Archives for category: cooperation

Universal healthcare is anathema to many people.
‘The government has no business to spend my tax money subsidizing other people’s health!’
Hence hose who cannot afford a doctor should either die peacefully or accept charity….

And when a private company sponsors a health care effort that company is perceived, by the same ‘many people’, as having ‘ulterior’ motives…

That’s what I consider to be a ‘perfect’ conundrum.

A self made trap!

On the other hand, let’s face it, this is a very rational attitude!
Given some private companies’ past behavior…

See what I mean?
‘Ulterior motives’ are wide-spread enough to having become normalized.
‘Greed is good’ sits high on the social pedestal.
People can no longer imagine any of their peers being driven by other motives but the immediate profit.
But the immediate financial profit!

Mind you, I’m not pretending Pfizer has suddenly morphed into a virgin knight riding a white horse and sacrificing itself on our behalf.

All I’m saying is we’re in a dire and immediate need to reevaluate our priorities!

The self made trap is 3D, you know…

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The difference between us and the rest is that we can choose.
People – humans, that is, are capable of deciding things while the rest of the animals use simpler mechanisms of determining the way forward.

The ability to decide has consequences.
The most important being ‘responsibility’.
The most common being ‘blame’.

When confronted with ‘uncomfortable’ consequences of the decision making process, people get to choose between blame and responsibility.
Between apportioning blame – and feeling better, and determining responsibility.

I’ve long ago given up ‘blame’.
Because blame is driven by emotion. Hence blinds the blamers. Prevents them from checking all the angles. Prevents them from getting as close to the reality as possible.

Let’s go back to the current pandemic.
A large number of people have not yet been immunized against Covid -19, despite the vaccine being widely available. In certain ‘jurisdictions’…

Because each of the yet unvaccinated has chosen to pass the opportunity?
Or because so much ‘dubious’ information has been floated around that it has almost drowned the sensible voices?

Should we blame the as yet unconvinced or should we ask ourselves what’s going on in the heads of the ‘gaslighters’?

Facts are clear.

WSJ is a highly reputable source, the information is old enough – if ‘fake’ it would have already been ‘debugged’,…
Then why isn’t this being hammered down our throats? Constantly?

The vaccine which had been used was Chinese?

Let’s make the same experiment using one of ours!
It has been already done?
Let’s hear about it!

We are in the middle of a pandemic.
Which will continue until we’ll build ‘herd immunity’. Which can be achieved through vaccination or by surviving the disease. Surviving the disease takes longer and costs way more than the vaccine. Lives lost, money spent for health care and money lost because of business interruptions.
And if we don’t build herd immunity fast enough, the virus might mutate into a new one. And we’ll be back to the square one.

The only section of the society which has anything to gain from our reticence to get the vaccine is BigPharma.
They are the ones who will eventually come up with a vaccine for the new strain of virus.
They are the ones providing the treatment given to the infected patients. They are the ones providing the tests.

Want to give the finger to BigPharma?

Go out there and get the jab!

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“To boldly go where no man had gone before!”

None of us had been asked for their ‘informed consent’.
Yet all of us are cramped together on Space-ship Earth towards the place where ‘no man had ever gone before’.

Now that this very suggestive image has been published, what is our voyage going to morph into?

Hell on Earth, as so many apocalyptic movies/novels have advertised?

Or are we going to heed to the present ‘wake-up call’? As we already did so many times before?

We have managed to eradicate, through vaccination, the smallpox. Polio, measles, diphtheria, rabies and so many other diseases are no longer a real danger. For those of us who had been vaccinated or have access to the relevant vaccines.

Yet faced with the current challenge, COVID 19, we have ‘doubts’…

Some of us have doubts about getting the vaccine, others about making the vaccine available to the entire ‘crew’.

What’s going on in that collective brain of ours?

What’s the rationale behind making the polio vaccine available for everybody, practically for free, while that for COVID is still out of reach for most of those who need it? Given our current industrial prowess…
Why is it so hard to understand that given enough time SARS Cov 2 will certainly mutate far enough from the original version to evade the current vaccine?

The fact that the authors above are working the equity angle speaks volumes.
Equity is, indeed, very important.
Only it relates more to ‘metaphysics’ than to the immediate reality.

Equity has to do with the perceived reality while people die in the immediate one.
The perceived reality will end up haunting us, indeed, only we have to survive the current situation in order to get to that stage.

The real problem with the lopsided access to the Covid vaccines being that while we ‘race to secure doses’ the virus has the opportunity to mutate out of our ‘control’.
Our concern with ‘equity’ somehow blinds us to the fact that ‘cutthroat’ is no longer a metaphor.
The longer it takes for us to understand that the entire crew of the space-ship Earth must be immunized the longer it will take for us to get ‘out of the woods’.

Why had our parents been able to eradicate small pox and almost do the same thing to polio?
While we’re still dragging our asses? And not exclusively about COVID… When we have so much information about everything?

What made the anti-vaxxers of those times less powerful than the current ones?

What makes me so sure the erstwhile anti-vaxxers had been less powerful?
Small pox had been eradicated, right?
I had measles. Before the vaccine had been made available. Never heard about anybody having measles until very recently.

A weakness in herd immunity contributed to the recent measles outbreak in the Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn, New York. The level of vaccination in that community was down to about 70 to 80 percent, well below the critical level of herd immunity, which was due to the spread of misinformation about the safety of the MMR vaccine among other causes. A child who had visited relatives abroad brought measles back into his neighborhood in Brooklyn, causing one of the worst measles outbreaks that New York City has seen in decades. A total of 654 individuals were infected, causing the city to issue a mandatory vaccination in people living in the four Brooklyn neighborhoods.

Let me wrap up with this.

Whoa!
What’s going on here?
Israel, the country, had made a huge effort to save its people from the misery caused by Covid!
Why would the Ultra-Orthodox community need any extra-effort to let itself be immunized?

Why was Israel’s manner of thinking closer to that of our fathers’ than to ours?
What makes us so similar, in this respect, to the Ultra-Orthodox?

Well, our fathers had to fight for their rights. And Israel for its place on the map.
We, and the Ultra-Orthodox, had our rights granted to us.

Our fathers had to cooperate among themselves in order to get through.
Israel had survived, and thrived, as the consequence of a coordinated effort.

We are cocooned in our bubbles.
We have become spoiled brats. One way or another.

We really need to start thinking outside our respective comfort zones.

For no other reason that mutinies tend to make matters worse.
It so happened that during the last 80 years no major conflict had disturbed the peace on our ship.
No thanks to us. We haven’t done anything special. Being aware that a conflict between the major powers would have ended in MAD doesn’t count as ‘doing anything special’.
During the last two generations we sorta lost our bearings.

Hopefully we’ll wake up to the fact that the next disturbance will no longer be a ‘top down’ event.
Think about it. Ever since the French Revolution – the last bottoms up upheaval, all other ‘disturbances’ had been the consequence of somebody planning for them. Initiating them.

30 years ago, the socialist lager had crumbled. Under its own weight.
Nobody had planned that event. Nobody had planned for that event!
The democratic world had been stunned by the speed with which things had unfolded.

The socialist lager had crumbled for the simple reason that the people living there had become pissed of.
Pissed of by the growing distance which separated them from those living in the ‘capitalist’ world.

Some of that distance has survived to this day. But it’s shrinking! Fast!

Unlike the distance between the ‘civilized’ world and the ‘developing nations’.

This ‘cutthroat race (among nations) to secure doses’ while so many ‘civilized’ people share-antivaxxer propaganda only adds insult to the injury felt by those who don’t have access to vaccines.
And demonstrates how far off we have distanced ourselves from the ‘hard core’ reality.

The native speakers among you don’t need to be reminded of what ‘bounty’ means.
How ironic is it?
People manning ‘the Bounty’ had had enough and chosen mutiny in place of a continuation of what they already had.
Captain Bligh, on the other hand, had learned nothing of his first experience… “Bligh, who eventually would fall prey to a total of three mutinies in his career, was an oppressive commander and insulted those under him.”

Are we going to make anything of our present predicament?

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Pigs have orgasms.
What?!?
And why does it even matter?

Orgasm consumes a lot of energy.
By itself, not what it takes to reach it!
And it somewhat incapacitates the individual experiencing it.

Try evading an aggressor while having one…

Then how could they have survived?
The orgasmic pigs… experiencing orgasm must produce an evolutionary advantage to compensate the costs incurred, right?

The way I see it, orgasm – as well as all other ‘pleasures’, is the reward for a job well done.
For having sex, for eating, for doing the right thing…

Or used to be!

Those which/who naturally/naively experience pleasure are quite different from those who, and some ‘which’, experience pleasure for it’s own sake.

With an entire gamut of consequences…

Having a drink with friends versus drowning your sorrows in booze.
Experience a gourmet dinner versus ‘digging your grave with your own teeth’ out of sheer boredom.
Feeling high after successfully climbing a mountain versus just feeling ‘high’.

Why are we doing this?
Why do we put the cart before the horses?

Out of ‘boredom’, as Calhoun’s experiment strongly suggests?

I’m afraid that for us, humans, boredom is only the circumstance. The circumstance in which we happen to choose.
‘Cause ultimately it’s us who do the choosing.

Yes, we are under an immense pressure.
To conform.
To obey the rule.
To do what is expected of us.

But is it right?
Is it really good?
And, above all, is it sustainable? At any level…

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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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Reality is tricky.

It includes us. Each of us!

Yet we perceive it as being ‘exterior’. As including the others but not ‘me’. ‘I’ determine what’s real and what not, hence I’m above ‘mere’ reality.

We perceive ourselves as being distinct from the (rest of the) reality yet each of us continuously shares substance and energy with it. We breathe, eat, drink, excrete. We bask in the sun whenever we can during winter and use wind and water to cool ourselves down during hot summer days.

We feel overwhelmed whenever we think about it yet we constantly chip away at it. We build shelters and roads, we grow crops and raise animals, we dig up minerals and transform them into consumer goods. In time, we had displaced most of the ‘Nature’ we have evolved in and replaced it with ‘Man Made’.

Berger and Luckmann had famously – yet somewhat convolutedly, demonstrated that ‘reality’ was a (social) construct.
That what we know about the reality and what we have built based on that knowledge are the consequences of our common effort.

What I’m interested in is the ‘complicated’ manner in which we, each of us, interact with ‘reality’.

We grow up learning about reality. From those around us.
During this process, we simultaneously accumulate knowledge and develop the instrument with which we gauge reality. Our consciences.
Along with this process we also change, together with our teachers and siblings, the very reality we learn about.

Interesting, isn’t it?

We depend, for our dear life, on something we don’t fully understand.
We extract sustenance from it and throw back at it the results of our cravings.
Since our individual knowledge is severely limited, we depend on others – our peers, to complement our understanding of what’s going on around us. Yet in our attempts to fulfill our cravings we mislead some of our siblings.

Reality has been shaped by life from the very first moment. Only in those times, the process was driven exclusively by ‘needs’. The living things of yore did change their reality only they were doing exclusively what they had to in order to survive.
Nowadays, while the rest of the living world continue to follow the ‘time proven traditions’, we – the conscient, and presumably rational, humans, transform the reality according to our wishes.
While we don’t exactly understand what’s going on….

Then how come we’re so snug about the whole thing?

And what’s the meaning of the Adenium Obesum I used to illustrate this post?
I live in Romania. The Desert Rose is a native of the Arabian Desert. Yet one grows, and flowers, in my home.
Only because I afford to heat my ‘shelter’ during winter. And to spend some of my time caring for it.
I don’t really need that plant in order to survive. Yet I’ve changed the reality around me to such an extent that that plant is able to thrive. Almost 4000 km straight North from its native desert….
I’ve been taking care of it for some 4 years now. And I’ve learned only 5 minutes ago that its sap is toxic… What was I telling you about us not being fully aware of our actions?

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‘Exploring what?!?
We don’t know yet how conscience came to be, nor how it works, and you want to explore its limits?
What are you talking about?’

First of all, Humberto Maturana has proposed a very astute explanation about how our conscience has evolved into what it is today. After our brains had happened to ‘accrue’ enough computing power, our ability to speak among ourselves had created the condition for us to cooperate towards the development of ‘self-awareness’. Towards our learned ability to ‘observe ourselves in the act of observing‘.

‘OK, I can accept that.
But we still don’t know exactly how it works. How the brain ‘exsudes’ consciousness!’

Well… do you know exactly how a computer works? Or how your car transforms fuel into energy and transports you to work and back?
Does your lack of detailed understanding prevent you from using a computer? Or from driving a car?

Does your lack of detailed knowledge about how things work prevent you from understanding – and accepting, the fact that the things you use have limits? That you cannot ‘overstretch’ any of them?

‘?!?… It’s my mind you’re talking about, dude!
What do you want to say? That my ability to understand things and to act as a rational human being is limited?!?’

Yep!
You got it perfectly.
In one go…

If you want to read some more about your limits, please help me to overcome mine:

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Turning your head to re-examine past experiences is liable to yield previously unnoticed aspects.
Sometimes important ones…

Many people attempt to convince us that evolution is about ‘the survival of the fittest’.
Ernst Mayr, What Evolution Is, 2002, aptly explains that ‘evolution is not as much about the survival of the fittest as it is about the demise of the unfit’!
Have you ever heard about the guy?

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Evolution, the phenomenon, is driven by small alterations in the environment.
The individual organisms which cannot cope with the alteration do not survive, The surviving ones – the ‘siblings which find it in then how to cope, thrive because of the relative abundance of specific resources. The species survives.
If not enough of the individual organisms are able to survive the alteration, the whole species disappears. The odd survivors might mutate – or not, and establish a new species. Or not…

The current alteration of the environment in which we, humans, need to first and foremost survive is COVID-19.

The difference between us, humans, and the rest of the species subjected to evolution being our ability to purposefully communicate amongst us the information we have been able to gather. NB, ‘communicate’ doesn’t always guarantee ‘honesty’.

Viruses – simple strings of genes, also known as pieces of information, which had happened to evolve into their present form, have no motivation. Furthermore, it’s impossible to determine the full motivation of those who spread misinformation about anything – or even whether they are fully aware of the consequences of their actions. Hence, I’m going to ‘glance back’ at COVID using a purely evolutionary eye.

I’ll start by letting you in on something I witnessed earlier this morning.
Waiting for the traffic light to change, at a crosswalk, I overheard two guys talking about the virus. The older – by some five odd years , was trying to convince the other that ‘This thing is nothing but a scam. There is something out there, indeed, but the numbers are too small for it to be as dangerous as advertised by those who want to herd us into submission’. Both were close to my age, 60, but there was a marked difference between them. The ‘denier’ was more opinionated – a more sure of himself, but was carrying his age a lot worse. And you could read on the face of the other one that this was not the first time that he had heard that… and that he knew how useless it was for him to tell anything. Anything to the contrary, of course.

It was then when it hit me. I had almost the same sensation as when I first listened to Deep Purple’s Space Trucking….

People die of this thing. The weaker the earlier. Some will survive. The species still has a future.

Yeah… only our awareness has added another layer on this evolutionary mess. It’s not only our individual immune systems which fight this infection. The health care systems organized by the communities take care of the sick ones. The sanitation systems take care of the dead. The ‘Big Pharma’ have already provided us with ‘weapons’ to fight back. The governments attempt to organize the whole survival effort.

This whole thing has veered way off from our classic view of evolution.
‘Passing through’ is no longer a matter of individual prowess. Or luck.

It has become a matter of cooperation.
Or a matter of dis-information…

Going forward, two scenarios can be imagined.

A few of us survive the actual disease, enough of us get vaccinated and we reach herd immunity. Sooner rather than later. We learn our lesson and life goes on, with some adjustments.

The ‘COVID is a scam’ scenario gets enough traction to convince a sizeable proportion of the population to refuse the vaccine. Periodic bouts of the infection prevents us from regaining a modicum of normal life. More and more people will start resorting to ‘strange behaviors’.
So strange that I don’t even want to imagine.
The worst being the fact that whenever in ‘dire straits’, people are more inclined to accept various forms of authoritarianism.

Do you feel compelled by public pressure to wear a mask and take the jab?
You consider this to be ‘dictatorial’?

Wait till the next wave of infection crashes over our heads!

And why have so few of us heard about Ernst Mayr?
‘Survival of the fittest’ plays better into our ‘confirmation bias’.
‘We’re still here, then we must surely be doing something really well. Luck has nothing to do with it and nobody has ever given us any free lunch. Everything we’ve achieved was due solely to our own efforts! None of us needs anything from anybody else!’
Anything which contradicts this dearly held conviction will be met with a strong opposition. Denial, even.
At the subconscious level, of course!

‘I refuse to wear a mask’ not as much because ‘I don’t care about your fate’ but because I don’t want to acknowledge that I need your cooperation towards our mutual survival!

Me and my broken promises… what on Earth made me bring motivation into discussion?!?

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

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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.

Good Old Politics used to be about identifying the common ground.
And making it wide enough to harbor the foundation for a stable – as in ‘sustainable’, future.
A future where ‘everybody’ could claim a place. As in ‘fulfilling the American Dream’.

Nowadays, politics is about identifying the most effective way to pull the rug from your opponents’ feet.

How wise is this?

How sustainable is it?

We learn from Michelle Obama’s book – Becoming, 2018, that her father, a blue collar worker, was the only breadwinner who provided for the family. A family of four, leading a decent life in a decent home. Who was earning enough to send both kids to school.
Is this still possible today? In America? The Land of Opportunity?

Trump got elected after a huge number of well paying blue collar jobs had been exported.
After wealth disparity had become ridiculous.

What convinced so many people into believing that Trump, the billionaire, was the answer to their plight?

Historian Nancy MacClean has just published “Democracy in Chains”, a book in which she looks at a group of ultra free-market thinkers who have been working to change the government systems of the United States since the 1950s. While Donald Trump was not part of their plan, MacLean says “there is no way Donald Trump would be in the White House were it not for their strategy”, which includes gerrymandering and taking control of the judiciary. She joined us for Perspective to tell us more.

No, this is not yet another post about Trump.
This is about Political Science.

You see, physics and chemistry are hugely important sciences.
Physics has taught us how to build planes. And atomic bombs.
Chemistry how to make life saving drugs. And deadly explosives.

And so on.
Science is nothing but a formalized method of gathering consistent information.
What we subsequently do with the technology built around the above mentioned ‘consistent information’ is something else.
It no longer depends on ‘science’.

It solely depends on us. On what plans we have for the future.
On how we – the ‘meaningful’ amongst us, to be more precise – chose to use the above mentioned stash of ‘consistent information’.

J. Robert Oppenheimer, the ‘father of the atomic bomb’, had eventually figured out that “Never before had mankind possessed destructive power that truly posed a threat to civilization“.

Nowadays we’re toying with even more powerful tools.
Tools which are able to turn back the flow of history.
To make a joke out of the fabled ‘checks and balances’.

The H bomb is such a blunt tool that nobody in their right mind would ever consider using.

Tools made possible by political science are way more insidious.
So insidious that most of those who wield them ignore the true amount of fallout their actions will unleash.

Compromise – give some to get some, is debatable to start with. But, ultimately, workable. History is full of successful examples.
Kompromat is nothing but mutually assured destruction. MAD. Made worse by its trivial appearance.

By engaging in compromise, you give hope a chance. The other has a scope. For as long as negotiation is going on earnestly, both sides have a fair chance of getting out alive.
By engaging in Kompromat, the aggressor actually sends the message: ‘I’ll stop only over your dead body’.

Sustainable?!?
Are you kidding me?

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And to provide for my family.
Earning money takes time.
If you’d like me to write more, and on a more regular basis, hit the button.
Your contribution will be appreciated!

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Later additions:

“WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Republicans blocked creation of a bipartisan panel to investigate the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, displaying continuing party loyalty to former President Donald Trump and firm determination to shift the political focus away from the violent insurrection by his GOP supporters.”

“Antonio, who wore a patch for the far-right anti-government militia group The Three Percenters, is charged with five counts, including violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds and obstruction of law enforcement during civil disorder.
Joseph Hurley, Antonio’s lawyer, said he won’t use his client’s belief in false claims of election fraud in an attempt to exonerate him. Instead, Hurley will use them to argue that Antonio was an impressionable person who got exploited by Trump and his allies.
“You can catch this disease,” Hurley said. Misinformation, he said, “is not a defense. It’s not. But it will be brought up to say: This is why he was here. The reason he was there is because he was a dumbass and believed what he heard on Fox News.””

“Many of us have been disappointed of late by the actions of some people who’ve chosen the easy way, playing to the crowd, itching the ears of the resentful with conspiracies and accusations,” the Utah Republican said Wednesday. “I take heart in the fact that such displays are still newsworthy and are generally met with disdain.”
The domestic political squabbles are having a real impact, Romney said, by diverting the nation’s attention away from three great challenges facing the country: the rise of China, global climate change and the “degradation of the national balance sheet.”
Romney said there’s plenty of blame to go around.
“Some of us on the right infect the nation with claims of election fraud, tech and media outrages, even vaccine fantasies. From the left come hyperwoke accusations and antipathy toward free enterprise, the very means of our prosperity,” the Utah Republican added
.”