Friday, April 19, 2019

Where religion comes from

The broadest definition of religion (that I can think of) is: the attempt to classify everything we DON'T KNOW into an intellectually graspable concept. It's distinct from spiritual experience by being recognizable and communicable among a group of people. A spiritual experience is something that happen to individuals, it's subjective. Religion attempts to communicate that and make it (somehow) objective.

Some people say awe is a prerequisite for a religious experience. Awe might be bliss or it might be terror, but it's the same as not knowing what's going on. So we ask someone and pretty soon find out the world was created by a super being who's sort of like us but knows and does everything. So they say, and it puts some kind of handle on it. We can't argue because honestly we just admitted that we don't know.

Religion brings positive evolutionary benefits by exchanging information between people. The information can easily be bull, but sometimes it's verifiably true. For example, by the above definition, Science is a religion too.

The net result is that the individual gets what seems like a satisfactory answer from someone else and is forced to admit that there is a system of knowledge beyond himself (Donald Trump excepted of course). Then, being a part of the whole instead of the whole, the individual extends self preservation benefits to the group which amounts to self sacrifice and altruism. Bad for the individual but good for the group. The group is the larger self, a super being.

How superstitions spread ( Just take my word for it.

Friday, November 30, 2018

On getting drunk.

OK, heck! I've always been advised against getting drunk as a solution to depression, but scientifically speaking: "it works" and my head now rings like a large gong. Because lately I've been confronted by the fact that my dad had Alzheimers so I'll probably get it too. I'm 72 & my short term memory is crap. I can't afford long term care but after watching my folks and grandpa go through it, I'm not too keen on repeating that mistake.
Last night I counted 9 (nine) relatively major projects (taking more than a week to complete) around my place that have been put on hold for a relatively long time (up to 8 years) because either the project lost relevancy or I'm waiting on some determining aspect. That becomes depressing when compared with the original intent and inspiration. So, (in desperation) I had a stiff shot of cheap brandy for perspective and BOY do I feel competent. As a veteran of the psychedelic generation, I know better than to act on any currant impulses (except to write because this has minimal repercussions) and tomorrow I can review what was decided for anything practical.
Yet here we are: inspiration in a bottle, Satans elixir: The Demon Rum. except, uh... I still don't see resolution for most of the nine ossified projects, those might take some weed and amphetamines which I also swore off (and don't have handy).
But for the most part, right now I don't much care about the projects. This is a genuine blessing, and the groundwork for objectivity. Because one thing at a time. My friend Eskimo Tom on L road is drunk all (90%) of the time (vodka), I superciliously try to tell him to get sober and gird up his loins, but he always laughs me off. OK I get it. Tomorrow I'm going to see someone about a fender repair, but then there's a Chevy s-10 that leaks compression in #2 cyl and I'm going to find out if focused attention and some K-seal stop-leak will fix it if I remove the spark plug and disconnect the injector so there'll be no compression in that cylinder and the k-seal will be able to flow into the weak gasket or whatever is going on in there. OK it's not a major 1 week+ project but it's been chronic for about a year and this solution is new so I'm up.
    update: It worked, there was also a bad injector and burned out catalytic converter (whew).
Oh, and this: Clues to brain changes in depression (
My advice: Get half drunk and consider your options because THEY GET SIMPLE. (good luck)

Sunday, July 08, 2018

Big troll-bot on a small list

by Bruce Broderick, Jul 8, 2018

Several months ago, like many of you, I started to become concerned about
this endless stream of mindless incessant  bullying, name calling and
threats of retaliation by this Zeke Krahlin character.

For the life of me I couldn't fathom why someone from the bay area would
have such an interest in demeaning people and local organizations that
communicate via our little podunk list serve.

My concern was great enough that I started confronting this character in my
own fashion. I got the standard responses along with one that showed my
name and business interests. Shortly thereafter I found myself, unwittingly
signed up to a few wing nut email lists. The price of free speech these
days, I suppose.

In any case I decided to look at a few list serves in other communities to
see if this sort of thing occurs. It's actually pretty common. What was
most interesting though was the similarity in the verbal attacks and
degrading comments.

A simple web search brings up a variety of Zeke Krahlin posts and responses
from dark web topics, hacking, virus' and this characters opinions on a
variety of tech topics and him/itself in both the Windows and Linux world.

My simple searches led me to consider the probability that the Zeke
(Ezekiel) Krahlin character is not a person at all but a phishing bot
designed to get emotionally charged responses and compile information.

In these troubled times of psycho-political warfare, where information
about people is the main currency, bots like Krahlin are invaluable for
collecting information and discouraging activist types of people. The
irritating posts and calloused responses to simple community events and the
needs of individuals on the list serve are designed to bring out agitated
responses and feed the algorithms of the application to better identify the
character of those responding to the bot.

The information gathered is then stored and used as needed against the
individuals or groups of individuals that unknowingly give the bot
psychological and or personal information about themselves.

This type of phishing is far more insidious than even the recent Facebook
information phishing schemes because it is on a more personal level. One
believes they are arguing a valid point or standing up for a perceived
injustice against themselves or friends, when in reality they are only
feeding a bot with ulterior motives.

Whether you believe my analysis or not I would suggest that you not
interact with this (character?).
Feel free to re post.

update Dec 3 2018:
This post has been getting some comments (unusual for my blog), including from Zeke (its/himself!) so I really want to advise against replying to him. If you feel oddly outraged, that's the whole point, it's really nothing personal though, just business.
Inger Grape says "He's a classic troll, who most likely gets paid per reply, and to garner replies, they act in a disruptive, vile manner. So please don't reply to him. Nobody but nobody spends that much time answering just about *every single email *without getting paid."

Monday, March 26, 2018

Book Review from Scientific American Blog

"God's Word or Human Reason? An Inside Perspective on Creationism" The claims of Young Earth Creationists are easily checked and easily countered. And a new book – written by former creationists themselves – does this in substantive, compelling detail... (

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Where consciousness comes from

Todays flash:

Imagine a proto-organism, maybe a protein (with no senses). A nearby chemical begins to react and causes it to move or change, maybe like a detergent breaks down surface tension, or maybe by ion exchange. It happens whenever the 2 are in proximity and it turns out to be beneficial to the piece of protein because it prevents it from dissolving or something. After awhile the surviving proteins all contain the proper structure to react that way. Fast forward a few million years; the protein picks up a few more survival traits the same way.

One of the traits is a boolean modifier that optimizes the reaction so that the random chemicals in the environment trigger sensor feedbacks that are "identified" as beneficial (for continued existence) or are bad (dissolution). That identifier boolean is the basis for consciousness but probably not actual consciousness. It compares a number of inputs to define the nature of the external influence. The boolean (if x then z) becomes (if x and y then z) where y is the effect of it's own response. Accumulated booleans develop into a model of the world that includes the proto-organisms own influence. That's consciousness. The boolean modifier is a trait selected by survival of the organism. Mass consciousness is when one group(country/race) modifies it's behavior based on it's relationship to other groups. It is recognition of itself as being part of a broader community/organism.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Crash Course in Mythology

Here's a link to a series of a Crash Course in Mythology! (youtube), there's 5 or more: like creation myths, social order etc. Some other good stuff too. Sometimes kinda hard to follow because of the memes but maybe that's just me. :) in my aged decrepitude everyone sounds like hipsters.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Atheism isn't an aberrant religion

Atheism isn't an aberrant religion

The problem with problems is they tend to focus on negativity. So must one, as a realistic activist, constantly confront negativity? Well no, try counting your blessings instead.

This is an email from Cindy Swan:

Below is an excerpt from
available at Amazon
(The complete text is here)

Psychiatry and psychotherapy obsess on what's wrong with people and
give short shrift to what's right. The manual of these professions is a
991-page textbook called the *DSM-V.* It identifies scores of pathological
states but no healthy ones.

Some time back, I began to complain about this fact, and asked readers
to help me compile material for a proposed antidote, the Anti-DSM -- a
compendium of healthy, exalted, positive states of being. As their entries
came in, we at the Beauty and Truth Laboratory were inspired to dream
up some of our own. Below is part one of our initial attempt at creating
an *Anti-DSM-V,* or as we also like to call it, "The Outlaw Catalog of
Cagey Optimism."

* ACUTE FLUENCY. Happily immersed in artistic creation or scientific
exploration; lost in a trance-like state of inventiveness that's both blissful
and taxing; surrendered to a state of grace in which you're fully engaged
in a productive, compelling, and delightful activity. The joy of this
demanding, rewarding state is intensified by a sense that time has been
suspended, and is rounder and deeper than usual. (Suggested by H. H.
Holiday, who reports that extensive studies in this state have been done
by Mihaly Cziscenmihaliy in his book, *Flow: The Psychology of Optimal

* AESTHETIC BLISS. Vividly experiencing the colors, textures, tones,
scents, and rhythms of the world around you, creating a symbiotic
intimacy that dissolves the psychological barriers between you and what
you observe.

* AGGRESSIVE SENSITIVITY. Animated by a strong determination to be
receptive and empathetic.

liberating realization that we are all exactly where we need to be at all
times, even if some of us are temporarily in the midst of trial or
tribulation, and that human evolution is proceeding exactly as it should,
even if we can't see the big picture of the puzzle that would clarify how
all the pieces fit together perfectly.

* BASKING IN ELDER WISDOM. A state of expansive ripeness achieved
through listening to the stories of elders.

* BIBLIOBLISS. Transported into states of transcendent pleasure while
immersed in reading a favorite book.

* BLASPHEMOUS REVERENCE. Acting on the knowledge that the most
efficacious form of devotion to the Divine Wow is tinctured with playful or
mischievous behavior that prevents the buildup of fanaticism.

* BOO-DUH NATURE. Dwelling in the blithe understanding of the fact that
worry is useless because most of what we worry about never happens.

* COMIC INTROSPECTION. Being fully aware of your own foibles while still
loving yourself tenderly and maintaining confidence in your ability to give
your specific genius to the world. To paraphrase Alan Jones, Dean of
Grace Cathedral: following the Byzantine ploys of your ego with
compassion and humor as it tries to make itself the center of everything,
even of its own suffering and struggle.

* COMPASSIONATE DISCRIMINATION. Having astute judgment without
being scornfully judgmental; seeing difficult truths about a situation or
person without closing your heart or feeling superior. In the words of Alan
Jones: having the ability "to smell a rat without allowing your ability to
discern deception sour your vision of the glory and joy that is everyone's

* CRAZED KINDNESS. Having frequent, overpowering urges to bestow
gifts, disseminate inspiration, and perpetrate random acts of benevolence.

* ECSTATIC GRATITUDE. Feeling genuine thankfulness with such
resplendent intensity that you generate a surge of endorphins in your
body and slip into a full-scale outbreak of euphoria.

* EMANCIPATED SURRENDER. Letting go of an attachment without
harboring resentment toward the stimuli that led to the necessity of
letting go.

* FRIENDLY SHOCK. Welcoming a surprise that will ultimately have
benevolent effects.

* HIGHWAY EQUANIMITY. Feeling serene, polite, and benevolent while
driving in heavy traffic.

* IMAGINATIVE TRUTH-TELLING. Conveying the truth of any specific
situation from multiple angles, thereby mitigating the distortions that
result from assuming the truth can be told from a single viewpoint.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Precognition and Schizophrenia

This is a list of some of my syncronicities, precognitive dreams &/or odd coincidences. It seems outstanding that this is all vaguely recognizable to everyone but it's ignored because it doesn't fit with any "context" except to the one who experienced it while it also casts doubt on the security of everyday causality. The only time I actually could have benefitted from it, when my skiff was stolen in Sausalito, I was unable to put the pieces together even though I knew something was happening. I'm leaning toward parallel consciousness, or maybe higher vs lower. Contrary to popular definition, the lower isn't aware of the etiology of events, and the "higher" is aware but doesn't assign meaning. They are actually the same but the lower maintains the internal dialog so is constantly caught up in hypster-like illusion because of second hand information and the limitations of description. The "higher" is the one that takes over when a large predator is sighted. There is no dialog. All eyes go there, birds, pikas, sheep, rabbits, deer, everyone. Every breath depends on what the lord predator does, the air is charged with portent. He shuts up the dialog and instantly re-defines the world. Maybe animals become gods by causing that change in consciousness. Awareness which is not socially relevant is subjective by default, though it occupies the greater usage of ones mental CPU. Social awareness is built on a learned verbal description of what's important, which limits what we allow ourselves to know to mostly things which we can verbally communicate. Those sources (social conventions) require trusting someone else's experience over our own, and though that process is the backbone of both fundamentalism and primate society, those sources may still be in error. (An irrefutable example is the process that elected George Bush II. Twice!). Causality is actually just a model of event succession/priority and, as a model, it isn't the actual thing; it's a description. Our internal dialog "manages" descriptions but everything it "knows" to be objective is based on other peoples opinions, which is a mean standard called sanity, and may or may not be true. Jones tells a mountain to hop into the sea and it does so. Has he performed a miracle? Miracles and Agents Some version of schizophrenia is probably at work in the list below. I understand that it's now believed to be caused by environment and unspecified genetic factors. I hypothesize that those factors are a gene that bolsters brain cell connectivity rather than weakens it: since the Dendrite cells that connect brain cells are often duplicate contacts between the same cells and sometimes make connection with several other cells at the same time, they could send the same information to different kinds of cells to produce the observed effect of synaesthesia ( (hearing voices and seeing visions) when there's no physical external cause (no sound and no physical animation). This kind of connection could also result in vivid imaginations, creativity, and exceptionally free association. The multiplicity of Dendrites also weakens the signal (which is known to be electronic and of finite strength which when equally divided between multiple carriers divides the strength among them). Here's another interesting link along those lines. All are traits associated with schizophrenia. The "different kinds of cells" is a description of a variety of ways of learning, there are 7 kinds of these cells called Neurons (for example verbal, visual, or physical). Some cultures place a high value on these traits because they offer other ways of perceiving the world which could present beneficial future choice options to all the people (or at least any believers). Since it's often not a survival trait, schizophrenia's genetic selection would be through social rather, than natural means, by a class of believers who are scraping for options (such as starving tribal members, seer believers, or psychologists in need of funding).

There's also this: "In 1984 a British homemaker was reading at home when a voice told her ..."
and/or Remote Viewing
and/or Schizophrenia caused by protein amalgamation similar to Alzheimer disease.

additional fun video: New Experiments Show Consciousness Affects Matter ~ Dean Radin Ph.D ok-ok!
These are some of the events I can remember. They'll probably seem to be someone else's ego trip to you but they're actually here to validate your own similar events.

  • <! 1> 1952 magpie tail illustration in a bird book in Susanville (dream)
    When I was about 6, I dreamed a magpie was looking at me under his tail, & it was in a book. As I woke up, I thought it was a stupid illustration because you couldn't see any of the other markings on the bird, only the tail, feet and head, and I considered it before going to breakfast. Later that day our family went to visit a friend of my Dad's on a ranch south of Susanville, they were talking in the kitchen and I was bored so I looked at a picture book about birds. There was the same magpie illustration. I showed it to pop & told him about the dream, he didn't make fun of me but I got the impression that he didn't know what to think either.
  • <! 2>About the same time
    I found a 2-1/2 dollar gold piece (1851) when pop was digging up a place to plant a garden. then I decided to dig a hole between the sidewalk and the street in front of our house on Maple street. I found a cement step about 4 inches deep that was probably used before the street curb was put in. Another time I decided to dig a hole behind a neighbors house because there was something interesting about that spot. I found their septic line. I didn't know what it was so I hit it w/ the shovel blade till it broke, then I covered it up. Their drains backed up & they had to dig it all up to find the problem. I kept my mouth shut.
  • <! 3>saying or doing what's expected of me without being told.
    In the 7th grade, Mrs. Saunderson (my teacher) was writing something on the chalkboard with her back turned, she was saying to herself "... now someone like (me) will jump up and say 'teacher that's wrong' " thinking that was my cue, I stood up and said it was wrong. Her cynicism overflowed and she berated me in front of the class. Nobody else heard her talking to herself. I wondered why she set me up and have since decided that reading her body language tuned me into her actual internal dialog. That also happened with my pop who often thought I was abnormal if not an idiot. When I was about 5 or 6 he asked me the riddle: What walks on 4 legs in the morning, 2 legs in the afternoon, and 3 in the evening? I said it was a man who crawls as a baby ... etc. It just seemed reasonable because I'd probably become familiar with the concept of parables in sunday school. That spooked him out some & he looked at me funny. I asked him if that was right, he walked away and didn't answer. I concluded that sometimes people don't want you to tell what they ask.
  • <! 4>Around 1962 or '64,
    My brother Cole & I took a summer vacation & drove out to Nevada through Susanville & Eagle Lake & up north of Fallon. We turned off on a random dirt road that went east through the sagebrush. There was a spring & stock tank where we spent the night with around 80 Jack rabbits that came up to nibble the grass & get a drink from the overflow. I woke up early before light and couldn't get back to sleep, so I got up and hiked down the creek in the pre dawn light just to see what was there. There was a stone cabin w/ no roof and a small fireplace built into the far right hand corner from the door. It also had a stone floor. it felt Spanish or Basque. I looked around a bit and hiked back to camp thinking Cole would be wondering where I'd gone if he woke up. When I got there, I got back in bed to wait for dawn. Later I told Cole about it but he said he never saw it so I took him down to show him. It wasn't there, so I decided I'd dreamed it. About 10 or 12 years later, I was in the same area & decided to camp there & have one of the rabbits for dinner. There were no rabbits then, but I noticed a stone sheep corral nestled against a rock cliff about 2 miles away. I went to look. There was a roofless stone cabin w/ a stone floor & a small fireplace in the far right corner.
  • Early '70's:
    In the peace corp, I'd met a Canadian guy named Mike Ballentine from Toronto. We became friends & agreed to meet under the golden gate bridge in 10 years. it never happened & I never heard from him again, but one day I decided to drive up to Vancouver BC to visit him. He wasn't home & hadn't been there for several years. When I got back to Woodland, my folks told me that Mike & his girlfriend had stopped by to see me.
  • Sack of vw tools in Berkeley.
    In the early '70s I had car trouble, my clutch started slipping, I couldn't afford to take it to a shop, I never pulled an engine, and didn't have the tools. So I walked uptown to have some coffee & consider my prospects (didn't drive because the clutch was out). While crossing a random street, I glanced up the block and spied an innocuous brown paper lunch sack on the curb. I had a distinct impression (a voice in my head) that the sack contains the tools I needed. I thought "That's illogical" and continued up to the CafÈ. Thoughts about the bag keep gnawing on me though, so I resolved to look on the way back, if it was still there. It was, and there are the tools). The voice said "and remember that I told you" I said OK. The sack contained a 3/8 snap-on swivel ratchet, several metric sockets, a compression tester, and a couple of open end wrenches. (seems like there was something else too but I don't recall). I did fix the car and kept it running for 10 yrs. till it finally rusted apart. I still have them and make extra money fixing peoples cars. I've wondered who left them there & if there was some way to return them but I've come to the conclusion they were left there for anyone who needed them, which is a Berkeley neighborhood tradition. However I can't explain how I knew they were there.
  • peyote song
    When I was selling sandals in Berkeley, a bully named Sundance gave me some peyote (3 small dried buttons), I took 2 and heard an indian singing the same wierd song over and over. I felt somehow that I was supposed to learn it, but otherwise didn't recognize it and thought it was an hallucination. I later learned it was a peyote power song, and it would have protected me my entire life. I still feel protected, but I can't point to a source.
  • <! 8> In Berkeley around 1972
    I had dreams of being in Berkeley or Oakland at night. Some black guys are taunting me, I don't know what I did, maybe just being white in the wrong neighborhood. I cant get away and have no place to go anyway. One guy shows me his knife & I loose my cool and attack him w/my own knife. I'm hacking his head off when another black guy w/ different vibes comes up and says "Don't, don't kill him" and gives me some bright green stuff. I wake & wonder what the green stuff was, it wasn't money because it was rubbery and too green. Several years (10+) later I read on the internet that many African tribes used lettuce as a peace offering. Another time, I was having nightmares about black people. In one dream a black girl came to me & said her name was Dahomy, and that I should carry a ball of beeswax in my pocket so black people won't bother me. I got one & it worked.
  • <! 9> Nimitz Freeway collapse, about '72 or '73
    I'm driving north on the bottom level of the Nimitz freeway in Oakland. somebody inside my head jolts to existence and says "hm, must be an earthquake." whoever it was was coming home from work driving a nicer car than mine (silver gray sedan). I (they) look up to see the upper level begin to move south, thinking "... that shouldn't happen ..." bits of cement fall from the joints exposing rebar. it continues to fall, there's no place to escape, "... I'll be killed!" the car roof collapses, my head is jammed into my ribcage. there's not enough time to panic. I avoided driving on that road afterwards. On October 17 1989 at 5:04 p.m. the Loma Prieta Earthquake knocked down that section of freeway w/ 39 casualties. An investigation determined there was insufficient rebar tying supports to the decks and that the flaw had been known for years.
  • <! 10> mid '70s (dream): melted corner on my green plastic tap & die case.
    I dreamed the corner of my tap & die case was melted. At the time my dad had the case and we weren't speaking so it must have been mid '70s. I was disappointed because things might fall out and it looked shoddy. When I woke up, I was relieved it was a dream. When pop moved to a rest home, I retrieved the case. About 2006 I was gas welding and didn't look where I held the torch, it melted a 3 inch piece of the corner of the green plastic. I recognized the shape. I still have the case.
  • <! 11> mid september '72 or '73.
    I'm in Montana on the blackfoot reservation visiting Tom, Rance & Art Connel & their folks on St. Marys Lake. It's september & winter comes in like "The Day After Tomorrow", I drive up through Glacier Park towards Seattle heading for warmer climate on the coast when my generator bearing starts to scream. The fan on the generator cools the 36 hp engine so I have to turn the engine off. I turn around and coast down hill, there's no place to pull off. At the bottom of the hill is an old road down to a creek. I go down it to find a flat pace to park for the night. It's getting dark, I make tea & hear voices. there's 2 deer hunters hiking down the hill who stop to chat, one says he has a generator at home near Kalispell that I can have and brings it to me the next morning. I'm totally grateful to that guy.
  • <! 12> about '75: knowledge of the direction and approximate area/distance that folks moved from Woodland to Loma Rica when we weren't speaking.
  • <! 13> offshore in Sausalito ('76 to '79).
    A helicopter taxi service started up from the seaplane landing terminal on Richardsons bay. Their ad line was: "Bee Line, anywhere in the bay area in less than 10 minutes" mainly for rich commuters and important business meetings. The houseboat people hated them because they flew low across the water (<80 1="" a="" and="" assumed="" bankruptcy.="" bay.="" bee.="" black="" bought="" business.="" by="" catered="" ceiling.="" ceiling="" company="" constantly="" day="" deafening="" energy="" feet="" filed="" finally="" flights="" from="" get="" having="" helicopter="" houseboat="" hung="" i="" in="" it="" kit="" like="" look="" magic="" model="" much="" my="" negative="" next="" noise="" of="" ones="" out="" painted="" planned="" plastic="" possession="" put="" rid="" sank.="" scale="" so="" stopped="" stripes="" sympathetic="" that="" the="" them="" they="" to="" told="" too="" took="" top="" used="" was="" with="" would="" wreck="" yellow="">
  • <! 14>Trip to Stockton
    John Bamby (AKA Rupert Pickles) and I went from Gate 6 up the Sacramento river on his govt surplus buoy tender (40 ft cedar launch w/ Budha diesel) to get masts for our boats from the PG&E pole yard in Stockton because we could tie up directly to their pier and they'd load the poles on for us. We spent 2 days checking out the delta and visiting people. One of the people lived next to a haunted island where nobody would spend the night (except for high school kids on halloween). A previous resident was said to haunt the island and he had a threatening attitude. They were all serious and we were fascinated of course so we moored there and spent the night. About 2 Am I awoke and felt some kind of invisible malevolence walk along the plank that served as a dock. I felt he didn't do anything because we were in Rupert's boat and not actually on his island. I thought maybe it was an animal but I couldn't see it. I tried to talk to it but nothing happened. On the way back down the river, we had to shoot a section of the river near Pittsburg that had 4 foot rapids when the tide was going out. It was getting late and we were worried about doing that in the dark. I'd seen a cove on an island on the way up but the banks all looked the same in the dark, except for a dim red light next to the water in the stretch of river where I thought the cove should be. I assumed it was a light shining through the sparse bushes from the opposite shore beyond the narrow point in the island, and told Rupert we could tie up there if he flipped a 270 deg turn and went in slowly. He was skeptical but more worried about the fast river in the dark than easing slowly into tules. So he turned reluctantly and we successfully spent the night there in a secluded cove moored to some willows. The next morning we saw that it was the cove I'd seen on the way up, but there was no way a light could have shown through the brush, the trees were too thick at the height of the place where I'd seen the light, and there was also a bank. Nobody lived on the island (that we could see). He kept asking me how I knew and why I was so certain. I couldn't explain it given the evidence.
  • <! 15> Also in Sausalito: Feather & fern in my skiff
    When offshore I found flight feathers from birds floating in the water or washed up along the shore, some were associated w/ strange occurrences and a funny feeling in my stomach when I moved them through the air, sort of like I was flying. So I had several around. one was a Pelican feather, which seemed to have the most power & some turkey vulture feathers which had next most power and barn owl feathers which didn't have much but felt peaceful. When hiking on Wolfback ridge just west of Sausalito (stands between the ocean and the bay), there were some very old cedars w/ a lot of character growing on a knoll w/ a ravine, they had leather ferns growing along their branches. I wanted some of that character in my boat so I brought home some of the ferns and bark they were rooted on, and "planted" them on the wall of my boat. I really liked it and promised the trees I'd bring it back when I was done or if it didn't work out. One morning I found one of the fern fronds and a Pelican feather in my skiff, which was clipped to the stern of my houseboat. I felt it was some kind of omen but I couldn't figure out what it meant. That night someone stole the skiff by cutting the lanyard. I think I knew who it was.
  • <! 16> Out of body experiences
    I was sitting in my boat (35 ft lifeboat hull rigged as a leeboard ketch but unfinished, picture above) with some broccoli and hamburger stew on the stove. I was reading a book I think about boats. I glanced at my cooking and saw a semi transparent man standing beside the stove. He looked kind of threatening & I attributed him to a combination of general Waldo Point ambiance and old hallucinogenic trips, so I ignored him, but I glanced back later and he was still there. That was unique. So I figured I'd have to deal with him. Having long come to terms with hallucinations I knew I shouldn't pay too much attention to unpleasant parts, so I stood up without looking at him and walked down the companion way within an inch or 2 of him and turned to put him on my left with the stove on my right. A voice plainly said "don't mess with him, don't look him in the eyes" I did look him in the eyes, they were flat black with no white or iris. He was covered with short black or dark brown hair, wiry muscles and horns and goatee so that his head was triangular. He turned and looked at a postcard picture of a buffalo that I had pinned to the wall. His head seemed to be a buffalo head but his hands and feet had talons like an eagle or bear that never walked on them. He glared at me and non verbally claimed that I was his dream and should follow his directions, I disagreed and realized I was investing too much energy in him, so I picked up a pinch of resin incense that was in a packet on the counter and threw it on the hot stove. The smoke poofed up and I waifed it towards him with a vulture flight feather. He bounced twice and flew out through the skylight. I closed the skylight. There were 3 knocks on the roof and 3 splashes in the water. I didn't go out to see if he was gone. A weird pallor hung around me for days, people would step out of my way and nobody crossed me. Another boat nearby had a watchdog that used to bark at me, but he ran below deck when he saw me. More non verbal communication for the next few days. I told him that he was creating dichotomies and claiming they were something else before mistreating them, and if he was actually me, why was he so domineering and scary looking. I kept telling him to go away but he popped up several times over the next few years. Once in Fort Bragg at Noyo, I was sleeping in my van under some eucalyptus and he appeared behind me in a cubby hole part of my vans cabinetry, he was behind me but I could see him like he was in front, I asked what he wanted (to establish which of us was patron and which was plebeian) he disappeared. A few months or years later I saw him in a green bush, he was green too, he was looking down. I told him to go away and he did. That was about 1995, I saw him once more at Barbaras but he was green, looking down to my right. I told him to go away again, and he became part of the bushes. I haven't seen him since. I've sometimes suspected he might be the same guy from the haunted island in the delta where we stopped on the trip to Stockton, and maybe he followed me. I've heard rumors of other people who have similar experiences but no explanation other than some kind of delusion. Fine, but how come other cultures have different interpretations and some even exploit it using rules of behavior, but my redneck hippy western anglo culture doesn't. how? why? what's to be gained?
  • <! 17> 1978 Sausalito, Dream of african funeral music.
    Red brick towers w/ ledges, a black man is jumping from tower to tower in time to some music played on some kind of drum w/ tubes that make a deep flutelike sound. the musicians are all old men, they ask why I'm there, I say to honor the dead. they smile and clap. Several days or weeks later I'm preparing to ride to the rainbow festival in NM. Sitting in the bus, I hear that SAME music playing on Berkeley public radio, KPFA. The radio announcer says the music is E African funeral music, the song title was "tears".
  • &<! 18> About 1984 Anza Borego trail, & memory of a place I'd never seen.
    My Ex & I drove her car to LA to visit her mom. On the way we drove through Anza Borego National wilderness and hiked down to an oasis with 9 palm trees. It stank because park visitors went uphill to poop and the water was stagnant. It all seemed familiar. I'd never been there, but I knew the lay of the land and that the Univ. of Santa Barbara &/or Fresno state college had done a bio survey of the oasis. The memory was from a TV documentary (B/W with bad reception?), that I can't seem to place though it may have been at my folks in Loma Rica or woodland. The study must have been years before, I can't say how long those changes "keep" in the desert, the oasis looked like it had been done recently. One of the palms had dropped a bunch of it's dead fronds that collect under the top because someone had pulled one to get a sample. There was a 1 foot square hole dug to the water table to measure the rate of flow and evaporation, bees came for miles to get water, but there were no other animal footprints except rabbits and people. We decided to start hiking back early because the sun was getting low, but rather than follow the map trail we'd come in on, I "remembered" there was a shorter trail back along the top of the ridge, I looked for it and found it. it cut about 1/2 mile off the hike back. That info was unlikely to have been in a documentary.
  • <! 19> Cows talking at Helen's, mid '80s
    I think cows are smarter than dogs. I was burning trash in a fire pit in the middle of a field. the adjoining field had 4 cows who came running up to the fence looking agitated, I look at the lead steer and ask "what's wrong?" in the middle of his forehead between his eyes, a tiny orange flower appears (Scarlet pimpernel, Anagallis arvensis), which someone once told me was prickly and fiery hot to eat:
    "Anagallis arvensis is generally unwelcome as a cosmopolitan invasive species; it is harmfully toxic in several respects and accordingly undesirable in pastures. Perhaps fortunately, the plant is acrid and bitter, and grazing livestock generally avoid eating it except in conditions of overgrazing or grazing of unsatisfying stubble. Experimental feeding of the plant material to various animals, such as horses and dogs, caused gastroenteritis.[12]" (Wikipedia).
    The cows are concerned about the fire and look at me intently for a cue. I turn my head to look at it to acknowledge the topic and say as relaxed as possible (body language) "it's ok". The cows relax immediately and their heads go down to graze in unison.
    They were all terrified of the farm butcher's truck. I overheard Jim tell Helen that the butcher was coming tomorrow for the old boss cow, I liked that cow even though she wasn't too friendly, she was definitely the boss and watched out for the others. I told her that the truck was coming for her tomorrow. She looked at me seriously to verify if I was making some kind of mean joke, I realized she understood me perfectly, I said "I'm sorry, it's true" and I was sorry and embarrassed, what do you say to a condemned leader? That night she went to the far corner of the pasture and died. Jim was mad because the butcher wouldn't cut up a downer, so the meat was lost. (he'd rather get mad than do butchering himself, so he blamed the cow for outsmarting him). I was on the cows side.
  • <! 20>1983 hawk at Helen's diving on the quail:
    I was working in Helen Sansi's garage when I had a vision that I was flying into a flock of quail, there were some quail eating birdseed in front of the garage, so I walked to the open door to look at them because the vision was outstanding. A small hawk or falcon swooped straight and silent from about 10 feet up in the redwood tree on my left, across the drive and took a young quail from the flock. he flew over the fence and down the hill. the quail was cheeping loudly. the others scattered. The quail knew me and for a second they let their guard down in my direction. I was a diversion. I think the hawk set me up as a stalking horse.
  • <! 21> Snake at Helen's, '83 or '84 early summer or late spring.
    I'd caught a little snake and put it in a Jar w/ a formed screen lid. I didn't know what to feed it (him) so after a few days, I asked the snake what he wanted to eat. I had a distinct vision of a small black twig like creature, with an associated impression of rich flavor and energy sort of like an egg. the creature moved slowly or not at all. It seemed like a garden slug. I caught one and put it in the jar to see if the snake would eat it. He came out immediately, caught the slug by the tail and peeled it off the glass with a flip and swallowed it. The snake was satisfied and didn't ask for more. I gave him several more over the next few days, he liked the smaller black ones better than the bigger spotted ones. He stayed in the jar for a week or more after I purposely left the lid off and he crawled away.
  • <! 22> Uncle Bill Conley
    I was sitting on the bed in my trailer at Helen's and had a fairly intense feeling about Uncle Bill. He sort of appeared at the far end of my bed, not so much his features as his feeling and some colors. He said "Hi Beely" (his daughter Lydia calls me Beely), "you were always a favorite nephew. I'm taking off now and I hope you have a good life, you're a capable kid and I want you to watch out for Lydia and James & Carl", (I don't think he mentioned Grace, but maybe that's my selective memory). then he turned red, then blue and then clear and disappeared. I learned later that he'd died from emphysema in Chico at about that time.
  • <! 23> voice about Barbara
    After I split up w/ Cheryl, I was driving up just past the first hill on little lake road in Mendocino, there was a blond nerdy looking girl riding her bike up the road, I checked her out and a voice told me she would save my life, I thought "unlikely". I later learned she was Barbara Faulkner, she taught Ilana to play the piano and later gave me a piece of her property for no reason, and treated me w/ respect when I was homeless. If that saved my life, it implies a single time track, or maybe no free will, but there may be more yet to occur.
  • around '06 or '09:
    I suddenly have a desire to hike down J rd. in Albion. J rd is gated, and goes for miles into Mendocino Redwood logging property but only has one house (& trailer). I'd met a girl at the store who asked me if I could fix her phone line, she lived in the trailer. She was a dress designer looking for a place to set up shop where she could do mail order through the internet and stores in SF. I thought I'd stop by and see if things were ok, nobody was home at the trailer but I heard voices, so I walked down to her landlady's garage where she was also storing stuff. They were having an intense argument and the dress designer was about to go ballistic because the landlady had decided to use her sofa in the house and wouldn't let her have it back. The dress designer wanted to move because she was so far out of the fashion loop on J rd (understandable) but couldn't because she wanted to sell off some furniture to finance the move and the landlady knew she would loose a renter if she did. (it's not that renters are scarce in Albion, rather that the landlady was notoriously Royal). I calmed them down and convinced the landlady to let her have the sofa. The dress designer later confided that she was an inch away from violence and I'd arrived just in time. She was secretly into occult and showed me her secret circle in the woods where she invoked whatever she wanted to manifest. She was respectful to me but I had the impression that she took credit (or whatever it was) for my turning up when I did, and thought of me more as a pawn. I only saw her one more time at the store, she had a tall guy with her who also looked like a pawn.
  • 3 sep 09-
    Last night I dreamed there were large yellow flowers like dahlias or peonies. They had dead birds in them. One flower had a mother bird on the ground below trying to warm a chick that had fallen out of it's nest. It was an english sparrow, the chick was still alive but cold. I held it in my hand to warm it, and woke. Last spring a flycatcher built a nest in my shop, but a jay found the nest and tore it apart. Today I was cleaning behind stuff on the floor and found one of the chicks that had been pulled out (dead 3 months), pretty sad.
  • <! 26> dec 8th '09
    late and the rain coming down hard, a steady loud roar on the plastic. I heard harmonic sounds like bells, choir singing, & kids calling. it sounded like angles above the roof, christmas greeting. I asked can I come too? they said not till you die. (kinda chilly greeting). something like the aeolian flute sound that wind makes, except w/ a western diatonic scale.
    Jan 25 '10: OK now this is weird: on 23 jan '10 I saw Avatar (movie) there was a part where the hero connects w/ the ancestor tree, the sounds of the ancestors was like the singing above the roof. once in Berkeley I dreamed parts of the plots of some newly released (then) movies (something about glass breaking at a large aquarium w/ a tunnel, people swimming w/ sharks and broken glass). At the time I suspected I was picking up on the emotions of someone in the neighborhood who had seen the movie. I hadn't seen it at that time but later recognized it from a reference and gif on the internet.
    3 Feb it's raining and I hear the music again. It seems to be African women tribal singing.
    7 feb '10, I dreamed of an 8 yr old ballet girl that I'm escorting on an airplane to a performance, there's rails and a mini-gym in the plane. I sleep, she works out. she steals my heart. we arrive (in Montreal? olympics) she leaves & I become superfluous. I recognize the feeling in my chest for the same one that drives me to write this stuff and look for proofs of magical connections. ... whatever it is?
  • <! 27> dec 9th '15
    The blue Mazda Francine gave me is overheating. I can't get a new radiator from Amazon because they don't ship to a PO box even though the address I gave them is also a street address, I don't see it as a boolean exclusion till it's too late. It won't get here in time to drive to Santa Rosa to catch the flight to NC to visit Ilana. I pour in radiator sealer and hope for the best. I make it to SR but decide to visit my folks graves in Willows on the way back because I'm already half way there and it seems to be fixed. the car overheats going over mt. St. Helena. I coast back towards hwy 128 but it starts to misfire and won't run at all (blown head gasket). I start to walk back to the crossroads to get 2 more cans of radiator stop-leak from a gas station there. A truck picks me up (in Sonoma County! now that's incredible) but I have to walk back to the car from the gas station. it's getting dark and a storm is coming. nobody stops. I don't know how far the car is (about 2 or 3 miles) because I was riding so I'm looking for landmarks from the first part of the walk before I was picked up. I see 3 of them ( a guard rail w/ a blackberry vine and barking dogs on the hill). I'm trusting my gut that I can find the car like I found a mooring in the cove on the sacramento river. But I DON'T see the car, and walk right past it in the dark! So I keep walking for another mile or so. I enter Mendocino county and a car stops to ask if I need help. The drivers name is Brian, he's a good guy, he says he passed my car and gives me a ride back. I pour in both cans of sealer, it starts and runs smoothly. Brian follows me back towards Cloverdale in case I have any more trouble. I drive back to Albion w/o further trouble. I'm kinda ashamed to have seen the landmarks but not the car, I was bull headed & should have stopped to look around more closely. It wasn't fatal but it was stupid except for the coincidences that resolved it. Brian might have been some kind of helpful spirit. That would imply an observer outside of my time continuity. But how could that work? Why would anyone outside of my continuity be concerned if they weren't actually me? Maybe we can extend our continuities to overlap under certain conditions. What conditions? Maybe desperation, or authentic need. This is why I'm not filthy rich and ruling the world w/ an iron fihttpst, the overlapped continuity has to be harmonic, rich iron fisted rulers usually aren't. Lastly, if there is no free will then how was there a mistake and how did I perceive the events that might have been a correction.
I get to know how this works because somebody owes me (so pay up). Cultures with other ways of dealing with schizophrenia don't own it any more than anyone else. Nitzche said that if you look into the abyss long enough, it looks back at you. Hi -----------------------------------------------
Ok here's what's to be gained (maybe) & I'm sorry but it involves sympathetic magic (see above #
13 & 16). It's not any more unbelievable than evidence of an holographic universe (sciencedaily), where somebody says "hey this has the same characteristics and behaves like that other thing, maybe they're the same": this link says they're NOT the same(Scientific American) So it's about the same as non-locality, &/or the universe as a computer simulation (you tube). One creates a representation of a solution to the problem in question (either physical like Pinocchio, or represented through shamanic song & dance), and relates to it as the actual solution. The wave form manifests instead of the physical particle. It happens. A certain amount of humility is required for this to occur because if you think you're usurping gods power or violating the laws of physics, then you are, because you're comparing (measuring) the result to see if it actually happened & entanglement is disrupted :) This is also probably an explanation for the faith and diligent ignorance of true believers. The magician knows if he measures the result, it'll loose entanglement (but he probably doesn't phrase it that way because he probably knows even less about quantum physics than I do), so he exhorts some people to believe something on faith, then retreats to the inner sanctum to smoke cigars and watch his stocks go up because of their belief.

Friday, October 14, 2016

List of dieties

This is the list (Wikipedia)

There's some confusion between the concept and the specific entity. The problem here is that the natural teleos of a true believer is that their own god defines the term. Rather than realizing the term is a common noun, not a proper noun, then attempting to conceal this uneducated gaff by putting all non believers to the sword. That's a lot of work & I bet thebelievers feel pretty stupid to find that out. A good reason to go to college isn't only better pay, it's better pay with less work.

Looking at God as a proper noun begs this question: who are all those other deities starting with a capital G? They all claim to be uniquely suited to the title so somebody has to be wrong. IMHO they all have the same claim because of the structure of human brains. Babies learn to look for a causative agent like "who's behind the mirror", "where does food come from" etc. generalized as curiosity, it means telling the difference between reality and getting mocked by an older sibling or some kid survey nerd. When there's no obvious answer, something "creative" is supplied like the tooth fairy, or monsters in the closet. Pretty soon someone will say that God created the world. If you look at it as a function of the brains awareness then yes, you could say so because it would be a function of perception relative to the only trustworthy observer (which is you). But since you can't do all the tricks God does, God becomes supernatural occupying your space as well as realms unnamed. This amounts to using plausibility as proof (which it isn't). I don't know if that has historically been the churches intent, maybe it was ok before the enlightenment, surly people believed it then, they still do, but not now when solutions can be objectively verified using provable techniques and procedures.

I suspect the church is conflicted about it because they talk big about "truth" and use "biblical archaeology" (which should be a scientific procedure) to prove that events recorded in the bible actually took place, hoping the rest of the story will be taken as truth as well because of the effort and close association. They're also conflicted because they have billions if not trillions of dollars invested in doing genuinely good stuff for humanity in general (and buying nice hats for the pope), which depends on believer support.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

An Atheists God Definition and
The Importance of Importance:

This definition is derived from several established and commonly accepted definitions so you won't think I just made it up. it starts with a personal god but extends it to be universal. The biggest problem with god is the definition. Every religious tradition has one that's unique in some way, and I suspect they get that way from millennia of interpretations by people who may or may not understand that god is a derived construct like dollars or kilos, and not intrinsic to the world. God is a standard scale of morality, which sounds all heavy but it's beside the point; being that god is an intellectual construction. But even given that and within a single religion, God has so many contradictory attributes that it easily leads to skepticism of the concept, not to mention wars over who's right.

I propose a definition where god is the most basic learned survival mechanism: be good to yourself and the world will be good too (this all takes place inside your head, call it "Heaven"). This includes influencing surroundings to be supportive (without harming anyone), because the coherency of a persons action comes from their previously conceived plan of what they hope to accomplish. By learning from our parents we assume this is the natural state of affairs for the world. But outside that expectation, that is, the "Real World" (call it Earth), is chaos and conflict. EXCEPT possibly where we communicate with other people and creatures and acknowledge their own survival mechanism that operates the same way. Integrating with god in others makes him/her universal. I know this is going to sound vaguely familiar, but god lives (exists) in heaven and cares for you, without god you really won't survive.

This is a survival mechanism because we tend to die without it. People, especially kids, old, and powerless (unimportant) people die without love (a positive self image) or they become rationalistic psychopaths, but both live in make-believe to be happy enough to survive. Creatures without ego become food, but expressing ego can be problematic. Expressing ego will explain the extreme permissions religions allow their gods so that anything is acceptable if it justifies existence so that any critique is only a hindrance to megalomania. If God's jealous and selfish, it's because he's paranoid that his intellectual creations may turn against him and they often do because his chosen, like god, are also insane having been created in each others image (present company excepted of course).

Now I'll divide this god into good & evil:

the evil part is the same god (aka survival mechanism) seen in other creatures watching out for themselves. I kinda suspect the "God the father" of the Christian holy trinity and the infamous "jealous god" is that same aspect because we have to be obsequious to them to survive, but that might be a result of my own experience. Maybe not, lets see; there are people who are raised predominantly by one parent or the other, it's usually cultural. Most kids depend on their mothers for the first few years of their life so that's where they learn self kindness. Western and Abrahamic religions definitely do. Most male groups are oriented around some kind of competitive or profit making enterprise. That is, a unified defense against that aspect of god. Bad stuff like war, hell, & hungry tigers are just a ceremonial representation of the evil or non-survival mechanism that aggression from others presents. Another way to say it is if you want a paying job, you have to talk to the man, & "none may come to the father but by me" (the good aspect). Or: don't insult/attack/kill your employer (or whoever it is), he's just a guy like you & has to deal w/ the same crap & chaos that you do.

OK I'm running this into the ground because I wanted to give it a little enlargement, but it's just gumbo. the meat is in the first paragraph. Um... but wait, first something important:

The importance of importance is important because it's how a people survive in a group and, as a member of that group, assure that the group will defend them as individuals from trivialization and a slippery slope to contempt, desperation, banishment, and death from exposure. It could still be gumbo but if it's plausible to enough people, then it's important (this blog for example*). An individual with group security is better off than say living in a dumpster (people in dumpsters usually are not too important), whereas the pope (who has a special hat) & Dick Cheney (who has a special sneer) are way important. They positioned themselves so that their influence also secures their personal livelihood. See, you have to convince people that you represent something important, having them by the nuts helps too, as does threatening Imminent Domain in exchange for a donation. Check here if you believe gumbo is important. Better yet, write a long paragraph in the comments. The twist comes when considering that everything we say and do is to make someone take us seriously. Gumbo is ok but unremarkable. It'll keep us alive till The Aliens land, but then we'll need a better line if we want to compete.

* Most of the people who follow this blog are FBI shrinks

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Book review: Guns Germs & Steel

(from Wikipedia: Guns Germs & Steel by Jared Diamond)
The book attempts to explain why Eurasian civilizations (including North Africa) have survived and conquered others, while arguing against the idea that Eurasian hegemony is due to any form of Eurasian intellectual, moral, or inherent genetic superiority. Diamond argues that the gaps in power and technology between human societies originate in environmental differences, which are amplified by various positive feedback loops.

The prologue opens with an account of Diamond's conversation with Yali, a New Guinean politician. The conversation turned to the obvious differences in power and technology between Yali's people and the Europeans who dominated the land for 200 years, differences that neither of them considered due to any genetic superiority of Europeans. Yali asked, using the local term "cargo" for inventions and manufactured goods, "Why is it that you white people developed so much cargo and brought it to New Guinea, but we black people had little cargo of our own?"

Diamond realized the same question seemed to apply elsewhere: "People of Eurasian origin ... dominate ... the world in wealth and power." Other peoples, after having thrown off colonial domination, still lag in wealth and power. Still others, he says, "have been decimated, subjugated, and in some cases even exterminated by European colonialists."

I think the author is overlooking a primary reason that western culture is successful: we don't assign spiritual value to utilitarian things (usually). Specifically, many if not most indigenous societies destroy a persons possessions when they die, and burn or abandon their house because of potential ghost sickness. Industrialized countries don't ascribe to that as a real thing. So an items utility re-use gives succeeding generations a slight edge over preceding ones in the form of an actual example of the design which is typically updated for re-use, and man-hours saved to build it.

Those man hours might not seem like much, but say it takes 2 days to make a rake. The rake could last for 3 or 4 generations. A wagon could last the same but take a month or more to make. If one breaks down during harvest, a neighbors can fill in because the design isn't proprietary. If not, the family or community looses critical resources. A house may take years to build.

Thus the possessions accrue. Industrialized cultures sometimes name cars and have favorite possessions/clothes/tools, but we don't have a process for communicating with them or ritually killing them or identifying/cleansing them when they pick up bad spirits. I heard there are farms in Japan that use tools 300+ yrs old. Likewise for gun collections, antiques, & scientific instruments, they have "value". We sometimes say a house is haunted but people usually continue to live there, and sometimes even have a friendly relationship with the ghost. I admit we accept the possibility of supernatural but there's no physiological process to access it so we don't actually give it authentication. (except maybe burning incense or calling those guys from TV)

Supernatural stuff is usually based on a biological form (symmetrical, mobile, possessing some kind of will to affect things, thus a mind), whereas "things" in the european industrial context, aren't. Some native people believe things take on the spirit of the maker or owner so the owner's spirit is still present in it after they've actually died and been dead for centuries, even though they never knew the person and have no proof of their nature. The possessions are destroyed out of fear of the unknown. In contrast, people from industrial societies often feel honored that their possessions would be useful to succeeding generations, and those generations acknowledge it as homage to their ancestors.

I wouldn't say that this concept is universal or complete, but it is a contributing factor.


Monday, November 02, 2015

Ah Primates ...


You start with a cage containing four monkeys and inside the cage, you hang a banana on a string, and then you place a set of stairs under the banana. Before long, a monkey will go to the stairs and climb toward the banana. You then spray ALL the monkeys with cold water. After a while, another monkey makes an attempt. As soon as he touches the stairs, you spray ALL the monkeys with cold water. Pretty soon, when another monkey tries to climb the stairs, the other monkeys will try to prevent it. Now, put away the cold water. Remove one monkey from the cage and replace it with a new monkey. The new monkey sees the banana and attempts to climb the stairs. To his shock, ALL of the other monkeys beat the crap out of him. After another attempt and attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs, he will be assaulted. Next, remove another of the original four monkeys, replacing it with a new monkey. The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked. The previous newcomer takes part in the punishment--with enthusiasm--because he is now part of the "team.” Then, replace a third original monkey with a new monkey, followed by the fourth. Every time the newest monkey takes to the stairs, he is attacked. Now the monkeys that are beating him up have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs. Neither do they know why they are participating in the beating of the newest monkey. Having replaced all of the original monkeys, none of the remaining monkeys will have ever been sprayed with cold water. Nevertheless, not one of the monkeys will try to climb the stairway for the banana.

Think of the possibilities for governmental controll if they knew of this technique. Oh wait, it's called the judicial system! Sadly it too is run by primates.

This is a partial reprint from an email by Peggy Chaves

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The people who never won wars

Here's an argument in favor of religion: HogFather (YouTube). Too bad they ran out of money or something. Parts are really good, others kinda lame.

This nice graph doesn't include any history about non believers: Tree of religions. We conclude from this that non-believers are all the same, like those people who never won wars or wrote history. I wonder if organized religion didn't develop from people wanting to justify wars and history, when they knew they were really just folks. Well of course people who didn't have bragging rights wouldn't have much history to write about anyway, but people who did would have to deal with appearing to be hipsters and posers in the eyes of their frowning followers. Unless they were also a 7 foot tall hormonal freak with weapons. Yeah, so except for that case, they say God did it.

But then, after many victorious campaigns against The Losers, They all drink too much or get stung in the heel by a scorpion or something. Pharaoh Khafre, Alexander, Pacal, Genghis Khan, Hitler, Qin Shi Huang. Bummer, but the legend lives so the state is secure for awhile longer till we can get someone else to do it.


Sunday, December 21, 2014

Cretaceous Extinction

The Cretaceous extinction is generally agreed to have been caused over several hundred thousand years by a combination of the Deccan traps volcanism in India and the Chicxulub meteor in Mexico, AKA “the K-P extinction”. This post suggests the possibility that survivors had a high tolerance to CO2. OK evidence is thin but plausible, so here’s what I have:

Birds and dinosaurs share a respiratory system that circulates fresh air constantly moving in the same direction, whereas mammals breathe by inhaling and exhaling. Of the two, the constant circulation method is more efficient because air is completely expelled from birds lungs but not from mammalian lungs which always have a reservoir of un-expelled oxygen depleted air that’s high in CO2. Over millions of years mammals evolved a higher tolerance for CO2 than birds (or Dinosaurs). As evidence, I submit that birds don’t keep caged people as indicators of bad air in their coal mines, probably for that reason.

"A small fraction of the Cretaceous bird species survived the impact, giving rise to today's birds. So far, only a single bird species, which has not been named, has been confidently identified from both above and below the K–Pg boundary (it is present in the Maastrichtian Hell Creek Formation and Danian Fort Union Formation). The only bird group known for certain to have survived the K–Pg boundary is the Neornithines (though one Paleogene species, Qinornis paleocenica, may represent a surviving non-neornithine bird) Neornithines may have been able to survive the extinction as a result of their abilities to dive, swim, or seek shelter in water and marshlands. Many species of neornithines can build burrows, or nest in tree holes or termite nests, all of which provided shelter from the environmental effects at the K–Pg boundary. Long-term survival past the boundary was assured as a result of filling ecological niches left empty by extinction of non-avian dinosaurs." (Wikipedia)
The major survivors of the Cretaceous extinction appear to have been small, subterranean dwellers where, like Naked Mole Rats, they had an even higher tolerance to CO2 than usual. Flight doesn't seem to have been a survival trait in this case.

Many surviving Reptile and Crocodile species also nests in burrows, it’s assumed that extinct species did too. Turtles are adept at living in low oxygen environments (underground and underwater).

A theoretical test might be to raise some birds in a high (but not fatal) CO2 environment to see how their breeding capacity fares over time. It's my hypothesis that restricted oxygen will affect foraging ability, thus brood size. High School Nerds: If you want that science fair prize, this is your chance (& let me know what happens). I suggest Button Quail, vs mice because both are cheap, Canaries and Naked Mole rats are not. Some plan should be employed so their effort to access food is adjustable so as to be measurable in relative terms, and so calories might be estimated. Possibly by placing the feeder so they have to work to get to it but can't hang out there to rest.


Sunday, April 20, 2014

An Atheists argument in favor of organized religion

A lot of the objection to religion stems from it’s supporting beliefs and it’s flat denials of contrary proof. Claiming that faith is a virtue regardless of fact. There might be some truth in the teachings but I’ve never been able to get past the hypocrisy, so I couldn’t tell you for sure what that truth is or isn't. A requirement of Faith in defense of false teaching which defends lies speaks poorly of the whole piece.

Similarities between religion and government are more than coincidental. The grand design of both is to provide a friction free social framework and brokers a base that supports leaders. A friction free environment is, in my opinion, the best anyone could hope for in the way of a greater community, and to this end religion is peerless. In the ideal religious community, everyone agrees on protocol, which comes together for the purpose of being good and nothing else, and where sanity is assumed. Civic and Governmental Legal frameworks don’t begin to approach the same effect, and are often inimical to it.

Likewise organized Abrahamic religions are too vested in the limited interest of their organizers. In the interest of fairness they are unfair, in the interest of truth they are untruthful. “The God of Man” demands that the world revolve around the interpretation of scriptures. If some catastrophe happens, it’s God sending a message that people are doing something wrong, but the scripture is never wrong. That's preposterous.

There’s a Buddhist view that the world is never out of balance but an individual’s perception can easily be incomplete. It would seem odd that Yahweh religions developed the enlightenment, the steam engine, the Higgs Boson, (WW2) etc., instead of a Buddhist society with the objectivity to see that people are part of the whole instead of the whole. But that detachment allows objective assessment of ones relationship to the world, so it just doesn’t automatically mean enough to get caught up in it’s physics. Vested interests are identified and critically reviewed.

Here’s a wikipedia article about Bhagat Singh, who wrote Why I am an Atheist in 1930 while waiting to be executed.

The common thread among any group, religious or not, is the supporting community’s assurance that the cause is worthwhile (meaning “productive”). Bhagat Singh felt it was productive even though he was condemned because the greater good of his people was served, even though he didn’t believe in God. Some kind of Supporting Community is critical for almost any action. Hygor Piaget Melo, a physicist at the Federal University of Ceará in Brazil said “When comparing any two cities, the one with more people will typically have a lower suicide rate”. source

That kind of assurance doesn’t just pop up. Lenin had the Proletariat, The Pope has Catholics. The Moonshine Economy was strong even before the American revolution and probably before Harappa. However, confidence that assurance exists is mostly taken on faith.

The average person uses faith because it’s shorthand for the actual reasons, which are typically vague, complicated, and filled with other peoples opinions. “Sure Columbus discovered America. The people who were there already, grew up there so they didn’t discover it. (heh)”

The contrary force that destroys faith, and the second part of this equation, is the force that makes leaders selfish.

Say someone has a good idea. People like it and acknowledge the inventor. The inventor steps up the social ladder to being an authority. They ask him about similar situations and extrapolate the original plan to cover it. The authority manipulates all the attention to get things done, finding in the process that it’s easier if people don’t ask hard questions so he discourages dissent and declares some kind of cliche icon to represent the basic idea, such as a slogan, flag, or idol. The inventor steps further up the social ladder to become a leader. Now he appoints department heads, advisors, and commissars.

He might be a modest, self effacing nerd, but he’s placed in a position where he has to defend the social structure that placed him and depends on his leadership. Without his community’s support, he’d be at the mercy of the opposition. Like Mussolini, he’s basically a slave-puppet to the people who support him. He’s a leader but he’s not free. That dissonance produces stress and excess cortisone, so like Dick Cheney, he becomes calloused to shut out the worry, his security blanket is self indulgence. His advisors are basically in the same situation.

So the seeds of destruction are inherent in the structure. They grow from social mimicry. Hipsterism. Assuming someone else’s truth to be a universal truth. There’s probably a lot of truth in philosophy and religion, but it’s usually indistinguishable from the presentation of the speaker.

Simply put: if it's not yours, you won't recognize it so you have to assume it’s truth based on rumor.
Less Simply put: Awareness which is not socially relevant is subjective by default, though it occupies the greater usage of ones mental CPU. Social awareness is built on a learned verbal description of what's important, which limits what we allow ourselves to know to mostly things which we can verbally communicate. Those sources (social conventions) require trusting someone else's experience over our own, and though that process is the backbone of both fundamentalism and primate society, those sources may still be in error. (An irrefutable example is the process that elected George Bush II. Twice!). Other examples: Historical Figures in literature (wikipedia)

That's not saying social conventions are false, we depend on them for group cohesion. Without them what would music or humor be like? The problem is they cause us to believe someone else’s world model without actually going there to find out.

What would the structure look like without evil hipsters?. Or, what would the seeds do without the structure?

A guess might be that a description of the structure are already biased towards those 2 options when there could be many answers. For example they might not be evil seeds but rather flaws in conception, perhaps another design wouldn’t collapse in the manner predicted by every civilization and known organism.

Well, not every one: A kind of single celled jellyfish called a Sea Grape, first shows up in the fossil record 560 million years ago and apparently they don’t die. Instead, since they’re single celled, they split in two and revert to a juvenile stage. At least some of them do if they don’t get fossilized. (actually, their tracks get fossilized but Sea Grapes don't since they're 99.9 percent water) They coexist because they don't compete for resources. Their populations are kept in check by predators and random catastrophe, but not cell obsolescence. That’s probably not what Chairman Mao Zedong envisioned for China’s cultural revolution, but he only had the honor of leadership and self perpetrating seeds of destruction to work with.

A classic human social structure based on possessions and property values that would also go along with the Sea Grape plan seems far fetched, but it’s commonplace as long as individuals interests aren't vested in mortality. In fact, death could qualify as an evolutionary trait which forces creatures to come up with more durable alternatives to themselves: a family, “the meaning of it all”, society, seeding the galaxies, “God” by any other name.

It's sometimes harsh being atheist. a problem with artificial intelligence is that it has no innate concept of "spirit". Like when a wild animal looks at you and you recognize something. It's possible to write some code so AI acts right and maybe nobody will notice, but without a bunch of conflicting hormones, it will never conquer fear. It'll never be gratified to live up to a social ideal, and it'll never see itself reflected in the wild.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Alpha Male

ok, this one is about resolving mankind's biggest problem: the Alpha Male.

Hormones will be the end of us unless we manage them better. Every war has been for the betterment of the people. Most have only temporarily reduced the competition for supreme ruler (the Alpha Male) by thinning the gene pool of the more gullible. The problem with this evolutionary trend is that it selects for the less gullible, since the more gullible are eliminated through conflict. The survivors are those at the ends of the bell curve that have evolved resistance to manipulation.

Therefore, new governing channels must be developed. One channel takes kids and indoctrinates them before they can absorb their parents distrust of manipulating governance (for example the American Indian schools, Chinese state schools, and Islamic Madrasas). Another channel (and sometimes the same) stipulates that obeisance to the government is equal to obeisance to God, and faith is more valid than reason. That one is called "The Lord's Way", don't question The Lord (he won't answer you anyway unless you accept tenuous associations, like figures on toast).

So Alpha climbs from childhood to a position of power and his competitors kneel. As he comes into contact with more ruthless competition, he raises the stakes to become equally ruthless. They torture, he tortures. They get nukes, he gets nukes. They get the Dead Hand Phage, he gets … wait.. um, well, ok we're all doomed anyway. All it takes is one Alpha Male who's a bit more psychopathic than the rest, to prove he's tops forever. Rumor has it they whacked Kennedy because some other Alpha wannabe's thought his response to the Cuban Missile Crisis was more psychopathic than it should have been. A good excuse to get rid of competition, but maybe they were sane, who knows.

The administration of Heavens Mandate is un-questioned because it's God, what are you gonna do. Traditionally explained because humankind are His dream creation and oh definitely not the reverse.

I propose that God the Creator is pretty much defined that way because he's an icon of intellectual territory. So when some representative of our civilization's finest meets those unwashed people from wherever they come from (hillbillies, hippies, gentiles, heathens, brogans, etc), there's no way they can put a prior claim on the territory by claiming gods grace, because they don't know god, because he's defined as undefinable. One is either already chosen or not as a private arrangement among believers so outsiders need not apply. God-the-undefinable is defined as invisible, immutable, eternal, immortal, un-touchable, all knowing, irreducible, the first and ultimate source of creation, bla-bla-bla, but especially better than what YOU got.

Every cultural has a bunch of these icons, and acts like they're private property. When inheritance is important, they're related through blood (Arron, Moses, David and Fatima). The line of succession is proof of grace because it shows good genes, thus gods favor, thus anything they want or do is valid. When rational and wisdom are the best argument, the icons demonstrate those qualities (Mercury, Saturn, Jupiter, Odin, Ra).

Historian Guy Halsall says "The only common factor in defining ethnicity is belief: in the reality of your group and the difference to others" (Halsall, Guy (2008), Barbarian migrations and the Roman West, 376–568, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-43491-2).

The basic idea is to legitimize the "Mandate of Heaven" so when I find a $20 bill, I don't have to give it back because it's a sign of Gods favor.

Actually though, it's a matter of personal investment in the outcome. When confusion and strife drag on for years, everyone has time to develop blinders that keep them from seeing common humanity. That condition is a result of cognitive dissonance, where ideals are compromised and tired souls are bought and sold. In a whirlpool of conflicting meanings: "Gods Favor" means that $20 is mine.


Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Sandalmaking in Bolivia

              In the late '60s I taught sandal making at the Orphanage of Archbishop Daniel Rivero In Santa Cruz de La Sierra, Bolivia. The local Bishop wanted access to free American teachers through Peace Corps Volunteers, so the Father Superior invited me to teach shoemaking. I blithely said "sure, but I'll need to get some experience first". He said "Fine, class starts in a week".

              So I sat in at a shoe repair shop and Sandalaria to learn the trade. There was/is a huge amount of class distinction in Bolivia (think of France in the 1780's with Che Guevara hiding in the bushes). I found I was fairly immune from upper class prejudice, but not from lower classes. The Kolla (Koylla: Quechua highlander) shoe shop could only see me as a white "Patron", and were somewhat contemptuous, but I got the basics anyway. I traded teaching them some phrases in english for learning to make sandals and the art of 19th century Cobblery using lasts, shoe nails, and double stitching with a boar whiskers for needles. They were kind of frustrated with me because I spent more time asking about shoemaking than teaching english. The phrases were things like "how do you do" and "please buy this", and counting to 10 in english, which they could already do. (Bolivians resist change)

              I learned to make leather Abarca sandals with rubber tire soles, eventually selling them to support myself on and off for 20 years till nylon cord reinforcement was replaced by fiberglass and steel which made wearing them impractical. The reinforcement is hard to cut and a misplaced step, brushing your opposite foot, could cause a serious cut from the saw-like ends of the metal or fiber-glass that protrude from the edge. The most durable sandals ever made are Abarcas constructed entirely from rubber tires. People who wear them swear by them, but in my opinion, compared to leather, they dont break in so much as wear out your feet till you get properly callused, but then they last forever. The camposinos (rural folks = red-necks) actually buy used truck tires from the oil companies and filet the usable part from the reinforcing cords into layers like split grain leather. My own opinion is that by the time you get the right calluses, you could have gone barefoot and achieved the same thing, but the convention of shoes is what distinguishes humans and is not to be trifled by reason (though I admit: hookworms find them impenetrable).

              Fitting into local politics at the Orphanage had a steep learning curve. The Father superior was (to put it clearly), a Stiff-Assed Old Son of a Bitch. Everyone called him "El Viejito", The Little Old Man. He was immensely and acutely condescending and authoritarian. His idea of a cultural treat was (rather than take the kids fishing) to play scratchy 1930's records on the PA system of an unaccompanied Argentine opera singer praising Mother Mary, keeping time slapping her palm with a ruler as she shattered wine glasses with her voice.

              El Viejito had personal issues with everyone there and I was no exception. I'd love to feed the fires under him, but wherever he is now, I'm sure he has enough to worry about. In a way, he succeeded as headmaster because opposition to him was a major unifying force between the brothers, students, workers, and neighbors. He survived because he was the father confessor so he knew where the bodies were buried. Any conversation with him was rife with innuendo and the subtile implication of extortion. But I wasn't Catholic, and had no intention of confessing anything to him, so the lack of leverage must have driven him crazy. Whenever there was some disagreement, someone would make a crack about El Viejito and our meagre problems would seem inconsequential.

              To be fair, the Orphanage was supposed to be self supporting and it often wasn't. Not all of the students were orphans, some came from rural families who couldn't commute (no bus system), so they paid for tuition and housing. Various shops facing the street were rented out in partial trade for teaching students those skills (a printer, shoemaker, cabinetmaker, baker). The parish picked up the slack through tithes, and the Viejito's neck was always on the block to make ends meet.

Orphanage of Archbishop Daniel Rivero

              The teacher I replaced as shoemaking instructor was Mamerto Pedrasa, who's secret identity was a National Hero of the Chaco War, and in fact he was. The Father Superior said Mamerto wasn't coming back and I could clean up his shop and use the tools. Everything had rust, nothing worked, the sewing machines were broken, the knives were dull, and the textbooks were from 1920. Mamerto had paper patterns for shoe designs 20 to 50 years old. Some were incomplete and in tatters, so I tossed them. Then a week later Mamerto came home and wanted his old job back. He was kind of miffed that his patterns had been discarded, but he preferred to blame the Father Superior instead of me. There was some schadenfreude between them, each was posturing righteously and silently telling the other "see what YOU caused".

              Mamerto was pretty cool for being as paranoid as he was. I doubt if he's still alive, he would be about 105 in 2013, so now his story can be told without repercussions: He confided in me one afternoon on a bench in the Plaza while Cicadas screamed in the trees overhead like tiny chainsaws.

              It was his driving belief that Paraguay was out to get him for what he did to them in the 1930's while he was a prisoner of war there. Next to us in the plaza was a war monument built over a mass grave. It had a little window displaying a few bleached bones of the martyrs who defended Santa Cruz. I asked if he knew any of the people in the window. He said maybe a few.

              In the Chaco War, the Bolivian high command were (said to be) pompous bureaucrats while the Paraguayans were mostly Guarani farmers. They completely wiped the Bolivians even though Paraguay was out manned, out gunned, and out financed, because of stubbornly obtuse Good-Ol'-Boy Bolivian generals. Mamerto's company was stranded in the Gran Chaco during the dry season when the Paraguayans cut the Bolivian supply lines. The air temperature was over 100 degF. His company had to split up to forage and lived on Cacao beans (Saint Johns Bread), insects, and raw Iguanas. The only moisture they could get was from ants and lizard blood, so they all became seriously dehydrated, their piss turned black, and many died of thirst. The CO surrendered to save their lives, but was reviled by armchair hawks in Sucre. As POWs they were taken by train to a concentration camp in Paraguay and put to work in support of the Paraguayan's war effort. Before the war, Mamerto had made finely tooled leather shoes and purses for women, so his camp job was to decorate fancy pistol belts for Paraguayan officers. From this position Mamerto decimated the Paraguayan Officers Corp. which earned him so much credit with the Bolivian Military that he could draw on it for the rest of his life. He was more effective than Sargent York or the Red Baron ever were, and his targets were selectively the most critically influential people in the army.

              His technique was to use leather dye and chemicals stolen from the POW camp pharmacy to make mercury iodide. He painted it on the inside of his pistol belts where they press over the kidneys. He made between 60 and 80 belts all destined for Generals, Captains, and Lieutenants riding horses and sweating in the hot sun. When heated, the chemicals were absorbed through the clothing over their kidneys, their kidneys failed, and they died. The Army kept promoting new officers, who sometimes inherited the pistol belts, and they died too. They knew something was poisoning officers, but no one made the connection to Mamerto. Army officers on both sides came from the more connected classes, so it was actually not unrealistic to think someone might put a vendetta against him if word got back. I asked the Brothers if that was true and they said it was an exaggeration, actually it was more like around 40 or 50 belts.

              I never went to Mamerto's house, he never invited me and because he was suspicious of almost everyone, I certainly didn't ask. I can imagine it would have been throughly booby trapped and have enough escape routs to satisfy any drug lord, because I found one of his traps inside the shoe shop classroom. The Brothers of LaSalle wouldn't let him keep a gun at the orphanage, so he booby trapped a tall rickety cabinet used for books and leather. In the back of the top shelf Mamerto kept a 1/2 gallon glass jug of sulfuric acid next to a 5 pound cardboard canister of potassium cyanide. When I asked him about it, he explained it was in case commandos showed up unexpectedly, he would tip the cabinet over and duck out the back door into the chapel. The jug and cardboard canister would smash on the floor and mix to release cyanide gas. I said "Ok fine, but tell me before you tip it". He said "They won't come when you're here, you're my guardian angel", because as a Peace Corps Volunteer working for the government of Gringolandia, it was plausible that I had connections which the Paraguayans wouldn't provoke. Mamerto apparently decided to trust me, partly I think because we shared a contempt for the Viejito's hypocrisy (though most everybody except the kids did too) and because I kept his trap secret and didn't blab. But I did squirt glue into the cabinets loose joints when he wasn't there so it wouldn't sway around so easily, and I put wedges under the front legs so it would lean back more against the wall, but they were gone a few days later.

              As I fit into the schedule at the orphanage, it became apparent that Mamerto didn't do much, he was in fact also a genius at finding ways to not do anything. His job was mostly guaranteed for being a hero, so he could screw off whenever he thought maybe the hit men were closing in. He would be equal to Wally, from Scott Adam's comic strip Dilbert. I really liked the guy, because everyone believed he was loco, but nobody would dare to cross him. The term "Mad as a Hatter", like the one in Alice in Wonderland was because of the effects of Mercury, and Mamerto had used it a lot. His sewing machines had been unusable for years, because the springs were broken, and the parts were obsolete. He worried that he'd have to perform when I replaced them with rubber strips so something in the shop would work. After a few weeks though, Mamerto exerted himself to the position of class instructor. I think partially to reascend from the second place he was forced to take until it became apparent that I didn't know zip about shoemaking and couldn't seriously rock the boat.

              To be useful, I tried to develop their market w/ wallets and "Hand Stitched Trinkets Made By Orphans" that would sell to people w/ money, like tourists. I made a display case and got some of the brothers to wear their white robes to present it to the concessions people at the airport. The brothers liked the case as a "thing" that they could refer to to prove their worthiness. But like giving a Harley to a 4 yr old, the underlying function was beyond their actual need. So nobody bothered to keep it supplied with merchandise, because nobody had a car, taxis were expensive, and if everyone did nothing as a team, the bar for effort would never be raised. Any effort of mine was mostly unnecessary though because my presence had accomplished what the Viejito had set out to do which was to keep the shoe shop running and kick Mamerto's butt back into gear.

              I truly liked Mamerto, I hope he and his girlfriends get a shrine in the Bolivian Hall of Fame. He was probably the most effective operator the Bolivians had in that war. Also, since his secret is out and Chaco War is long over, maybe the Paraguayan government could ask around for any of those pistol belts that might still be kept as family heirlooms. They could still be lethal.

Note: I can't talk about the current structure, but the American Peace Corp no longer functions the way did in the '60s. That's probably a good thing.