Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category

How to Write a Constitution

29 May 2017

The title is a bit ostentatious, but it’s the best I could think of. Though I don’t really have the resources to give this topic justice, I was thinking about it, so decided to write a post on my Memorial Day time off.

I take for my reference the US Constitution of 1787. I hope the copy I have is accurate.

Talking about ostentatious: It starts, “We the People of the United States…” That’s nice, but probably a little broad. It should certainly mention who agreed to it, if not who actually wrote it. It is basically a piece of literature, so it could have an author.

Purpose

The preamble lists the things this government is to carry out:
Form a more perfect union;
Establish justice;
Insure domestic tranquility;
Provide for the common defense;
Promote the general welfare;
Secure the blessings of liberty…to our posterity.

This is important. These are the long-term and continuing goals and purposes of this government; they are its job. A group needs goals and purposes, and must sometimes be reminded of them. “General welfare” is a bit vague, but we’ll leave it that way for now.

Legislative Powers

I find it a little odd to bring this up first, rather than giving a more general overview of how the system was supposed to work. Too many incorrect assumptions could be made here; we need to spell this out better.

Article 0.

We propose that this nation take the form of a constitutional Republic. This gives us a layered approach to both policy-making and action. There are individuals at each level who represent, or preside over, a group of individuals at the next lower level. Every member of the system is not normally expected to interact with anyone above their level or below the level they supervise or represent in matters of official business, except under special circumstances. Every group at every level has the right to operate as it sees fit, and this right can only be overridden as described below. The assumption is that most people already know what to do or can figure it out.

Legislation:

The purpose of legislation is to set guidelines (policy, laws) that bind those at that level to act within certain limitations or restrictions. This document specifically covers the national, or federal, level, but is also meant to serve as a guide, or pattern, for lower levels.

I will not cover the details of Article 1 here, however, we cannot move on before inspecting Section 8.

Areas of legislative authority / responsibility:

  • Taxes, duties, imposts and excises (to be uniform across all states).
  • Specify outlay to pay debts.
  • Specify outlay to provide for the common defense.
  • Specify outlay to provide for the general welfare.
  • Borrow money.
  • Regulate commerce beyond state boundaries or responsibilities.
  • Regulate immigration.
  • Regulate bankruptcies.
  • Coin money, regulate its value, and establish standard weight and measures.
  • Establish Post Offices and post roads (ensure free flow of communications between citizens).
  • Offer limited patent and copyright protection to authors and inventors.
  • Establish lower-level judicial bodies (tribunals) as needed.
  • Protect the nation from piracy at sea.
  • Declare war, and similar war powers.
  • Raise temporary armies while maintaining a permanent navy.
  • Organizing and activating the Militia for certain purposes.
  • Rule over the seat of government.
  • There are more points, but these are the main ones…

Executive Power

Traditionally, the executives of history (kings, emperors, etc.) got to make their own rules. This was not just a matter of egotism. They had things to get done and they needed to be able to act. One of their favorite pastimes seems to have been making war. This had to change. The chief executive of a nation does have the “power” to make war, as the military is under his/her command. However, it was considered that war should be a matter of policy and not executive action, and this still seems the wiser route.

To further discourage executive policy-making, the Founders proposed putting the matter up for a vote every four years. This seems rather arbitrary to me; why not whenever a majority or some higher ratio of legislators found it needful, but not more often than every four (or three?) years. But we shall leave this be for the time being. The point is: You can’t get policy continuity in the Executive Branch if the senior person is changing all the time, and that’s the way we want it.

Judicial Power

“Judges” have traditionally served a wide variety of functions. At their best, they act themselves, or by guiding a jury (or similar group of peers) to determine who the real criminal is when something goes wrong. As far as I can tell, they do not have a particularly high reputation in this regard. Like anyone else faced with a real criminal, the judge can be threatened when faced with a “hard decision” and forced to back down.

If judges cannot be depended upon to uphold the ethics standards of the group, then who can be? If a group is that far gone, there is little hope for it. But for now, let’s move on to Article 4.

States

This section (Article 4) goes over certain matters of equal treatment across state lines. After all, these states are all part of a Republic, and are supposed to cooperate with each other. You can’t have the police forces of two states in battle because their laws are different.

But I feel this whole subject of states is not taken far enough in this document.

Article 4.

The full and globally-recognized territory of this nation has been – and shall continue to be – divided into geographical regions known as “states” or “territories” based on a combination of historical and geographical factors. States have the right of sovereign rule within their boundaries, assuming the restrictions imposed by this document are respected. Territories have not yet attained the full rights of states, but may petition Congress to be granted these.

All policy (legislative), executive and judicial actions originating at the federal level of this republic shall not extend any further than the states, except under most extraordinary circumstances. Certainly, no federal law, federal action through any of its agents, or federal judicial decision shall apply to or be binding on any individual citizen (that being understood to include only real persons, not “private” entities created through legal means) unless that citizen has specifically requested such a bypass.

It is further expected that state governments will, in turn, deal only with county governments, and those only with municipal governments and those only with neighborhood governments (where that may apply), as this has proven to be more acceptable to citizens and more conducive to individual initiative and thus, the general welfare.

Private Enterprise. This does not mean that a private enterprise, operating across state boundaries and employing numbers comparable to numbers of citizens in a state, or producing things of value on a similar order to that of the combined production of all smaller enterprises within a state, should expect to be favored by the rights and protections afforded smaller enterprises by a state, simply by virtue of the location of their headquarters. Indeed, if any enterprise should grow to the extent outlined above, it can expect to be required to deal directly with the federal government in all matters where it must be treated as a whole, as in the matter of taxation.

The above summarizes the points that I think are important in the game of operating a nation. Though using the context of the US Constitution has limited my comments in some ways, the points I have mentioned are some of the most important. We have erred by overlooking them.

Second Warm Period on the Palouse

21 May 2017

The plants are popping out very strongly on our warmer days.

They seem proud this year. The weather was rough, and the warmth came late. They suffered this Spring, but came through it OK.

I hope we can do the same!

flowering apple tree

“I’m the best apple tree on the Palouse.”

quail on pullman trail

Quail like sunny days, too.

And That Is Banking

18 May 2017

INFLATION IS DETERMINED BY THE RATIO BETWEEN THE DEPOSITED GOODS AND THE NUMBER OF RECEIPTS (money) ISSUED.

…real banking, can all by itself, increase production.

– L. Ron Hubbard
HCO Policy Letter of 2 September 1982
AND THAT IS BANKING

The implication of the above reference is that poor banking practices can cause runaway price increases, while sound banking practices can increase the prosperity of all.

I wanted to write something about this subject because I have been studying about how home loans work, and it helped me realize some things that others have been pointing out for a long time.

Note that on 19 May I rewrote this post to try to make it more accurate; see more about that below.

Financial people tend to speak in terms that are not easily understood, and to assume you know about something that you don’t actually know about. However, most people have heard of the term “balancing the books” and this is a basic concept worth going over.

I suppose the idea that the books have to “stay in balance” is similar to the idea that “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” In the physical universe, this is true by observation. However, money and finance are conceptual universes, or you could say a kind of mathematical model of the physical universe. If a car exists, it is assumed that someone was paid to make it, whether that’s really what happened or not. So if I buy a car, I basically convert some of my cash into a vehicle. In my books (if I kept books), the price paid moves out of the Cash asset category and into the Vehicles asset category, and they stay balanced. What if someone gave me the car? I basically have to create a special category for gifts, which in a commercial business would be similar to something called “retained earnings”.

Debt

Now, say I’m a bank, and I have some deposits from my customers, and loan a portion of these to someone. This decreases my cash – the pool I make loans from. How do I replenish that pool (other than by getting more deposits)? In normal banking I would have to use part of my income (payments on loans I had already made to other people) and put that back into my cash. In mortgage banking I could do something called “selling the loan.” Basically, the loan turns into a security (essentially a document that can be bought and sold) that I can sell to a company that buys those types of securities.

Where do those companies get their money? They also create and sell securities – stock, basically – to investors. The investors include a lot of firms that help people save for retirement, as well as other investment firms. Those firms buy all sorts of stocks and other securities with that money.

The ultimate source of money for buying debt (making loans) in the U.S. is the Federal Reserve. The “Fed” is part of a network of “Central Banks.” Central Banks get charters from governments to control the money supply for them. They regulate banks, and they buy debt (or make loans, however you want to look at it). The Central Banks deal mostly with the large commercial banks, which are all international corporations. Smaller local institutions deal mostly with the big banks. The chain of purchasing debt works its way down until you get to the borrowers, who are expected to keep up their flow of payments. Governments are also large borrowers. To borrow money, they issue “bonds,” which come with a promise to pay dividends, and the full amount borrowed at the time of maturity. So in the case of government borrowing, the taxpayers, have to pay all that through their taxes. That’s why “bond initiatives” have to be approved by voters. In the end, a lot of what we make at our jobs goes to make profits for the owners of “debt.”

Making Money

Before my recent studies, I hadn’t really heard about this practice of “selling debt.” But debt is a receivable on the bank’s books, so it is worth something. It never occurred to me that you could somehow sell that to another company to get more cash (stay liquid, as the financial people call it). But this is really just another way of saying that the bank borrowed some cash. I’ve heard of companies borrowing to make payrolls, or buy new equipment. I’d just never heard of banks borrowing so they could make more loans. Of course, assuming they continue to service (collect payments) on the loans they sell, they have to forward most of those payments to the new owners of the loans, so that portion of their income is no longer available for lending.

As I wrote this, I came to see that “selling debt” could also be given another meaning. It could also be seen as selling people – governments in particular – on the idea that they should borrow money in order to do things. They shouldn’t save, they should borrow. You shouldn’t “wait until you can afford it,” you should buy it right now, do it right now. With governments, this is particularly pushed as a way to finance wars. Every major war I am aware of was financed with debt – the taxpayers (via the government) borrowed money from banks, then had to pay it all back afterwards. It is a potent way to “make money” in a short amount of time. I don’t know, however, if it really accomplishes anything over longer periods, especially if it involves making war.

Fractional Reserve Banking

Some people believe that this is a new idea. But it is really just a newer term for an old idea. According to Google’s Ngram viewer, the phrase first appeared in literature around the turn of the last century.
As long as banks have been loaning money, they have been using deposited funds (or other assets) to do so. The idea of “Central Banks” was pushed into place after it seemed that unregulated banks had an inclination to dig too deep into their cash. Now Central Banks police what fraction of a bank’s deposits (or cash, to use a simpler term) must be held in reserve so that their depositors will be happy with the illusion that their full deposited balance could be withdrawn at any time. Depositors get to account for their full deposited amounts as “cash,” when in reality only a fraction of that amount is actually available to be paid out from the bank’s reserves.

No one likes “reserves” because they just sit there and don’t do anything. It’s kind of like a having a Fire Department in your town. In a perfect world, they would never have a fire to fight, or even a cat to get out of a tree. In this real world, you need to have one because “stuff happens.” Same goes for reserves.

Some would argue that amounts held is reserve should be quite substantial. It gives stability to an economy, and breeds a certain level of confidence, even a certain willingness to take risks. I think there is validity to those arguments. But that does not mean banks need to keep 100% of their “on demand” cash deposits as reserves. This is discussed more below.

The beauty of a cashless system (in the eye of the banker)

In the “old days” money meant gold coins, or ingots of silver, or other precious metals, or gems. Today it can be reduced to a code in a bank’s database. Money (currency, really) had to be manufactured, transported and stored when not in use. Meanwhile, businessmen had grown used to account books, and moving larger sums around using bank drafts instead of currency. This began the move away from “hard” money. The “softer” the money, the easier it was to handle and move about. Banks and their major customers really liked these benefits. And so, national currencies were pushed into place, the use of paper money was greatly expanded, and finally computer systems were developed that just require an ID card to access account records.

Global-scale electronic funds transfer systems now exist, and are very widely used. All accounts at all modern banks are computerized. Banks are now relieved of the problem of having to store precious metals in their vaults, though “modern” money can still be stolen. To the extent that the world goes cashless, banks and stores are relieved of the problem of securing their on-hand currency, and only have to worry about their computers, which can be locked away in their now-empty vaults.

So, what’s so good about cash?

However, the credit or debit card holder now has to worry about the security of his electronic transactions. I once had a bank make a $2,500 error in my favor. They never bothered to correct it, though I told them about it more than once. For them it was insignificant, but that’s a huge amount for me. What if my account suddenly one day had $2,500 less in it? They better be able to correct that!

In a secure and honest world, using a card instead of cash (currency) would be a great way to go. In the world as it really exists, I want to be able to fall back on coins and paper money. If a store’s electronic payment system goes down, I want them to accept my cash. If I need some water out of an old-style vending machine, I need some coins or I go thirsty. If I want to tip a waiter, it’s easier for me to think with using a couple of extra bills.

When money is a commodity, then you can’t have some unless you earn it or physically steal it from somebody. When money is only a number in a database, what happens if I can’t get access to that database? And what happens if someone can get illegal access to it? Or in some other way fiddle with accounts just by making some entries in a computer program? It gives the tech-savvy an advantage I’m not sure they’ve earned. The cashless ideal includes a reliance on technology that is not necessarily as reliable as I need it to be. At the business level, if a transaction gets fouled up, it can be fixed later. At a personal level, it could mean the difference between staying fed or going hungry.

I’m not advocating a return to cash necessarily, though we might be forced into it should the electronic funds transfer systems stop working. But I am pointing out that our turn away from cash did not handle the most important problems we have always had: dishonesty, thievery and avoidance of real productive work.

Reality Check

My original concept of how this scam works was simple, but incorrect:

The bank has my $100. I thought this meant it could loan out $1000. That’s not exactly right. It is only allowed to loan, maybe, $90. Except, that loaned money is going to end up in another bank account, and then about $80 of that could be loaned back out. That whole cycle can be imagined to repeat maybe 5 or ten times. Now a lot more than my $100 has been loaned – deposited – and re-loaned. That’s what people call “creating money.” I discuss this more below.

The other part of my perception of what was wrong with this system was the cashless nature of modern transactions. This possibly provides more opportunity to “fiddle” the system. If you have to provide a borrower with real currency to complete a loan, then if you run out of currency, you can’t make any more loans. If you only have to credit an account on a computer, then you don’t need the currency. So, who’s to stop you from just pumping out loans? Your accountant, if he’s honest. Or a regulator, the next time you get audited. So the real point here is that the removal of hard currency from the system, reducing it all to numbers in databases, has a tendency to degrade the underlying concepts of what money is and represents. It should represent real value, real productive work. You should not be able to “fiddle” it into existence when you have done nothing to earn it.

Interest

I originally linked this trend towards a cashless system to the decline of interest rates, close to their total disappearance. I have a problem with interest because I don’t think most of the explanations for it are correct. It is often described as a payment to the lender based on the risk he takes by loaning money. But what about the risk the borrower takes in borrowing money? And what about loans between friends or relatives? I think the banks just decided to shift the paradigm because they had the power to do so. Look at interest rates on savings accounts, for instance. It used to be recognized that the depositor was actually making the bank a loan, and should earn interest on his unused balance. But depositors had no way to enforce that idea on bankers, so gradually interest payments on savings accounts have reduced to almost nothing.

The abandonment of the use of interest rates to control inflation in certain markets, and the subsequent increase in the supply of money in those markets, are bits of history not totally explained by the factors discussed above. Though the smaller banks that overextended themselves before the Great Depression could be blamed for what happened, I think that blame would be misplaced. They, however, felt the brunt of new banking regulations, while at the same time, what was to become a huge boom in the mortgage markets can be traced back to those times. I think there remains an untold story (at least it hasn’t been told to me) about how that all came about and about what is unfolding today. My concern is that we will strike out at the wrong targets (called misidentifying root cause where I work) and simply prolong our agony as a result. Benefiting from the suffering of others has never been an honorable way to gain status in a society. Yet suffering continues while a few grow unbelievably rich. Until we begin to apply more effective solutions to problems of finance, the economy, and politics, we will continue on our slide towards a non-sustainable system that will eventually totally break down.

Credit:

I relied heavily on an article written my Kenneth Ballard here:
http://www.kennethballard.com/?p=2322
to get an explanation of how banks account for the loans they make.
I don’t know much about this guy, but he seems to know what he’s talking about…I wish the subject were easier to understand. I have had a terrible time trying to do so…
Wow! Mr. Ballard has responded with corrections here:
http://www.kennethballard.com/?p=4120

Follow-up notes for those interested

According to the Federal Reserve’s own website:
“Reserve requirements are the amount of funds that a depository institution must hold in reserve against specified deposit liabilities. … Depository institutions must hold reserves in the form of vault cash or deposits with Federal Reserve Banks.”

Notice that this says nothing about loaning money. The “reserve requirement” is a fraction of total monies on deposit. So, that means the rest of the monies on deposit are available to loan out. I think the first stumbling block here is the term “deposit liabilities.” Who, who isn’t accounting trained, knows what this really refers to? It’s like two conflicting ideas in the same term. This goes back to the fact that there are two balancing sides to every transaction. When a bank receives money from a depositor, it’s not a gift, but on the other hand, the depositor gets nothing in return, except a receipt. As the reference I cited at the beginning states, in the “old days” that receipt acted as money. Nowadays, the fact that a person has money “on account” gives them the right – or ability – to buy things with it.

The depositor counts his bank balance as cash – as a liquid asset. He can do this because there is an implied promise (perhaps written somewhere) that the bank will pay him back “on demand.” More realistically, the depositor has loaned the bank some money for its use. But there is no formal loan contract, as would be the case if the depositor had purchased a CD or a bond. So the depositor is encouraged to not think of his deposits as “on loan” to the bank. However, that is closer to the actual situation. I think this difference between perception and reality is what some people object to. Yet, if the banks do a good job, no one will ever know the difference.

It could be argued that banks should be more honest about what they are doing. It would probably better reflect how they actually operate if they sold bonds or CDs to anyone who wanted to maintain a significant balance with them. Or to make them a “member” like the Credit Unions do.

Private individuals are never going to fully realize that a portion of their deposited funds is being loaned to others unless the way their account at the bank works actually makes that clear. In the past it has been a workable system in spite of this. But since interest rates collapsed, more and more people are questioning it. The “multiplier effect” would still work, but perhaps the banks should be made more responsible for both the positive and negative aspects of it. Having to “insure” bank accounts is not something that should be necessary. If the banking system were more honest with the public about how it actually operates, I think the public would support it – especially if it resulted in real economic growth at the local level. Right now something is suppressing that growth. Questionable ethics levels in the banking community does not help matters any. The banking system has a lot of power to do good in society. Or harm. It is not currently demonstrating the good side of that power.

A Miracle!

3 May 2017

First warm day of the new year!

pullman weather for Wednesday 3 May 2017

With a “scorcher” scheduled for tomorrow!

On Saturday, back to what it’s been like most of Spring, then a steady (I hope) climb towards Summer.

Links to Scientology Official Sites

23 April 2017

I give you this comment from “José” as a brief post to provide you with good links to vital information:

Hello and thank you for the information.

I would suggest that, if you are going to mention isolated pieces of information from Scientology to the general public, please refer your public to the source materials where they can find the information in sequence with examples, to avoid causing misunderstandings to people that never heard the subject of Scientology.

1.- Please, always refer first to What is Scientology, here the official link:
http://www.scientology.org/what-is-scientology.html#slide7

2.- Second, the subject you are mentioning in your respective blog entry, in this case the Tone Scale, in my opinion this is a good entry point:
http://www.scientologyhandbook.org/tone-scale/sh4_1.htm

3.- Please use references to the Scientology Manual which it is a good introduction to Scientology fundamentals for daily use in every part of life.
http://www.scientologyhandbook.org/

Best regards
José

My favorite site, which I should probably include a link to in every post I make, is the Volunteer Ministers training pages: http://www.volunteerministers.org/training.html

Symbols for Body, Mind and Spirit

15 April 2017

body-mind-spirit sketch

I was going through all the files accumulating on my desktop today to sort them into where they are supposed to go in my file system, and I ran across a few that I had pulled together to make a post that I never got around to making.

I didn’t write it at the time because the idea I had didn’t lead anywhere. But I will proceed to write about the general idea anyway.

Did you know that there are sites you can go to on the internet that allow you to make a drawing and then save it? I hate computer drawing programs because they are almost all mouse-based and a mouse is really not a very fun thing to draw with. I’ve preferred a pen, preferably black ink, for many years now. And though sometimes brushes and colors are nice, too, the real appeal of digital drawing is that you don’t have to scan it in from paper after you draw it. The above sketch is pretty pathetic, don’t you think? But it illustrates the idea I had. Is a point radiating some lines a symbol for a body, and is a big circle a symbol for the mind or the spirit?

I couldn’t get a good answer to my question. We all know that the traditional “stick figure” has been used to represent a human being since cave man times. But the information I found did not suggest that any consistent symbology has ever been used for non-material concepts like “mind” or “spirit.” And lookups are filled with modern artistic renditions that have little relation to ancient history.

oriental circle character

The simple unclosed circle was developed in Japan to convey several overlapping Zen ideas concerning human consciousness, or the human essence. Though a certain cyclic meaning is conveyed, the fact that the circle is open suggests that these cycles could be escaped from.

sketch of traditional depiction of buddha

However, as this modern sketch of a traditional depiction of the Buddha indicates, a circle placed behind the head in paintings or statuary has a special significance that is shared widely across the planet. This symbol is used both in the West and in the East to indicate a “holy” being.

It is of esoteric significance, perhaps, that if circles or balls of energy are perceived that seem to be alive, this would be a mental manifestation of the being creating it, as the being itself is entirely immaterial. Thus, the circle or sphere of light, according to esoteric findings as well as actual reported observations, is a very valid symbol for the being and its mind together, body absent or elsewhere, as this is how they actually tend to appear.

The symbol of rays radiating from a center has no similar homogeneous meaning that I could find. As a cross or “X” it is a letter and/or number in several languages and symbol systems. To include a head and four appendages you have to go to the five-pointed star or pentagram, which is rare or missing as a normal writing symbol but otherwise used abundantly in heraldry and design. The pentagram is so easy to draw, so regular, and there are so many things in life that come in fives, that it has been known to symbolize all sorts of things, including the body, or the body as a manifestation of a divine intention.

sketch representaing a turtle or body

I will end with another of my sketches, as it is more colorful than the more carefully-drawn symbols I could find. It was meant to imitate a Native American symbol I found of a turtle, so it has a little tail. However, unlike the stylized turtle I found, it has all five digits drawn in, indicating the fractal or repetitive nature of so many biological designs.

Sorting Out Society

2 April 2017

The “Thinking Out Loud” category is for hypotheses, ideas, opinions. Though of course these are always influenced, or colored, by prior training and study, I put a post here when I am unsure of the facts, or don’t care to be academically rigorous.

block man pencil sketch

Sketch I made for art class, about 1970. I picked it to symbolize the effects that “bad things” have on life and the individual.

A problem of money

What got me going on this line of thinking was a difficulty I was having obtaining funding for a project. I thought to myself: Someone doesn’t want to spend this money; they want to sit on it instead. And that lead me to the subject of banking.

Banking

Banking, it is said, started when tradesmen (this is the story I heard) wanted someplace to store their gold securely. The “banker” stepped forward, offering to provide this service. In exchange, he would be allowed to loan out the money to others, and collect interest payments on these loans. Interestingly, according to Wikipedia, originally the most secure places for such deposits were temples and palaces. But we won’t go down that road just yet.

Here we have a situation where a professional-level service is invented to fulfill a need. The service consists basically of amassing deposits (and safekeeping them) which one can then earn money on. It is presumed the need arose due to 1) lack of space at home to store such items, or 2) fear for the security of the assets.

Today, money exists as figures in accounting books. And those books are actually stored on computers. There is no longer any great need to provide security for currency. All one must do is secure the computers.

Traditional banking still exists, but cash deposits bring back virtually no earnings to the depositor. Investment banking, on the other hand, has skyrocketed. The whole society has been pushed into making investments and buying on credit. Why? Keeping deposits safe doesn’t make money, especially when they are only numbers in a computer. Traditional banking can still pay off, but there is much more to be made managing investment portfolios and offering short-term credit at very high interest rates. This work relies on the existence of asset pools, and managers of these pools are often rewarded according to the size their pool. Even if you could sell some assets to buy, say, land (which works under a different system), the modern banker would prefer to loan you the money to buy the land, with your assets as collateral. It would be simpler for the land buyer to just sell one asset in order to buy the other, but is not in the interest of the bankers to operate that way.

Back to Basics

The original need for banking, then, arose – we are to suppose – from an uncertainty concerning the security of real assets (gold). Why would anyone have this uncertainty? Because people existed who were willing and able to steal such things from other people who had acquired them more-or-less honestly. Those people are commonly called “criminals.” They have always been a major nuisance in any society. They are willing to break the most basic rules, or morals, in a society. Why? That is a question to be answered elsewhere. It HAS been answered, but for the purposes of this discussion, it is irrelevant.

Let’s say you had a criminal of somewhat unusual intelligence. What might he be attracted to do, say, in the banking scenario above? One thing he could do would to become a banker. Then he could hire some hoodlums (criminals of leser intelligence, we might imagine) to go around town and steal precious things from people’s houses. He would then advertise his services, noting the recent increase in the crime rate. He would have to keep his connection to the hoodlums a closely-guarded secret. And in such a wise, he would attract more business to his bank.

Application of the criminal modus operandi (MO) to other fields

Mishaps, crime, sickness, hunger, disputes and war are some of the big problems that society must deal with. Smart criminals could secretly cause such things to happen, then offer services to “protect” people from the bad effects of these things. In modern times, criminals have even been accused of causing bad weather, floods, earthquakes, and ecological collapse. For them it would seem like “good business,” would it not?

What professions these days offer such services?

  • Lawyers
  • Doctors
  • Insurance Brokers
  • Psychiatry and Psychology
  • The military and arms manufacturers
  • Police
  • Governments
  • Educators
  • Preachers

All of the above fields are subject to pressure from the criminal world and can turn criminal. In other words, they offer services based on the fear that something bad will happen. Most people, though, would not be interested in causing such bad things to happen. Only the criminals would.

The real essentials

All an honest society of human (or similar) beings would need to survive – even prosper – would be the following:

  • Food (and water)
  • Shelter (housing and community buildings)
  • Clothing sufficient for seasonal weather variations
  • Transport
  • Systems for handling waste
  • Means of communication
  • Quiet times
  • Opportunities to play
  • Opportunities for spiritual growth

How, then, did we get governments, lawyers, war, insurance companies and psychiatry? It traces back to the criminal and his origins.

Recent discoveries support these observations

Hubbard was the first researcher I studied who really laid out the basics for me. But others before and more commonly after him have reiterated those basic findings.

The human personality is immortal and capable of remembering anything it has ever experienced. Thus, a simple process of sharing experience could ultimately replace education as we now know it. It could also replace all the self-important “research institutions” that seem to look and look but never find the answers. Of course, this ability to remember must be unlocked. That’s where spiritual development comes in. And who was pushing the inability to remember? Criminals, of course. You wouldn’t want someone getting murdered, then coming back, going to the police, and telling them exactly how it happened and who did it. (Variations on this have actually occurred.)

Hubbard adds that the being is capable of knowing anything that can be experienced. On an esoteric level, this indicates that anything is possible. On a more practical level, it means that the plagues of man caused by criminals or otherwise could in theory all be dealt with at the spiritual level. This even includes healing of the body.

People are basically good. They are willing to play the game of human life and cooperate in doing so. All the basic requirements of the game could be provided based on this willingness alone. There is no real evidence that any of the professions listed above are in fact indispensable. There is only evidence that in a world where criminals go undetected and unexposed, these extra functions become apparently necessary.

Huge numbers of people on Earth and elsewhere live out their lives doing nothing but the essentials, as listed above. Some never experience any major criminal activity. Others do and bounce back. Some less fortunate get sucked into the criminal system of die at the hands of criminals. These could be as much as 1/4 or more of the population of this planet. That’s too many. With better understanding of and control over the criminal, most of those adversely affected could be returned to happiness.

Happiness, you could say, is the overcoming of not unknowable obstacles toward a known goal.
– LRH, 1954

Christmas Eve

24 December 2016

winter scene bird in bush
Nature wears the snow well.
The trees seem happy to be shrouded in it.

snow-covered fruit tree

Tree still full of fruit wears the new snow.


The birds fly above it…
birds in flight - winter
…and otherwise seem willing to deal with it.
birds share a tree
While the mammals sleep beneath it.
rabbit run in snow

Rabbit run leads under a boulder.


Nature has to deal with it, or die. And – as part of Nature – so do we. We, however, don’t wear it so well.
looking up Larry Street

The view up my street.


As with other obstacles, we push it out of our way, do our best to get rid of it, or get around it.

We created Nature

After all, we are more than just a part of Nature. We (or beings very much like us) created Nature. Though most of us have forgotten how or why we are now stuck in our own creation, winter is a perfect example of how we do our best to assert our lost and former greatness.

I went out today to take some photos near my building, and deliberately tried to keep man-made items out of my shots, so that they would appear to be totally natural settings. The weeds look pretty with their snowy coverings, but they are dead. That wouldn’t do for us. We’re not about to spend a season hibernating just because it’s a bit chilly.

snow shrouded scene

A field shrouded in snow.

winter - weed wearing some snow

winter - tree over a creek

winter - frosty cow parsnip

Our creation is beautiful, isn’t it?

But, I keep hearing about how fragile it is. We could lose all this, and then what? Are we prepared to create it all over again somewhere else? We could do that, though most of us don’t think we could. For most of us, this biosphere is scarce in this universe, and thus precious. And so we count our blessings on the eve before the day we celebrate as the birthday of a great spiritual teacher of the West. And though there have been many great spiritual teachers, this one gets singled out as our special one. Perhaps he really stands for all of them. Back when Christianity was getting started, most people touched by it didn’t even know what had come before it. They weren’t aware of the benefits they derived from the teachings of the one called “the Buddha” roughly 500 years earlier. Jesus was aware, or so I am told.

Yes, our memories seem so poor! And the lessons we can’t remember we are doomed to repeat. But let us take a few hours out of our somewhat hectic lives to celebrate the lives of all our great teachers, to give thanks for the lengthening of the days, and to ponder what we should do next; how we want all this to turn out. That question is now before us.

Operation Stupid

23 October 2016

I just watched a film titled “Operation Terror.” I didn’t use its real title in my title as I didn’t want that to be over-inflammatory. It’s about 9/11.

This film was released in 2012; I just heard about it yesterday. It was written and produced by a guy named Art Olivier. Art is about 3 years younger than me, had a technical job with Boeing and/or McDonnell Douglas (his bio says “Engineer”) for about 20 years, and became self-employed after that time. He was also interested in politics and ran for many offices in and around the town he lives in (Bellflower, CA), and became a Libertarian. He also ran for State offices, and US Vice President in 2000.

What is not clear in watching the film is that a sizable portion of the dialogue is taken from documents generated during the 9/11 investigation or that turned up later. So, in the film’s fictional re-creations, many of the characters say exactly what they were recorded as saying per those documents.

The idea that the whole operation was organized and run by a CIA agent, as directed by a senior member of “the Council” (Council on Foreign Relations?) is fiction. As far as I know, we have no documents or testimony pointing directly to who’s idea it was, or who ran it. That it was the creation of a demented mind should be obvious to anyone, which is emphasized when Art in a later interview refers to all the occult symbolism surrounding the event.

An example is the number of deaths at the Pentagon, reported as 125. This is 5X5X5, the Pentagon being a 5-sided building. It is also believed that both the Pentagon and the World Trade Center were exactly placed at significant geographic locations when they were built.

For his movie, Art went with the theory that none of the actual planes with passengers hit any of the buildings. Their real pilots could not have been bribed to do it, and their supposed hijackers would not have had the required skill, assuming it was even physically possible to do so. That means: 1) Something else hit the towers and the Pentagon (the movie suggests drone planes); and 2) Something else killed the crews and passengers. The movie shows them being ordered into a giant NASA autoclave (a special kind of oven), telling them it is a bomb shelter. The one who resists is summarily shot in the head.

Assuming this event was planned by “our side,” it means almost 3,000 people were sacrificed for this operation, on purpose. Now, that’s what I call insanity.

The movie ends with the youngish CIA operative believing he has botched the operation due to all the stupid mistakes involved in carrying it out. However, his boss from “the Council” assures him that he did a good job and was a true American patriot.

Rocks and Shoals

6 October 2016

Literally, rocks and shoals are some of the most common ways that ships come to their doom, particularly in the older times of wooden ships and no sonar.
This is also the slang term most sailors use for the Navy code of conduct, or any similar set of rules.

It’s not easy to take good photos from a train or bus.

But I wanted to share with you some of what I saw and wondered at during my recent travels.

Though there are areas on earth where one can go for miles in any direction without seeing any exposed natural rock, for a large part of the earth’s surface, that is not the case.

In gazing out at all these hard and craggy surfaces – as well as the soft places in between – I had to wonder: How did it get like this?

And so began a short investigation into the basics of geology as a preparation for sharing these photos and info with you.

I was most impressed by the sights I saw on my initial trip from Pullman to Boise, yet my photos from that ride are few and poor. I was more productive during my ride from Denver to Omaha on the train. There are enough scenes here to give you some idea what I was gazing at for hours during my trips back and forth across the West.

cliff face detail

This stone cliff appears to be eroded by water.

rock layers in cliffs

Here some layers seem flat while others are slanted.

green slope with cliff

Brush-grown slope beneath a harder upper layer, with starker cliff in background.

layered rock above river

Layering of rock is very evident above this river.

eroded rocky projection

Though this rocky projection is very eroded, huge areas remain bare.

According to the geologists, rock formation on earth started soon after the planet formed (soon in geologic time anyway). It was only one or two hundred million years after initial accretion of the planet when we started having bonafide surface rock.

After that, things get a little more complex. But it took a long time. As little as 35 million years ago, the earth’s surface was still changing quite a bit. The Rocky Mountains didn’t really start forming until 35 million years before that. What we see at about 70 million years ago is some major disruption that really gets the various crustal plates cracked up and moving relative to each other. Large parts of the ocean floors have formed since that time, and many of our most famous mountain areas did not exist before then.

One oddity is that the continent as we know it today was largely covered by water before the uplift that formed the Rockies even started.

And so the layers. In most cases, the lowest layers will be the original crust. If it were not for the great upheavals of the mountain-building period, those rocks would remain hidden below the layers that formed above them. But a combination of erosion and severe buckling has exposed them in many places. Above the lowest layer are layers created by wind, water and ice erosion, as well as volcanic activity. In the millions of years involved, the upper sedimentary layers have had time to become very hard, though not as hard as the bottom layer granite, nor the volcanic basalt, where that exists. So in an area once covered by a sea, you could have the bottom layer covered by sandstone layers, limestone layers (created by shell-forming living creatures), clay layers, which are basically eroded older rocks moved by water to new locations where they turn back into rock, and conglomerated layers deposited by ice. Then if volcanism occurred later, you might have a layer of lava over all that, or basalt squeezed into below-ground pockets. When volcanic rock forms in cracks in softer rocks, if that structure is then exposed to erosion, the softer rocks will wear away faster, leaving the harder rocks, often in rather odd shapes, or standing as “towers.”

jagged ridges near Las Cruces

These formations in New Mexico are incredibly jagged and probably created by ancient volcanic activity.

In the uplifting of the Rockies, all these different scenarios played out at different locations, leaving all sorts of odd formations, with combinations of newer and older rocks both exposed to view.

In Kansas City I saw a lot of limestone, both quarried as a building material and exposed in place in parks. That suggests the area had been covered by a warm and very alive sea in the distant past, and those layers subsequently uplifted to well above sea level.

I was also amazed at all the mountain meadows we went through on my trip to Boise. These were created mostly by glacial activity that started less than 3 million years ago.

mountain meadow and lake cascade

This Idaho meadow, full of pasture land and farm fields, is about a mile above sea level.

Dinosaur extinction event

About 75 million years ago, something happened on Earth that killed off all the dinosaurs. It killed off a lot of other species, too, but the disappearance of dinosaurs is the most notable. The current popular date for this is 66 million years ago. This also corresponds to when the Rocky Mountains were forming, which means a lot of tectonic activity.

The most persuasive scientific hypothesis is that a very large asteroid hit the planet at that time.

Hubbard also mentions an event that occurred around that time, but chose to keep the data confidential, as it had little bearing on the more general subject, but was needed for a particular processing step.

Another person named Eva Zemanova (Czech) has reported recalling an event that happened she says 80 million years ago. It involved a very highly evolved ET group that was headed somewhere else but experienced a malfunction in their ship and were forced to land on Earth.

The big question is what caused the malfunction of their ship.

She believes there has been some sort of higher intelligence presence on Earth at least since that time. So what both these findings suggest is that even 80 million years ago, other than “natural” factors were having an impact on events on Earth.

And that’s what makes the whole question of exactly what unfolded here all those millions of years ago so interesting.

my train by a river in a canyon

Yes, I really did take a train ride across the country last month, and it’s really hard to take a photo of your own train while you’re riding in it!