Archives for category: teleology

For Mark Twain, things which didn’t make sense were ‘strange’.

For Tom Clancy, a mere hundred years later, they were only ‘different’.

Wanna make some sense out of this?

Do you believe that truth is stranger than fiction?
“Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction,” said Basil, placidly.
“For fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it.”

G.K. Chesterton, 1905

The difference between ‘strange’ and ‘different’ isn’t ‘menial’. Nor harmless.

Currently, we’re still allowed to frown upon things which are ‘strange’ but are insistently taught that ‘different’ is good.

Beyond ‘acceptable’. Actually good!

I’m different.
Noticeably different.
Different enough to know, first hand, how it feels to be frowned upon.
Also, different enough to figure out the difference between ‘acceptable’ and ‘good’.

More than two millennia ago, Protagoras opened up our eyes. Told us it was our job, and responsibility, to ‘measure accurately’.
More than a hundred years ago, Twain warned us. Told us to be careful of ‘well spun fictions’. Of stories too good to be true. Of the fact that in our quest for consistency we are prone to actually discard the uncomfortable truth.

Are we going in the right direction?

In a sense, there isn’t much difference between Mark Twain’s and Tom Clancy’s words.
On the other hand, there is a huge difference between ‘strange’ and ‘different’.

Exactly the same difference which can be found between actual facts and alternative facts.
Exactly the same difference we pretend to not notice when we accept alternative facts as being true.
Well… not necessarily true… only comfortable enough to become acceptable…

Way more comfortable, a.k.a. ‘sensible’ – for us, than the naked truth.
Even if only for the shorter and shorter time frames…

What WE know about the reality WE are speaking about drives ME to the following ‘inkling’:

We are living inside a three layered reality.

The ‘real’ one, the ‘perceived’ one and the ‘result’.

We ‘measure’ reality using our conscience. Through our senses.
Very much like when we gauge a length using a tape measure.
We apply the tape measure over the length and ‘read’ the number.

We apply the standards we’ve been groomed into over the underlying reality and we decide according to those standards.

Then we attempt to deal with the consequences of our decisions.

“Sheer hatred of the regime”….

Who’s painting the pictures we’re hanging on our walls? Who chooses them? Who has to make do with the ‘aftermath’?

You’re God.
The real McCoy, not the one concocted by us, humans.

Your ‘most cherished’ tool for bringing people back into submission being the all mighty thunder.
Jupiter Tonans. The Thundering God. Thor yielding his Mjoelnir…

And now what?!?
Every worshiping place has a lighting rod installed…

What do you feel?
Have all those people lost their faith in you? In you behaving as a rational being? In your ability to treat them right?
Are they convinced they are now insulated against your wrath?

War and chess have a lot in common.
Most strikingly, the different manners in which both of them end.

The king is captured.
Or the other side gives up.

A tie is nothing but the prelude for an encore, not a real end.

Even the roads to the end are very similar in both cases.
While at the start of the game/’joust’ everything is ‘possible’ – nobody knows what the other side might be doing next, as the end nears each of the combatants are more and more limited in their currently available choices by the consequences of their previous decisions. By the very path they had followed since the beginning. Which path becomes more and more evident for everybody present. Opponent as well as spectators.

Finally – but not the least important, the similarities go even further. Deeper?
The king is the most ‘important’ piece but not the most powerful. In fact, the king cannot do much by itself. It can help the other pieces achieve their common goal but when left alone it is basically powerless. The only thing it can do is run. But only as far as the board allows it to go…
A pawn, if it manages to reach the eight rank, gets to be promoted. To become the new ‘right hand’ of the king. The new ‘most powerful member of the team’.

‘OK. And the real point of your post is?’

Putin cannot win this war – cause war it is, by himself.
Hence he needs to preserve the loyalty of his henchmen, to instill enough fear into his opponents to make them quit and to convince the ‘spectators’ that their efforts to help Ukraine are too expensive.

Are we smart enough to understand that we, each of us, are ‘next’? That each time a bully gets his way, all other (would be) bullies present become even more bullish?
Are we smart enough to understand that the most meaningful thing we can do in this situation is to separate Putin from his power base? From the ordinary people who see no other alternative and from those who, for various reasons, continue to support Putin’s misconstrued ‘vision about the world’?
Are we smart enough to understand that no matter how hard it is for us, the Ukrainians have it ten times harder?

Democracy is about every body having the opportunity to speak up their minds.
To speak up their minds, not to kill their neighbors under the pretext that there is a difference of opinion between them!

“We didn’t invade Ukraine,” he claimed.
“We declared a special military operation because we had absolutely no other way of explaining to the West that dragging Ukraine into Nato was a criminal act.”
“Russia is not squeaky clean. Russia is what it is. And we are not ashamed of showing who we are.”

Are you trying to figure out what’s the real meaning of Lavrov’s words?
Let me translate for you this fine example of NewSpeak.

‘We – those who are currently running Russia, will do whatever we need to do in order to preserve our power.
In order to achieve that, we first and foremost need to convince the ordinary Russians to continue to obey our orders.
In order to achieve that, we need to convince the ordinary Russians that you are the enemy and that their only chance lies with us, their current masters.
Hence each time we destroy an Ukrainian apartment block and any of you says ‘Russians are savages’ we’re one step closer to our goal. Each and every time any of you declares ‘Russia has to pay for what it has done in Ukraine’ we tell them, the ordinary Russians, ‘See? This is what they plan to do to you once we’re are gone’.

WWI had lasted until 1945.
We have the opportunity to end the Cold War now.
The war in Ukraine will reach a conclusion. Let’s make it so that after the war will have ended, Russia will fold in the family of ‘civil’ nations.

Those nations that choose to live in peace!
Not because they cannot win wars but because they have learned that winning wars it’s not enough. Those nations which have learned, the hard way, that war has but one winner while for peace to last every body must be a winner.

We learn about what we call reality by
analyzing the information we acquire through our senses.

We, the human people.
We, the conscious human people.
We, because nobody has ever been able to become conscious – as in aware of their own self, by their own. Alone…

We are not the only ones who are able to learn.
Our dogs learn our ways. And we continuously learn about more and more living organisms being able to learn. And to remember what they have learned. To fine tune their behavior according to the circumstances into which they happen to live.

What we call reality.
First and fore-most, reality is a concept. We call it ‘reality’. And many other names…
Believers call it ‘god’, scientists call it ‘physical world’ and the scientists who happen to believe are convinced that by studying the reality they will eventually divine the will of the Lord.
The believers being convinced that whatever exists, is here because the Lord wished it into existence.
So, basically, the main difference between the believers and the nonbelievers is the fact that the believers are convinced that the ‘out-there’, the ‘source of it all’, has a conscience of it’s own. A will of it’s own…

By analyzing.
We have been able to build our conscience – our ability to ‘observe ourselves while observing other phenomena’ (Maturana, 2005), because we have a big enough brain, the ability to share complex and meaningful information using language and the ability to put in practice some of our wishes/thoughts through the use of our hands.
At a certain point in its evolution, human conscience has become sophisticated enough to need explanations. It was no longer satisfied with mere ‘connections’ – If… then…, it had started to wonder about why-s. ‘Why does this happen as it does?’ ‘Will it happen again tomorrow?’
Using our by then already established ability to speak up their minds, our ancestors shared among themselves these ‘anxieties’. Discussed them around the fire-place. Started to analyze. The reality. What they perceived to be real. The ‘thing’ which continuously generates the circumstances in which we – all of us, have to make do.

In order to analyze, the analyst – each and everyone of us, has to separate the meaningful information from the surrounding noise. In order to do that, we have started by coining the very concept of (useful/meaningful) information. As being different from ‘noise’. The difference consisting, obviously, in us being able to find its use and/or pinpoint its meaning.

We acquire.
Information is acquired on an individual basis. For an ‘event’ to become information, it has to be ‘noticed’ by an individual. It has not only to be sensed but also identified as useful/meaningful. Different from ‘noise’.
Which process of identification implying methods which had been agreed upon by the members of the community. Music would be a good example of how various groups of people make the difference between sublime/abhorrent and white-noise. While ‘use of language’ is a very poignant example of how people can both share information and mislead one-another.

Everything that we know, had entered our mind through our senses.
Before setting it aside as information or discard it as noise, we have to get in contact with it as a sensation.
Or as a thought. A conjecture. A few pieces of information which put together have given birth, inside our individual mind, to new information. To ‘something else’ which passes the threshold into being information. At least according to our own mind…

Which transforms our minds into our famous sixth sense.
In the sense that our individual minds are capable of building ‘sensations’ on their own. Starting from information that has already been stashed in our memory.
Which brings us to the third reality.

We have – in the sense that we have agreed upon its existence, the surrounding reality. The things we – as in most of us, consider to be real. The mountains we climb, the air we breathe, the pebbles which happen to sneak into our shoes. The reality which is being studied by science. The reality to which we have access through our senses. Our minds and our sense enhancers – scientific instruments, included.

We also have the ‘out-there’. The things we know we’ll never be able to grasp. During our lives! The things our followers might be able to figure out…

And each of us has their own reality.
Individually built even if ‘carved’ from the same (type of) material as the reality shared by the rest of us.
Individually built even if using more or less the same (culturally accrued) methods.
Individually built even if neither of us is alone.

H.M. Romesin, 2005, The origin and conservation of self‐consciousness: Reflections on four questions by Heinz von Foerster

A planned after-thought.
Rumsfeld is both wrong and right. There are unknown unknowns but they are no longer unknown since we speak about them…
Which actually proofs the limits of our languaging.
The imprecision of the manner in which we gather, share and analyze information.

Does it really matter?

Both fascism and communism appear when enough people are fed up. Really fed up.
So fed up that they have become gullible enough to accept the lies promised by those who want to get ‘at the top’, in the given circumstances.
The difference between fascism and communism, the only one, being the exact conditions which had caused the ire of the people.
Communism can, and will presently be, presented as the only possible alternative to those confronted by a ‘black ceiling’.
Fascism, on the other hand, can, and will presently be, presented as the only possible alternative to those confronted by a ‘glass ceiling’.
The always poor who have no chance of improving their lot will accept the lies promised by the communists. They don’t know any better so they believe those lies are possible.
The impoverished who have no chance of returning to their former situation will accept the lies professed by the fascists. They know what they have lost and need to find a culprit to blame for what had happened.

In a sense you can identify fascism with the right and communism with the left.
In reality, fascism and communism are the two ugly faces of the same fake coin.

An embassy is a conduit.
It brings information back and forth between the ‘host’ and the ‘sender’.

A spy ring is (intended to be) a ‘one way pipe’. It gathers information about the ‘host’ and transports it to the sender.

They have in common the fact that the bulk of the information is gathered from ‘open’ sources. From the media, that is. Newspapers, TV, radio, internet…

Imagine now the following situation.
There is this planet. Let’s say ours. Inhabited by us, the human people.
And you have some other people. One or more species capable of interplanetary travel. Who have found out about this planet and want to learn more about us before making contact.
Since they haven’t yet conquered us – as per our knowledge, and since there’s no evidence of any galaxy wide conflict raging on we may presume the aliens are fundamentally peaceful. Either naturally ’empathic’ – hence in no need whatsoever of being governed, or having such a ‘natural’ form of government that they’re very happy with it.
In their attempt to learn about us and to understand our situation before engaging in any way with us, the aliens have sent an ‘undercover’ fact-finding mission on Earth.

Right now!
When a country capable of yielding almost half the (self) destructing power available on Earth ‘happens to be’ at loggerheads with a coalition of countries which controls most of the other half of the destruction power already mentioned above.

The local agent employed by the fact-finding mission compiles two news articles which, in his opinion, summarize perfectly what’s going on on the planet.

“Medvedev alleged that some in the West would like to “take advantage of the military conflict in Ukraine to push our country to a new twist of disintegration, do everything to paralyze Russia’s state institutions and deprive the country of efficient controls, as happened in 1991.” “

Meanwhile, on the other side of the ‘planetary divide’,

Among those in the audience was Melissa Sauder, who drove nearly 350 miles from the small western Nebraska town of Grant with her 13-year-old daughter. After years of combing internet sites, listening to podcasts and reading conservative media reports, Sauder wanted to learn more about what she believes are serious problems with the integrity of U.S. elections.
She can’t shake the belief that voting machines are being manipulated even in her home county, where then-President Donald Trump won 85% of the vote in 2020.
“I just don’t know the truth because it’s not open and apparent, and it’s not transparent to us,” said Sauder, 38. “We are trusting people who are trusting the wrong people.”
It’s a sentiment now shared by millions of people in the United States after relentless attacks on the outcome of the 2020 presidential election by Trump and his allies. Nearly two years after that election, no evidence has emerged to suggest widespread fraud or manipulation while reviews in state after state have upheld the results showing President Joe Biden won.
Even so, the attacks and falsehoods have made an impact: An Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll from 2021 found that about two-thirds of Republicans say they do not think Biden was legitimately elected.

Forget, if you can, about the war in Ukraine and about the US mid-term elections.
Let’s pretend you’re the head of the alien fact-finding mission.
What recommendation would you send back to those calling the shots in your organization after reading the two articles I mentioned above?

Social cohesion is a key concept in modern sociology.
There are many definitions – most of which complement each other, and the gist of them is ‘glue’.

…the glue that bonds society together…

Do you actually perceive modern society as being glued? Bonded? Together?!?

As an engineer – MSc in Mechanical Engineering, Bucharest Politechnica University 1986 – I’m primarily interested in ‘consequences’. ‘Causes’ come second. A close second but still second. Because it’s ‘consequences’ we have to face/endure directly, not ’causes’.
Whenever I feel bad, really bad, I begin by stopping everything that I was doing. To have enough time to determine the proper cause for my malaise. Identifying/dealing with causes ‘on the go’ – usually by having faith in what I already know, without realizing that it was exactly that which had led me to where I am now – is not such a good option.

Very few societies (countries, nations) continue to behave coherently. Many of them – most of them, actually, used to. Until very recently.
Yet most of my ‘recent’ colleagues – B in Sociology, Bucharest University 2009, continue to discuss about ‘cohesion’.

Communities continue to be cohesive. And, as a consequence, continue to behave coherently.
The easiest answer is ‘by definition’.
That’s how you recognize a community. A group of people who act coherently because they are ‘bound together’ by ‘social cohesion’. How that happened to be? Some other time!

Societies, on the other hand, no longer are.
Nations, which used to be whole, are now ‘fractured’. Not entirely, but they certainly behave a lot less coherently than, say, 50 years ago.
OK, this is not the first time that something like this had happened….

Civil wars are nothing new.
None of them had been ‘civil’ though. Which makes ‘civil war‘ an oxymoron
Something so ‘impossible’ that we haven’t coined a proper word for it. Something so horrible that we speak about it using an ‘impossible’ name in order to properly mark its utter impropriety.

What is new is the amount of knowledge we currently have about the whole matter. About the inner workings of our collective psyche.
How we use that knowledge, what we have understood from learning it, the manner in which we allow that information to shape our actions … that’s another matter!

Whose consequences are in the making.
There are no other ‘makers’ but us.
Also, there are no other people to bear the consequences of what we’re doing now.

Is this the epitome of ‘click bait’?

Then why do I bother with it?

Because it illustrates perfectly the prevailing trend. How things change because of us.
How we – collectively, change the world around us.

At first, click-bait had been used by ‘fraudsters’. ‘Publishers’ who used to cram completely useless information under some very ‘enticing’ titles.

Now… you may say that the information about our galaxy – the Milky Way, being on a collision course with Andromeda – our closest galactic neighbor, is also useless. Maybe… After all, that will only happen after 4 billion years had already passed… Anyway, this time, the targeted public is rather different than before. More ‘scientifically minded’…
Which proves my point.
That using click-bait has become a lot more acceptable.

The new normal…

Which brings me to the next question.
How many of you are going to watch this?

Want to find more?
To figure out, on your own, why this trend worries me?

Read this. Well worth your time, I promise.

I sketched earlier a brief description of how we got here.

Now I’ll attempt to offer an ‘alternative’ understanding of inflation. Not what it is – we all know that, but what it does.
It will be a functionalist view of the matter. Evolutionary, even.
As in ‘why do we still have inflation’. Why inflation continues to ‘survive’.

For most of our history, economy had been about solving needs.
Regardless of the market being momentarily free or not, for things to go on a balance had to be struck.
Demand had to be balanced by supply. Hence ‘price’.

Demand was mostly driven by the number of people needing something while supply was driven by the available natural resources AND by our ability to transform those resources into actual commodities.
For example, the price of wheat was influenced by the number of people living in a certain area, by the amount of arable land AND by the agricultural technology used at any given time. OK, the weather also had an impact but it was mitigated by the technology.

‘But how about imports? After all, ‘international’ grain trade is three millennia old. Ancient Athenian ships had been distributing ‘Ukrainian’ wheat all around the Aegean sea since before the Trojan war…’

Yeah, and how about emigration… the Irish had gone to America to escape famine, didn’t they?
We’ll get there. ‘Baby steps’, otherwise we may trip!

When population increased, they tried to add more arable land. If they could. If not – and/or in parallel, they tried to increase yield.
But the process was not linear. They could not ‘fine tune’ the increase of yield – by either method, exactly to the population growth. Hence the variation of price. Hence the ‘secondary mitigation measures’ – import/export and emigration.

‘OK, I understand. But prices can go both ways. Up AND down! Inflation only goes up…’

You’re speaking about individual prices. Which, indeed, go both ways.
And, yes again, inflation goes – in medium to longer time frames, only up!

You see, we have ‘price adjustments’ and (compounded) inflation.

Price adjustment is the mechanism through which the market – free or otherwise, balances the market for individual ‘items’. Encourages the consumption of wheat when the price is low and encourages the farmers to plant more wheat when the prices are high. Same thing for, say, shoe-shinning!
Meanwhile, (compounded) inflation is the mechanism through which the market – again, free or otherwise, balances itself.

For example, if wheat becomes too expensive, consumers (and suppliers) might decide to replace it with something else. Rice. Or potatoes.
Or, when grain prices become prohibitively low, farmers might abandon their plows and buy, say, shoe-shining tools.

‘But if rice – or anything else – would yield a lot more than wheat per the available arable land, the over all prices for food – and everything else, should go down, right? Not up…’

Well… in a rational world… maybe. That’s another long discussion.
The short version being that we usually wait for too long before making the necessary changes. Which is not necessarily wrong but that’s yet another long discussion. Only hindsight is 20/20…

Let’s say it would be possible to grow wheat and rice on the same plot of land without making any technological adjustments. If the growers would know what kind of weather would come in the next season, they would be able to plant the right crop. But they don’t. And it takes time for people to grasp the weather patterns have changed – and adjust the pertinent technology. On top of that, adjusting technology requires money.
Investment. Fresh ‘inputs’.

And who would do such a thing – plowing money into the ground, literally – without expecting an increased return? Something ‘extra’ for their effort?

In economic terms, nobody invests their money in a deflationary environment.
Why would anybody do such a thing?
Buy now when waiting till ‘tomorrow’ would make it possible to buy more for the same money?!?

That’s why inflation goes up. Period.
Cause otherwise the whole economy would become obsolete. We’d all be waiting for ‘tomorrow’.

This was a gross ‘simplification’.
A bare sketch.
Even in a deflationary environment, some prices do go up. For years overall prices have gone down – because of our increased technological prowess – while housing, education, healthcare and insurance have become more and more expensive. ‘Tilting’ the whole market.
More about this in the next post on the subject.

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