Archives for category: limited rationality

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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“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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Having started with a rhetorical question, I might as well continue by offering you some ‘trivia’.

Lytton, BC, is a 249 people strong village, situated just a tad North of the 50th parallel. Which puts it almost 300 miles/450 kms closer to the North Pole…
Its inhabitants had had to flee a fire during the hottest weather ever encountered in that area. In modern times, anyway…

During the last 300 years, we’ve been ‘releasing’ – ‘repurposed’? – huge amounts of energy. Solar energy ‘captured’ by plants and stored in the belly of the Earth as ‘fossil fuel’. By releasing that energy we’ve actually changed the composition of the atmosphere.

A third more of something which constitutes only 0.042 of the Earth’s atmosphere doesn’t amount for much, does it?

Well, considering the fact that a certain Arrhenius was calculating all the way back in 1896 the ‘global warming potential of CO2′ as a green house gas…

As already stated, this blog is about how people think.
About how we, conscious people, relate to what happens around us through the use of our ‘brain’.

So here we have it.
We’ve been doing something for the last 300 years.
‘Naively’ at first and in an increasingly scientific soon after the whole thing had gathered momentum.
From a certain point on, an increasing number of the same people who had brain-powered the process – individuals currently known as ‘scientists’, have warned the rest of us about the potential consequences of what we were doing.

And now, that those consequences have started to manifest themselves, so many of us are still in denial.
How is it possible for so many to be convinced that it’s possible to back-pedal Earth’s geological clock without having to face any consequences?!?

‘But is anything we can do to change this?’

In the late 1970-ies, we – ‘our’ scientists, to be more precise – have noticed that there was a problem with the ozone layer.
The ‘thing’ which shields life on Earth from being ‘burned’ out by the UV radiation coming from the Sun.

After a short while, people from the scientific community have determined that there was something that we could do about it. Stop using ‘Chlorofluorocarbon’ substances. Old style ‘Freon’. It wasn’t easy – we had to find substitutes and retool factories, but we did it! The ozone layer is in far better shape now!

While repairing the ozone layer had been a collective effort, eroded land must be ‘patched up’ patch by patch.

‘OK, maybe there is something that we could do about ‘it’.
What would that be?’

I told you already. This is a blog about how we think!
Not, in any way shape or form, about what we should be thinking!

Do your own research.
See what other people say about this.

And ask yourselves one thing.

We are able to ‘fly’ – by boarding a plane, of course – because ‘modern’ scientists have proven that the old ones had been wrong.
But do we – as in me and you – really know how a plane works? Yet we happily board them in droves in each holiday season.
We live way longer than we used to. Because scientists have told us how to build sewage and waste management systems, what pills to take when falling ill and what vaccines to use in order to prevent infectious illnesses from taking hold.
We lead easier lives. Because scientists have built machines which work for us.

We’ve done all this as a collective effort.
We used to trust what they were teaching us and they trusted us to support them in their endeavors.

What happened to all this?
What made us so ‘alert’?

Where did all that trust vanish? Why?
What will the consequences be?

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Blame is something which is attributed while responsibility is something which is assumed.

Let’s return to rape.
The recurring question here being:

As stated by the Chinese proverb above, victim blaming will get us nowhere. For as long as we’ll ‘blame first, ask questions later’ we’ll never understand what’s going on. Remain stuck in ‘status quo’.
Where some of the victims will feel entitled to say:

Can you blame them?
Should we blame them? After all, the broadness of the accusation ultimately reduces it to a shot in the foot…
But haven’t we agreed earlier that blame will not move us forward? No matter how we feel about the whole thing?

How about ‘manning’ up?
How about each of us, men and women, assuming responsibility? Each their own!

Why?!?
Simply because it is us who have to deal with the consequences!
We, the women who get raped.
We, the fathers, brothers, partners, sons, friends, etc. of the raped women.
And we, the mothers of the raped women.

We, all of us, have ‘condoned’ a society where male children are taught to be assertive. Chivalrous, maybe, but, certainly, assertive.
And, simultaneously, a society where female children are taught to behave nicely and to refrain from becoming a ‘nuisance’.
These are, roughly, the gender roles our society – read ‘we, the parents’, continue to imprint upon the young generation. The Dolce and Gabbana advertisement above being only one of the myriad examples which illustrates this fact.

What next?

In the name of ‘playing it safe’ are we going to presume that each male (?!?) is a potential rapist?
And take the ‘necessary’ precautions?


Ooops!
How is a potential victim going to protect herself against a (close) acquaintance?
What kind of clothing are they supposed to wear and what kind of a behavior should they adopt in order to avoid being raped by a “current or former spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend (?!?)”

OK, let’s consider we’re done with the ‘blame-game’.
Let’s play ‘responsibly’ now. Who should assume it?

We! As in ‘All of us’.
For the simple reason that it will always be us who will ‘foot the bill’. Have to deal with the consequences!

From having to overcome the experience of being raped to helping towards healing the wounds to actually bearing the costs – not only the financial ones, of so many people being hurt.

We, the parents, need to educate our children in such a way as to understand that rape – in any shape, way or form, is unacceptable.
We, both men and women, need to educate ourselves about what to do when in ‘dire straits’. How to avoid ‘dangerous situations’ – from not going to ‘sleazy’ bars to not taking our dates to ‘unsafe’ places.
We, all of us, need to educate ourselves towards openness. Towards coming forward when something like this happens. Towards helping those who suffer it. As in being an ‘active’ participant instead of pretending nothing happened.
And, last but not least, we – all of us, need to learn how to overcome this.
And how to help the victims to overcome their tragic experiences.

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Well, all knowledge is, ultimately, false. Or, at least, incomplete.

Bearing this in mind, we understand there is no such thing as false knowledge.
Only people unwilling to adapt their understanding of things to the newly discovered facts…
In this sense, it’s not the false knowledge which is dangerous, it’s those who worship ‘self made idols’!
Those who are so convinced that what they know is enough.
That their understanding of the world is so right and so complete that it has reached ‘perfection’.
That their Weltanschauung is, hence, ‘sacred’. ‘Worship-able’, if you’ll allow this word.

“Ye shall make you no idols nor graven image, neither rear you up a standing image, neither shall ye set up any image of stone in your land, to bow down unto it: for I am the LORD your God.”

How about this ‘interpretation’ of Shaw’s words?

Further reading:
Do not love your neighbor as yourself. If you are on good terms with yourself it is an impertinence: if on bad, an injury.

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According to a certain George Herbert, 1640, “For him who will, ways are not wanting“.
According to those who have spent their lives observing natural phenomena, ‘Where ever there are enough resources present, something will happen’.

Morally speaking, there’s a huge difference between those two.
When we need to apportion merit – or blame, we do need to know whether something was a natural occurrence or the consequence of somebody’s actions.

But following a more practical approach… people would better prepare themselves to deal with the aftermath of that something taking place, regardless of what/who had caused it.

Let me put it in a simpler manner.
An investigator will/should do everything in their power to determine the cause of a fire. But that will be possible only after the blaze has been put down by the fire-fighters.

For some time now, people have been trying to determine whether machines will ever be able to develop consciousness. To ‘feel’ anything.
Some even pour over the moral implications …. will sentient machines have rights? As in ‘the right to not be turned off’?

I expect most of those people have been jolted by some recent developments pertaining to their field of expertise…

In a sense, this is a ‘natural’ development.
We’ve been purposely transforming tools into weapons since … before we parted ways with our closest cousins, the chimpanzees.

But it’s for the first time that we’ve developed weapons powerful enough to kill every human being on Earth. And capable of achieving their given task without human assistance.

What next?
How about a weapon capable of assuming a task?
Capable of consciously determining – through diligent AI/ML computations, that a certain ‘target’ ‘needs’ to be ‘taken care off’.
Which weapon, being a ‘sentient machine’, will come with the built in right to not be turned off.

How did we get here?
Stay tuned.

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The whole thing raises a poignant question.
We have a business here.
The sporting tournaments live by selling advertising space. To do that, they need to grab our attention.
Given the insistence with which the organizers insist that the athletes have to attend the press conferences, which is the main attention grabber? The ‘athletic prowess’ itself or the ‘big talk’ that follows the actual ‘sports meeting’?

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

Which death is the prerequisite for evolution!

Matthew Horwood/Getty Images

Get a vaccine, wear a mask…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can you have a free society composed of slaves?

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

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

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

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

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

Because of India, that’s why!

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

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

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

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

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