Archives for category: cooperation

Sugar, flour, vegetable oil, gas, toilet paper, soap, pork belly… and also coal, steel, timber, cement…affordable mass produced ‘things’ you expect to be able to buy whenever you need them.

Until something happens and you are no longer able to… either you lost your job or they have disappeared from the market. For whatever reasons.
It is then when you realize that many of your contemporaries consider many of them to be luxuries… And that now it’s your turn to share their experiences…

Then we have the natural ‘commodities’. Things we take for granted but which have not been produced by our fellow humans.
That the sun will rise tomorrow, fresh air, clean water, fertile soil…
Things we take for granted… but, again, quite a lot of people find many of those things to be rather ‘out of reach’!

Finally, but no less important, we have the ‘virtual’ commodities. Man ‘made’, again, but, this time, ‘untouchable’. Love, friendship, respect, trust…

To me, the most important of the ‘commodities’, virtual or otherwise, is trust.

Once we loose trust, we loose everything!

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Remember this puzzle?

To solve it, you have to break the box your own mind has assumed. The limitations your own mind had imposed, at least initially, over the whole thing.
You have here the psychological intricacies.

But ‘breaking’ the box isn’t enough. You also need to ‘see’ the lines…
Giving yourself enough ‘space’ to solve a problem is an absolutely necessary step but will not necessarily take you there.

There are other approaches.

There’s a guy, very successful, apparently, who advocates rethinking the boxes. You can start exploring his ideas here:

There’s another guy who argues that there is no box. No box at all!
And that what you should do if you really want to ‘boldly go where no one has gone before’ is to “Set your box on fire
Ooops… the guy really needs to make up his mind! Before giving advice to others …
How can you “set your box on fire” before acknowledging its existence?!?

Which brings me to conclusion.

The first step towards solving a problem, any problem, is to determine the box which contains that problem. The limits you have to cross in order to be able to build a solution!

Which solution might not become apparent the moment you have crossed those limits! Or ever….
But which solution would have never crossed your mind had you remained inside the original box.

Inside the box in which you had originally confined yourself!

Stage 1
You are the prisoner of the box you have assigned to the problem you have to solve.

Stage 2
You’re still inside the box but your thinking outside it.
The box had become porous. ‘Inflatable’, even.
You can make it as big, or as small, as you deem necessary.

Stage three.
You have removed yourself from the box.
You are aware of the fact that the problem must still be solved inside of a box.
Inside your knowledge and inside whatever resources may be made available for the task.
But your current relation with the box containing the problem makes it possible for you to understand – and, maybe, solve, the meta-problem.
From the outside it’s easier to figure out that it is you who needs to muster the pertinent knowledge, the necessary resources and the stamina to solve the problem.
If you really want it solved, of course.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/chuckswoboda/2020/08/03/why-thinking-outside-the-box-is-the-wrong-way-to-approach-innovation/
https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/inside-the-box/201402/thinking-outside-the-box-misguided-idea
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MrQwNFaVaZ8

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We know that smoking is bad for us yet we continue to smoke.

Because too many of us are convinced that each of us, in particular, will be fine.
That things are not that bad. Well, maybe for those who had bad luck. Or something…

You see, I’ve reached the conclusion that individual conscience is more preoccupied with it’s own survival than with the ‘well being’ of it’s “host”.

“What?!?”

Do you have a better explanation for why so many of us continue to smoke? To do drugs? To drink/eat too much? To… – feel free to fill in your favorite aberration!

Please don’t quote any study about how powerful addictions are. For each of those there are many studies proving how powerful our minds are when they become determined enough.

How fast things happen after our knowledge about something becomes a belief. A belief in something…

Let me put it the other way around.

Did you get the anti-Covid jab? Why?
You haven’t made up your mind yet? Because you are not yet convinced?
You’re not going to? No matter what? Because you don’t believe in vaccines?

See what I mean?

The world is awash in information. All of us are exposed to more or less the same knowledge.
All of us know that a considerable number of people – the vast majority, actually, are convinced about the roundness of the Earth. Yet there still is a very vocal group of Flat-Earthers. Of people acting as if they actually believe that the Earth is Flat.
All of us have been told that smoking can cause cancer. And other diseases. Yet some of us continue to act as if they actually believe that nothing of that sort might happen to them.

Mind you, there is nothing inherently bad in this! On the contrary.
If people would have believed everything they had ever been told… at one time… the Earth would have remained flat, all witches would have been burned – or drowned, all ‘Jews’ would have been killed – many centuries ago…

The point of this post is to underscore the importance of self.
The huge responsibility placed upon our individual shoulders by the fact that we are the ones called to choose what to believe.

Yes, we are indeed inundated with ‘data’. From the day we are born to the day when our conscience goes dark.
Yes, some minds are sharper than others. Some of us are better at spinning thoughts than the rest of us. Some of us at indeed better at making sense of the information which happens to cross their paths.
And some of us are better at influencing others. At shining ‘light’ on ‘things’ in a manner which makes the message they want to convey more palatable for their intended targets.

Yet all this ‘trivia’ doesn’t change the reality.
We are the ones who make decisions. We are the ones who choose what to believe. We are the ones who shape our fate.

By choosing our faith!
By convincing ourselves that some things are worth doing and that some should be left undone.

https://www.univie.ac.at/constructivism/pub/hvf/papers/maturana05selfconsciousness.html

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Until recently – historically speaking, people had two ideologies to choose from.

Conservative and liberal.

The conservatives used to posit ‘law’ as a ‘cage’ which didn’t allow any transgression while the liberals understood ‘law’ as an agreed upon environment which allowed people an individual but orderly pursuit of happiness.

The advent of Marx’s communism had changed everything. His promotion of ‘class warfare’ as a legitimate political instrument had effectively muddled that which had previously been considered a clear choice.

After communism had been proven an abject failure, the naifs have forgotten about Marx.
Flying under the ideological radar, ‘class warfare’ has metastasized.

Nowadays, Regular Joe is confronted with three ideologies. And to make things worse, their names – attributed and/or assumed, are misleading.

We have a line of thought which uses (natural) ‘law’ as a line of defense against any kind of change. And as a means of bringing back the ‘better yesterday’.

Another line of thought which sees (man made) ‘law’ as an instrument to implement – forcefully, if needed, ‘equality’.

And the ‘classical’ liberals who are squeezed between the previous two.

The state/government – whose job is to keep ‘the playing field’ level and functional, is paralyzed by the first two factions fighting to control it.
The ‘conservatives’ want to use the state/government as a ‘preserving agent’ for what they consider to be their (natural) ‘rights’.
The ‘progressives’ want to use the state/government as an instrument of (forceful, if needed) change towards what they consider to be ‘the common good’.

Meanwhile, the classical liberals – berated by both of the above, have a hard time explaining to a shrinking audience that the state/government is an extremely dangerous instrument if allowed to fall into the hands of ‘single-minded’ operators. That as soon as the freedom of the markets (the economic and, way more importantly, the ideatic ones) is curtailed, everything starts to go south. Fast!

Democracy and the free market have brought us so far.
The freedom of thought/expression and the freedom to act as an honest entrepreneur have been instrumental in us reaching the present state. With the goods and the bads in it.

Each instance in which the state/government had fallen prisoner in the hands of ‘men of state’ with ‘focused vision’, history had run backwards.
No matter whether that ‘limited vision’ had been focused in the past or on “a” future.

Each time this subject comes about I remember about Francis Fukuyama’s The End of History.
About how concentrated he was on the future he had seen as forthcoming.
About how his ‘hard focus’ had prevented him from noticing the sunken part of the iceberg.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/oct/10/texas-abortion-law-jonathan-f-mitchell-profile
https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/download/pdf/Manifesto.pdf

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More than ten years ago I was preparing my thesis.
To get a ‘title’ – BA in sociology, in my case, each Romanian student must submit a paper to a commission. To help them, students are allowed to chose a Professor.
My choice had been Petre Anghel.
We had many interesting ‘exchanges’. Before, during and after preparing my thesis.
One of the most interesting ones had been about education.

Education is, maybe, the most ‘conservative’ things known to man.
The transfer of knowledge from one generation to the next one is the single thing which allows a society to survive.
And to thrive, if each successive generation diligently improves
what has been bestowed upon it!

Petre Anghel

Fast forward to right now.

The US is the current ‘top dog’.

According to my Teacher, for a nation to reach this ‘stage’ it needs a smooth flow of knowledge from one generation to the next one. And a strenuous effort to improve that knowledge made by each successive generation.

Nowadays, both current generations – the one trying to pass over its knowledge and the one at the receiving end of the process, are dissatisfied with the current ‘education system’.
Many belonging to the ‘mature’ generation are obsessing about ‘who runs the system and towards which end’ while the ‘learning generation’ is buckling under the costs incurred during the process.

Do I need to remind you that it’s the conservatives the world over who are whining about this?

OK, I understand the whiners living in failed states. Afghanistan, Somalia…
But those enjoying the perks of living in the ‘civilized’ world?
What are they complaining about?
Weren’t they in charge while the current education system had been put in place?
Aren’t they the parents, and educators, of the current student generation?

What’s going on here?!?
Why are the American Conservatives, living in the most advanced country of the world – no doubt here!, the most vocal critics of their own education system?

What, and why, went wrong?

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Some of you will agree and some will say I’ve lost it.

First things first.

Socialism does take away liberties.
One by one. Under various pretexts.
I’ve learned this on my own skin.

Spending the first 30 years of your life under a communist regime teaches you a thing or two…

On the other hand, the meme above does have a certain ‘appeal’.
A significant number of people had their pensions slashed, watched their savings disappear and their jobs being exported. Health care and education have become exorbitant. Racism, xenophobia and hate have again risen their ugly heads and more and more people die at the wrong end of a gun. Of a gun ‘manhandled’ by ’emotionally distressed’ persons…

What’s going on here?
Why so many people’s lives are so badly ruined?

Fugazi can be used to describe a situation as “fucked up” or to describe an item as fake.

You see, “capitalism” stealing anything is a lie.
A blatant lie!

Capitalism cannot steal anything!

Socialism can rob you of your rights because it actually says it will do it.
Given the slightest chance, those who promote socialism will use the doctrine to ‘discipline’ their followers into a herd.

Capitalism doesn’t promote stealing!
Stealing is not condoned by any capitalist ideology while concentrating all decision making in the hands of the ruling coterie is the cornerstone of socialism.

‘If capitalism doesn’t condone stealing then why an increasing number of people end up penniless while so much money gets concentrated in such a small number of hands?!?’

Why are we living in such fugazi times?

Replace “capitalism” with ‘some (fake) capitalists’ and the text above will make so much more sense!

You see, what we have here is the perfect illustration of fugazi.
We are in a fucked up situation!
And instead of trying to solve it, some of us attempt to ‘fake it’!
And consequently make it worse…

Socialism won’t bring any respite!

Solving the current untenable situation starts with acknowledging its causes!
Its real causes…

Blaming the socialists for the errors committed because too much greed had been ‘expressed’ at ‘very high levels’ doesn’t solve anything.
Promising that socialism will making things right is just as malignant as blaming the socialists for the mistakes made by the greedy who have brought us where we currently are.

Only when we’ll stop faking it we’ll be able to look for solutions.
For workable solutions…

Oh, I almost forgot!
Don’t allow the ‘con-artists’ to convince you that social democracy is equivalent to socialism.
This is a thesis put forward by the same people who maintain that “republic” is good while “democracy” is bad.
And don’t allow the ‘other’ ‘con-artists’ to convince you that all wealthy people are bad and that (forced) “equality” will solve everything.

https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=10220264321259677&set=a.10200798952597626
https://www.dictionary.com/e/slang/fugazi/
https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/download/pdf/Manifesto.pdf
https://www.britannica.com/topic/democracy/Democracy-or-republic

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The single truth which is accessible to us is that while there is a single truth – we may call it ‘reality’, if you want, we’ll never know it in its entirety.
We may get ever closer to getting there but we will never arrive.

The corollary – which is an integral part of the kernel truth, being that the effort to get closer to that single truth can be exerted only as a collective endeavor. Any other approach will, sooner rather than later, end up in a cul-de-sac.

The sooner we agree about this ‘kernel’ truth, the more peaceful the journey to never get there will become.

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Isn’t it rather strange?

Health care professionals who are not yet vaccinated against Covid-19?
Teachers who are not yet vaccinated against Covid-19?

OK, I understand there are some people who cannot go near a vaccine. For medical reasons. But they are few. And, anyway, most of them do not ‘belong’ to this line of work.

But the rest? What is it which prevents them from getting the jab?
The ‘mandatory’ part?
Why do I care about it being mandatory if it saves my life?

Am I being oppressed for having to breathe in order to live?

Am I feeling oppressed for having to work – as in being useful for other people, in order to lead a decent life?

Is this the real reason for which so many of us, teachers and health care professionals included, refuse the vaccine?

‘I am not going to sacrifice my health for the misconceptions and irrational fears of others.’

I don’t care about anybody else but me?!?

Only time can judge this.

Which was smarter.
To accept the vaccine – and contribute to the general well being, assuming the non-0 risk involved.
Or to weather the storm. Hoping the pandemic will die on its own. And/or that enough of the others will get the jab.

But to find out what time will have decided, each of us must live. Must survive the pandemic.

And here’s the catch.
The strongest amongst us will survive. Without a mask. Without a vaccine.
While many of those who didn’t have to die will have gone under.

But what kind of a world will that be?

Dog eat dog?

Are we OK with that?
Is this what we want to leave behind?

For whatever reasons, vaccine arrived later in some countries.
For whatever other reasons, some people had chosen to ‘opt out’ in those countries where the vaccine had been plentiful.

The results have been the same.

More than half of Vietnam’s people are currently under lockdown.
New daily cases have surpassed 10,000 and deaths are being reported in hundreds. Of Vietnam’s nearly 16,000 COVID-19 fatalities, more than 99% have come in this latest wave
.”

https://www.npr.org/2021/09/16/1037768399/long-weekend-becomes-9-week-lockdown-for-ap-vietnam-reporter
https://www.inquirer.com/health/coronavirus/pennsylvania-coronavirus-breakthrough-cases-vaccinated-unvaccinated-20210914.html

There are some things each of us must do.

Breathe, drink, eat, take cover.

There are some things each of us should do in moderation.

Drink, eat, ‘rest’…

There are some things each of us should never do.

Lie, steal, kill.

The things we must do ‘depend’ upon our DNA.
Unless we do what our DNA tells us to do, we die.

The things we shouldn’t do have been determined culturally.
Our fore-fathers have noticed that not doing ‘those things’ helped a lot.
That communities who taught their members to not do those things survived a lot easier and fared a lot better than those communities who had been ‘lax’ about ‘things’.
Teaching what to do and what to not do across generations transformed learned information into culture.

In time, culture has fulfilled the same function as DNA.

DNA had made it possible for life to exist. For species to survive. And to evolve when needed. When the environment had changed.

Culture had made it possible for communities to survive.
Individuals belonging to each generation didn’t had to reinvent fire each time they were cold. Or afraid. Or hungry.
They just remembered what their ancestors had taught them and put it into practice.

But there’s also a huge difference between DNA and culture.
Both consist of information passed over generations and both are instrumental in the survival of those who depend on that information being put to use.
The difference consists in the fact that DNA actually demands a certain behavior while culture only recommends certain ‘answers’.

There’s more.

DNA is a ‘language’. It has ‘letters’, ‘syntactic’ rules and even means to correct errors.
Culture uses languages as a vehicle.

Both code information using ‘letters’ and ‘words’ but they differ in how that information is passed to the next generation.
DNA passes that information in a way more ‘rigid’ manner than culture does.

While it is true that slight differences occur whenever genetic information is passed from one generation to another – that’s how evolution works, those ‘directly interested’ in the process have nothing to say about this whole thing. The differences occur accidentally and survive only if they don’t harm the organisms where they appear.

With cultural information things happen in the exact opposite manner.
Differences occur only when enough individuals notice that it would be beneficial for them to change that particular habit in that particular manner.

And now we have reached the moment to contemplate another similarity.

As the DNA has become more elaborate, the ‘superior’ organisms had enjoyed more individual ‘freedom’. Or ‘lee-way’.
Insects have more lee-way than worms, fish have more lee-way than star-fish, dogs have more lee-way than frogs and humans have more freedom than the rest of the apes have lee-way.
Similarly, people belonging to the hunter-gatherer culture had accrued a lot more freedom when they had learned – and taught it to their children, how to make fire. And so on.
Those who had learned how to grow their own food – and passed the information to the next generations, had far less chances of dying of hunger. And a lot more lee-way to conduct war…
Those who had learned how to make metal tools were a lot freer than those who shaped their tools out of stone. And very soon the stone-shapers had been ‘subdued’ by those yielding bronze weapons.

And so on to the present day.
Those who have become adept users of mass-media are seeding ‘change’ into the minds of the naive.

I only hope that they will eventually find out what Ernst Mayr had to say about this process.

Evolution is in no way about ‘the survival of the fittest’.
It is only about the demise of the unfit.

The problem with the ‘lee-way’ generated by culture being that whenever it becomes too wide the whole system becomes fragile.

Whenever people get high enough on freedom they forget that in order to survive we need to remain inside the ‘straight and narrow’ mandated by DNA and endorsed by culture.

Otherwise put, being torn between musts and don’ts is far better than being stuck. In a grave.

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