Archive for the ‘Dialogs’ Category

The Human Condition

12 June 2020

I’m reading too much.

The main thing that bothers me about it is that when I read I tend to eat more. When I work on electronics projects I don’t eat as much.

But I thought it was important to get an idea of what is on the minds of the thinkers and dreamers of the world, and so I read.

Writers of the Future Online Workshop

In an attempt to keep the momentum going for the Writers (and Illustrators) of the Future Contest, the contest organizers decided to create an online version of the workshop that they give to the (mostly) young writers who usually (but not this year) participate in the annual awards ceremony in Hollywood in April.

I know someone connected with the contest and they told me about the free workshop, so I took it. Today I “graduated” the workshop.

It’s a somewhat unsettling story, should you choose to read it. Very short, and not framed as a real story, but as a one-way conversation.

New Ideas, Old Ideas

The various articles and videos I read and watched today started with a “google” search (I don’t use Google, currently using SwissCows) for some subject that was bothering me the day before.

One of the first videos I came up with was set in a little county library auditorium in Minnesota full of retired white people being lectured to by a black woman from nearby Macalester College about the impact of integration on educational outcomes for people of color.

The next video I watched (don’t hold me to this exact sequence) was given years earlier to a group of very educated people at the University of California Berkeley by a woman named Nell Painter about the long and convoluted history of the word “Caucasian.” The Caucasians were a light-skinned group of people used as sex slaves in both Europe and Persia until political changes gradually closed those trade routes around the 1700s.

After watching that, I was attracted to a paid add on YouTube’s website about “understanding the human condition.” This led me to a recently-crafted website out of Australia featuring a biologist by the name of Jeremy Griffith who has been working on promoting his theory since 1983. To be brief, Griffith believes that the development of consciousness in Man made possible by a greatly enhanced nervous system, led people to question the validity of their inherited instincts. This, he said, has led to a psychological pathology (psychosis) that can only be resolved through new understandings brought to us by recent research in the field of biology.

It is an enormously hopeful viewpoint, and in many ways quite true, though various theoretical details, clearly, are incorrect. Griffith looks forward to a future in which the current political clashes between the Left and the Right will resolve, and people will begin to live in peace and harmony, free of the psychosis that they had to endure in order to become civilized animals.

Next, after doing some cooking and checking my emails, I found a wide variety of articles being suggested to me by Pocket (a kind of news service used by the Firefox browser) of interest.

Foreign Policy magazine was writing about a new type of multinational corporation that is successfully evading Western attempts to prevent corporate abuse of power in the developing world (where corrupt practices are often endemic).

A whole series of writings was offered on the subject of “abolition,” in this case, the abolition of the prison system of “crime prevention.” Of course, I am painfully aware (I had a pen pal who was a prisoner when I was a teenager in high school) that prisons are not there to prevent crime. Neither are the police. They are there to keep the poor in their place, for lack of a kinder way to state it. They should be there to deter real crime. But real crime is too crazy for most police or justice systems to confront.

These articles included a review of what happened in Camden New Jersey after they disbanded and then re-created their police department in 2013. I am currently studying a lecture series given by Mr. Hubbard in Camden in 1953. We also have a very strong Truth About Drugs activist, Michael DeLeon, who grew up in Camden. (Camden is directly across from Philadelphia.)

Then I stopped by an article from The Atlantic about how we started measuring everything we did as humans using money (or “cost”) around the time of the Civil War. It didn’t attach this trend to the sudden increase of influence in the U.S. of foreign bankers (and their accounting systems) around that time. But I do. It was described as the creeping advance of capitalism in America, which is the Left’s way to say the same thing.

Then I read an article by science writer Tim Requarth entitled: Why Do So Many Researchers Still Treat Race as a Scientific Concept? It is essentially a review of a recent book by journalist Angela Saini. In the book and the article, it went over certain fundamentals of “race” that I would summarize this way: The human genome has something on the order of 50,000 genes, depending on exactly how you count them. Of these, 4 or 5 were recently found to be involved with the shape of the nose. Probably that many, or fewer, determine skin pigmentation. Humans are 99.5% genetically identical, and out of the genes that are different, only a handful have anything to do with outward appearance. Therefore, there is absolutely no valid scientific reason to connect race (outward appearance) with genetics, biology or medical outcomes.

The only valid-sounding exception I have ever heard involves the fact that the rate of Vitamin D production in the body is somewhat related to density of skin pigmentation. But you can’t tell that by asking for a “race” label. You have to look at the individual. There is also the example of sickle cell diseases. However, you have to get tested for it. Though it seems to have been an adaptation to survive malaria in Africa, it could be passed on to anyone through genetics.

Though many interesting “disorders” have been linked to gene expression, most of them are quite rare.

What really makes people sick

In my acquired understanding of the human condition, sickness exists as a spectrum of disorders starting just below the level of perfect, radiant health all the way down to, and including, death. You can even postulate human conditions lower than death, since the personality survives death, and thus can get some very strange ideas about “life.”

Though it may be an over-simplification to state that all these disorders are caused, basically, by the same thing, it is a simplification worth considering. That one thing is “suppression.”

Suppression could be defined here as life’s own desire to end its involvement in the game of life.

trapped

That’s a sloppy definition but will serve for this discussion.

Suppression has many vectors of attack. One includes pathogens (germs). Another involves self-defeating personal attitudes. And another involves attempts by others to lessen you or your ability to survive.

These can interact. Thus, the ill-wishes of another, acted out in your vicinity, can make you sick. If there is a pathogen in your environment, you become more likely to fall victim to it if you are under suppression. This explains a lot.

This is why I object to the MDs telling me that I can only “stay well” by wearing a mask and gloves. It’s not that this advice is totally ridiculous. It’s only that this broader concept of sickness has been known about since 1950, and was fully backed up by workable technologies (or “treatments”) by 1965. Yet MDs (and most others) continue to talk and act like Hubbard never existed, never discovered what he discovered, never taught his students to use it, and never tried to tell the world about it. He did!

In this way, I share my exasperation with Jeremy Griffith. You can see it in all his videos. He has been roundly reviled in his own country for his utopian dream of a better world. Well, since when was that something to revile people over? Why shouldn’t we all dream for better times? Just because they are hard to attain doesn’t mean they aren’t worth dreaming of.

Likewise, if “the Left” were to embrace the finding that the personality never dies, they would discover behind that some truths that bind all people to each other and to their environments, and to a shared future. They would begin to understand why human rights are so longed-for yet so difficult to make real. They might start to make some wiser decisions and some wiser proposals. We have already tried, I am told, offering our ideas to the Right. Though this may be an ongoing effort, I see no sign of progress, really, at this point.

In the context of the eternal personality, the “importance” of outward appearance dies a swift death. The concept of YOLO becomes painfully hilarious. The theories of psychiatry, of course, completely shatter. And the true range of future possibilities becomes vast. I invite my patient readers to consider the possibility that it could be so…

6 June, 2020

7 June 2020

Got my blown tube replaced at Mike’s Bikes this week, and back on the trail today.

Race is on people’s minds, including mine

It was a very full day. My day started attending the 3rd session of Part 2 of a symposium on the subject of “race-based data.” I had never heard this term before. This is a term used particularly in Canada. It has to do with the fact that Canadian scholarship and politics have discouraged the use of the concept of “race” as a valid way to describe anybody.

However, there is pressure – from somewhere, appears to be the medical or public health sector – to start identifying individuals racially. They claim it is needed to help deliver “better” COVID-19 treatment to minority communities.

Various groups and individuals who have been struggling to end racism in Canada have argued against the need to do this, as race is not a valid medical category. They suspect that this race label will actually be used to further racist actions or monitor their “success.” Their experience with research that incorporates a race label is that it has never resulted in policies or actions that have reduced racism in Canada or bettered the lives of most oppressed communities. They are particularly concerned because it appears this data will be used to assist public health agencies in their contact tracing efforts, which involves police cooperation. These communities don’t trust the police for reasons that should be obvious.

The discussion I heard Saturday morning was one of three live streams I attended, the other two on Thursday and Friday. They were all organized and for the most part facilitated (the action of deciding which questions get asked and who will answer them) by Llana James, a Canadian activist currently working at the University of Toronto and pursuing a doctorate there. She is also leading a project to propose a set of “protocols” for use in designing and operating research studies and data collection that involves oppressed communities. Her knowledge is wide-reaching but hard to say how deep.

She had many panelists (called “discussants”) at the three different sessions. The first session included Naomi Klein, a notable activist mostly working in America. She is Canadian by birth, but – among other things – currently works at Rutgers (New Jersey) as a teacher, though she never quite finished college herself. She is currently considered to be one of the top “public intellectuals” and is known for her involvement in the Occupy Movement and in Climate Change.

Naomi seemed uncomfortable and tongue-tied in this discussion. I don’t blame her. The Canadian intellectual frame of reference is considerably different than what’s found in the U.S., and their language is almost tortuously over-precise, in a style reminding me of the British.

But I patiently followed each discussion. Almost six hours in all. Their main point seemed to be: Adding racial identifications to sociological – or particularly medical – research data was very unlikely to do oppressed communities any good, so why cooperate with it? It sounded like just another Pied Piper game to them. And with the data ending up in the hands of corporate players or police, it was just as likely to be used for more oppression and exploitation.

Interesting.

After getting back from shopping I got back on the computer, and watched (among other things) a TEDx Talk by a guy named Anthony Peterson who is a black man from Hawaii who works in Nashville as a consultant on the subject of “race.” His conviction is that race has no set biological or genetic definition, and thus is basically just a cultural construct. Because it is connected with visible differences of appearance, it continues to attract the attention of people, and to be a part of our experience. But it is not useful as a way to categorize people for research purposes. Apparently the reason it was invented as a concept was to force people into categories for political, not scientific, purposes (that topic I found covered in another article).

All these people are desperately trying to find a solution to, a handling for, racism. Yet the word itself trips them. There are many “races” who have been oppressed, including whites. Does calling this “racism” even make sense?

Now I turn to my dictionary (which most academics refuse to quote, for some reason): It doesn’t help that “race” is a homonym – a word that has two different sets of meanings. In this sense, “race” is related to “ratio” or the idea that different people could contain different proportions of “something.” My dictionary states that earlier anthropological uses have become largely meaningless. More properly, in science, it would refer to genetic differences. But these often don’t manifest in appearance that much. In a related meaning it can refer to ancestry. It can also refer simply to a regional group, an ethnic (language and customs) group, or a nation. More broadly it can apply to any group where any similar characteristics can be discerned. And in the expression “the race” it usually means Mankind (the “human race”), although this usage has been gradually declining in literature over the last 200 years.

Racism comes from the older term “racialism.” That is basically the assertion that one group is superior to another, or that is should be “kept pure” at any cost. This is also known as the “caste system” in India (still very strong there), and the “class system” in the West (now hidden in most countries). These are usually linked to biology, not through genetics, but through the control of who one is allowed to marry; families, in other words. Families can be quite genetically diverse, while helping to maintain “social order.”

In my own look at history and the human condition, I can imagine that at one time there might have been a good reason to keep social positions controlled through family lines. This seems to be an almost natural function of the family. If a child wants to work below his family’s place, he must “break out” of the family, and risk disgracing it. If a child wants to work above the level of his family’s place, he must also break out of the family to find additional resources to help him or her become proficient at the higher level. In the U.S. this has been institutionalized in the process (or ritual) called “going to college.”

There are so many bits of missing data, large misunderstandings, and blind spots associated with this whole subject that it is very difficult to think clearly about it. My usual choice has been to think of racism as a form of crime. That it also is a useful expedient to keep a society more “orderly” complicates my argument that it’s basically criminal. But it is obvious today that arguments of “race” “class” “caste” and similar systems have been used to justify oppression up to and including genocide. Today we consider such actions to be criminal, and they have been “crimes” on this planet at least since the Laws of Moses.

The basic problem, then, from my viewpoint, is the criminal. What we call “racism” could be considered just one of many criminal practices. The purpose of the criminal is to enslave others, or to make them helpless to disobey by various other means. The criminal fights a losing battle, but fight he does, and often quite cunningly and with a degree of effectiveness. Our great failing in politics, economics and law is to not recognize the criminal for what he is, and to not handle him effectively (which does not involve punishment, regardless of how much it may be begged for, but may involve isolation from society). This is a huge and prolonged failing that has caused a lot of suffering and dismay throughout human history. It is only the beginning of solving the problem, as there are technical reasons why non-criminals tend to fall under the influence of criminals, and those must also be addressed.

Riots

Take, for example, the problem of riots. For purposes of this discussion, a “riot” could be considered to be a group meeting that began peacefully and turned violent.

There are several possible sources of criminal behavior in a riot situation. First, there are likely to be some people with criminal leanings, if not criminal intentions, in the crowd. Second, there may be similar individuals among those observing the meeting, but not part of it, such as the police. Third, there may be persons that amount to agitators that may not be present at the meeting at all, but who have spread lies about the various participants – possibly to both “sides” – at some previous time, or even in many previous times which could amount to a torrent of misinformation (such as we sometimes see vomiting out of various media sources).

This third source, in particular, can predispose the participants and onlookers to take violent actions. But also, criminals in the crowd can use the appearance or actions of the observers to incite the crowd to fight the observers, or their environment in general. And likewise, criminals among the observers can use the appearance or actions of the participants to incite the observers to fight the participants.

Without the priming influence of Third Parties (capitalized here because of its specific technical meaning in this context), the transformation of a meeting into a riot would be much less probable or possible. As has been noted, the media can serve in this role – whether that be unintentionally or on purpose (as is often argued).

Most attempts to understand riots focus on the first two elements but ignore the third. It should not be ignored. With Third Parties present and active, a meeting can turn into a riot even when the first two elements (criminals on the ground at the time of the transformation) are absent. It can turn otherwise sane people into combatants, all by itself. This is my own personal message to anyone interested in understanding and controlling destructive violence in a group.

Sacramento

As those outside the city may or may not be aware, there was some rioting that occurred in Sac. Most of it happened a week ago. Then a curfew was put in place and this seemed to handle things for the most part. The curfew has now been lifted. Understand that the days were mostly peaceful, but some nights not so much.

The violence resulted in board-ups, including this one on K street.

a boarded up Sacramento restaurant

This business was among several who wished to communicate their solidarity with the protestors.

On Saturday, more meetings were held. One very peaceful one was held in the morning while I was out grocery shopping. Another held at the Capitol was still ongoing when I returned.

protest meeting at the Capitol

As you can see, this was peaceful, and included people of all colors.

But standing by “just in case” were National Guard soldiers with their vehicles.

National Guard presence at the Capitol

Sorry this image wasn’t sharper.

This concerns me, as it signals a breakdown in communication and a desperateness on the part of government that is regrettable and could be remedied.

Meanwhile, DOCO has begun to return to “normal” as restaurants have been permitted to reopen.

DOCO on Saturday afternoon, 6 June 2020.

Those who choose to remain oblivious

I cannot totally fault anyone who would prefer to remain outside and removed from all this turmoil.

On my way back to Folsom, I saw many and numerous persons preparing their rafts for a fun trip down the river, while others had already made it into the water.

Rafters on the American River.

This image doesn’t really do justice to the numbers involved in this activity. Some of my photos from two weeks ago were more representative in that regard. But you might notice on the right, if you look carefully, geese swimming up to one of the rafts.

The animals, of course, continue to go about their business. Most of them would probably be better off if human beings disappeared from the planet entirely. On the other hand, animals don’t harbor the same degree of concern for their futures as we do, nor the means to alter their futures.

blue bird on its house

The bird with the blue back gave me another opportunity to photograph it. Though I have held on to the idea that this is a bluebird, the large white throat on this specimen does not match the images of bluebirds in the bird book I have. This may be another species that is just displaying some feather iridescence.

quail family with squirrel

Above we see a quail with several chicks pecking around at the bottom of a huge cottonwood while a squirrel looks on.

An old cottonwood is featured as “Poplar” in my story View From The Forest. Even the squirrel makes a momentary appearance. These quail, however, were about a mile further down the river than where I expected to see them. My guess is that human activity in their old neighborhood (surveyors, I think) forced them to move. I wish the image of the chicks was better. They’re cute!

Cottonwoods

In my story, Poplar looses a branch during a storm, and complains mightily of the pain and discomfort involved. I had the cottonwood lose a branch because that’s the only tree along this river that I have ever seen lose whole branches. Its wood must be a bit softer and weaker than the oaks and walnuts. And on Saturday I saw another example of this, at the table where I usually stop for water and a snack.

fallen cottonwood branch

I did not recall any winds recently that were particularly rough. But something happened to bring this branch down. The cottonwoods in this park are very big (thus, old). It could be this is a sign of their age. But in any case, the tree remains standing, with the great majority of its branches intact and fully functional.

I thought I’d end this post with a series of cottonwood photos. In this first, a tree stands alone, isolated from its brothers and sisters probably due to human actions.

lone cottonwood

It has obviously suffered some breaks, and my thought is that they prefer to live together where they can help protect each other.

In our neighborhood in Ann Arbor Michigan there was a huge cottonwood. It was left standing in front of one of the new houses that was built there.

neighborhood cottonwood summer

The original scan this was taken from was not all that great. And I believe the original photo was black-and-white, though not sure of that. I asked my image editor IrfanView to adjust the colors for me as best it could.

But this is a mighty tree, is it not? That house is, what? about 20 feet tall. So the tree is roughly 80 feet tall. This tree remained straight, strong and intact for the full time I lived there. And every summer it rained down its cotton on the neighborhood.

In the winter it looked like this:

neighborhood cottonwood winter

Winter can be quite beautiful. You have to sort of imagine it here, but can almost see that sun sparkling off the snow. If it stayed real cold, the snow would remain crystalline and sparkly. Seems kind of peaceful, doesn’t it?

I encourage your comments.

How to read a screenplay

22 January 2020

When I got my first idea for a piece of fiction, I used the platform I was familiar with, WordPress, to present it here: https://landofdeadtrees.wordpress.com/

However, I was interested what this idea would look like as a movie, so I started a script for it (not totally finished yet). In that process, I learned a bit about how writers make scripts for movies.

The screenplay

It’s a bit of an odd-looking thing. There’s lots of room in a screenplay to scribble notes in the margins and such. The dialogue runs down the center of the page and is pretty narrow. The movie business has been using this format for years. It must work for them.

The more “scrunched” format of the ordinary novel, or even stage play, is apparently partly a function of the costs associated with printing paper books. We have become used to a printed format where most of the page is filled with words – with perhaps the occasional illustration.

Because computer files don’t require paper, it is now possible to publish movie or radio or stage scripts in the form in which they are actually used by directors, actors, technical people, etc.

The idea of publishing in this format appealed to me mainly because the punctuation rules for written dialog are so involved that I didn’t particularly want to learn them. I have read many stories written in the ordinary way, and I must say, it seems totally natural as one is reading. Yet one might notice that if you were just watching two people talking, all the “he said’s” and so forth would not be necessary, and you would have to judge their intentions and emotions by the expressions on their faces, not by extra lines in the written story. I wanted to present just a basic visual idea of how I thought a story could play out, so this “sparse” form seemed like it would suit my purposes.

Technical aspects

Somewhere it is written, “every screenplay begins with the words FADE IN and ends with the words FADE OUT.” This may be technically correct, but I saw no reason to include these in my screenplays. These are camera (or effects) instructions and most of that will be missing from pre-production screenplays. The story is carried forward through its scenes, the action and dialog between characters.

If you sit down and watch almost any modern film or video, you will notice how often the environment of the shot can change. A stage play, like the old sitcoms, might take place entirely in one location. That was a simple and economical way to tell a story. Motion pictures have always pulled away from that limitation, like radio dramas and novels before them. In a modern motion picture the viewer may even become confused about exactly where the action is taking place. In the screenplay, each change of scenery must be announced by a SCENE entry (in all caps). It is up to the Director and Cinematographer and Editor to decide whether the scene changes are obvious or confusing to the viewer.

Traditionally, any inside or indoor scene description begins with “INT.” for “interior.” And external or outside scenes start with “EXT.” for “exterior.” Though I was loose with this rule in View From The Forest, I followed it more closely in Space Captain. It is also traditional to indicate time of day in the scene header, at least “day” or “night.” In my screenplays I often left this out.

Under the scene title is the action, a description of what is going on in the scene, who appears in it and where they are located. A lot of this is up to the screenwriter. Where it seems that certain aspects of the scene should be obvious, or left up to the imagination of the Art Director (or someone else), the descriptions here might sometimes seem minimal. Technically, this description helps Art, Costumes, Props, Lights and others determine exactly what they need to provide for each scene, as well as informing the actors of what they are supposed to be doing.

The dialog consists of a narrowed column of text running down the middle of the page. It may include (parentheticals) indicating voice tone or demeanor, or whether we see the character while he is speaking or only hear him over the phone or off in some other room. Each character is announced by a short name or nickname in all caps before his lines. It is traditional for only one character to speak at a time, but there are ways to make the dialog messier if this is desired for artistic effect.

With the caveat that I am a beginner in all this, the above are the basic technical points to keep in mind while reading a screenplay.

View From The Forest

This story is offered as a short introduction to the most basic concepts of Permaculture, along with my long-lived love for trees and forests. The main characters are two trees who live side by side in a small forest. Though the idea of talking trees is not a new one, my studies perhaps give a new perspective on what they might say to each other if they really had that capability.

View From The Forest screenplay

inside the arboretum

Space Captain

Space Captain screenplay

Space Captain is a story of three ETs who get trapped on Earth in the long distant past and make peace with their fate. I got the idea from my Scientology studies, then ran into a version of the song Space Captain, which I vaguely remembered Joe Cocker doing a long time ago. The idea of the song went perfectly with my story idea, so I picked the song title for the name of this story.

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.