Archives for category: Chance

Three of the terms involved are relatively clear.
We all know – think we know, what ‘fail’, ‘win’ and ‘cheat’ mean.
‘Honor’… on the other hand… is way more relative. Mostly to the company we keep.

For some, being honest is synonym to behaving foolishly…
After being educated in such a manner, not making use of every opportunity which presents itself to you – no matter how ‘shady’ it might be, is seen as suicidal. Not only that you loose the potential windfall, you also loose face!
You loose whatever public respect you ever had. You actually loose your honor!

Now, that I’ve already dug this far, the whole phrase needs context.
We know what ‘fail’ means but without circumstances….
What are we talking about here? Backgammon or a survival situation?
An innocuous game or a struggle to stay alive?

Most people will praise those who let themselves be killed for a noble cause.
On the other hand, it would be rather ‘bland’ to allow someone to kill you without attempting to ‘fool’ the guy into giving up, right?

On a different scale, history – and, maybe, this was what Sophocles meant in the first place, offers ample proof that communities which value ‘true’ honor last far longer – and their members enjoy far more comfortable lives, than those where cheating is a way of life.

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Bonkers, right?

Here’s a more elaborate expression of the same concept:

“Al-Ash’ari (873–935), the founder of the theological school that al-Ghazâlî belonged to, had rejected the existence of “natures” (tabâ’i’ ) and of causal connections among created beings. In a radical attempt to explain God’s omnipotence, he combined several ideas that were developed earlier in Muslim kalâm to what became known as occasionalism. All material things are composed of atoms that have no qualities or attributes but simply make up the shape of the body. The atoms of the bodies are the carrier of “accidents” (singl. ‘arad), which are attributes like weight, density, color, smell, etc. In the cosmology of al-Ash’arî all immaterial things are considered “accidents” that inhere in a “substance” (jawhar). Only the atoms of spatially extended bodies can be substances. A person’s thoughts, for instance, are considered accidents that inhere in the atoms of the person’s brain, while his or her faith is an accident inhering in the atoms of the heart. None of the accidents, however, can subsist from one moment (waqt) to the next. This leads to a cosmology where in each moment God assigns the accidents to bodies in which they inhere. When one moment ends, God creates new accidents. None of the created accidents in the second moment has any causal relation to the ones in the earlier moment. If a body continues to have a certain attribute from one moment to the next, then God creates two identical accidents inhering in that body in each of the two subsequent moments. Movement and development generate when God decides to change the arrangement of the moment before. A ball is moved, for instance, when in the second moment of two the atoms of the ball happen to be created in a certain distance from the first. The distance determines the speed of the movement. The ball thus jumps in leaps over the playing field and the same is true for the players’ limbs and their bodies. This also applies to the atoms of the air if there happen to be some wind. In every moment, God re-arranges all the atoms of this world anew and He creates new accidents—thus creating a new world every moment (Perler/Rudolph 2000, 28–62).”

On the other hand, we currently have our own struggles.

Determinism.
Is it possible to determine the ultimate cause of anything? Forget about ‘everything’… even the ultimate cause for something seems to be far beyond our capabilities…

Freedom.
Is it real?
Or is it only a figment of our own imagination?

Reality.
Is it real?
Or is it created by our own conscience?

No links provided. Do your own googling.

Here’s what science teaches us on this matter.

Heisenberg’s ‘Uncertainty Principle’:
It is impossible to simultaneously measure with absolute precision both the position and the velocity of any object.

For many everyday instances, this doesn’t present any problem. For practical purposes, our technological prowess is enough. Philosophically… Heisenberg’s principle is yet another irrefutable indication that we’re very far from ever being able to determine the ultimate cause of anything.

Are we able to live with this uncertainty?

Are we able to go to bed at night without being absolutely sure that the sun will rise tomorrow?
OK, everybody somehow knows – even if nobody wants to accept it, that there’s a slight chance that they will not wake tomorrow… but the Sun?!?

Are we able to live with the notion that what we call ‘natural order’ isn’t fixed?

That a meteorite might come from nowhere and kill all the ‘dinosaurs’?
That a virus might spring up from nowhere and fuck up our lives?

“What we see is the fire touching the cotton and then the cotton being reduced to ashes. We wrongly assume that there is thus a necessary causal relationship between fire burning and the cotton being burned”.

Now please tell me something.
What is the subject here? Cotton being burned or our relationship with what’s going on there?

We see… we assume… He, al Ghazali, tells us that we are wrong to assume that what we see is what is really happening… He is ‘right’ – because…- and we are wrong…

The funny thing being, of course, that al-Ghazali is, partially, right!
Since Heisenberg had postulated his famous principle, we should refrain ourselves from assuming anything…

OK. Let me put it differently then.
What happened to that cotton?
Is it still white? Or had it been “reduced” to ashes?

Who brought the flame close enough to the cotton?
Was this an experiment? In a lab?
Or a tragedy? In a field/storage? By lightning? Or by an arsonist?

Returning to al Ghazali, we need to remember that his world was totally different from ours.

It’s safe to say that their culture was about as sophisticated as ours. Same arts, same subjects discussed in the philosophical circles, same religious ideas…

Civilizationally speaking, we live in a totally different world.
Civilization – the consequence of ‘culture’ being put to practice’ had advanced dramatically in the last 1000 years.

And since our thoughts are heavily influenced by the environment in which we’re doing the thinking…

The fraction of the population who enjoyed ‘food security’ was minuscule compared to today.
The fraction of the population who was pretty much sure they will awake the next morning was minuscule compared to today.
The fraction of the population who felt free – from oppression – was, practically, nonexistent.

Yet the ‘thinkers’ felt the same need for coherence as those thinking today. They felt the same need to know what tomorrow had in store for them.
They, like us, needed an explanation for disease. For war. For tragedy…
And since no pathogens nor dictators were available …

How come ‘no dictators were available’?!?
Who in his right mind would have called, then, the local ruler a ‘dictator’? In his face…
Look at what happened, now, to people doing that in Moscow!
Or even in Washington, DC

That was the role attributed to God. To be the bridge to tomorrow.

It was not the flame which reduced the cotton to ashes. Nor the experimenter/arsonist/dictator. It was ‘God’.
As long as we could accept that – and that God loved us, the future was still bearable.

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One of my eyes is short-sighted. Both are astigmatic.
Hence my visual relationship with the ‘exterior’ is impaired. Relative to that of a ‘normal’ person…

When I took up photography, as a hobby, there were no such things as self focusing cameras. Pictures as those you are about to see were way ‘out of range’ for me.

Because of my inability to focus a camera fast enough. And because long ranged lenses were too expensive for me, in those times.

Being conscious of my limits was no cure for my frustration!

Thankfully, technology made it possible for me to indulge in my hobby!
To overcome some of my limitations.

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Time is but the consequence of matter/energy interacting with itself.

The post continues after this message.

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There was no time to speak about before matter divorced energy.

Nobody was actually aware of time passing by until we started counting Sun’s revolutions.

Earth turning round the Sun is matter interacting with itself.

We, humans, are a consequence of evolution. Of matter interacting with itself.

History – the times be bothered to record, is a consequence of human interactions.

Environment is the consequence of the living things interacting with the rest of the planet.
The current state of our ‘backyard’, the Earth, is, increasingly, the consequence of our interaction with the environment.

Time might be passing its own.
We used to count it.
Nowadays, we’re the ones driving it.

Resources, Time, Evolution.

Information, Learning, Revelation.

Opportunities, Experience, Self-Improvement.

Things, Structure, Understanding.

Limits, Interactions, Outgrowth.

Smells like The Dow Theory?
Because that was my starting point….

But we should not forget Abraham Maslow.
If you think of it, Maslow’s stages are nothing but the three thrusts up which define a bull market.
For an individual to be able to master the ‘self actualization’ phase, they need to have mustered enough resources, have had enough relevant social experience and to have ‘properly digested’ the information accumulated during the process.


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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!

“The Texas educational system inundates the children with the almost mythical stories of Sam Houston, Stephen F. Austin, and other Texan heroes. This perpetuates the feeling that Texans are superior to others. Social Identity Theory claims that in-group biases are a direct need to feel superior to another group. By reinforcing such ideals of Texas history at an early age, they are indirectly making Texans feel superior to other states.”

Don’t mess with Texas, Justin R.Erenkranz, retrieved on February 18, 2021

In fact, Texans are so proud of their state, and so confident in themselves, that their power grid, run by ERCOT – Electric Reliability Council of Texas, has no connections linking it to the outside world.
Yes, your eyes are OK. Texas – most of it, anyway, cannot import electric energy. No matter what!

For those who know anything about power management, this is insane.
For the rest of the people, this sounds like gibberish.

Who cares where the power comes from?!?

Until it stops coming… exactly when you need it most!

Texas produces and consumes more electricity than any other state, but it is the only state in the continental United States that runs a stand-alone electricity grid, which was designed to keep the state’s energy system independent and isolated from other markets.

‘OK. But surely, there are also other systems which are independent. And isolated. What about Hawai’i? It’s too far away to connect itself with anybody else and it’s doing just fine.’

True enough. And I can name a few more, easily. Only most of them are independent because they are isolated, not by design.
And, exactly because they are isolated, they are run with utmost care. More precautions are taken than in ‘normal’ situations.

‘Precaution’ meaning, in this case, spare capacity.
The responsible people running those systems make sure that, when push comes to shove, somebody is there to deliver the goods. The megawatts of power.

Since 2010, ERCOT’s reserve margin – the buffer between what it can produce vs. forecasted demand – has dropped to about 10% from about 20%. This has put pressure on generators during electricity demand spikes, making the grid less flexible, NERC said.

NERC stands for North American Electric Reliability Corporation. Which corporation, in December 2020, had released “a long term reliability study” maintaining that “ERCOT’s market and system operations have been successful over the last several years even as demand has continued to rise in Texas“. It was the same study which had mentioned that the grid was becoming “less flexible“….

SEC Rule 156 requires mutual funds to tell investors not to base their expectations of future results on past performance before they invest.

Oops…

Reality is an Acquired Taste.

Past performance is not… John Brown, Forbes, 2016

Maybe we need to reconsider our infatuation with ‘just in time management’.
While ‘just in time management’ maximizes profits by streamlining inventory, it works its magic only when everything goes according to plan. And the stricter the streamlining, the harsher the consequences of anything not going according to plan!

As people in Texas have just learned.

And there’s something else which bothers me ever since I’ve started writing this post.
How much sense does it make to be able to pipe oil all the way down from Canada to the refineries lining the Gulf of Texas when you end up freezing to death because you don’t have enough electricity to operate those refineries?!?

And no, I’m not making fun of the ordinary people who suffer the consequences!
This being the moment when I feel the need to remind you that the author of this blog – that’s me, tries to asses the consequences of our limited consciousness. Of the fact that none of us knows much. And, furthermore, that very few of us admit that!
Which consequences might be – as too often are, tragic.

Specially when those who are not aware that their knowledge is limited happen to be invested with critical decision power.

“How absurd to imagine that something we can make could actually deliver us from problems we could not free ourselves from!”
Dr. Allen Ross, Dead Idols or the Living God

According to Abraham Maslow, people’s lives are ‘staged’.
During the first four, each individual ‘must’ – ‘inside’ whatever circumstances Mother Luck had granted them, provide for their ‘needs’.
Only after they had reached the fifth stage, individuals have the opportunity – but no ‘obligation’ other than that each of them impose upon themselves, to ‘reinvent’ their own personae. Maslow had used ‘self-actualization’ to describe the process.

In religious terms, the whole thing is known as ‘coming to peace with oneself’.

No more ‘absurdity’ here!
There’s so much each of us can do in order to move ‘forward’…

‘And where is this famous ‘forward’?!? How are we, individually and/or collectively, to determine which is the ‘good’ direction?!?’

Is our ‘imagination’ good enough to come up with a solution for the “problems we could not free ourselves from”?

The carpenter measures with a line

    and makes an outline with a marker;

he roughs it out with chisels

    and marks it with compasses.

He shapes it in human form,

    human form in all its glory,

    that it may dwell in a shrine.

He cut down cedars,

    or perhaps took a cypress or oak.

He let it grow among the trees of the forest,

    or planted a pine, and the rain made it grow.

 It is used as fuel for burning;

    some of it he takes and warms himself,

    he kindles a fire and bakes bread.

But he also fashions a god and worships it;

    he makes an idol and bows down to it.

Half of the wood he burns in the fire;

    over it he prepares his meal,

    he roasts his meat and eats his fill.

He also warms himself and says,

    “Ah! I am warm; I see the fire.”

From the rest he makes a god, his idol;

    he bows down to it and worships.

He prays to it and says,

    “Save me! You are my god!”

Is ‘induction’ a comprehensive enough solution?
Or ‘too much of a good thing’ will never fail to become ‘bad for you’?

Confused?

Let me put it another way.

‘One size fits all’.
How many times have you been really satisfied by such a ‘solution’?
Do you really think an ‘idol’ fashioned by a carpenter – by the most talented carpenter, even, will ever satisfy the needs of at least one blacksmith?

‘But how about the idols fashioned by Plato’s king-priests?’

To answer this question – this excellent question, if I may say so myself, we must turn back to Dr. Allen Ross’ Dead Idols. To the difference between the Dead Idols and the Living God, to be more precise.

‘Criterion for what?’

If you pay close enough attention to what’s written above, you’ll notice that not passing the falsifiability test doesn’t mean than an assertion is false! Far from it, actually!
Not passing the falsifiability test – ‘if a claim is compatible with all and any states of affairs’, only means that that claim is both ‘true’ and unscientific! Simultaneously true and not scientific!

‘And what has any of these to do with God?!? With the Living God or with any of the Dead Idols humankind has built for itself? And later discarded?’

I’m afraid you’ll have to come back for the answers.
Or, to put it differently, I’ll gladly welcome you back!

According to Alan Hayek – the guy who claims the copyright for the relevant entry into the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, the wager doesn’t make any sense unless you consider that God is, however remotely, possible.

Now, that I grabbed your attention, let me point it to the subject du jour.

The face mask!

To wear or not to wear one…

Strangely enough, many of those who believe in God are adamantly refusing to wear a mask.
They don’t actually see God yet they find the world as THE argument for His existence.
And, at the same time, they refuse to acknowledge the seriousness of the Covid 19 pandemic. Which had already killed, or hastened the death of, more than 1.2 million people worldwide.

OK, almost no mask – specially the ones worn by us, civilians, is 100% fool-proof.
But wearing one is far better than none at all…
OK, most of us would weather the infection with relative ease.
But some would die!
Then why spread it around?

For that, if you didn’t already know, is more than half of what the masks do!
They make it harder for those of us who already have it – but don’t know it yet, to spread it around.

Help prevent the spread of COVID-19 by protecting yourself and others. Keep in mind that you may have the virus even if you don’t have symptoms.

You still consider it to be a muzzle?

Why? Only because it is mandated by the government?
And you don’t trust your own government? While living in a democratic country?

But since when do you rely on your government to tell you which is the sensible thing to do?

“Every morning, the CEO of a large bank in Manhattan walks to the corner where a shoe shine is always located.

He sits on the couch, examines the Wall Street Journal, and the shoe shine gives his shoes a shiny, excellent look.

One morning the shoeshine asks the Executive Director:

– What do you think about the situation in the stock market?

The Director asks in turn arrogantly:

– Why are you so interested in that – that topic?

“I have a million dollars in your bank,” the shoeshine says, “and I’m considering investing some of the money in the capital market.”

– What your name? –Asks the Director.

– John Smith H.

The Director arrives at the bank and asks the Manager of the Customer Department:

– Do we have a client named John Smith H.?

– Certainly –answers the Customer Service Manager–, he is a highly esteemed customer. He has a million dollars in his account.

The Director comes out, approaches the shoeshine, and says:

– Mr. Smith, I ask you this coming Monday to be the guest of honor at our board meeting and tell us the story of your life. I am sure we will have something to learn from you.

At the board meeting, the Executive Director introduces him to the board members:

– We all know Mr. Smith, who makes our shoes shine in the corner; But Mr. Smith is also our esteemed customer with a million dollars in his account. I invited him to tell us the story of his life. I am sure we can learn from him.

Mr. Smith began his story:

– I came to this country fifty years ago as a young immigrant from Europe with an unpronounceable name. I got off the ship without a penny. The first thing I did was change my name to Smith. I was hungry and exhausted. I started wandering around looking for a job but to no avail. Suddenly I found a coin on the sidewalk. I bought an apple. I had two options: eat the apple and quench my hunger or start a business. I sold the apple for two dollars and bought two apples with the money. I also sold them and continued in business. When I started accumulating dollars, I was able to buy a set of used brushes and shoe polish and started polishing shoes. I didn’t spend a penny on entertainment or clothing, I just bought bread and some cheese to survive. I saved penny by penny and after a while, I bought a new set of shoe brushes and ointments in different shades and expanded my clientele. I lived like a monk and saved penny by penny. After a while I was able to buy an armchair so that my clients could sit comfortably while cleaning their shoes, and that brought me more clients. I did not spend a penny on the joys of life. I kept saving every penny. A few years ago, when the previous shoe shine on the corner decided to retire, I had already saved enough money to buy his shoeshine location at this great place.

Finally, three months ago, my sister, who was a whore in Chicago, passed away and left me a million dollars.”

Somebody sent me this as a Whatsapp message.
I looked it up and shared it with you for a very simple reason.

We all know Mr. Smith, who makes our shoes shine in the corner; But Mr. Smith is also our esteemed customer with a million dollars in his account. I invited him to tell us the story of his life. I am sure we can learn from him.