Archives for category: The kind of world we are building for our children

For reasons outside the scope of this post, some Japanese whiskys command ‘impressive’ sums of money.
This is a fact.

Another fact is that “Federal employees are not allowed to keep gifts from foreign governments as souvenirs or for their own personal use, unless their value is under $415. When foreign gifts exceed that threshold, staffers can accept them if their refusal “would likely cause offense or embarrassment or otherwise adversely affect the foreign relations of the United States,” but they’re considered the property of the federal government unless the State Department allows them to be sold, according to federal law.

Then why on Earth would anybody make such a gift to a ‘federal employee’?
Oh, to give something ‘trivial’ to such an ‘honorable character’ would diminish the stature of the giver…
Not to mention another fact! That it’s the receiver’s job to obey ‘their’ rules… the giver has nothing to do with what happens after the gift has changed hands…

And what else might become lost in the American bureaucratic maze?

Why do I waste my time with things like these?
Why do I waste your time with things like these?
Why does the US State Department waste its time reporting on things like these?

As former President Donald Trump wades into contested primaries across the country, he’s trying to exact revenge and remake the Republican Party in his image. In doing so, he has endorsed a series of candidates involved in allegations of wrongdoing, especially concerning their treatment of women.

That’s contributing to anxiety among some Republicans who worry that Trump is lending his powerful political backing only to those who flatter his ego. Such candidates may be able to win GOP primaries in which the party’s Trump-supporting base dominates, only to struggle in the general election.

And with control of Congress hinging on just a few seats, such missteps could be costly.

“There is no vetting process — at least not on policy and electability,” said Dan Eberhart, a GOP donor and Trump supporter who said the concerns extend to many corners of the party. “The endorsement process comes down to how much a candidate supports the former president and is willing to have the Trump machine run their campaign and fundraising. … Whether they are the most viable candidate in a given race is secondary.”

What are some of the Republicans concerned about? Whether the candidates backed by Trump will be elected?!?

Is anybody concerned whether they will be able to do something, anything, for the United States?
As a whole?

Whether they, any of them, will be a true asset?
Rather than make expensive bottles of alien whisky ‘disappear’?

https://www.gearpatrol.com/food/drinks/a33806261/yamazaki-55-year-old-most-expensive-japanese-whisky-auction/
https://www.forbes.com/sites/joewalsh/2021/08/04/missing-5800-bottle-of-japanese-whiskey-given-to-trump-administration-has-state-dept-on-the-rocks/
https://apnews.com/article/donald-trump-entertainment-congress-senate-elections-general-elections-ea0839430fc28a6b08227223c0b4e045

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

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

Petre Anghel

Fast forward to right now.

The US is the current ‘top dog’.

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

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

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

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

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

What, and why, went wrong?

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I argued earlier that truth is a convention.
And that the Truth exists but will never be known. Not in its entirety, anyway.

Then what are we left with?
How can any of us decide what is true and what is not?

First of all, any convention needs three things. The two convening parts and the object of their convention.

‘So, you want us to believe that truth is a make-believe?!?’

That it can be, yes!

And the further from the real truth – from reality itself, that convened about truth is, the worse the fate the believers will eventually have to face.

The first example which jumps to my mind is the fate of Bernie Madoff and ‘his’ investors.
Bernie and each of the investors had convened a truth. That his investment fund was sound.
Consider what happened to each of them. To each of the investors and to Bernie Madoff himself.

I’ll come back.

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

First things first.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Capitalism cannot steal anything!

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

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

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

Why are we living in such fugazi times?

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

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

Socialism won’t bring any respite!

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

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

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

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

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

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Driven by hunger, trained by habit and enhanced by hope.

That’s how we, humans – a.k.a. conscious animals – operate.

Hunger must be satisfied.
Animals do it instinctively. They can be trained, some of them, only that training is based solely on memory and reward. Their individual contribution to the end result is small.

Humans do it conscientiously. As in ‘on purpose’. They identify first the available food sources – according to their training, rank them – according to their acquired tastes and to the relative ease with which food can be obtained from each of them, and proceed to feed themselves only after all these steps had been performed. However perfunctorily.
It is easy to notice that here individuals have a lot more lee-way. Their contributions to the process can be substantial.

In all of those three phases. And beyond.

When choosing.

When ‘training’ others how to choose.

And when determining that we’ve had enough. That time is ripe to let others feed themselves.

Why are all these people fleeing? From their own country?
Because the Taliban have arrived?

Why had the 300 000 strong, and well equipped, Afghan Army crumbled when left alone to face the 75 000 strong Taliban insurgency?
Because the Afghan government was corrupt? And because “All the major countries – probably except India – in the region had come to terms with the Taliban government.”?

What made these youngsters – very much similar to those above, to choose the Taliban side of the conflict?
And what made the Taliban ultimately more successful than the ‘democratically elected’ Afghan Government?
The Americans deciding it was time for the Afghan People to stand on their own two feet?

As I said at the beginning of the post, we, humans, have a lot more lee-way than the rest of the animals.
None of us is entirely free but each of us has some agency. Some power to influence the destiny of other people.
When exercising that power we’re all influenced by our previously received conditioning and by the present circumstances.
When pressed by ‘urgent considerations’ very few of us remain aware of the fact that present day decisions set the scene for what’s going to happen tomorrow.
When pressed by what we consider to be ‘urgent’ we forget about ‘primum non nocere’.
When caving in to urgency we forget that we are the ones going to live with the consequences of our present decisions.

The Afghans flee their country because they have lost hope.
The Afghan soldiers have caved in because they have lost hope.
The Afghans who have joined the Taliban have done that because they felt there was no other hope.

Who will have to make do in these circumstances?
When are we going to take responsibility for our own fate?
When are we going to start building our own hopes?

Bearing in mind that we have only one Earth at our disposal?
And that if we play our cards right, the sky is the only limit?

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I’m not OK with businesses refusing flowers/cakes for gay marriages but I can understand their owners’ point.
On the other hand, I also understand people who don’t want to wear masks. I’m not OK with it but I understand their quest.

What I don’t understand is the insistence with which some people want to ‘discriminate’ between these two situations.
Why should a business be able to refuse to serve a gay couple but not able to refuse to serve those who refuse to wear masks?!?

How can people discriminate between liberties? What makes a liberty more valuable than the other?
Specially when love between two people sharing a similar sex is still love while sharing viruses is potentially deadly…

And what’s so ‘progressive’ in calling other people ‘assholes’?!?

When are we going to cool down and start making some sense of what we’re living through?

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The first thing each of us becomes aware of is ‘me’.
Not yet “I”, just “me”.

I (?!?) feel myself as somehow separated from the rest.
I have the feelings hence it’s “me” rather than “I”.
I am cared for by those around me so, again, it’s “me” rather than “I”.

And this goes on for quite a while.
That while used to be shorter. I’m not going to tell you how many children worked in coal mines… I’m just going to remind you that in more traditional cultures, the older children are expected to participate in the raising of the smaller ones. Hence become faster more responsible than we had been in our times.
Taking care of somebody else teaches each of us a lot. The most important thing being the fact that not all the world spins around you. As each of us had been led to believe in the first months of our lives. During the time each of us had become “me”.

Taking care of others makes each of us aware of the care we have received.
Teaches us that ‘give’ is just as important as ‘being given’.
Teaches us about ‘give and take’.

Teaches us that ‘you’ are just as important as “me” is.

Having understood that is the only thing which qualifies each of us as “I”.

Behaving as active members of a culture which successfully teaches “I” to its members transforms a collection of “me”-s into “us”.

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Bonkers, right?

Here’s a more elaborate expression of the same concept:

“Al-Ash’ari (873–935), the founder of the theological school that al-Ghazâlî belonged to, had rejected the existence of “natures” (tabâ’i’ ) and of causal connections among created beings. In a radical attempt to explain God’s omnipotence, he combined several ideas that were developed earlier in Muslim kalâm to what became known as occasionalism. All material things are composed of atoms that have no qualities or attributes but simply make up the shape of the body. The atoms of the bodies are the carrier of “accidents” (singl. ‘arad), which are attributes like weight, density, color, smell, etc. In the cosmology of al-Ash’arî all immaterial things are considered “accidents” that inhere in a “substance” (jawhar). Only the atoms of spatially extended bodies can be substances. A person’s thoughts, for instance, are considered accidents that inhere in the atoms of the person’s brain, while his or her faith is an accident inhering in the atoms of the heart. None of the accidents, however, can subsist from one moment (waqt) to the next. This leads to a cosmology where in each moment God assigns the accidents to bodies in which they inhere. When one moment ends, God creates new accidents. None of the created accidents in the second moment has any causal relation to the ones in the earlier moment. If a body continues to have a certain attribute from one moment to the next, then God creates two identical accidents inhering in that body in each of the two subsequent moments. Movement and development generate when God decides to change the arrangement of the moment before. A ball is moved, for instance, when in the second moment of two the atoms of the ball happen to be created in a certain distance from the first. The distance determines the speed of the movement. The ball thus jumps in leaps over the playing field and the same is true for the players’ limbs and their bodies. This also applies to the atoms of the air if there happen to be some wind. In every moment, God re-arranges all the atoms of this world anew and He creates new accidents—thus creating a new world every moment (Perler/Rudolph 2000, 28–62).”

On the other hand, we currently have our own struggles.

Determinism.
Is it possible to determine the ultimate cause of anything? Forget about ‘everything’… even the ultimate cause for something seems to be far beyond our capabilities…

Freedom.
Is it real?
Or is it only a figment of our own imagination?

Reality.
Is it real?
Or is it created by our own conscience?

No links provided. Do your own googling.

Here’s what science teaches us on this matter.

Heisenberg’s ‘Uncertainty Principle’:
It is impossible to simultaneously measure with absolute precision both the position and the velocity of any object.

For many everyday instances, this doesn’t present any problem. For practical purposes, our technological prowess is enough. Philosophically… Heisenberg’s principle is yet another irrefutable indication that we’re very far from ever being able to determine the ultimate cause of anything.

Are we able to live with this uncertainty?

Are we able to go to bed at night without being absolutely sure that the sun will rise tomorrow?
OK, everybody somehow knows – even if nobody wants to accept it, that there’s a slight chance that they will not wake tomorrow… but the Sun?!?

Are we able to live with the notion that what we call ‘natural order’ isn’t fixed?

That a meteorite might come from nowhere and kill all the ‘dinosaurs’?
That a virus might spring up from nowhere and fuck up our lives?

“What we see is the fire touching the cotton and then the cotton being reduced to ashes. We wrongly assume that there is thus a necessary causal relationship between fire burning and the cotton being burned”.

Now please tell me something.
What is the subject here? Cotton being burned or our relationship with what’s going on there?

We see… we assume… He, al Ghazali, tells us that we are wrong to assume that what we see is what is really happening… He is ‘right’ – because…- and we are wrong…

The funny thing being, of course, that al-Ghazali is, partially, right!
Since Heisenberg had postulated his famous principle, we should refrain ourselves from assuming anything…

OK. Let me put it differently then.
What happened to that cotton?
Is it still white? Or had it been “reduced” to ashes?

Who brought the flame close enough to the cotton?
Was this an experiment? In a lab?
Or a tragedy? In a field/storage? By lightning? Or by an arsonist?

Returning to al Ghazali, we need to remember that his world was totally different from ours.

It’s safe to say that their culture was about as sophisticated as ours. Same arts, same subjects discussed in the philosophical circles, same religious ideas…

Civilizationally speaking, we live in a totally different world.
Civilization – the consequence of ‘culture’ being put to practice’ had advanced dramatically in the last 1000 years.

And since our thoughts are heavily influenced by the environment in which we’re doing the thinking…

The fraction of the population who enjoyed ‘food security’ was minuscule compared to today.
The fraction of the population who was pretty much sure they will awake the next morning was minuscule compared to today.
The fraction of the population who felt free – from oppression – was, practically, nonexistent.

Yet the ‘thinkers’ felt the same need for coherence as those thinking today. They felt the same need to know what tomorrow had in store for them.
They, like us, needed an explanation for disease. For war. For tragedy…
And since no pathogens nor dictators were available …

How come ‘no dictators were available’?!?
Who in his right mind would have called, then, the local ruler a ‘dictator’? In his face…
Look at what happened, now, to people doing that in Moscow!
Or even in Washington, DC

That was the role attributed to God. To be the bridge to tomorrow.

It was not the flame which reduced the cotton to ashes. Nor the experimenter/arsonist/dictator. It was ‘God’.
As long as we could accept that – and that God loved us, the future was still bearable.

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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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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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As much as I love writing, I do have to eat.
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!

As much as I love writing, I do have to eat.
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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