Archive for the ‘Spirit’ Category

Dialogs

7 December 2019

I have added this new category under Spirit to provide a place for a type of writing that I have been using for a long time.

The word “dialog” (more properly spelled “dialogue”) comes to us via Latin directly from Greek, where “dia” represents “through or between” and “log[os]” represents “talk or word”. Thus, it resides in a group of words beginning with “dia-” that includes the modern coined word Dianetics, “though mind”.

I am of the habit (some consider it an ability) of imagining dialogs or speeches or presentations interrupted by questions as a way of thinking through how more difficult concepts could be conveyed, or made understandable, to others.

Here’s an earlier example of my experiments with dialog in writing:

A more recent example appears here: https://landofdeadtrees.wordpress.com/2018/06/11/the-georgia-guidestones/

I often do something like this at night, while others sleep (peacefully or otherwise). For some reason, I find it difficult to sleep in an unpeaceful world. I feel some need, or duty, to further the postulate that this will change, and that a higher sort of peace than mere “absence of war” can be achieved on this planet.

In that vein, I offer this video: https://www.scientology.tv/series/l-ron-hubbard-library-presents/is-it-possible-to-be-happy.html

I intend to create some more dialogs as an extension of my “science fiction” story called The Lands. All it really intends to do is to point out to those curious enough to read it that solutions for some of our more basic challenges here on Earth are closer than they might have realized. That’s all I really want to accomplish at this point: To let the planet know that a new kind of future is available to it; that we only have to reach for it.

Armistice Day, 101 years ago.

11 November 2019

“What happened on that great occasion was this. The news came about midnight. Next morning I called up the President (Hr. George Kidd, I think) of the B. C. Electric Railway, and asked if I may have the sight seeing street car – open top. Mr. Kidd replied, “It will be ready when you want it down at the corner of Cambie and Hastings. There will be a conductor and motorman; you tell them what to do.” I asked that it be there at 10 a.m. and it was. I said that I was not able to pay. He replied, “It is at your service as the contribution of the B. C. Electric Railway Company.”

“I assembled my 72nd Seaforths band at my place of business on Cordova Street between Homer and Cambie Streets. The Mayor of Vancouver was His Worship Mayor Gale, and he placed all bands under my charge – twelve bands in all. There was little preparatory organization, there were many musicians, some of them returned soldiers, some had instruments – some without. I had to purchase three instruments out of my own purse. Altogether I had one hundred and fifty men. Out of these I picked twelve leaders as bandmasters; then gave each leader twelve men according to their instruments, and away they went, some on floats, some marching on foot. The sight seeing street car with band playing went everywhere – over every line. We allowed no one on except returned soldiers, and many of these accompanied us. We went up Mt. Pleasant, Fairview, West End, everywhere, playing as we went, and except for intervals for meals, did not cease playing on that sight seeing street car until 10 o’clock that night. Some musicians stayed the entire time, some would retire, new ones take their places, some come, some go, it was a wild day of jollification, no order, no system, but everywhere harmony and co-operation. I supplied all the music. I had about 400 marches in my library. We played “Tipparary,” “Keep the Home Fire Burning,” “Pack Up Your Troubles,” “Long, Long Trail,” and other popular ones of the period. “Colonel Bogie” was a great favorite.

“I just divided the 150 men into 12 bands under a leader, gave them their music, told them their position in the line of march and left them ‘go to it.’ It was a glorious moment.”

This story was dictated to the Vancouver Archivist, Major Matthews, by my great-grandfather Edward Cox.

He was the leader of the 72nd Seaforth Highlanders band (featured image) during the war years. Earlier (below) he was with the “Sixth Rifles” in their band. He is specifically named by the Archivist as being in the photograph below.

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Armistice Day for real

Armistice Day was about the beginning of the end of a terrible war. The Germans had been defeated in France, where the armistice was signed. A prominent German politician led the delegation that went to France to sign this agreement. The Allies were led by the Supreme Allied Commander, the French General Foch.

The war involved terrible suffering and slaughter among the troops on all sides. By 1918 everyone (except a few insane “leaders”) wanted it ended. The final arrangements were made in the following year. But the news of this Armistice spread like wildfire across the planet, with the help of telegraph equipment.

Now known in the U.S. as “Veterans Day,” this date should be celebrated by the lovers of peace across this planet as a symbol of what is possible when combatants finally decide to lay down their arms. The fact that military units in most places support bands shines like a little ray of hope that one day war as we now know it could end.

 

Day of the Dead

27 October 2019

We are creeping up on Halloween, so why not work with that theme this week?

The significance and timing (end October) of the observance itself has been a Christian tradition for so long, that the possibility that is was originally a non-Christian observance is now in doubt, even though a traditional Gaelic festival was observed at the same time of year.

Dia de Muertos

In Mexico, the Dia de Muertos tradition definitely began as an observance connected to Aztec tradition and beliefs. Everyone in Mexico knows this. However, it was not traditionally observed at this time of year, but rather at the beginning of summer. When the Spaniards came, this eventually got shifted so that this observance coincided with what we know as Halloween.

In most earlier religions or spiritual systems, the spirit was believed to survive death in some manner. Most religions believe that the spirit “goes somewhere,” but can return to “visit” for various reasons. Though there may have been some societal need fulfilled by this belief system, it is also possible that these ideas came from actual experience, as our best data indicates that the spirit does indeed “leave” and then “come back.”

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In the case of the Mexican tradition, it was taught that this day, or these days (two or three special days may be observed) are somehow set aside for the spirits of those you loved to come back and visit. Little (or not so little) alters of offerings would be set up for those who we hoped would come visit, to make them feel welcome and more comfortable. Note the modern Californian add-ins to this alter display from last year’s celebration in Old Town.

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The circular arrangement of little white bags and oranges (I think) depicted above is not understood by me, but was certainly quite noticeable.

The Devil’s Motorcycle

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I had to find some excuse to include an image of this impressive bike I found parked outside Folsom Winco.

In the fantastical comedy film Raising Arizona, something close to a real devil rides such a machine. I have seen several films that have used the motorcycle as a sort of symbol of approaching danger.

Spooky Butterfly

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This insect is called the “Buckeye,” and the patterns on its wings are called “eye spots.”

Kinda spooky!

Death in Popular Lore

It is surprisingly difficult for most of us to remember what happens when we die. This memory loss has advantages both for us and for the managers trying (never very successfully) to keep us all under control. For us, it means we can end a lifetime by shedding all responsibilities for what we did or didn’t do during it, and “start afresh” every time we get born. For the managers it means we are less likely to realize that we are immortal beings and should hold in contempt any effort to control us by threatening us via our bodies (with torture, death and the like).

As a result, our ideas about what it means to die and “come back” are a bit off base, kooky, and unrealistic. Some think of the departed rising from their graves as animated skeletons. Others think of returning spirits as a bit demonic, tormenting us with swirls of smoke or dust in the shape of bodies and playing tricks on us that are frightening. Some think that they can leave something around to remind you of them.

We could see “trick or treat” I suppose as sort of a dramatization of our attempts to appease the departed so that they won’t continue to bother us. That we in the U.S. use little children to play the role of the returned ones is ironic.

As a part of this whole tradition, those of us who have houses and can afford the time and expense will “dress up” their front yards in keeping with the “spirit” of the season.

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This could be seen as a playful and creative pastime, I suppose. However, the scariest front yards I remember as a kid were the ones that were actually small forests that you had to walk through (or creep through) to get to the house. Spooky!

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The bright orange pumpkin is a great way to decorate the yard as winter begins to turn it brown. Of course, in Sacramento, most of the yards never do actually turn brown…

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I can only imagine this to be the house of a doctor. How else would he have access to so many (classroom) skeletons?

The Vulture

A lurking, dark and nasty-looking bird is a great symbol for spookiness. In Poe’s famous poem, it was The Raven. Well, I didn’t find one of those, but I did find this vulture.

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The dead tree he (or she) is sitting on really adds a dramatic touch, doesn’t it? But I thought I’d try to push it a little further with the color adjustments available in my image editor.

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Now we have more of a night time scene, with the bird in silhouette on a moonlit branch.

My Halloween Project

I always try to squeeze in a project at Halloween time. Though I didn’t have as many LEDs as I really wanted, I’m going for an animated electronic jack-o-lantern.

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Hope I finish it in time!

 

 

 

 

People Celebrate My Birthday

6 October 2019

It was amazing how many people were out on this sunny Saturday preparing for my birthday celebration!

During my usual trip to and back from Folsom, I ran across not one, but two young bucks. The bucks tend to keep their distance from the trail more than the does do, so they must have known I was coming and wanted to see them.

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Later on, during my lunch break, I was entertained by various flying machines from an airshow someone had thoughtfully decided to put on that day at Mather Field.

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But the really big event of the day happened later that evening, when I went to see “5000 Watts” a charity event thoughtfully themed around two of my favorite subjects, electronics and art.

I arrived well before sunset, when they were still setting it all up.

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In the background of this image is Raley Field, a West Sacramento baseball stadium and event venue named after the locally notable Raley family, famous for their chain of grocery stores.

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Here we see the four symbols used by Square Root Academy, the fundraisers for this event. Earth, Air, Fire and Water if I recall correctly. This group sponsors science programs for disadvantaged youth. Prominent in the background is Eileen the “pearl” peacock, a creation of Kristen Hoard and her group of artists and makers.

Well, the sun finally set, and they let us in.

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We were greeted by Kate Marusina’s installation, featuring Ohmu (a creature that plays a major role in a Japanese anime). It seems Kate is a PhD-level researcher at UC Davis who does this as a hobby.

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As the story goes, when an ohmu’s eyes turn red it means that it is mad. This one, however, just moved its mouth feelers around a little bit.

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These flowers were made by young people participating in a school program.

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The inflatable “plants” are an invention of Stan Clark. He sells them through a company called Astro Botanicals.

In the distance we see William (Cenote) Jerome’s “Luminescent Grand,” an electric piano made of plastic that glows as you play it. The visuals of it on his own website are much better than what I could do with a still camera at night.

Also by the piano was an installation by tech company RocketLife that is marketing an app and a small piece of hardware that can help anyone add animated lighting to their creation or project.

Local electronics guru Chris Biddle also showed up with his huge 3D LED matrix (no photo) and there were several other projects on display.

How thoughtful of them to do this for my entertainment!

The open space across from where I live was recently renamed in honor of a downtown developer who died of cancer at the young age of 35. Ali Youssefi, as it turns out, was instrumental in getting the building I am living in constructed, and also a similar building over on R Street which is specially designed for artists.

Last night someone had the square fenced off for some sort of paid event involving “pro wrestling.”

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And they had failed to invite me! Well, perhaps they knew I wouldn’t be interested…

Blast from the Past – Schools

4 October 2019

Approximately 45 years ago, when I was 20, I wrote a letter to NPR about my views on the importance of improving schools. NPR (National Public Radio) was known for its interest in such topics and debates, and was always presenting little stories about education.

I also included a rather lengthy excerpt from Neil Postman’s book Teaching as a Subversive Activity, co-written with Charles Weingartner. Postman was the major theorist behind this book. He advocated a student-centered approach to education and, in this book at least, was critical of teachers for not working harder to make this happen. For all that, the book took a somewhat lighthearted approach to the whole subject, which appealed to me.

Though my own school experience was not at all negative, I realized that I wasn’t learning in school everything I needed to know. That problem was later solved when I discovered Hubbard’s work. But that does not solve the problem for everyone else going to school.

The Letter

Dear NPR people,

Whenever children are mentioned on “All Things Considered” I listen. I listen because I have a question I’m trying to find an answer to: How can we raise our children to help them survive, and thrive, in the world of the future?

Pollution, overpopulation and war could make life in the future intolerable. They could bring all social and cultural growth to a halt. Will our children be able to prevent that from happening? I am worried for them, and that is why I look for new ways to raise them that will give them a better chance.

My own particular interest is schooling. For the past 15 years, school has been a dominant part of my life. I have always been an inquisitive person, and I liked to work out problems on my own. School gave me this opportunity, and I spent long hours trying to solve every problem, dilemma, or difficult concept the teachers put before me. It was not until I got older, and the reality of making it in the world “outside” started to loom over the horizon, that I began to feel uncomfortable in school.

In junior high many questions that were becoming important to me, questions about people and society and the way they worked, were not being discussed in school. In high school I began to realize that many of my courses would not be useful to me outside of the classroom. By my senior year I was totally opposed to schools. I joined an “alternative school” and worked exclusively on problems and projects of my own choosing. Up to then, everyone around me has assumed I would go to a four-year college. But I had decided against that some time before, and chose instead a two-year electronics program at the local community college.

I have been at Washtenaw Community College for a year now. The quality of education there gave me an unusually strong incentive to look for new approaches to schooling. That inquiry led me to a book entitled Teaching as a Subversive Activity. I enjoyed it so much that I wanted to share some of it with you, so I am including an excerpt from it that includes 16 proposals for initiating change in our schools. I am also including “Think Sheet on Learning” that I wrote for a presentation in a political science class last year. It was also inspired by this book.

The authors of the book are Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner. In 1969, when they wrote the book, Neil was working at New York University and Harlem Preparatory School, and Charles was at Queens College. I hope that you will have them on your show someday.

Dr. Farsin touched on the subject of schooling, and most of what he sees happening in schools I also see. His conclusion is that obligatory schooling should be abolished. My conclusion, and that of Postman and Weingartner, is that the schools should be changed to allow much more freedom and much more learning. I guess abolishing public schools as an institution never entered our minds. The idea sounds good to me, but I can’t speak for Neil or Charles.

I must say that NPR has shown an unusual amount of interest in children and their future, and I am very thankful for that.

The Excerpt

16 Proposals to Initiate Change in Our Schools

Postman and Weingartner, Teaching as a Subversive Activity, 1969, pp 137-140.

1. Declare a five-year moratorium on the use of all textbooks.
Since with two or three exceptions all texts are not only boring but based on the assumption that knowledge exists prior to, independent of, and altogether outside of the learner, they are either worthless or harmful. If it is impossible to function without textbooks, provide every student with a notebook full of blank pages, and have him compose his own text.

2. Have “English” teachers “teach” Math, Math teachers English, Social Studies teachers Science, Science teachers Art, and so on.
One of the largest obstacles to the establishment of a sound learning environment is the desire of teachers to get something they think they know into the heads of people who don’t know it. An English teacher teaching Math would hardly be in a position to fulfill this desire. Even more important, he would be forced to perceive the “subject” as a learner, not a teacher.
If this suggestion is impractical, try numbers 3 and 4.

3. Transfer all the elementary-school teachers to high school and vice-versa.

4. Require every teacher who thinks he knows his “subject” well to write a book on it.
In this way, he will be relieved of the necessity of inflicting his knowledge on other people, particularly his students.

5. Dissolve all “subjects,” “courses,” and especially “course requirements.”
This proposal, all by itself, would wreck every existing educational bureaucracy. The result would be to deprive teachers of the excuses presently given for their failures and to free them to concentrate on their learners.

6. Limit each teacher to three declarative sentences per class, and 15 interrogatives.
Every sentence above the limit would be subject to a 25-cent fine. The students can do the counting and the collecting.

7. Prohibit teachers from asking questions they already know the answers to.
The proposal would not only force teachers to perceive learning from the learner’s perspective, it would help them learn how to ask questions that produce knowledge.

8. Declare a moratorium on all tests and grades.
This would remove from the hands of teachers their major weapons of coercion and would eliminate two of the major obstacles to their students’ learning anything significant.

9. Require all teachers to undergo some form of psychotherapy as part of their in-service training.
This need not be psychoanalysis; some form of group therapy or psychological counseling will do. Its purpose: to give teachers an opportunity to gain insight into themselves, particularly into the reasons they are teachers.

10. Classify teachers according to their ability and make the lists public.
There would be a “smart” group (the Bluebirds), an “average” group (the Robins), and a “dumb” group (the Sandpipers). The lists would be published each year in the community paper. The I.Q. and reading scores of teachers would also be published, as well as the list of those who are “advantaged” and “disadvantaged” by virtue of what they know in relation to what their students know.

11. Require all teachers to take a test prepared by students on what the students know.
Only if a teacher passes this test should he be permitted to “teach.” This test could be used for “grouping” the teachers as in number 10 above.

12. Make every class an elective and withhold a teacher’s monthly check if his students do not show any interest in going to next month’s classes.
This proposal would simply put the teacher on a par with other professionals, e.g., doctors, dentists, lawyers, etc. No one forces you to go to a particular doctor unless you are a “clinical case.” In that instance, you must take what you are given. Our present system makes a “clinical case” of every student. Bureaucrats decide who shall govern your education. In this proposal, we are restoring the American philosophy: no clients, no money; lots of clients, lots of money.

13. Require every teacher to take a one-year leave of absence every fourth year to work in some “field” other than education.
Such an experience can be taken as evidence, albeit shaky, that the teacher has been in contact with reality at some point in his life. Recommended occupations: bartender, cab driver, garment worker, waiter. One of the common sources of difficulty with teachers can be found in the fact that most of them simply move from one side of the desk (as students) to the other side (as “teachers”) and they have not had much contact with the way things are outside of school rooms.

14. Require each teacher to provide some sort of evidence that he or she had a loving relationship with at least one other human being.
If the teacher can get someone to say, “I love her (or him),” she should be retained. If she can get two people to say it, she should get a raise. Spouses need not be excluded from testifying.

15. Require that all graffiti accumulated in the school toilets be reproduced on large paper and be hung in the school halls.
Graffiti that concern teachers and administrators should be chiseled into the stone at the front entrance of the school.

16. There should be a general prohibition against the use of the following words and phrases: teach, syllabus, covering ground, I.Q., makeup, test, disadvantaged, gifted, accelerated, enhancement, course, grade, score, human nature, dumb, college material, and administrative necessity.

A look back

We can detect a plentiful amount of tongue-in-cheek in the above “proposals.” But of course the authors were trying to make the point that schools seemed to exist for reasons other than a child’s desire to grow up and take his or her place in the world based on a decent understanding of it and of himself or herself.

I could see that. Many other students and parents didn’t seem to be bothered by this too much. If anyone was a bit upset about the scene, from my own personal experience it seemed to be the teachers. They knew they were failing society in some way, even if society didn’t seem to care that much.

We know now that the first and most basic answer is Hubbard’s Study Technology. That gives students the tools they need to learn by observation, with true understanding, including an ability to act on that understanding and produce results in their areas of expertise.

This has become a critical issue now. If we do not produce enough people in this society that can learn by observation rather than run on orders like little robots, we will lose our freedoms to those who think machines and slaves to operate them are more important than people.

Untitled

14 September 2019

That’s what a painter calls a painting when he can’t figure out what it’s about, right? Or just doesn’t know what it’s about?

This is a short post touching on a diverse, perhaps unrelated, set of topics.

Miniature Steam Trains

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I pass by the park pictured above every Saturday on my way home from Folsom. I have noticed the miniature train tracks many times. But last week – I believe as a special event – the miniature train enthusiasts who use these tracks brought out some of their trains and rode them around. The group is called the Sacramento Valley Live Steamers Railroad Museum. It is a non-profit hobbyist group and they create all the trains and tracks, as well as maintain them.

Electronics

I wanted a sound-sensitive signal for my “Dial” series of electronic art pieces. Last week I started building a board that would give me such a signal. I have all the basic circuitry in place now. I seldom photograph my “development environment” so thought I would this time. The two odd things sticking out of the board are oscilloscope probes. I really needed an oscilloscope for this project, as timing is very important.

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Wildflowers and Acorns

While most plants in this area are dying back from the lasting heat of late summer, a few hardy composites (a huge family of plants including sunflower, goldenrod, daisies, dandelions, etc.) continue to flower or are just now beginning to flower. The first is a “tarweed.” I have shown it before. I am amazed that it continues to bloom, and in what seems to be a very dry field.

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The next is another flower I have shown before. For some reason I have had difficulty getting my camera to focus on this flower in closeup mode. Every week it’s still there, and I try taking a few more photos of it.

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This next one is just starting to bloom in some places along the trail. This photograph was taken at the site of a creek bed restoration project. These plants may get a little extra water in the summer. They are certainly growing vigorously at this site.

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Evergreen oaks dominate the forests and fields in this area, and they are producing acorns. I believe this is a blue oak. It looks similar to a live oak, but with less glossy leaves. These long acorns are sweeter than those produced by red oaks or black oaks. They were a huge food resource for the natives of the past, but very few people use them now. Acorn flour is commercially available, but very expensive. That may change some day.

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Sustainability versus the 2045 initiative

One way to “beat” climate change would be to bypass the need for biology on this planet. As batty as that may seem, there is a team of people – it seems to be a joint Russian and American project – working on doing just that.

I thought I might revisit this issue to see if anyone is still taking it seriously. This could be one reason that some sectors of society just don’t seem to be playing the sustainability game; they think they have another answer.

The problem is that it is actually a possible answer, but these guys don’t have it right. As long as they continue to not have it right, it’s basically just a con game to give a bunch of irresponsible researchers and engineers something to do while the planet falls apart around them.

In the West Ray Kurzweil is the project’s main spokesperson. And Oh Shit: He has been Google’s “director of engineering” since 2012. In Russia, Dmitry Itskov is the founder and key proponent of the movement. He has made billions in Russia with his media businesses. As of 2013 they had the Dalai Lama on board. But they have received no press since 2016, which was a thumbs down from the BBC. It is also reported that the late Jeffrey Epstein, accused of numerous sex crimes, also believed in transhumanism. That wasn’t exactly good press, either! Perhaps these boys have retreated to a safer position behind the secrecy which their non-governmental status affords them.

And as I said, right now they are no more than silver-tongued con men. The human personality already is immortal. Only the body is not. The body is currently a biological machine. It could be re-designed to be a non-biological machine. I suppose some of us, if not eventually all of us, could learn to live in a non-biological machine instead of a biological one. But it seems to me that before any of that happens, we need to get the basics of life correctly understood, and we need to rehabilitate our ability to be ethical. Machines could learn to fight and “kill” each other just like humans have. Maybe it would be fun. However, that’s not how we currently experience war and terrorism. I think we first need to learn how to live properly with the bodies we have before trying to move into new ones. And we need to learn to take care of planets, too.

However, given the data above, there may be something to my idea that some sector on this planet has an “alternative” to sustainability that they think will pull them through.

 

 

View From The Forest

6 September 2019

I have written a short screenplay in an app called Trelby. All the app really does is make sure the document is formatted according to industry standards. This is my first finished story created in the form of a screenplay.

It is not a long story, perhaps 20 minutes or less. It involves two trees “talking” with each other, and their interaction with a few other creatures, including a man. The man takes a liking to these trees and keeps returning to visit them.

It turns out he has some sway in the field of ecological upgrades, so a part of the story shows him pitching his ideas in some sort of academic setting, and then follows an upgrade project put in right next to where the trees live. The man visits one last time as an old man, and then we follow the trees a bit into the future, and see their environment change for the better.

The story could be visualized using real trees, but more likely as an animation. How do you show two trees in conversation? I am leaving that to the imagination of anyone interested in turning the story into an actual short film.

Though there are many, perhaps, who have spent much more time in forests than I have, these huge living systems need more human voices to stand in their support, and so this story.

I have three more screenplay ideas I am working on. If you want to read the actual story, let me know.

Here are some of the biggest trees in one of the best-developed forests along the American River that I have access to through bike trails. They are large, tall beautiful trees, yet this forest is only a tiny patch along the river. Very few forests like this exist anywhere anymore. Yet they are vital to our biological future on this planet.

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Accomplishing Things Together

14 July 2019

Mankind has evolved myriad ways to get things done in groups.

This subject impacts all of the social sciences including particularly government, business management, and community organization.

In these contexts it is often studied in amazement: How have we managed to accomplish so much against such great odds? And so those studies have for the most part resulted in theories of how and why we managed to survive as a cooperative species, or in careful listings of what worked for Boeing, or General Electric, or China.

Those studies seldom evolved any system of understanding or set of rules that was workable enough to be compelling or gain wide support. Except for Hubbard’s studies.

Extent of human experience

When Hubbard consulted the extent of human experience, he found a track so deep and vast that for most those discoveries were simply unbelievable. But in this vastness he was able to locate certain basics about how people operate and how they learn to coexist.

And so he was able to identify patterns and “laws” that can be adapted to and remain workable in almost any imaginable situation.

The basic production group

The most workable pattern for group production is one mirrored all around us and throughout history. We see this pattern in the family (particularly when both parents are present), in the village and tribe, in the production team of modern business, and in performing groups such as the one illustrated below.

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Gamelan Sekar Jaya early rehearsal in Berkeley 1980

I have mentioned this pattern in other articles. It features an “in-charge” or supervisor, often assisted by a deputy. Ideally, these two only have to work directly with a handful of other people. In the photo above, we see that the teacher (back to us) is showing one of the gendèr players a particular melody. The other players can be individually instructed, but will tend to rely on one of the better players in their group as a sub-teacher. Similarly, a more experienced drummer teaches a newer drummer, and a more experienced dancer will teach the newer dancers, though all under the watchful eye of the overall teacher. And so they eventually learn how to play an entire piece together, then another and another. And so they can at some point go out and perform a concert with a paying audience (as we did many times).

Extension to larger groups

Hubbard found that the best way to build larger groups was by using this same basic pattern. This is actually a truly ancient law. As such, it should come naturally to us; and yet we violate it all the time.

When we try to stretch this basic pattern into a very large group, like a major company or a nation, we run into one of its limitations: distance between associated group members. This has always been a challenge for people, and I suppose always will. Though I could mention all sorts of handlings that have been dreamed up – for both real and imaginary groups – the common factor in all of them seems to be to establish a strong and reliable line of communication between the central location and its remote offices.

Traditionally this was accomplished by assigning one or more people from the remote area to function as delegates, ambassadors, or traveling executives. They would then meet periodically as a council, committee, coordinating body (or some similar concept) at the central location. This was one reason (as far as I’m concerned) why representative governments developed in the years before we had more advanced communication technologies. These councils continue today as a kind of tradition; for now it’s probably just as well that they do.

Organizations like businesses have a tendency to send central people out to the remote location to “fix” situations and for other reasons. This is more typical of a top-down approach to organizing people, but that doesn’t make it unworkable. It’s just that the basic friendliness that exists when people work together in the same room or house or office or factory can break down or be neglected over longer distances. Then the corrective measure will come as a shock or be seen as an attack, rather than as a management necessity (which it usually is). So it is very important for any central office to have one person (or a small group) assigned to each remote office – no more than five or ten remote offices per person – who will then maintain a strong and friendly relationship between him or herself and each remote office.

Common mistakes

It is very important for the members of any actual group to feel that they are working together for a common purpose. For some businesses, that purpose might be to make money. And while that is needful, it is seldom sufficient motivation for most people. Most people want to feel that they are doing something that contributes to the greater community, and pushes up the chances of survival for the entire community, as well as the specific business or organization they work in. I have seen too much neglect and falseness in this respect.

Why would people err in this direction?

Lost or insufficient technology. This is the age in which certain of our technologies have raced ahead, while others have lagged behind, or been neglected or lost.

Thus we can connect two people using a complex radio relay system, but cannot guarantee them that their personal details will remain private or that the information they receive on that network will be accurate.

We can develop a myriad of new drugs for treating various conditions, but seem unable to cure people of those conditions.

We can revive numerous downtown areas, but we can’t seem to make those areas affordable for the people who work there.

In fact, there are many good technologies that would help us handle these problems that are available but not widely known about. That leads us to our other common mistake.

Letting criminals onto our communication lines. This one is always destructive, and sometimes completely fatal. It is a point abundantly supported by Hubbard’s research. And it circles back around to the first mistake: Lack of an effective technology for spotting criminals that is widely known and in use.

Though we have had ways of doing this for centuries, our results were less than perfect. It is Hubbard’s work that has pushed this subject up to a new level. And it was a criminal reaction to this advance that has been suppressing it from wider use. Where communities go ahead and learn it and use it, crime goes down and happiness goes up.

And where communities and businesses and governments gain a better control over the criminal element, beneficial technologies go into wider use, while harmful technologies decline.

Can governments be made to work?

Government is one of our biggest challenges because we give our governments the toughest jobs.

I looked over our own Constitution today (the original document for the most part) to see if I could draw a straight line from it to a more workable system. My results were inconclusive.

In a nation Law takes the place of what is usually called Policy in business. Yet how could either a business or a nation get along well if its rules of operation were constantly changing?

The only business policies we normally hear about as consumers are written by lawyers. The more basic policies get set by Boards of Directors, and you seldom hear about those. My church relies on a large volume of policy developed by our Founder over many years which is now, for the most part, unchangeable. That gives our organization stability and predictability.

Nations have their Constitutions as basic policy. Yet in all cases I know of, these have been eroded. In a lot of ways, they weren’t really comprehensive enough. And with changeable laws having to stand in for gaps in policy, nations have been rendered less stable than most of us would like.

Traditional representative government has become less workable for a number of reasons. Chief among them, as I see it, was the lack of workable data on how to detect and handle criminals. And so the justice systems of many countries have become unworkable, if not corrupt. And criminal influence in the other branches of government was allowed to occur. This must be repaired. This whole issue is barely mentioned in our own Constitution.

Furthermore, there is no mention in our Constitution of the relationship between the U.S. President and his Cabinet with the State Governors and their cabinets. This led to vital communication lines never being formally established, and extensive Federal offices existing in all major cities and state capitals, though those should all be the domains of the various states.

Further, the need for extensive duplication of laws due to the absence of enough detail in the founding documents has led to huge wastes of effort as states try to regulate things better left to the federal level, and vice versa. This has recently become a real issue in the field of drug abuse, where some states have legalized marijuana, while others have kept it illegal. At the federal level it is still an illegal substance, so a huge “crime” network still exists to produce the drug in “free” states and then transport it into areas where it remains illegal. If the Feds do not have sufficient resources to make such operations unprofitable, then the whole country basically gets more drugs at lower prices courtesy of the states that have legalized them.

Reversely, the Feds have tried to “assist” states in their educational efforts. But this is much more properly a state issue, since “illegal trafficking” of students across state borders is certainly a very minor problem.

While arguments can be made that the U.S. would do better if it operated more like a business (top-down) it is in fact not legally set up to do so, and should probably rely much more on friendly communication lines between federal and state levels than it currently does.

Further, while it would be a huge change of operating basis at this point, it would be much more appropriate for the U.S. government to treat the states as franchises, and let the states, counties, cities and towns worry about any and all ordinary contact with individual citizens – particularly in the case of taxation – and devise a way to get regular tax payments (tithes, royalties) directly from the state treasuries rather than operating the enormous and invasive system of taxation and welfare that requires direct contact with every individual in the entire country. This is a stupendously inefficient, as well as dangerous, system. It should be ended as soon as possible.

Maintaining a true group

Maintaining a true group means maintaining friendly relations between every adjacent level of that group.

Individuals should have no cause to directly deal with the Federal government except if they violate federal laws. Even the issuance of passports could probably be done by states, as are drivers licenses and ID cards. And if the basic rules of organization were followed, all those activities would probably be more pleasant experiences.

People have a lot to learn about themselves and about working in groups. And they should learn these things. It would help us all enormously.

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The Lands – One of my writing projects

2 June 2019

I introduced this project here.

This is a bit of an update.

The project was to serve as a platform for me to write about better solutions that I was aware of. It takes a hint from Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward, as the writer speaks to us from the future, speaking about our present as if it were the past.

An imaginary disaster known as The Event destroys the planet’s communication and computer infrastructure, while leaving everything else intact. I got the idea from studying about the effects ionizing radiation can have on computer memory chips.

The planet recovers with the help of Tech, Policy and The Way To Happiness. I also mention things I have learned about a design system known as Permaculture, and about land use planning. I use mostly my own photographs to illustrate the articles, using the invented idea that a device exists that can help a person turn his memories into photo-realistic images.

After the Scientology TV channel went live, I began to realize that my church was pushing for a higher public awareness that answers existed to many of our most pressing social problems. I thought I could do something similar with The Lands by turning it into a novel or a screenplay. And so I set about trying to write one. So far I have writtten 19 pages of a first draft. Mostly dialog, I don’t care that much about exact settings or actions at this point. I thought I’d share here an excerpt that transcribes part of an imaginary speech given by the hero Emil to a crowd of corporate executives summoned to Washington D.C. by the Defense Department to get briefed and come up with a plan of action:

Emil: (looking around) All right, then. I’ll make a few opening remarks.

The most ancient origins of business parallel the most ancient origins of government. Almost universally, monarchs were considered chosen by God, if not gods themselves. And in the long past, monarchs, or persons like them, were the only ones granting charters to large businesses. Such businesses could grow large enough to threaten the power of the government, so the old monarchies only wanted political friends to operate such enterprises. In such a wise, the divine favor enjoyed by monarchs extended to the large enterprises they permitted to exist.

Many large corporations – and even some smaller ones – have continued to operate as if they were God’s surrogates here on earth. I hope none of you find this overly-offensive. The picture painted by history seems plain enough. So many businesses and governments down through the ages acted as if they were above any earthly laws, that their word was inviolate, and that they knew best how to run an enterprise or a nation or a planet, and should be allowed to do so.

Large businesses have become perceived by the public as modern extensions of ancient monarchies, aristocracies, and oligarchies. And from what I know about such matters, that is not an unfair assessment of the situation. Attempts to repair this situation using PR methods have only worked to the degree that the PR was sincere.

I would like to point out that a business, even a very large business, does not have to be operated in this fashion. It’s just that most still are.

Emil is trying to get some of the largest corporations and defense contractors to agree to essentially “trade swords for plowshares” and actively assist in the recovery efforts across the planet. It is only because they actually have lost the organizational advantages they enjoyed due to their extensive use of computer systems and computerized communication networks that they are willing to consider turning themselves, essentially, into a giant charity activity.

It has been a very interesting project for me, and I hope some of my friends will find it intriguing enough to share it with their friends.

Another great Kids Day

27 April 2019

This was my 2nd year attending Rancho Cordova’s Kids Day with fellow church members. We were there mainly for the parents, but we gave the kids lots of things to do, too. It’s never been easy to raise children, and our various programs can assist parents to make better choices and be more confident in an activity that – last I checked – isn’t even taught in schools.

Kids Day, on the other hand, has been happening for the past 30 years.

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I don’t know if it’s always been in this venue (Hagan Park), but it’s a lovely setting, especially at this time of year.

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The event starts late morning (to give us all time to set up) and lasts into mid-afternoon (to avoid the hottest part of the day). A lot of parents and children show up.

Rancho Cordova is one of Sacramento’s older suburban communities. Its current inhabitants are from all over the world, and have arrived here for numerous different reasons. We saw many people obviously from Pakistan or India. The Orient is also well-represented. And you can sometimes tell the Russian families, if they speak a little of their own language or have an accent. The oldest “new” suburbanites in the area are probably African-Americans who have been able to join the “middle class.”

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While members of our group took pictures, the kids enjoyed the activities we dreamed up for them.

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The “Fish Cup Game” at the CCHR booth is always a big hit.

And at the Drug Free World booth we had coloring for the younger children. This girl I took pains to photograph because at this young age she was already taking a professional attitude in her work. She drew two perfect little cartoon characters.

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Older children are invited to sign our Drug Free Pledge, and many did.

Sunburn not withstanding, it was a fine day for one and all.