Archives for category: Trust

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Facts are clear.

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

The vaccine which had been used was Chinese?

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

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

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

Want to give the finger to BigPharma?

Go out there and get the jab!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let me wrap up with this.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are we going to make anything of our present predicament?

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Bill Cosby was released from prison Wednesday after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned his 2018 conviction for sexual assault,

Let’s recap the events, as described in the NY Times article.

2004 – Ms Constand was raped by Mr. Cosby.
According to the 2018 sentence!
Please note that the Pennsylvania High Court didn’t say the 2018 jurors had ‘seen things”. Only that the trial shouldn’t have taken place!

2005 – The district attorney prosecuting the case “announced in a news release at the time that after an investigation he had found “insufficient” evidence. He later testified that he had given Mr. Cosby the assurance to encourage him to testify in a subsequent civil case brought by Ms. Constand. (A civil suit she filed against Mr. Cosby was settled in 2006 for $3.38 million.)”
As he was convinced he didn’t have enough evidence to make a penal case against Mr. Cosby, the prosecutor promised the defendant he will not be further prosecuted if he testified (a.k.a. ‘told the truth’) in the civil suit.
“In that testimony, Mr. Cosby acknowledged giving quaaludes to women he was pursuing for sex.”

2006 – The civil case was settled for $3.38 million. As in Bill Cosby agreed to pay that amount of money for something the prosecution wasn’t sure that it was able to convince a jury that he had actually done it.

2015 – The next district attorney reopened the case. And got a conviction. Despite the fact that the ‘main’ evidence had been provided by the defendant himself. Given after he was promised he wasn’t incriminating himself in a penal way.

2018 – Mr. Cosby is convicted for something he had done 14 years ago.

2021 – The Pennsylvania Supreme Court decides that Mr. Cosby had been practically duped into incriminating himself, found this to be unacceptable and released the former prisoner.

What are we, ordinary citizens, to make out of all these?

Be glad that our individual rights have been upheld?
It makes a lot of sense!
After all, upholding individual rights is what makes the difference between a free society and an authoritarian one.
Between people being free and finding themselves at the whims of the government.

Ask ourselves ‘what about the individual rights of the victim’?
That also makes sense.
But my experience of living under a dictatorship strongly suggests that letting some guilty people walk free is a small price to pay for making resonably sure that a government – any government, doesn’t accrue too much power over the individuals making up the people.

Ask ourselves ‘what happened to us’?
What drives so many of to use constitutional rights as loopholes?
Is this OK?

No legislation will ever be perfect!
That’s why verdicts are given by ‘peers’, judges are given so much ‘leeway’ and why, in general, the law is administered by highly trained responsible people and not by ‘machines’.

After all, how we use whatever we have at our disposal – legislation included, speaks more about ourselves than about the things we use and the circumstances in which we make our choices.

I’ll start by stating that nothing becomes fact before somebody calling it so!

Doesn’t make any sense?
It’s not enough?
OK…

So ‘blue’ had become a fact only after people had invented a word for it…
It had existed before hand but we hadn’t noticed it – hadn’t spoken about it, more exactly, until we had a word for it. Until we had learned how to ‘measure’ it…

But what is a ‘fact’?
Something which is ‘real’?
And how do you determine if something is ‘real’ or not?
It either has ‘measurable consequences’ or your experience about it has been confirmed by somebody else.
A coffee table becomes a fact in the dark after you hit it with your shin and a meteorite ceases being a illusion the moment your hubby confirms he has also seen it.
No so complicated, was it?

‘But what about a propaganda movie? It that real? Can you consider it to be a fact?’

Excellent question, Watson!

The movie itself is real alright! A fact, indeed.
The fact that not everything it pretends to be real is true… is also a fact!
Savvy?

In fact, there are more facts waiting to be discovered than actual ‘happenings’.

Take the propaganda movie.
It has consequences.
Some people believe in its message. And act accordingly. Each of those actions becoming facts on their own.
Other people smell the rat hiding behind the screen. And act accordingly. Each of those actions being facts on their own.
The fact that those exposed to the same message more often than not chose to respond differently is a strong suggestion that facts – and reality itself, are not so straightforward as we’d like them to be.
As straightforward as most spin doctors pretend them to be…

‘You’ve been jabbering for sometime now but you haven’t yet come forward. What was the meaning of that ‘elusive’ title of yours?’

Liberty.
What is it?
A fact? A natural fact? Something which was given to us? Our natural status? Something others want to steal from us?
Something we’ve built/discovered together?
Or an ideal we’ll never be able to fulfill?

How about all three at the same time?

‘Are you nuts?’

A ball – a foot-ball, for example, has a certain degree of freedom. Put it on a table and it may roll in any direction it may choose. But will ‘never’ be able to fall through the table nor start to fly. ‘On it’s own’…
A helium balloon has another kind of freedom. If it’s tied down with a string it has the freedom to oscillate. If it’s ‘free’ it has the freedom to go up. For as long as it manages to hold on on enough helium, but that’s another thing. Another fact, if you will…

A society is free only if its members respect and defend, collectively, their freedoms. Their individual freedom and their collective freedom. For instance, Russia is a free country but its citizens are not as free as their neighbors, the Fins.
The moment Hong Kong went back to China, the city was no longer as free as it used to be as a British dominion. Yet its citizens have continued to be far freer than the rest of the Chinese citizens. For a while…..

Somethings – freedom, for instance, cannot be anything more than people think about them.

Others can.
Until people had invented X-rays, nobody could know how big were the roots of any given tooth.
Until Robert K. Merton had put together a more detailed analysis of it, the law of the unintended consequences was something people intuitively knew it was ‘real’ but nobody was fully aware of its real depth. Now, most of us agree that that depth is unfathomable. Yet some people still behave as if things were under control… Under their control…

Freedom, and all other rights we have enjoyed for sometime now, is only as wide – and only as deep, as we make it to be. As we agree among ourselves to make it.
For all of us!

Collective freedom as a fact.
In the sense that the freer communities have had a consistently bigger survivability rate than the more authoritarian regimes.
Ancient Athens had been able to navigate through more ‘dire straights’ than its arch-enemy, Sparta.
The Roman Empire has been established as a democracy, thrived as one for a while then failed abysmally as an autocracy.
Yes, the Egyptian empire did survive for millennia… only it had been ruled, succeedingly, by 33 dynasties. Practically, there had been 33 regimes, not one… And since there had been some 3100 years between its unification and it being incorporated into the Roman Empire… an average of 100 years per political regime cannot be branded as a real success… Specially in the early years, when the competition was…

A quick jump to the XX-th century will suggest the very same thing. All major wars – WWI, WWII and the Cold one, had been won by the freer societies.

So collective freedom, or lack thereof, has consequences. Is a fact.

On the other hand, freedom – the real version, the one that works, cannot be had/enjoyed but in a social context.
Nobody can be free on their own.
The emperors of yore – and the dictators of today, have been under the impression – illusion, more likely, that they could do whatever they pleased. That they were free. So free that they never hesitated to trample the freedom of their subjects. Only that freedom never lasted for long… it was soon replaced by the liberty of somebody else… And all these successive liberties have been exerted at the expense of those of everybody else.

Hence liberty, individual as well as collective, is not only a fact. It’s also a social construct.

What about the ‘elusive ideal’?

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

Oops!
The only reasonable way to read this is ‘if you want to be free, you need to think straight’.
To find out what’s keeping you down and how to free yourself in a sustainable way.
How to free yourself in a manner which will add to the freedom of all others!

Cause if your increased freedom means the debasement of your erstwhile peers… things don’t look right…

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Respecting other people’s opinions means respectfully telling them how wrong they are – when they are, of course, instead of shouting, in their faces, about how stupid they are – in that precise moment.

In this sense, this meme is, actually, inflammatory.
Nobody who has paid some attention in high-school – and has maintained a working eye-sight, will ever opine about something like this.
Only those who
1. don’t see/know the difference between a ‘factor’ and a ‘base’ and/or
2. don’t care enough to pay real attention – and want to get it over with,
would fall prey to this ‘ruse’.

Using this example to demand ‘stop the antiscience movement’ is, in fact, disrespectful!
And counterproductive.
It will only deepen the chasm between those who believe in science and those who see the ‘science peddlers’ as being arrogant know-alls.

Math isn’t that complicated, after all…

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’?

Where conditions had been ripe:

The market had become free.
Free for more and more people to search for new ways to meet their needs.
This freedom had allowed the market to become efficient enough for more and more people to be able to satisfy some of their wishes, on top of most of their needs.

Agora had become free.
So free that politicians had to solve more and more of the real problems encountered by the society at large.
Life had become so free that states had become prosperous.

And more and more of the people were happy!

Now, the market is so free that more and more people have started to search for ‘really’ new ways to meet their wishes. Eventually, they came to be known as ‘financial engineers’. The market is no longer the place where people meet to satisfy their needs but the place where some of them accrue huge sums of money while more and more of the rest find it harder and harder to survive.

The Agora is also at its freest.
‘Political marketeers’ have taken over from the ‘the old school’ – and ‘real’ politics have been replaced with ‘give the people what they want’. Political life is no longer about solving problems. It has become a relentless quest for power.
Keeping things ‘afloat’ is no longer THE goal, only a cost.

Is this sustainable?

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One of my eyes is short-sighted. Both are astigmatic.
Hence my visual relationship with the ‘exterior’ is impaired. Relative to that of a ‘normal’ person…

When I took up photography, as a hobby, there were no such things as self focusing cameras. Pictures as those you are about to see were way ‘out of range’ for me.

Because of my inability to focus a camera fast enough. And because long ranged lenses were too expensive for me, in those times.

Being conscious of my limits was no cure for my frustration!

Thankfully, technology made it possible for me to indulge in my hobby!
To overcome some of my limitations.

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

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

The post continues after this message.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Going forward, two scenarios can be imagined.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Always remember that your ‘ride’ doubles up as your home.
And as your pantry!
‘Redecorate’ with extreme caution and be extra careful when it comes to ‘waste disposal’. For the simple reason that today’s stool will, sometime in the near future, become tomorrow’s lunch. No ‘ride’ is infinite, you know… “all come from dust, and all return to dust“, remember?

NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) recently captured a unique view of Earth from the spacecraft’s vantage point in orbit around the moon.

2. Treat the entire ‘crew’ as your family. For the simple reason that no mutiny has ever ended well… Even the winning parties have been presented with huge ‘cleaning up’ bills… while there is a very short supply of desert – but habitable – ‘islands’ where the loosing parties might be left to fend for themselves. So, in the end, all those interested in continuing their lives must – the sooner the better – find where is the middle ground between them.

Another fantastic thing to see at the fortified church of Biertan is the marital prison, precisely what its name suggests. Legend has it that whenever a married couple in Biertan wanted to divorce, they had to go through a particular test first. They were locked inside a room within the fortified church walls, and they were forced to use one bed, one chair, and one set of cutlery for two whole weeks. 
After this time period, if they still wanted to divorce, they were free to do so. However, in 400 years, only one couple is said to have gone through with the divorce in the end. If that’s not exemplary couples therapy, I don’t know what is.  

3. ‘I’ll be dead long before the hit shits the fan’ is no longer a viable option.
If Covid hasn’t taught you that already…
There’s a huge difference between dying comfortably in your bed, with a cold glass of water just a wish away, and gasping for air, alone, with other moribund people as your only company!

“Beyond the images, the cremation grounds bear a painful routine of trauma that will weigh on families long after the headlines fade. The pandemic has stripped the final rites of their usual space and dignity.
Instead, this intimate ritual has become both a public display, with the world watching India’s crisis, and a lonely burden.”