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.

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 (theguardian.com) (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). 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).

additional fun video: New Experiments Show Consciousness Affects Matter ~ Dean Radin Ph.D

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.

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": It's about the same, if not identical to, the quantum physics principle of 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 will manifest automatically 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.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Psychosis and weed:

There have been studies (like this one) that cite statistical evidence of a connection between dope and crazy.

One of the defining characteristics of smoking marijuana is getting spaced and enjoying the head trips. It's an easy way to hypothesize outcomes because it's easy to focus and hold ideas or feelings so they can be applied or not depending on the course of the trip. It usually means rationalizing how things are pretty much ok, so that if anything adverse comes up, it can be also seen in that light.

The psychosis part is a result of accepting a plausibility as fact. (the government is behind it) If a person is stoned, plausibility can be assumed to be fact for the development of hypothesis with little emotional stress. Like examining problems from behind a barrier and poking them with a selection of tools. But once an unproven concept is absorbed as fact and acted upon, the resulting behavior can be indistinguishable from psychosis.

Psychosis is loosely defined as a break from reality. This feat can be accomplished by deciding to believe that something which is otherwise provably false, is instead true. For example "Jesus is the only begotten son of god, born of a virgin and rose from the dead after 3 days" and "The universe and everything in it was created in 6 days". There I go dumping on the Church again, I don't mean to do that, the Church fills many important social functions that government and other institutions can't begin to approach. But it's just so darn easy and psychotic behavior is one defining aspect of true believers: they gave their souls to Jesus.
People don't usually to do things like that without ulterior motives, it just feels wrong. One way to get around that feeling is through social pressure: "Hipsterism is cool", "Join the Marines", "There is no other God but Allah and Mohamed is his prophet", Join the YMCA because Jesus loves you". Subliminal belief is usually established by assuming that A must be true if B is true, then not addressing the truth of B just because it helps both make sense. That's called delusion.

There are also studies which indicate that self delusion is a common way of coping with evidence that conflicts with previous beliefs. It's simply not believed. The new evidence is doubted without confidence in the source ("since the collapse of the World Trade Center was an inside job, of course the govt would deny it"). Here the credibility of the government is questioned, with doubts supported by associated events. (corruption, questionable voting procedures, dismissive officials in charge of investigations, the Vice President in charge of air control at the time, conflicting oil interests, dust analysis showing the presence of finely ground iron oxide used in thermite explosives, the list is much longer).

Ok, so get a grip, and choose a side if you dare. If you think information is lacking: toke up, the worst that could happen is you'll decide you don't care.


Thursday, July 05, 2012

The latest new age science & stuff

OK Folks, step right up. This is the latest new age science & stuff.

This is a description of how it would be physically possible for planet positions and movements to affect peoples perception of events, which is an underlying premise of astrology.
Given that
1) Gravitational Waves (not Gravity Waves) are scientifically hypothesized and shown to be mathematically plausible, for example Gravitational waves carry energy away from their sources leading to orbital decay which can be measured. However no proof of their existence has yet been demonstrated.
19 June 2014:
Yay, they exist! um ... or maybe not
11 February 2016 YES DEFINITELY, for sure.

Given that
2) one of the most outstanding breeding cues for people, amphibians, & at least a dozen families of marine organisms: is the moon. Police & hospital entries pick up on the full moon. And it can be shown that there actually is an etiological path to our awareness through bacteria, many of which change behavior according to the position of the sun, moon and horizon (aka time of day).

Life on earth has been around for 4 billion years. During that time it evolved ways to recognize cues to optimize life functions, like when to release spores or breed, estivate, migrate, sleep, wake, etc. In doing so, cells and bacteria change their protein arrangement to fit the occasion, for example to become mobile, inert, permeable, toxic & so forth.

The resulting bio-community lives off it's constituents in such a way that one bugs toxin is anothers ambrosia and chemical defense or optimization strategies make World of Warcraft and Pokemon seem feeble in contrast. Each of those strategies affects it's environment somehow or they wouldn't exist, and often as not they have unplanned side effects on other nearby bugs or cells.

Vertebrates (like humans) are about 70% independent and semi-independent bacteria/fungus/viruses, and 30% dedicated host cells. The host cells depend on these symbiotic bacteria and have digestive systems to feed, farm, cull, & harvest them for nutrients. Sometimes bacterial chemical byproducts (for example from Toxoplasma gondii) have effects on the host equivalent to drugs (such as alcohol or strychnine) that induce stress, sleep, craving, hallucination, euphoria, or depression. [1]

This hypothesis suggests

an association between the two, that people are also affected by the chemical response to gravitational stimulus of their parasite organisms. These organisms are locked into their life cycles [2] [3] [4] by responding to solar and lunar cycles. Deep sea organisms respond to the moon even when moonlight doesn't penetrate to those depths, gravitational pull does.

There are many people who have no confidence or reason to believe in gravitational (astrological) influences, possibly because those people don't have a microbiome that responds to them. A google search will show biological breeding cycles occurring on practically any time interval from a few hours to a dozen + years (such as with cicadas), but many of these intervals have evolved from predator pressures which are not dependent on any distinct differences between gravitational waves from various sources, like mars or vespa. Gravitational waves are plausibly used by amphibians and bacteria as a timing mechanism to spawn [2], NOT because they inadvertently coincide with lunar/solar cycles as do human menstrual cycles, but because they depend on them lacking other stimulus.

A reasonable question might be: Why Gravitational perception? The same might be asked though of vision, hearing, or magnetic perception like Loggerhead turtles and some birds possess. The Sun & Moons gravity affects water, and biological organisms are mostly water. The traits survival mechanism would be to time a periodical flood of spawn so as to overwhelm any predators by suddenly presenting more offspring than predators could possibly consume. Thus insuring that some will survive but offering nothing between cycles so as to keep predator populations low.

Given the above, it's possible that intestinal organisms could also differ between individuals depending on the time of year they were first obtained. An experiment by Dr. Richard Blumberg of Harvard Univ. showed that mice who were borne in a sterile environment without bacteria of any kind, lacked immunity to certain infections. "Dr. Blumberg and his colleagues found that they could prevent the mice from becoming ill by giving them bacteria while they were still young. However acquiring a microbiome as an adult did not help the rodents." [1] Thus it's possible that whatever kinds of bacteria acquired when young, would be associated with a particular season. This microbiome is acquired through seasonal pollen, rain, dust, mold or whatever, and remains with a person to influence how they respond to changes in gravitation. Though they could just as well respond to other environmental factors. That kind of influence would have the same effect on people as the Astrological Signs, which are personality patterns also associated with seasons. And the variations of individual responses to gravitation could be explained by the differences in seasonal microbiome communities.

One possible test of this hypothesis might be to find women with irregular menstrual cycles and survey them for having been given antibiotics or some other medicine or food which disrupts intestinal flora as young children, probably before the age of one. I'm not about to do such a survey but if the data was already available, it would be interesting to look into it. Also Missing microbes: Antibiotic resistance at birth (wired.com).

1. Studies of the human microbiome yield new insights (NY Times)
2. Amphibians mate on full moon (bbc)
3. Triggers for Warm Water Coral Spawning "Scientists believe three factors trigger the spawning: water temperature, phase of the moon, and time of sunset. The water temperature in August or early September seems to be conducive to the spawning, although scientists don’t know how coral can sense that water temperature. For that matter, they don’t know how coral know the phase of the moon, although the day of the spawning is clearly related to that as well." It's unknown that Cold/Deep Water Coral corals spawn on a neap tide (like warm/shallow corals which take advantage of slowed current to allow spawn to be fertilized before being dispersed). that cause would be moot because Deep sea tides don't move as much as a shore tide.
4. Lunar reproductive cycles (Google)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

ok here's another god definition.

Babies are said to be self aware when they distinguish between things they can manipulate and things they can't. For example movements in a mirror. They care because some actions have potential and some don't, and by extension, abstractions where some scenarios have more potential than others. A rat in a tank of water with no way out will drown long before it's muscles expire, it gives up because it sees no potential. Distinguishing potential is the basis for scientific procedure because true things tend to have more potential and the scientific procedure is codification of that discovery process.

I guess the reason for this bog & why I care about the God problem is that 30 years ago I heard a voice tell me that something I needed was in a place I'd never been and didn't believe, but I looked out of curiosity and it was true. I didn't and still don't think it was any deity, and anyone who says otherwise couldn't possibly know because their evidence and definition are both at least second hand. The authority to advise on those things would have to be someone like Pat Robertson, who's completely full of shit, IMHO.

My brother has become interested in the way brains work because his daughter is autistic. He subtly suggests that I'm kidding myself without admitting it (self delusion), like "sometimes we make up stories to explain things we do in such a way that our actions appear to be more socially acceptable, and we won't have to think of ourselves as a bad guy". I'm sure, (Like maybe that time I won the lottery for saving a busload of teenage cheerleader nuns with puppies. So whoever did the Brinks job, machine gunning everyone in sight was just coincidental news). I seriously doubt that because I fully admit taking the tools. So I'm not whitewashing theft, but the circumstances that put me there made think it was something that was "supposed to happen". (still, it only happened because I did it)

Now maybe I subconsciously set that up so that it only appeared to ME to be a "gift" (using a totally outlandish scenario involving disembodied voices and precognition instead of one where somebody just gave me the tools when they recognized my plight. Sure, that's it! They stopped & asked, it seems plausible ... Except they didn't). Actually it makes me wonder what my brother did so that he's familiar with the possibility of self delusion. Troll
I'm sort of relieved that he lives across the ocean (I think) & I seriously doubt that he'd smuggle nukes or anything (... heh). OK, my serotonin levels are back up again. So to continue ...

One of the explanations I've devised goes sort of like this:
Conscious creatures have a field of awareness that surrounds them & usually only extends out as far as one can reach because that's as far as one can verify effect. Samurais believed it goes as far as their weapons reach. Shamans say it goes as far as you can dream. A meditator, like a baby, is first aware of their body and intentionally ignores "distractions" as unreal because those divert awareness. Focused awareness is like a narrow beam spotlight, or a nonverbal non-philosophical hypothesis looking for verification.

According to this link below, I could have learned about the tools from information relayed to me from my future self, who was aware that I needed it, sort of like whats-his-name (Ford Prefect?) in Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. because for my future self, the past is a record and he's just remembering his previous need. This would also explain the presence of a voice in my head admonishing me to remember the sequence. When I asked for his identity, he laughed and variously said he was god, the devil, and me. That actually does sound like something I would say, but so far I don't remember giving that advice to myself or anyone.

Here's a couple of links I find interesting: Inner speech speaks volumes about the brain, also quantum mechanics explanation (Part 1), (Part 2) that seems to fit. The author is derided in the comments, but that's usually what happens anyway.