards can be inserted for testing. That part isn’t finished yet.

analog rack

The whole thing looks like this right now.

The mounting rails with all the little screw holes in them are taken from the “eurorack” system. This system was developed as a metric standard that imitates the old U.S. standard 19-inch wide equipment racks. This rack size has continued to be popular for computer equipment and for professional audio equipment. The eurorack has become the default standard for modern modular equipment, especially analog (old-school) synthesizers. The “new breed” of “analog” synths can be computer-aided, which helps to overcome some of their old problems with tuning stability, amount of space required, and similar issues.

I note that vinyl as a recording medium is also back in vogue. Some people really think it sounds better.

I use these racks for projects that need to be modular – built in functional sections. They are a great substitute for older rack equipment which tends to be way too deep for this sort of application. Lots of professional synth modules are less than 1 inch deep behind the panel! My racks are about 4 inches deep. That was not quite deep enough, however, for the power supply module I found (at a very good price) so I had to make a hole in its panel so it could stick out 1/2 an inch in the front. That meant putting a thick plastic cover over it so it would be electrically safe.

I also have an analog meter in this rack, as I sometimes want to see the slower changes in a signal, and digital meters aren’t good for that.

digital rack

My digital rack is very similar, except it all works on 5 volts. Its purpose is to help me design digital pattern generators that will respond (usually) to one or more analog signals taken from the environment.

Here is another open section where boards may be inserted to try them out. That still needs more work.

Deliveries

I wanted a better webcam in case I had reason to use one over this period or later. So I ordered one and asked for it to be delivered by the second business day (Fedex). The driver, however, could not get into my building because the managers have not been unlocking the door when they’re in the office, like they usually do. For some reason he didn’t think to (or couldn’t) call me so I could let him in, so it’s the third business day and the camera remained undelivered.

I decided to go out to the Fedex facility and pick it up. It wasn’t hard, though it took about two hours by bus. Right now the bus drivers have to wear masks and all the passengers have to enter and exit via the back door (unless they are wheelchair types). Most people are taking it pretty well, but I think it’s crazy.

My electronics parts orders have been coming through pretty well, though. The USPS has no problem delivering the mail, and orders from California only take two days to get here, so that’s working for me.

Is the way out the way through?

This is an old saying used in Scientology, but actually broadly applicable. It means that if you have something hanging around that’s bothering you, it’s only there because you didn’t confront it well enough the first time you ran into it. The only way to get rid of it is to confront it more thoroughly.

While some doctors, including that Fauci dude, remain almost studiously ambivalent about this particular disease, the fact is that we wouldn’t be alive on Earth today if we didn’t have some natural way to build up immunity against all the pathogens floating around in the environment. And so, while it takes its toll on us to one degree or another, we will build up our immunity to this one, the next one, and a few more after that (I hope).

The doctors who do talk about immunity and the immune system as the way through this thing are oddly ignored by some of the others who want drugs or a vaccine to handle it. This has led some of them to wonder out loud if the medical establishment has some “agenda” it’s trying to push forward (to make more money and gain more control), and from all I’ve heard and read, this is quite possible.

What I know for sure is: This disease needs to run its course, and people need to get back to what they were doing to earn money and make things go right. You can’t put the world on hold forever without killing it. Is that what those doctors want?

Here’s another photo of flowers. They don’t seem to be aware that there’s anything wrong.

yellow flowers

Toilet Paper – A Note

16 April 2020
toilet paper roll

There was a big thing a while back – and it still vibrates around the internet – involving all the extra toilet paper people were buying.

I was aware there was a problem with TP in the stores after this whole thing started. But I didn’t bother to read about it until later.

On 2 April a writer named Will Oremus (who seems like a very competent writer, by the way, and quite prolific) got an article published on “Marker” (a website featuring various stories) which quickly got pushed into my browser feed. This article sought to explain the TP problem.

First, he listed all the people and organizations who were making a big thing out of this being some sort of irrational hoarding behavior:

  • U.S. Health Secretary Alex Azar
  • the president of a paper manufacturer
  • psychologists
  • the BBC
  • the Mises Institute
  • The Atlantic

Then he brings out the person who probably got it right: Jim Luke, a professor of economics at Lansing Community College, who once worked as head of planning for a wholesale paper distributor.

In the following week (April 10), NPR interviewed professor Luke on the same subject.

Our intrepid writer also contacted a person from Georgia-Pacific to confirm this theory.

The theory is: More people are staying a home. Thus, more toilet paper is needed at home. Less is needed in schools and businesses, and they get their TP from totally different sources (usually) than home dwellers. People were just preparing for more bathroom use in their houses, and this pushed the whole supply chain out of adjustment, because it is built on the assumption that demand for TP at home remains very constant.

Irrational behavior? I think not! Just a new (temporary) need not artfully handled. End of story!