Archives for category: evolution

Some say that history repeats itself until we figure out what it meant in the first place.
Others maintain that history’s first ‘helping’ comes as a tragedy while the second becomes a farce.

Well, I’m afraid things are a little more complicated.

For starters, history doesn’t do anything.
History is nothing but a string of events. Considered noteworthy and written down by some of those who have survived the above mentioned events.
NB, ‘winning’ is not necessary. Being able to survive – and to write, of course, is!

It is us who consider some of the events we have witnessed – or read about, to be noteworthy.
It is us who attempt to draw meaning from what we ‘hear about’.
It is us who are arrogant enough to believe we have learned anything.

Which brings me to the next step.

We live in a huge reality.
But see only a small portion of it. Understand even less than that.
But consider ourselves rational human beings. We are convinced that what we do – the decisions we reach and then put in practice, are based on reason. And good will!!!

Day to day practice tells us that individuals make mistakes.
I’ll leave ‘alone’ the actual ‘criminals’, I’m going to consider – for the scope of this post, that all of us act in good faith, all of the time.
Hence we need a mechanism to cope with the ‘honest mistakes’ made by every one of us.
No matter how low or how high in the ‘pecking order’.
No matter how feeble or how power full each of us is.
How much decision power each of us musters at anyone moment.

We need a ‘procedure’, an ‘opening’, for each of us who sees something going amiss to be able to tell the others that ‘the emperor is naked.

That’s what ‘democracy’ is for.

But there’s a caveat here.

Like history, democracy is a human concept. A man-made ‘tool’!

Each of the individual members of the group using this tool is ‘limited’. Has a limited knowledge and a limited ‘processing power’. By definition… Otherwise, democracy wouldn’t have been necessary in the first place. If at least one of the individuals involved would have been omniscient, they would have – somehow, climbed to the pinnacle of the hierarchy.
The fact that all imperia – all ‘arrangements’ where one individual garners a lot of power over a complex system comprising many other people, have inevitably collapsed is a very powerful empirical proof of my assertion.
Further more, the number of individuals involved in any democratic arrangement is also limited. Also by definition. There’s no place on Earth – there are no humans living someplace else, for an infinite number of people. Hence even the aggregate understanding of things any democracy might reach is also limited. Fallible, that is.

Then even democracies need to follow rules. They just cannot ‘vote’ whatever their members wish to happen…

The first rule, of course, being the fact that you should not vote ‘against’ the rules of nature. You cannot, for instance, abolish Newtons gravity by voting it ‘unlawful’…
The second rule being that the individuals comprising the democratic arrangement have be convinced that each of them is equivalent. Not equal, that’s impossible, but ‘equivalent’. That each of them should be able to vote, that each of them should have only one vote and that each of them should have the opportunity to voice their concerns. In a nutshell, that all of them have equal rights and that nobody – no individual or a smaller number of people than the entire ‘congregation’, has the right to tell anybody else what to do. Or what to refrain themselves from doing.

Now, that I have reached this point, let be go back to history.

The first ‘democratic arrangement’ known to us was the Ancient Athens.
It had evolved, for while, as an increasingly democratic form of government. During this time, the city’s fortune and influence in the region had grown almost constantly until Pericles had ‘bent’ the democratic principles so that he could yield more influence. Almost two centuries of democratic ebbing on and off followed until Philip II of Macedonia had taken over entirely. As a consequence, Athens’ influence had waned and then disappeared entirely.
The second one had dawned in Scandinavia, during the Viking era.
That democratic seed had, in time, spread in Europe, America and, gradually, in many other countries.

In the US, for example, at first only the white men were involved in the democratic process. They were the ones who voted and who were elected into office. Gradually, the democratic ‘rights’ had been extended to the female portion of the society and to the ‘members of the other races’. These successive ‘extensions’ had been parts of the general improvement of the society as a whole. During this period – not necessarily due to but certainly simultaneously with, the entire population lived better and longer lives while the country as a whole had become more and more powerful. The energy and potential of the population – of an ever increasing proportion of the population, had been put to better and better uses.

Simultaneously, individuals – an ever increasing proportion of the individual members of the society, with the criteria of sex, gender and race gradually loosing the previously held power of discrimination, had enjoyed more and more power. More and more autonomy to determine their own fate.

Which brings us to the current developments in the US.

Some people, far from a majority of “The People”, would like to see the ‘other end’ of Roe v Wade.
‘These’ people seem to have somehow convinced a majority of the Justices sitting in the Supreme Court not only to hear their plea but also to ‘consider it in a favorable manner’.

In other words, a very small number of people – five out of nine, are going to restrict a previously granted right which had been enjoyed for almost 50 years by more than half of the American Population.

‘You have got it completely wrong!
Scotus isn’t going to prohibit abortion. Only the states can do that!’

Do you remember what the Civil War had been fought over?
Basically, the Confederates were claiming that individual states had the right to determine which people were to be considered ‘free’ while the ‘others’ kept maintaining that all people, regardless of their skin color, were free. That individual freedom was something which had to be determined at federal level, not by each ‘individual’ state.
Nowadays we have the very same thing. Some states claim it’s their ‘right’ to tell ‘their’ women whether, and in which circumstances, they may – or not, have an abortion.

Not a very ‘appealing’ proposition.
It opens the door for individual states claiming more and more ‘rights’ over their ‘specific subjects’.

The absolutely baffling thing about this whole development is the fact that those who want Roe v Wade to be repelled claim they do this in order to enhance individual rights (to live). I can understand that. I even sympathize with them. Ending a life, even that of an embryo, is not something to be treated easily.

But for a minority to impose their point of view – no matter how sound it might appear to some of us, to a majority… that cannot be, either, taken lightly.

After reading this interview for a second time, I asked myself: ‘Why are you paying so much attention to this guy?!? After all, he doesn’t say anything new…’

Then it hit me!

“Russia” and “we” are two different things.

Russia, the country, cannot indeed afford to “lose”. To ‘lose it’, to be more precise.
Russia will survive, no matter how many more ‘mistakes’ the morons currently running it will commit.

“We”, on the other hand, are the ones who can. And eventually will. Lose. Everything.

And the longer those “we” are allowed by Russia itself to run the Kremlin, the worse it will be.
For everybody. Us – the rest of the world, included.

‘But when will this nightmare end?’

That I don’t know.
All I know is that it will eventually do that. End.

Look at the picture above.
When have you seen anything more British than that?
OK, fake British. Make-believe British. But British nonetheless.

That was which hit me.
That during its entire history, Russia had tried to emulate Britain.
The Russian elite has for ever tried to rise itself to ‘British standards’. From Peter the Great to Putin.
All the while convincing the Russian People that the road they were trundling on was unique…

The sooner the ordinary Russians will figure out that they have been misled – and enough of the elite will understand that British-ness is good only for the Brits, they will make peace.
Among themselves.
With the their Ukrainian cousins.
And with the rest of the world!

The guy in the blue T shirt is being questioned by the Ukrainian police about his activity on ‘social media’.
You probably guessed already what kind of ‘activity’ we’re talking about…

Which brings back painful memories.

During my childhood, in communist Romania, you could get arrested for listening to Radio Free Europe. Or for speaking against the communist rule.

In present day Russia, you’ll soon enough be arrested if you use the word war in relation to what is going on in Ukraine.

In Ukraine itself, you can be arrested for publicly supporting Putin’s actions.

The worst thing being the fact that there still are people out there who consider Putin is right and the Ukrainians – those who do nothing but defend their country, should be ‘left alone’.

To be ‘left alone’ to what?!?
To be bombed away by Putin?
So that we may continue our ‘peaceful lives’?

Peaceful only until Putin – or someone equivalent, will ‘change his mind’?

The guy above hasn’t figured out yet, in spite of the bombs falling over his head, that there’s no such thing as ‘peaceful life’ under dictatorship! Any kind of dictatorship…
Nor have any of those who continue to defend Putin’s actions!

Or use their ‘freedom of speech’ in an attempt to sow doubt about the matter.

A beautiful country, inhabited by a beautiful and proud people who ‘generate’ such beautiful music…
Yet this is how their freedom looks like!

Two successive dictatorial regimes, the first headed by Fulgencio Batista and the second by Fidel Castro…

Read what brittanica.com has to say about each of them. Just click their names.

Then tell me why are we, any of the democratic countries in the world, still making business with any of the dictatorial regimes still plaguing the Earth?
Why do we continue to harbor any of the yachts owned by corrupt oligarchs? Or their money?

Isn’t the other party always the guilty one?

Or, otherwise put, Musk – who in 2008 was left of center, currently finds himself in a moderate conservative position because the woke progressives have displaced the center. To the left of where Musk was in 2008. And where he still is…

This might have not been uttered by Churchill but nevertheless rises some questions…

‘If you’re not a liberal when you’re 25, you have no heart.
If you’re not a conservative by the time you’re 35, you have no brain.’

What? The cartoon wasn’t Musk’s to share in the first place? He had just ‘borrowed’ it from somebody else?!?

And here’s what ‘Big Data’ has to say about the whole thing.

The fact that too many self styled liberals hold on to their ill begotten wealth while distributing a lot of quilt doesn’t obliterate the fact that very few of the ‘self believed’ conservatives share much of their wealth… while seldom admitting any responsibility for what had happened in the past. And continues to this day, in very insidious ways.

As for any attempt at a radical transformation of both economy and society – as in making them actually free for all us – white, black and all the other hues… forget it.

NB. All of us will eventually lose. Everything. Things are becoming too lopsided.

To make sense of that we have already passed through?

What does ‘worst’ mean in this circumstances?
Until now, I was under the impression that ‘critics’ were good.
That in a democratic setting, the critics are those who pull at our sleeves when we go astray.
That the critics are those who bring us back to the straight and narrow.
How can ‘critics’ become ‘bad’? Let alone “worst”…

“”Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of mankind are debated” said Mr. Musk. “I also want to make Twitter better than ever by…””

As many of you already know, I grew up under a communist regime. In Ceausescu’s Romania.
That was were I learned to decipher messages transmitted using the ‘wooden language’.
Or, in Orwell’s parlance, “newspeak”…

Here’s what I make of Elon Musk’s words:

‘From now on, the “digital town square where matters vital to the future of mankind are debated” is mine. Mine to make what I see fit of it. To “make better” under my own terms. And if you don’t like it, keep ‘barking’. There’s nothing you can do to me. I’m going to make Twitter ‘private’. A.k.a. free from any ‘market interference’. Furthermore, your ‘barking’ will only increase the traffic. Hence the money I’ll be making on the back of your ‘free speech’.’

Twenty four years ago, in 1998, I spent a fortnight visiting Tunisia. I still remember the discussions I had with my wife. In our native Romania, we – the country, not the two of us – already had a couple of malls – which were quite new for us.
Each time that we entered a Tunisian suk – also known as a bazaar, we felt like strolling through a mall.

In the Middle Ages, a suk was the property of the local sheik. Even if each ‘stall’ was operated as an individual business, the whole thing was run at the whim of the local ruler.
According to the laws of the land, but still at the mercy of the landlord.

Each mall, the building, is owned by a company. And, the business, operated by another. Usually by a chain. Hence the ‘freedom’ of the individual businesses ‘housed’ by each mall is ‘defined’ by the rules put in place by the owners and the operators. Under the laws and by laws valid for the physical location of the building but still at the ‘mercy’ of those who own/operate the mall.

From now on, the “digital town square where matters vital to the future of the mankind” are ‘freely debated’ by us will be owned and operated by yet another one of Elon Musk’s enterprises.
Who, for now at least, promises to welcome his “worst” critics, whatever that might mean.

And an after thought.
A way shorter translation of Musk’s words might be: ‘Freedom of speech means being able to say ‘those who criticize me are bad people”. With the corollary that some are worse than others…

When Mario de Andrade found out that he had but one life, he had set for himself a certain goal.
To live his second life in a certain way. In the way he considered worthwhile.

We’re about to find out that we have but one planet.

How are we going to live our second life?

Homo Sapiens Sapiens is a species of cultured animals simultaneously capable to place a highly sophisticated IR telescope on an orbit around their native planet, the Earth, and to reduce a country to a pile of rubble.

Interestingly enough, the technology used to accomplish both, the rocket, has been imagined a little more than a century ago.
By, among others, Herman Oberth.

He had built his first rocket as a school project, when he was 14. About then he also came up with the concept of a multistaged rocket.
Lack of resources convinced him to study medicine. After only two years he was drafted into the German Imperial Army to serve during WWI. Initially as a foot soldier and then moved to a medical unit. In that period he found enough “spare time” to conduct experiments which had later enabled him to present “designs of a missile using liquid propellant with a range of 290 km to Hermann von Stein, the Prussian Minister of War.
During WWII he had worked at Peenemunde, were he was awarded a decoration for bravery during an aerial attack, and then at the German WASAG organization developing solid fueled anti-aircraft rockets.

Between the wars he had contributed to a series of experiments in Germany. For one of which he was helped by an 18 years student. Werner von Braun.

After WWII, Oberth moved to Italy to continue, for the Italian Navy, some of the work he had started at WASAG. Then returned to Germany to publish “Mankind into Space, in which he described his ideas for space-based reflecting telescopes, space stations, electric-powered spaceships, and space suits.”

Oberth eventually came to work for his former student, Wernher von Braun, who was developing space rockets for NASA in Huntsville, Alabama.

He retired in 1962 and had a brief stint in far right politics (the National Democratic Party of Germany).
He was invited to the US in 1969 to witness the Apollo 11 crew being sent towards the Moon and in October 1985 to view the Space Shuttle Challenger being launched carrying the D-1 Spacelab mission – “the first with German mission management and controlled from the German Space Operations Center
However, his primary interest during his retirement years was to turn to more abstract philosophical questions. Most notable among his several books from this period is Primer For Those Who Would Govern.

Humans, as a species, have harbored the same ‘amount’ of brain for the last 200 000 years. That was when the Homo Sapiens had arrived. But that brain had produced something only about 70 000 years ago. That’s why the second Sapiens was added, by us, to the name of those living since that time. To underline the fact that humans had become ‘fully’ conscious only ‘recently’. That having a big brain was not enough. That becoming fully human also implied self awareness. Wisdom…

Apparently that’s not enough.
After experiencing, first hand, the horrors of WWI such a creative mind as Herman Oberth’s was still capable of building offensive weapons for Hitler.
After experiencing, first hand, the horrors of WWII such a creative mind as Herman Oberth’s was still able of joining an extreme right political party…

After experiencing, first hand, the horrors of WWII at the hands of the nazi, the modern day, post communist, Russia is capable of inflicting the same kind of horrors to their close cousins, the Ukrainians.

When are we going to become Sapiens enough to stop this insanity?
To concentrate our creativity exclusively towards ‘elevating’ purposes?

We have a fact and two conflicting interpretations.

Barrabas is mentioned in al four gospels.
Which has to mean something.

One interpretation posits that the whole story was made up.
That Barrabas himself was not a real person and that there was no such thing as a “custom whereby the Romans would release a condemned prisoner on the occasion of a holy day
OK, but for what reason?
to shift the blame for Jesus’ death away from the Roman authorities and onto the shoulders of the Jews
By the time the gospels had been written, most of the Christians were living under the Roman authority and outside Palestine. So a little benevolence curried from the Romans couldn’t hurt…
Except the Jews…
Historically, the release of Barabbas at the crowd’s behest, and their subsequent demands to crucify Jesus, have been used to justify anti-Semitism. Many have placed blame for Christ’s death on the Jews, commonly citing Matthew 27:25, in which the crowd shouts, “His blood be on us and on our children!”

Another interpretation takes the opposite view.
The whole episode is considered to be true as described and interprets Barrabas as “a flesh-and-blood symbol for you and for me. At this moment the Gospel story paints Barabbas as Everyone. The guilty go free, and the Holy One dies. Barabbas becomes the first one who can say, “Jesus died for me.”

Being an agnostic, somewhat simplifies things. For me.
At the emotional level, I prefer the second interpretation.
At the rational level, I appreciate the effort made by the first interpretation towards finding a logical explanation for the whole thing. Which explanation might actually be true. In the sense that the evangelists, all four of them, might have indeed tried to lessen the Roman responsibility for Christ’s death.

What bothers me is why so many of the readers have accepted the story as plausible?
A crowd to send a bandit to freedom and an innocent to death?
How likely is this?

But what if the crowd was biased?

Well, not the crowd, since the episode was most likely invented.
The individuals who had a message to convey to their readers. To us.

Let’s start with the beginning. The Old Testament.
According to this writing, the covenants were made between God and the people of Israel. Which gave the people of Israel a special place. They were His people. The chosen ones.
The New Testament changes all this. Jesus died for all of those who accept his sacrifice.
The Jews are no longer the only chosen ones.

The way I see it, the ordinary Jews have no problem with this.
I have no knowledge of Jews discriminating against Christians. Except for the claims made by the anti-Semites…
I’m not so sure though about the likes of Caiaphas… “a member of the council when he gave his opinion that Jesus should be put to death “for the people, and that the whole nation perish not”
After all, Caiaphas – and all those in the same position, were the only ones who had anything to lose as a consequence of Jesus’s teachings.
As a consequence of all people, not only those who followed the likes of Caiaphas, being able to consider themselves as being children of the same God.
Only the likes of Caiaphas had anything to lose from all followers of Christ considering themselves equal among themselves.

Not at all different from what had happened after Luther had nailed his famous theses to the door of the Wittenberg church.
The established hierarchy felt it’s throne was becoming wobbly and reacted forcefully…

What if the real meaning of the whole Barrabas story is for us, the readers of the Gospels, to be extra careful when we evaluate the ‘recommendations’ given to us by the ‘authorities’ of the moment?
Specially when those ‘authorities’ are about to loose their clout…

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