A story opens a space.
An explanation sets limits.

A story empowers.
An explanation tells how those powers are to be used.

Neither are true. Each wants to be true but neither will ever reach the exact place.
‘Bull’s eyes’ are safe. We keep trying, although those of us who know their way around words are aware how elusive truth is.

The downside of the whole thing being that words, ‘storied’ words, might kill.
As in actually! And uselessly…

Unless accompanied by a valid explanation, of course.

We happen to be born.

Then we start exploring the world our parents – and all their ancestors, have prepared for us.

At first, we’re like sponges. We absorb, unconsciously, everything which takes places around us. Some according to what our parents had in mind for us, some not.

After a while, on our own and/or under our parents’ supervision, our attention starts to focus. More and more of the things which are stored in our memory are learned. Increasingly a consequence of focused labor and less and less a happenstance.

Almost simultaneously, we start adding our transformative efforts to those already effected by our predecessors. Minute at first, more and more significant as we become more experienced.

At some point, we reach something called ‘maturity’.
That’s when ‘play’ ceases being a legitimate manner of learning for us.
We are allowed to continue playing but only for recreational purposes…

At least we’re still allowed to explore… but from now on, we’re expected to do it in a serious manner. According ‘to plan’, that is.
From now on, wandering is considered to be a sin!

‘You’re an adult, for God’s sake. Act like one!’

I’m sure most of you have experimented things. Either as an experimenter or, mostly in school, as a learning apprentice.
How many of those experiments had been ‘blind’? As is neither you nor anybody else present had any idea about what was going to happen?
And how many had a more ‘modest’ goal? Just to convince the ‘students’ that the ‘theory’ was valid?

If you think of it, the second sentence covers quite a lot of ground.
From the second grade teacher pouring water over some sugar ‘Look, it has disappeared’, to the scientists anxiously watching the gauges at the CERN laboratory…

A few short generations ago, people had to decide whether that plant was edible or not. And had developed methods to accomplish that task. They survived, right?
Nowadays we design new plants/animals and ‘cook up’ fancy snacks to be sold in supermarkets…

During our parents’ ‘watch’, Popper had come up with a test for what belonged to the realm of science – and had to do with ‘reality’.
Nowadays, we brag about being able to create VA. As in virtual reality… Enhanced virtual reality, even!

Nothing good or bad about all this.
For as long as we keep our eyes open… and, at least one of them, focused on the ‘hard’ reality… that which makes us possible!

Simple high-school physics teaches us about radio-active elements.
And about the fact that some of them can start a so called ‘nuclear chain-reaction‘.
For said chain reaction to start, a certain ‘critical mass’ must exist before-hand.

As soon as that ‘critical mass’ is achieved, the reaction starts by itself. No ‘trigger’ is required since it actually triggers itself.

But there’s one more thing which has a certain relevance here.

“Concentration”.

It’s not enough for the critical mass to exist, it also needs to be concentrated enough.

If the radio-active nuclei are positioned far enough one relative to the other, the decay of each of them goes ‘unnoticed’ by the rest. None of the individual ‘explosions’ can trigger the chain reaction.
But if the nuclei are crammed together – as in an A-bomb, a split second after detonation, the reaction accelerates itself until the whole shebang goes bang.

And there’s the ‘cherished’ middle of the road. When the ‘environment’ moderates the reaction. Slows it down to ‘self-sustaining’… as it happens in the (well managed) nuclear power-stations.

And, but very rarely, in the good old nature

‘Yeah… very interesting… but… what on Earth has any of this to do with your professed interest?
“Exploring the consequences of our limited conscience”…’

Trolling.

Very few individual humans are naturally ‘radio-active’.
And, in normal settings, they are ‘well taken care of’.

Before going forward, I’m going to return, briefly, to the ‘nuclear’ chapter of physics.
I’m sure the word ‘plutonium‘ does ring a bell with most of you.

Plutonium is a mostly ‘artificial’ – as in man-made, chemical element. A few scattered atoms can be found in nature – plutonium occurs when uranium atoms absorb ‘extra neutrons’, but the vast majority of the plutonium which exists on Earth has been produced in our nuclear reactors.

Said plutonium can be used to fuel reactors. And to make bombs.
Actually, it is far easier to concentrate plutonium for a bomb – if you have enough spent nuclear fuel, than to achieve the same result – a nuclear explosive device, starting from uranium ore.

Let me wrap this up.

Playing God can be dangerous.
We’ve been tinkering with Nature for a while now.

At one time or another, we’ve turned various naturally occurring ‘things’ into weapons.
From sticks to rocks, then metals… now chemical elements!

At first, we just picked them up and used them as they were.
Then we’ve shaped them to better fit our purpose.
And ended up changing the sub-atomic composition of Mendeleev’s elements…

Now, that we’ve reached “MAD“, we’re looking for something new.

Physics, chemistry, metallurgy and so on had not been invented for the sole purpose of building weapons.
But each piece of technology, once invented, had been used for improving whatever weapons were already had.

The latest piece of technology, the Internet, is the latest addition to our Arsenal. To our weapons making factory.

Forgetting that the by-products of our previous ‘explorations’ have already proven themselves as being extremely dangerous.
The Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, Fukushima, the huge stockpile of ‘residual’ plutonium we need to somehow dispose off…

Yep. The Internet is being used to distribute – sometimes very exactly targeted, weaponized information.
Which information actually transforms the susceptible individuals into time-bombs.

Tell a guy that his freedom is constantly challenged by the government.
Then tell him the mask isn’t 100% effective.
And end up by asking him ‘why does the government demands you to wear something which is not foolproof’?

Each of those three are legitimate.

Put together, they become explosive.
They actually blow up people’s heads.
Derail people’s ability to think straight.

What will happen when the ‘deranged people’ will reach the ‘critical mass’?

Only God knows.
But it will certainly be far worse than whatever the ‘troll farmers’ have in mind!

The sole difference between the living and the non-living is the fact that only the living is able to die.

Which death is the prerequisite for evolution!

Matthew Horwood/Getty Images

Get a vaccine, wear a mask…

“You can’t deprive others of their liberty without forfeiting your own. Liberty is lost with every person seeking to control others for their comfort and sentiment.”

Getting a vaccine and wearing a mask are sensible things to do, right?

Establishing a free environment, where all individuals might enjoy their liberties, is also a sensible thing!

For the simple reason that even a casual examination of history provides ample proof that freer societies fare far better than those which curtail individual freedoms.

Simpler said than done…
Mention the mandatory mask and the imperative advice to get vaccinated to those passionate about individual liberty and you have a hornets’ nest on your hands.

Or maybe this is an excellent occasion to discuss the ‘gap’ we constantly need to bridge between individual freedoms and a free society?

Can you have a free society composed of slaves?

The answer depends on who gives it to you.
I’d spent the first 30 years of my life under communist rule.
My country, Romania, was declared, by those who were ruling it at that time, as being free. Both domestically and internationally.
The only free individual was the ruler. Nicolae Ceausescu. He was the only guy who could do as he pleased. And only for a while… Until 25 December 1989…
In the end, the regime had crumbled and the only ‘free’ individual had met with the consequences of how he had chosen to use his freedom.

So no, you cannot have a free society when one individual, or a group of individuals, impose their will on everybody else.

‘Your liberty to swing your fist ends where my nose begins’

Otherwise put, if you refuse to get vaccinated/wear a mask you might be instrumental in getting me sick. Or dead.

‘Might’! It’s the ‘might’ part which troubles you!
Why should you shoulder a minimal risk/discomfort for my safety? Specially when you’re not convinced that my safety is in danger… Or, maybe, you’re thinking ‘let him take whatever precautionary measures he considers to be necessary!’

Because of India, that’s why!

Do you consider present day India to be a free society?
Do you consider that people currently living in India are truly enjoying their freedom? Today?!?

And no, I’m not going to contrast what’s going on in India with what the Chinese government had done.
First pretend nothing had happened then lock up the entire population.

No!
I’m going to contrast what’s going on in India with how the ‘other’ China had reacted to the Covid pandemic. Or with the South Korean response.

Different economic realities… Different cultures…
Maybe!
But also different levels of economic and social disruption!

Don’t tell me that what’s going on in today’s India won’t have repercussions!

Relația mea cu spațiul creștin este prea complicată pentru a fi descrisă într-o postare pe blog.
Într-o postare scurtă…

Din când în când, simt nevoia să aprind câte o lumânare pentru sufletele celor care nu mai sunt printre noi.
De multe ori, atunci când intru într-un lăcaș de cult, simt câte un fior.

În adolescență, pe vremea lui Ceașcă – atunci când mersul la biserică era văzut ca o formă de ‘dizidență’, de Paște mergeam la Mănăstirea Cașin. Ne adunam o gașcă de ‘neconvenționali’ și ne duceam, pe jos – din Giulești, pănă acolo. Nu intram. La ora la care ajungeam noi, nici n-am fi avut loc.
Dar nu pentru slujbă mergeam noi până acolo.
Pur și simplu simțeam nevoia să fim împreună cu alți oameni. Cu alți oameni care nu erau ‘înregimentați’. Întregimentați în acel prezent….

Anul acesta am simțit nevoia să repet experiența.
Între timp, m-am mutat din Giulești.
N-am reușit să conving pe nimeni din familie să mergem, undeva în apropiere, la slujba de la miezul nopții.

Așa că a rămas pe Duminică…
Până am pus friptura la cuptor… a trecut de amiază.

Am luat-o la picior.
Am cumparat un buchet de flori si am mers la o biserică. Ortodoxă.
Am ajuns pe la 3. După amiază.
La poartă era un lacăt. Dincolo de poartă, un câine. Nu atât fioros, cât foarte vocal.

Am mers mai departe. Până la Km Zero. Alt lacăt, fără căine. De data asta.
Am luat tramvaiul. Am ajuns la Sfânta Cruce. Pe Mihai Bravu, lângă spitalul Victor Babeș.

Poarta era închisă. Era afișat un program. La 17:30 urma să se întâmple ceva.
Să mai stăm o oră…?
Soția mea a strecurat buchetul de flori prin gard și am dat să plecăm.
A apărut o doamnă. De pe stradă.

-Să duc buchetul în biserică?
– Putem intra?!?
– Bineînțeles!

A deschis, firesc, poarta. Și a intrat!
Am urmat-o.

Soția a luat florile și le-a dus în apropierea altarului. Lângă alte buchete.
Înăutru mai erau două persoane.
Încă două au mai intrat între timp.
Am aprins trei lumânări, am mulțumit doamnei care ne-a deschis (mințile?), precum și doamnei de la lumânări, și ne-am văzut de drumul nostru.

Are rost să menționez că Sfănta Cruce este o biserică catolică?
Și că îi înțeleg perfect pe ortodocșii care preferă să sărbătorească Paștele acasă?

Până la urmă, avem de a face doar cu două moduri distincte de a percepe comunitatea….

https://www.ilcaragiale.eu/opere/nuvele_si_povestiri/o_faclie_de_paste.html

For a while, after WWII, many in the Eastern part of Europe were convinced that, soon, ‘the Americans will come’.
And save them from communism.

At the end of the Korean war, most of those hopes were dying away.
Whichever were still alive had been buried at the end of 1956. When the Soviets had occupied Budapest. And nobody lifted a finger…

The erstwhile hopeful had adapted to the new reality. Changed tack …
Instead of hoping that America will eventually deliver them from communism, they saved themselves. One way or another, they left their countries and pursued the American Dream in America proper.

They somehow reached those shores – welcoming shores, in those times, set to work and made it.
You see, in those times the American Dream was not as much about becoming rich as it was about becoming ‘your own man’. Being rich was considered useful, indeed, only it wasn’t seen as a goal in itself.

As to how to do it, things were crystal clear. Luck was optional while hard work was deemed essential. And, often enough for people to become convinced, things went on as expected!

‘Find what you’re good at, work hard and, sooner rather than later, your dream will come true’.

And it did. For many enough so that achieving the American Dream was considered to be the norm rather than an exception.
Maybe not for everybody. But for many enough so that Regular Joe was convinced that hard work and determination will take you places.

Is this assumption still valid today?

When so many of the well paying jobs have been exported?
When it’s far easier to make money by investing already owned capital than it is to work your way up the socio-economic ladder?

A lot of people point their finger at those who prefer to take hand-outs instead of accepting minimum wage jobs.
On the face of it, it doesn’t make much sense, does it?
No matter how generous, hand-outs will never be large enough for a comfortable life. While hard work will, eventually, take you there.
Are you sure about that? About hard work eventually taking you ‘there’? In the present conditions?

Furthermore, the former American Dream was about about giving your best before expecting Fate to reward your efforts.
Today’s mantra, ‘greed is good’, had completely altered the premises.
‘Get as much as you can, give as little as possible’ has become the new modus operandi.

What?!?

Maybe put in this way it will be easier to recognize.

Buy low, sell high.

‘Profit maximization’.

You see, using fancier words, those who prefer hand-outs to hard work do nothing but obey, intuitively, the law of the diminishing returns.

Then hand-outs should be drastically reduced!

That’s, indeed, one way of solving the problem…

Except for another ‘rule’.

You catch more flies with honey than vinegar!

But this is about ‘flies’, not ‘people’!

Yeah, right… as if people were less intelligent than flies…

You see, Henry Ford had found a way out. By dramatically increasing the ‘benefits’ extended to his workers he had managed to retain a stable work force. And, an unforeseen consequence, he had set in motion the wheels of the consumer society. The very economic set up which had made possible the fulfillment of the American Dream.

Currently, solvent demand is drying up.
Unnoticeably, for now.
For as long as credit will take up the slack, the evidence will remain under the radar.

But ‘evidence’ has the bad habit of hitting the fan.
Exactly at the worst possible moment…

It’s not necessarily a coincidence that this group of Goldman Sachs analysts chose the current moment in which to speak up, bucking the grin-and-bear-it culture.
There are a mix of factors at play: the ubiquity of social media, where the survey initially appeared; the rise of a generation more conscious of workplace toxicity and mental health; and a general sentiment of activism for equity.
The pandemic may have become a factor, too. Keenan notes that, from his experience, office camaraderie was one of the things that buoyed him through the worst days. In isolation during forced remote work, many of these tough experiences may be made even tougher, exacerbating their effects
.”

Meredith Turits, Is extreme working culture worth the big rewards?
BBC Worklife, 27th April 2021

‘Japanese’ logic:
If somebody can do it, I can too.
If nobody could do it, I will.

‘Romanian’ logic:
If somebody can do it, let them do it!
If nobody could do it, why should I?

These two capture rather accurately the respective Weltanschauungs.

There are two things which bother me, though.

Once a Romanian determines that something must be done, they will find a way. No matter how unconventional…
It’s not any lack of individual self-confidence which keeps Romania back…

Secondly – but, to me, far more important,
who gets to determine whether ‘it’ is worth doing?
The doers themselves or somebody else?
And what governs the relationship between the two?
Is any mutual respect involved there?

For some reason, this whole thing made me remember Oscar Hoffman’s words.

‘Logical correctness isn’t enough. For a sentence to be actually true, it also has to make epistemological sense’.

Nature is made of atoms.

Same thing is valid for viruses. And for people.

Both viruses and people are atoms put together according to specific sets of rules.
Further more, the same sets of specific rules determine how each of them interact with the places where each of them happen to live.

I need to make a pause here.
And mention the fact that life alters, profoundly – if given enough time, the space where it ‘unfolds’.
For instance, the blue-green algae have transformed the Earth atmosphere into what it is today.

We balk at it today but blue-algae, also known as Cyanobacteria, is responsible for the Earth atmosphere having so much free oxygen.

Same thing is valid for viruses. And for people.

Viruses which kill too much of what they get in contact with do not survive for long.
They either peter out, like Ebola usually does, or have been wiped out. Like small pox was. And polio is close to be.

People who destroy too much around them… soon find out they no longer have a viable home.

And this is valid both for individuals and for the entire species.

Nature, on the other hand, doesn’t care.
It simply goes on.

Nu stiu la voi dar la mine a avut efect aproape instantaneu.

Eram programat la 8.
Am ajuns la 7:50. Mai erau vreo 3 oameni. Pe trotuar… În fața unui spital de urgență… În dreptul intrării pe care scrie UPU… intrare închisă și păzită de un portar!

În întreb. Pe portar:
– Care-i treaba cu vaccinarea?
– Aveți programare?
– Da.
– La 8 începe. Vă chem eu.

Bag și eu măinile în buzunare și aștept.
Mai apare un tip.
– Cine e ultima persoană?

Repet, pentru cine nu a reținut, cu tot cu el eram vreo 5.

Mai apar încă doi.
Portarul ne deschide ușa și ne spune unde să mergem. Adică exact la ușa care era sub „Unitate de Primiri Urgențe”
Intrăm. Și aflăm că „abia la 8 începe”. Ieșim. ‘La aer’.

Între timp, câte unul, câte doi, trecuserăm de 10 persoane. Dintre care două stăteau cu masca sub nas iar o a treia fuma o țigară. Unul dintre ‘veterani’ – cu masca sub nas, le indică noilor veniți ‘ordinea de bătaie’. Abia ce termină, apare o tânără care ne cere voie să ‘intre în față’, împreună cu soțul, pentru că n-au avut cu cine să lase copilul – sugar, așa că l-au luat cu ei. Toată lumea acceptă.

Apare un nene care ne împarte niște formulare.
Începe cu cei de lângă ușă. Când să treacă la cei mai depărtați, o parte dintre cei aflați la capătul cozii – între timp ne strânsesem vreo 15, trec pe lângă cei care așteptau și se înghesuie în jurul celui cu formularele. Bineînțeles, apar și proteste…
Iese o asistentă. Care ne roagă să … mai ales în ziua de Florii…

După ce s-au apucat de treabă, cei de la spital s-au dovedit a fi bine organizați.
Totul mergea uns, coada a dispărut în doi timpi și trei mișcări.

Doi dintre beneficiari au ridicat problema ștampilei…
– Adeverința asta (de vaccinare) n-are și ea o ștampilă? Poate să o falsifice oricine… Dacă ies din țară, o ia cineva în seamă?

Li se explică că degeaba o falsifici, e trecută într-un registru ‘online’ care este verificat de fiecare dată când cineva face uz de respectiva adeverință.

Am început prin a menționa că la mine a avut efect aproape instantaneu.

Cum stăteam eu acolo să treacă sfertul ăla de oră, au început să-mi treacă tot felul de întrebări. Prin cap, bineînțeles.

Programul celor care se ocupă de vaccinare începe la 8.
Înainte de prima injecție, personalul trebuie sa facă câteva pregătiri. N-are rost să intru în amănunte.
Și atunci? De ce primii vaccinabili sunt chemați tot la 8? Dacă vaccinarea efectivă nu are cum să înceapă înainte de 8 și-un-sfert?

De ce continuăm să ne comportăm ca pe vremea lui Ceașcă? Să ne ‘băgăm în față’?

De ce suntem în continuare fascinați de ștampilă? În epoca cloud-ului?
După aspect, cel puțin una dintre persoanele interesate de problemă ar fi trebuit să-și dea seama, citind adeverința, despre care-i treaba în propoziție…

E clar. Dacă după prima injecție am fost în stare să-mi pun atâtea întrebări, cred că după rapel…
Ăsta să fie efectul chipului?!?

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