Monday, November 16, 2015

Humility (Kamran K): Wasting the REALM

(1) Through human consciousness, all humans have access to the REALM of infinite abstractions, symbols, words, and all of their interrelationships. Access to the REALM is "granted" through one door (of an infinity of possible unequal ones) and is motivated by some primary unequal motivation. (Ferryman)

The REALM is exactly the same in all corners of the universe, with differing creatures with consciousness able to make some use (or not) of its contents. On Earth, it seems only humanity has meaningful access to the REALM: "Language evolution is species evolution and one species, man, is written in a language which produces a form of consciousness capable of interfacing with the infinite realm of written symbols and abstractions.... At any given moment consciousness may spontaneously be aware of or see any symbol, character, word or combination.  All men can testify to this action." (Ferryman) 

(2) Once in the REALM, human consciousness has complete and total freedom to do what it wants in it. This is actually the lifelong activity of man; in almost all persons, REALM wandering is the most continuous activity they ever do. REALM wanderings terminate only with death or some serious mental disease.

Very importantly, the REALM only contains simple "building block" abstractions, symbols, words, and does not contain these things in "final," let alone complete, error-free, and true form. The REALM does not contain a pre-packaged definition of justice or love or beauty or happiness. The REALM contains the abstract notions of truth and falsity but these are also left in their elemental NO-CONTENT form. Any compound "thing" (a novel or political ideology) extracted from the realm was not compound when originally found there; a human consciousness was responsible for the combination which- for the first time- introduced the possibility of non-physical error into human life. Human access to the REALM is errorless only to the point where realm contents are seen in their building-block form.

(3) A supremely perfect consciousness would have ERRORLESS access to the entirety of the REALM which is infinite. The ERRORLESS access of such a consciousness would allow it to know EVERYTHING in the REALM at the same time, perfectly, and comprehensively. The perfect consciousness would then further make perfect COMBINATION use of this perfect access to the building-block components of the REALM. Any question found within the realm could be perfectly known and articulated without error; and, in turn, a perfect answer to that question could be perfectly known and articulated without error. No human has ever had such a consciousness, although some have approached it temporarily with respect to certain discrete elements of the realm (Einstein's discovery of E=MC2).

(4) Humanity is error-prone and MUST operate by cautious trial-and-error experiment within the REALM. There is no short-cut available to this very tedious very laborious very lengthy process. The process of realm experimentation has been going on for many thousands of years and will continue for an equally long time if humanity endures that long. Truth is an important product of human venturing within the REALM but is far from the only one of value. Humor and artistic beauty and even compassion are also the products of REALM wandering.

We are thankful to social media for confirming the following propositions irrefutably. As an empirical matter, most human wanderings into the REALM produce either falsity (racism) or trivial soporific banality (most contemporary positive-thinking/energy ideology). As an empirical matter, most human wanderings into the REALM are motivated by narcissistic self-promotion/self-boosting and (increasingly) profit-chasing. As an empirical matter, most wanderings into the REALM are not the product of tabula-rosa disinterested truth searching and curiosity. As an empirical matter, most human wanderings into the REALM are highly repetitive of past human wanderings into the REALM. As an empirical matter, most human wanderings into the REALM are just that, random wanderings which are not sustained with enough purpose to generate much of even fleeting value. As an empirical matter, most human wanderings into the REALM are not cooperative, building upon and in conjunction with other human wanderings into the same areas of the REALM at the same time.

(5) When in the REALM, there are right and wrong moves that one can make in it to produce things of human value. A scientist entering the realm has hundreds even thousands of decisions to make before generating some scientific truth. When Mozart entered the REALM he too had hundreds even thousands of decisions to make before generating artistic beauty. When Plato entered the REALM, he was also confronted with thousands of decisions before producing The Republic. A politician entering the realm has thousands of decisions to make before generating some political principles and initiatives of merit.

Persons making far more right moves within the REALM tend to produce things of human value. Persons prone to making many wrong moves within the REALM generally produce various nothings, things of zero or (sometimes) negative value. Predictably, such persons don't view their creations as either zero or of negative value and- in various ways- demand recognition that they actually don't deserve. When this recognition never arrives, they become misanthropic, bitter, and hateful of humanity and- finally- life itself. Their REALM wanderings were effectively futile, fruitless, costly from a TIME perspective, and one large farce.

(6) Because sustained human entry into the REALM is so riddled with error and so often beset by motivations that tend to guarantee error, most humans most of the time should regard their REALM wanderings as just that- WANDERINGS. They should not view the products of these wanderings with much esteem or respect or CERTAINTY. They certainly should not seek to impose the products of such error-filled wanderings on anyone else, let alone the entirety of humanity now and forevermore. They should NEVER demand or expect recognition from any REALM wandering.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Courage (Kamran K): CONFRONTING the Past, Present, and Future. Again and again and again...

"Hard reality is really hard, it is never soft, there are no time outs."

(1) Thousands of corporations worldwide operate under a system of quarterly and annual report and evaluation. To offer these reports to the public, the leaders of these corporations are required to CONFRONT the past, the present, and the future.

In analyzing the past, they are required to truthfully report what happened- OBJECTIVELY. Of course the leaders will provide verbal narrative attempting to spin the past in relentlessly positive ways favorable to their continued tenure. They will offer excuses for failed strategies, vague and evasive commentary to gloss over non-obvious errors and failures, and highly misleading statements as to how things turned out.

The market is (usually) not easily fooled by these tactics. The market prefers to look at the cold hard reality of facts and information- revenue, earnings, losses, costs, customer relationships- all of which can be quantified to the penny. If these indications are favorable the stock usually goes UP. If they are disappointing the stock goes down. Simple as that.

(2) In analyzing the present, corporate leaders offer commentary as to what they are seeing right now on a daily basis. Although less tied to numerical data, still the present commentary describes what is being seen and observed on a more or less ongoing basis in the NOW.

(3) Finally, corporate leaders offer projections and predictions on what they expect the future to bring to the company's financial profitability. Everyone knows that the future is uncertain and unpredictable (how trite) so no one expects the leaders to be errorless. Still, leaders are expected to make REASONABLE projections that are not "pie in the sky," that can be expected to be approximated if things unfold as one expects they would in the "ordinary" way.

(4) Arguably this system of corporate past, present, and future assessment, evaluation and projection is GOOD. Why? It forces corporations to directly confront hard reality and take stock of what hard reality is telling them. It forces corporations to evaluate what corporate behaviors and strategies are working and which are failing miserably. It forces corporations to implement concrete plans to reach articulated goals. It forces corporations to STOP and exit the comfortable routines they vaguely tell themselves are "getting the job done" to actually evaluate whether this is so. None of this is pleasant nor easy most of the time; all of it is essential to avoid stagnation and negative infinite loops.

(5) Men and women in their everyday lives can and should engage in a similar procedure on a quarterly and (minimally) annual basis. The triteness of the formulas "there are lessons to be learned from the past" or "those who don't know the past are condemned to repeat it" is obvious. But these formulas are communicating truths of value. If you can't or won't CONFRONT past behaviors and assess whether they were successful or failed you simply have no right to expect a future any better than the past you've already experienced. To engage in behaviors repetitively for many years without ever bothering to consider whether they are any good (or even if "not bad" whether they could be significantly improved) is idiocy of the highest order.

Of course, the project for individual persons engaging in this activity is simultaneously MUCH harder and much easier than for the corporate leaders. It is much easier because you should know everything you have done- or can determine it with ease. For a very large company, the corporate leaders may have no clue as to the day to day events "on the ground level." It is much HARDER because the evaluation of whether behaviors are working or not is not subject to a simple mathematical test of dollars and cents. One can't ask whether my friendships or relationship with family members are getting better or not and answer this with some simple number. One can't ask whether one's emotional health and well-being is progressing and answer this with some simple number either. Even as to one's physical health and well-being the number is usually not reducible to a simple set of data. One's overall happiness also can't be quantified.

(6) Although resistant to numerical precision, still one can GET INTO moments of direct and brutal honesty with the self and when there make various non-numeric assessments whether certain behaviors are working or are not or have become simply too damn repetitive to carry forward into the future. A gambler may look at his life and see that literally all aspects of it are stagnating because gambling is taking up the person's entire life. This is not a numerical assessment but it is no less real nor true simply because of this non-numericness. A person may similarly assess the quality of close friendships and relationships and determine whether behaviors employed in these areas are working or are not. A person may assess his career and determine whether the behaviors in that sphere are furthering or hindering the achievement of career goals.

(7) Once these evaluations are made, the behaviors that are working will be maintained and perhaps increased. And the behaviors that are not will be abandoned with due haste. The abandonment of the behaviors will be emotionally charged and driven by a much deeper emotional base of not wishing to repeat infinitely ad nauseam etc. failed behavioral strategies for the forseable future. One has to want- and want badly- a somewhat different future than what the past has served up so far. And one has to realize that getting this different future MUST go hand-in-hand with specific changes in behavior targeted to reach specifically different results.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Humor (Kamran K): Poking Tiny Funny Holes in the Armor of Idiocy

"I run to post on Facebook." (anonymous, 2015)
"people run because they don't want to be fat and have a useless personality instead of just having a useless personality..." (anonymous Shaun)
"Why does it seem that every activity has to have a reason to do it? Or some 'personal' story accompanied by a selfie? Unless you are a world class runner...Who cares?" (Elliot anonymous last name, 2015)
"Why do you run? Marathoner: I was looking for the best form of exercise to break down my body and make myself look like a diseased skeleton as quickly as possible. I like surgery and want a future full of hip replacements, knee damage and expensive arch supports." (Mr. Tasteful, 2015) 

(1) Whether one likes it or not, man is "stuck" here on Earth, in modernity, in the largely depressing, trivial/banal, and idiotic social environment of the day which is on parade everywhere all the time for anyone to observe and experience: "man today is totally bankrupt and is heedlessly moving toward the bottomless precipice as evidenced by facts visible to all." (Ferryman) These are not the reflections of a pessimist but a realist that has been "at home" for several years in all manner of social environments, from Ivy League schools to law firms to big business to the world of competitive athletics to social media to the dating and club scene to the large metropolitan cities of LA/NYC as well as the small suburbs of Tennessee to etc. etc.

There are no quick and easy solutions to the idiocy we see surrounding us everywhere. There is no magic pill that can be taken for many, let alone most or all people, to wake up from current dominant forms of idiocy which only seem to be increasing. All manner of volunteer efforts and other social justice, outreach, consciousness-raising drives to eradicate the idiocies have proven to be completely ineffectual. More distastefully, these drives and efforts are increasingly being motivated by persons who simply wish to gather praise from others for being "such a good intelligent person." It is laughable that someone would post something online and believe that this act alone is "making the world a better place." It is laughable that someone would believe any activity- whether running or meditation- can by itself "heal" the world and correct problems in areas totally unrelated to it.

(2) Some persons are disgusted with the idiocy they see around them and seek to escape it. What is often generated is a pseudo-escape because as we've emphasized there is no REAL escape. All forms of pseudo-escape from the prevailing social environment generates its own idiocy own, and often jeopardize the health and well-being of the person seeking escape in these ways. The solution to any idiocy surely cannot be another idiocy which will somehow miraculously make everything better through some vague mysterious causal mechanism that can't even be articulated, let alone defended: "The burden is on man to avoid adding to the error built into him and man has failed in spades, other words, man is betting on nothing, on his ability to compound error for his 'salvation." (Ferryman)

Persons can voluntarily choose to seek pseudo-escape through voluntary idiocy for years, if not decades. This choice- almost every time- retards the growth and development of the person's entire personality and is a LOSS to the person making it once ALL the apples and ALL the oranges are counted (as they must be to evaluate any choice).

(3) Rejecting the avenue of pseudo-escape after having made clear there can be no ACTUAL escape from the dominant social idiocies, social idiocy must be removed through a reorientation of consciousness to see idiocy for what it is. Idiocy has always- and will continue to- temporarily seem "cool," "new" "sexy" "fun" and even "no big deal." Once consciousness alters, idiocy no longer appears this way.

(4) What is the best way to reorient consciousness on matters of idiocy? Is it by denouncing idiocy as idiocy in harsh language? Nope. Is it by criticizing idiocy through reason and factual presentation, no matter how persuasive and compelling? Nope. Is it by marshaling humor to poke small, but still real, holes, in the armor of idiocy? YES.

(5) The appeal to humor as a way of eliminating or reducing idiocy worldwide should be embraced with the utmost speed. Comedians- NOT academics, NOT politicians, NOT social justice activists or zealots- should play a leading role in society's push to eradicate idiocy. They should be given absolute free reign to make their jokes on all matters whatsoever. Over time, their jokes will poke many tiny holes in the armor of idiocy and- God willing- an idiocy or two will be removed from human sight.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Silence and Stillness (Kamran K): The Solution Looking for a Problem.

(1) Almost all of today's human social ills and problems- from obesity to alcoholism- can be traced to a yet more fundamental one: the deliberate, stubborn, willful refusal to tolerate any form of silence, stillness, and the boredom that can result in these moments. A perfect storm is now brewing and probably has been brewing for the past few decades. Never have persons hated silence and stillness as much as they do now. And never have persons been literally a second away (thanks mainly to cellphones and related modern digital technologies) from thousands of methods of ending any silent and still state immediately.

This is not only a problem for individual persons but also groups (large and small). Just as individual persons can't sit still for a second, so too cities, political bodies, corporations, and many other groups simply can't stop themselves from doing way too much, way too often.

(2) It is this fear and refusal to remain in the silent and still state that continues to drive persons headlong into ANY RANDOM DIRECTION, any direction that is but the silent and still one where self-reflection, self-assessment, and (gasp) shame and a recognition of one's failures may take root. The increasingly dominant civil religion of relentless positivity may be accelerating this trend; because this religion loathes negative judgments, particularly negative self-judgments, the discomfort produced in persons when negative self-judgments would otherwise "be born" literally pushes them to do any random thing to prevent attendance and acceptance of the negative self-judgment. Social media's relentless parade of people doing the strangest things, for no purpose whatsoever, is ample proof of this phenomenon.

(3) The random directions that people are choosing to "escape" the silent and still one are producing consequences much worse than the boredom experienced by remaining silent and still. People are literally risking their lives- in myriad ways too numerous to list- in order to "escape" silence and stillness. The planet's ecosystem is being devastated by the economic system's absolutel refusal to "take some time off" and limit production to allow for rest, silence, and stillness by consumers and employees and the biomass that must continually be pillaged to support economic production. In the words of our beloved Ferryman:

 If life is a system which does not waste anything then modernity is a system which wastes everything and today life is attempting to adapt to modernity, the most wasteful system ever devised.  This conflict has no solution except cataclysm and extinction and everywhere modernity has taken root cataclysm and extinction has followed. 

Every year- year after year- we must have yet another Iphone or LCD TV model released, another fleet of new cars and bikes produced, another couple hundred new food products generated, and all the rest, all because remaining silent and still is believed to be literally the worst thing one could ever do. As an aside, if the planet is to be saved from the death trajectory it is now on people must be trained out of their addiction to doing anything just for the purpose of avoiding silence and stillness. The world can probably support 7 billion people who make intelligent decisions as to when and where to do something for some sensible reason or another; the world (probably) can't support this amount of persons who must always be doing something for NO reason other than to avoid silence and stillness.

In any event, the repercussions of this relentless drive to defeat silence and stillness don't end with the above undesirables. People are running headlong into activities and behaviors of absolutely trivial value, maintaining conversations on subjects utterly banal and trite- conversations in which both persons often have no idea what they are saying, let alone whether what they are saying is true and sensible, and literally flushing hundreds and thousands of dollars away month after month, year after year just to "defeat" the evil twins of silence and stillness. Alcohol and illegal drugs, gambling, sexual pursuit/conquest, endless dating and "going out" to experience the bombardment of crappy music, shopping, 24-7 listening to crappy music, comically elongated presidential election campaigns, pornography, crappy professional sport watching, constant stock market and real estate market "analysis," silly texting and social media posting are yet further behavioral products of the drive to banish silence and stillness from human life.

Where is the evidence that people are happier, more contented. or flourishing more in this hyperactive environment than when the environment reached a more sensible equilibrium between activity and silence/stillness?

(4) Being naturally error-prone, humans have often created solutions where THERE WAS NO PROBLEM THAT CALLED FOR A SOLUTION. Could the modern drive to banish silence and stillness at any cost, with any random thing be a solution looking for a problem?

Consider that there are persons who claim to have reached nirvana, enlightenment, and absolute bliss and happiness in delving ever deeper into silent and still states. Far from being miserable or depressed by the silence and stillness, they have found their absolute highest life gayety in these states. Are these persons insane or wired differently than anyone else, such that only they are capable of experiencing the benefits of silence and stillness? Unlikely.

(5) A sober analysis of the condition of silence and stillness reveals it to be not at all a terrible thing. Certainly day after day, month after month of complete and total silence and stillness could become terribly boring. But for an hour or two or three a day silence and stillness is not at all to be despised, not at all to be terminated time after time with random senselessness and frivolity, not at all to be feared for its potential to generate the opportunity for honest self-reflection, assessment, and judgment, including negative self-judgment.

Work (Kamran K): Can't Touch This

(1) However one gets "it" done, man today must work to earn a living and support his basic needs. Far from this being the final end for man it is only the very first step in a long long journey toward self-development  perfection, and achievement which is arguably the most important work man will ever do for himself and others.

(2) The work of man must therefore be split into two categories: (a) work to sustain the organism in a healthy state amidst the non-negotiable physicality requirements imposed by human DNA + (b) work that creates achievements, perspectives, and a personality which simply can't be purchased anywhere for any price through any market mechanism.

(3) No matter how much wealth or profit or money one possesses, one can NEVER use this money to directly purchase many of the things that imbue a human life with achievement, perspectives, and personality. For example, no matter how much money one had- even if one had BILLIONS- one could never purchase the following things:
  • An engaging personality distinguished by both its breadth and depth of unique non-trivial non-banal perspectives on reality. 
  • Athletic achievements and a physical body that is athletic, lean, chiseled. One simply can't get off the couch and purchase the ability to run a 5:30 mile or maintain 7% body fat. One could literally be a trillionare but there is no way, no how that these abilities could be purchased with all that money.
  • Musical ability and talent. One simply can't purchase the ability to either create or recognize great music.
  • Political ability and talent. One can get elected with enough campaign money but success as a politician depends on political ability and talent, which can't be purchased,
  • Friendship/romantic ability and talent, otherwise known as the ability to be empathic.
  • A sense of humor that is really one's own and is not simply the rehash of others jokes or stories.
  • Intellectual ability and talent.
(4) All the of the above are things to be achieved in a human life through years of self-effort and dedication. Money can certainly help here and there by providing the necessary tools and environment in which this self-effort and dedication may be applied. But- ultimately- money's role recedes in the background and the decisive effect of one's self-effort and dedication (or the lack thereof) takes center stage. A person with only a little money to ensure his basic needs are taken care of and don't get "in the way" can achieve all of the above at equal or higher levels than someone with MUCH more money. The person's self-effort, dedication, and perseverance- all of which have nothing to do with money- are literally EVERYTHING.

As an example, consider the situation with respect to romantic love. A person with lots of money could certainly attract lots of potential mates and he or she could select one of those mates for a lifelong partner. But is THIS an achievement? No. What is an achievement is the romantic partnership producing a couple that is loyal, honest, caring, passionate about each other. Money's role in THIS achievement is again totally absent.

(5) Based on the above, all critiques and all strivings- political or otherwise- to generate a society in which income inequality is absent reflect an almost complete misunderstanding of the things of value in life and money's ability to generate those things. It is a clear indication of how completely misguided the political system and the overall society have become that income inequality has become such a huge issue. All or nearly all have lost the ability to appreciate and value that almost everything that gives life value, achievement, uniqueness is found outside of the money process.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Happiness (Kamran K): Reflections on Life Longevity, Variety, and Vitality

(1) A dizzying number of "scientific" studies are reaching a whole host of conclusions as to what manner of lifestyle, diet, and exercise regimens are most likely to produce maximal life longevity and avoid the onset of fatal diseases, primarily heart disease and cancer.

Importantly, these studies are not reaching uniform conclusions. The conclusions are often contradictory and fiercely debated within the scientific community. Further, the conclusions reached often appear trivial; some very rare form of cancer is the subject of a study and this cancer appears in much less than 1% of the human population. Some thing or another (alcohol or ham) is then "found" to increase one's chance of getting this cancer by some 15%-20%. This still leaves the chances of one obtaining this cancer at MUCH less than 1%. The margin of error is (thankfully) often that wide.

Further, the force and effect of any conclusions reached are usually weakened by numerous counterexamples one can find within one's school, family, community, etc.

(3) Interestingly, before any of these studies were conducted and any of these conclusions were reached, millions of human persons all over the world reached old age without much of a problem, without constant daily exercise, without numerous doctors visits and drug prescriptions, without going "vegan," without all manner of physical and blood tests to measure the presence of hundreds of chemicals in their body, without daily monitoring of blood pressure and weight. They were much less fanatical and stressed about these matters than we are yet many of them lived well into their 70s and 80s with little or no debilitating diseases. How were they able to do so? Is modern medicine that great or essential after all?

(4) Some very basic principles are required to "frame" the remaining discussion on life longevity, variety, and vitality:
  • Whatever one does- whether going vegan, quitting smoking or drinking or both, running 60 miles per week- human life is finite, not eternal. Something or another will end up wiping you off the face of this planet at some point or another. This will almost always happen within 90 years of birth and usually within 80. Each of the 47 trillion cells in one's body is programmed for death. Still the DNA program of the human body does seem to work well for many for some 60 years, six decades. At that point, all bets are off and one's life could end (more or less) at any time and it would not be that surprising.
  • Within modernity, the best years of life are those between the ages of 25-50. These are years in which the body can live a life that is vital and varied while not under the constant supervision of parents, teachers, and with access to some amount of cash to do what one wants. After 50 the body can still remain somewhat vital and varied but the decline begins. Luckily, most persons reach the age of 50- whatever their diet or lifestyle or exercise regimen was- ALIVE. This should be considered a miracle and praise should be heaped upon human DNA for its ability to ensure this result generation after generation.
  • The years of life after 50- and certainly after 60- are simply not as good as those that came before. The physicality pleasures and abilities have been largely lost. Everything begins to appear repetitive because- in fact- one has repetitively done most things by that time. It is mind-blowing to think how many pieces of chicken the average 60 year old has consumed over the years or how many family reunions one has attended, etc.
(5) It's unclear why everyone should be compelled to make all sorts of lifestyle, diet, and exercise choices simply to gain an improved "statistical" chance of gaining 2 or 3 years of extra life when one is well into one's 70s or 80s. Why make all this effort simply to get from 86 to 89? Consider also the problem of pessimism. If pessimism is (even somewhat) meritorious and life on Earth is getting worse and worse then a longer life would mean you would experience more and more bad, not GOOD. In summa, life longevity may or may not produce happiness. There is no guarantee that the longer you live the happier your life will be for having lived that long. This is particularly true if you get many of those years only through a constant supply of drugs, doctors visits, hospitalizations, etc.

Concede also that even if one makes every perfect decision on lifestyle, diet, and exercise one could still die young. Stated differently, following the perfect most healthy lifestyle, diet, and exercise regimen would never ELIMINATE your chance of getting cancer or heart disease. Do literally EVERYTHING right- eat a diet of broccoli, chicken, and water and run, cycle, and lift as much as you want- and you still get no guarantee of reaching 80 or 90. At best, doing everything right simply reduces your health risks while leaving you still vulnerable to being on the "wrong side" of the probabilities (or the wrong side of the sidewalk when a drunk driver barrels into you with no chance for you to react or avoid the collision).

(6) How then can one defend a person's genuine conscientious effort to follow widely accepted conclusions on optimal lifestyle, diet, and exercise regimens? Simply. The dutiful effort to make ideal choices on lifestyle, diet, and exercise is praiseworthy NOT BECAUSE YOU MAY LIVE TO 89 INSTEAD OF 86 but because it causes the person making these choices to ACTUALLY LIVE- right there and then- a life that is more vital and varied than one would otherwise. One's life is vital and varied for decades as a result and this is much more important than whether or not one gets the extra 3 years from 86 to 89. This deserves further commentary.

Following an ideal lifestyle, diet, and exercise regimen produces a certain type of human body and personality. The person will have a low body fat percentage, low blood pressure, low resting heart rate, and definable and observable muscles. The person will be able to run or cycle for miles at a time, pretty much whenever he or she wants. He or she will be able to keep himself occupied in these activities and many others that require physical exertion. The person will have much more energy and enthusiasm for all manner of physical activities than his sedentary compatriot. His or her life will have more variety simply because he or she will have the physical dexterity and energy to ensure this happens.

Such a vital and varied person's experience of Earth is likely to be very "in tune" with Nature and the natural world and it seems almost impossible to argue this is bad in any respect. Humanity is of Nature and the natural world and it seems preposterous to argue that someone that seeks to experience more NATURE, not less, is making some form of error.

If the person is self-competitive, he or she will also have the pleasure of many years if not DECADES of trying to beat his or her personal records. Each such achievement will rightly be celebrated and the cause of internal satisfaction and self-confidence.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Wealth (Kamran K): Reflections on the Theoretical vs. Actual Development of Capitalism

(1) Earth is currently ruled by the OPEN process known as capitalism. Most every adult's main energy and motivation is poured into this process from the ages of 23-25 to 68-70. In a series of transactions that total in the many billions if not trillions annually, this process generates (in every transaction) some perceived good or service for the consumer (whether the good or service is actually always good is not at all evident) and some money or cash in hand for the producer.

Further generalizations are in order. All manner of laws, regulations, warranties, treaties, commercial expectations, and customs now "shadow" this "capitalist" process and can be appealed to if there is fraud, deception, negligence, defects, or poor performance. Word of mouth and peer review is also proliferating whereby persons tell each other what goods and services are "good" and which are "shit." Furthermore, capitalism operates within a framework of consumers that already HAVE many possessions (this is certainly true for many adults in the US and other European nations but probably less true for the poorest countries on  Earth).

(2) Being an open process, capitalism has no "end goal" in sight. The process could "theoretically" continue for millions and millions of years on Earth with 7-10 billion participants in it conducting trillions of transactions annually every 50 or so years. Theoretically, the process could generate economic growth for millions of years, with the total number of transactions increasing year after for millenia.

Moreover, the process could continue MAINLY as a conspicuous consumption competition battle DIVORCED from any "essential needs" requirements of human survival. In many parts of the world- particularly the US- this is PRECISELY what capitalism has become. Elite athletes compete in races and games for glory; everyone else competes for prize homes, material possessions, large investment account balances, reputation and status as a "successful rich well-to-do" person, and everything else these things provide (fancy fully makeup splashed women, Ferrari cars, prostitutes, plastic surgery, dinner at the finest steak houses in town, expensive vacations and stays at "4 star or more" hotels).

Capitalism could continue hell-bent on YET more growth even as it had (long ago) solved the problems of providing minimally acceptable (non-luxurious) food, clothing, shelter, and medical care to everyone.

(3) What is meant by the repetition of "theoretically" above? Simple. What is meant is that the expansion of capitalism infinitely can only happen theoretically. Within the mind. Within pure form. Within the world of human fantasy.

(4) Within pure substance, a whole host of physicality based constraints would end the limitless advance of capitalism well before several million years from now. We may be MUCH closer to reaching these limits right now than most assume. These are listed below:
  • The Earth's bio-mass and its amount of actual matter, "stuff" are both limited. There is a finite amount of oil, gold, and diamond to be extracted on Earth before it runs out. Earth can't be ordered to make more oil, gold, and diamond on "demand" to placate human desires. No more of this stuff is being produced by the Earth; it is only being extracted to meet the demands of capitalism. There is a finite limit. Once that limit is breached, there is a game over scenario.
  • Economic demand can't forever be kept artificially inflated by either debt or the printing of more money. Both courses of action have predictably resulted in economic disasters numerous times throughout the globe in the course of human history. Genuine economic demand is generated by one thing and one thing only: WAGE GROWTH.
  • There is a limit to what humans can consume. This is obvious in the case of foods and drinks in which massive overconsumption of anything- ranging from water to alcohol to red bull- for even a day results in death. Advertising can push the limits of what humans think they want to consume but there are physicality based limits of how many TVs one can fit in one's home, how many burgers one can stuff in one's stomach in a day, and so on.
  • Technological advancement and more demanding consumer expectations has already resulted in the production of cars, TVs, home appliances, computers, and many other things that last much longer than a simple year or two. Many of these things are now lasting perfectly for 5-10 years if not more. Perhaps very soon in the future many purchased items will come with a lifetime guarantee. This will quite obviously reduce consumer demand particularly once a "use it till it breaks" ethos takes over the globe and is seen as "cool." This ethos may already be cool, and may explain the low-growth economic environment the world has seen for the past several decades which has coincided with the greatest technological improvement and advancement of human products ever seen.
(5) What we have then is a system of economic production that necessarily requires "more growth"- year after year after year, no matter how unsustainably high production and consumption was the past year- to succeed. Sharehodlers, entrepreneurs, small businessmen don't invest money and other resources in companies with the hope of simply getting their money back 10-20 years down the road. They invest money and resources so that they can several times their money back within a decade or two. This system crashes "head-on" with the physicality based pure substance limits detailed in paragraph 4. Worse still for capitalism, these pure substance limits can't be simply wished away with a clever promotion or advertising campaign. These limits are almost completely inevitable and untamperable by any single person or groups of persons, no matter how powerful or rich.

(6) To survive, the world's system of economic production must self-scrutinize and become aware of its own potential demise in light of the discussion above. It must carefully select out the virtues of the current system (money as a medium of exchange, a system of laws governing product quality and production, the right to property, the liberty to engage in whatever business one wants, etc.) and place it in a new system which has absolutely no illusion regarding any of the physicality and other limits discussed in paragraph 4 above. 

The resulting system would not necessarily be socialist but would be socially sensible in a way that the current system isn't.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Humility (Kamran K): Total Ignorance, Total Knowledge, and the in-between Muck.

(1) What is the condition of man within modernity as between total ignorance and total knowledge? How does THIS condition permit or entitle man to act in his everyday life as between an emotional temperament of total humility and total self-confidence?

(2) Consider the plight of a cyclist that has decided to go for a 2-3 hour bike ride on a somewhat humid but otherwise sunny 80 degree day. The ride is pleasant enough but upon returning home he discovers a red hot rash in numerous parts of his mid-to-lower body. What caused the rash the biker starts to wonder? Was it the heat and humidity? Was it the bike shorts that were perhaps unclean or too tight or loose fitting? Was it some issue with the bike seat? Or even the improper application of anti-chafing cream that most cyclists now regularly use?

Questions and speculations continue to gather. Is some fungal or bacterial infection to blame for the rash? Or perhaps some allergic reaction to the laundry detergent the cyclist used to wash his cycling regalia?

(3) The cyclist could see a doctor but the doctor too would probably be UNABLE to definitively state the cause of the rash. Too many variables are "at play" for the doctor to isolate just one and conclude that this was the "for sure" cause of the rash. The cost of making such a determination would also be prohibitively expensive in all but the rarest of cases.

(4) As the example above illustrates the condition of man within modernity is NOT one of total knowledge. A creature is in the state of total knowledge when he can conclusively state- every time, without error- what caused whatever just happened to him and how he can prevent that happening again if the result is bad. A creature within the state of total knowledge is also able to make short, medium, and long term decisions that are ACTUALLY conducive to his long-term health, goals, and flourishing. Such a creature would know EXACTLY- down to the last detail and without error- what he should eat, how he should exercise, where he should live, who he should marry or date, what he should do for a career or job, how much money he should make, how he should balance work and the rest of life, what recreational activities and refreshments are worth his time and which are not, which friendships to cultivate and which need to be abandoned, when positivity is warranted and when it is not, what he should publically disclose to the whole world and what he should keep totally secret from all, and so on and on down to the minutest detail of life.

To emphasize the point yet again- the above condition of total knowledge is NOT the state of man within modernity. It potentially COULD be the condition of man millions of years from now if human knowledge continues its relentless march and is able to organize itself, make sense of itself, and make conclusions that are useful and understandable to all.

(5) What has modernity achieved then for man? Have all the scientific and other advances of human knowledge been for naught? Not at all. All of the knowledge man has gained up to 2015 has moved man out of the condition of total ignorance. Most, though not all of the time, men has some "idea" or "theory" based upon reason and observable evidence as to some of the "probable causes" for most things that happen. Similarly, most, though not all of the time, man has some general "idea" or "theory" based upon reason and observable evidence as to what he should eat, how he should exercise, where he should live, and so on. These ideas or theories are neither errorless nor conclusive; they stand in need of significant improvement which continuing research and information is doing on a more or less continuous basis at this point in humanity's development.

(6) Until the state of absolute knowledge is reached, humanity- as a whole and each of its particular members- is NOT entitled to act as though it were in possession of absolute knowledge. Neither humanity as a whole nor its particular members are entitled to behave from an emotional temperament of total self-confidence such as would be justified if it were in possession of absolute knowledge. This leaves all of us- each and every person... no matter how traditionally "successful" they may be or appear- in the position of having to labor for gradual increasing knowledge as to the matters listed in paragraph 4 and experiencing gradual increases in self-confidence from any accumulation of knowledge that ensues.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Politics (Kamran K): DA Fundamentals!

(1) When functioning well, politics is the arena where society's HARD problems go AND ACTUALLY GET resolved sensibly, justly, humanely, etc.. The very easy problems- fixing a bike flat tire- have no place in politics. The HARD problems- particularly those problems where one group of persons must "win out" over another- should go into politics and once there GET RESOLVED with some actual solution. Even here, the political process is not "over;" the solution itself must be periodically evaluated to ensure it is STILL the best solution to the problem. The problem too should be periodically evaluated to make sure it still exists in the form it did when the solution was agreed upon. A society could be implementing solutions to problems that don't even exist any longer.

(2) The HARD problems that deserve to go into politics are such that some practical solution MUST be formulated, agreed upon, and then enforced. If a problem is HARD- but no immediate solution is needed to it- the problem is not a political one. The problem of whether gravity works the same in all corners of the universe is a very hard problem which humanity could just as well solve in this generation or ten thousand generations from the present. What possible urgency is there in this problem? The problem of a poorly functioning and prohibitively expensive health care system is a very different problem; its solution must be formulated and implemented with due haste because human lives are lost as the problem is ignored or not correctly addressed. The problem of addressing gun violence- while respecting the rights of peaceful gun owners- similarly requires a solution with due haste.

(3) A well-functioning political system would do a very good job (not perfect) of identifying the HARD problems that need to be resolved politically. Once these are identified, it would again do a very good job (not perfect) of identifying the solutions to these problems that appear to stand the best chance of success. In this process, as much fact-based accurate information bearing on the problem and the proposed solution would be gathered and presented to everyone involved for their consideration. No single person's input or perspective would be per se favored over another; information- from whatever source- would be welcomed and valued so long as it directly addressed the problem or the potential solution.

(4) Present political systems around the globe are doing a VERY poor job when evaluated against the framework set forth above. Problems go into the political system and never get resolved; they simply languish there, becoming (at best) "fodder" for impassioned speeches in debates, televised speeches, and other political spectacles. The problems of poverty and income inequality have been "around" the US political scene for many decades; the problems have not gotten resolved and have only gotten worse despite all this political "attention." Solutions to the problems are often not the best ones or not supported by enough information to justify someone concluding the solution solves the problem.

Increasingly, the problem of SKY-HIGH expensive real estate in the most desirable cities of the world will be made political. There will be endless impassioned speeches decrying the greed of humanity and the exorbinant costs imposed on workers just to "live." But none of these are solutions to the HARD problem. None takes seriously the very real problem that these cities are overpopulated, land is in very scarce supply, demand for housing is very high, and money serves as the only method of distributing the scarce available homes to the population (would it be better if these homes were distributed on the basis of one's sexual appeal? or one's race? or one's profession?) Does everyone have a right to live in the most desirable cities of the world? Is it unjust for someone to have to live in a perfectly acceptable "second choice" city because this city was "all they could afford?"

(5) A revolution in political consciousness is required for politics to generate human GOOD.

All aspects of the political machinery- from campaigns to elections to speeches to congressional sessions to bill making and voting- should be conducted with constant reference to the big picture questions: what is the problem being addressed? is this problem "real"? how bad is the problem? when must the problem be resolved? what are the possible solutions to the problem? is one solution best or should several be tried? what are the different costs associated with each solution? what non-financial burdens and costs are involved with the solution? what unintended problems or consequences could the solution generate? can these be tolerated?

Political proposals, speeches, and other political theater that doesn't seem to be operating within this framework should be totally ignored as POLITICALLY USELESS.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Play & Amusement (Kamran K): Sustained Reflections on Repetition

(1) If some form of alien species were to land on Earth and evaluate humanity's ACTUAL behaviors, thought patterns, imaginings, and values, they would find much of it to be SO REPETITIVE. (Obviously this would not be experienced immediately because humanity's repetition would at first seem "new" and "unique" to the aliens. However, once they had "settled in" and the initial "newness" wore off, boredom would ensue)

(2) A few behaviors of man related to health, sanitation, nutrition, and bodily well-being MUST be repetitive to maximize survival chances. One must repetitively drink eight to ten glasses of water every day- year after year- in order to keep the body well hydrated. There is nothing wrong with this form of repetition. Even if there were, the requirements of survival demand it so there is nothing to be done. This truth is so obvious and basic and irrefutable it is utterly trivial and banal and requires no elaboration.

(3) Beyond these requirements (and paying one's bills on time), there is absolutely NO REQUIREMENT that one be repetitive in ANY of one's behaviors, thought patterns, imaginings, and values. There is no requirement that one eat the same few foods day after day, drink the same beers at the same bars day after day, listen to the same few songs day after day, associate with the same few people day after day, schedule one's vacations for the same few places year after year, live in the same part of town year after year, define one's self-identity in the same narrow way day after day, work the same job day after day, and so on.

Even less is there ANY requirement or mandate whatsoever that one THINK the same thoughts or imagine and value the same things day after day. The MIND has an absolute freedom to go wherever it wants whenever it wants and- from there- go even further off into the infinite realm of thoughts and imaginings that comprise human consciousness.

(4) In its perfected state, the MIND would be absolutely errorless in identifying repetitive behaviors, thought patterns, imaginings, and values that "must go" (BAD repetition) MIND would also identify "stuff" (thoughts and behaviors) that are seemingly repetitive but are actually not so. Running 5 miles on a treadmill one day and then running 7 miles on a grass trail outside are not repetitive behaviors; behavior B contains one or more MATERIALLY SIGNIFICANT alterations. Similarly, running different paces on different days is not repetitive. In general, the practice of any behavior in a way that one is able to (gradually) get better and better at it also does not constitute BAD repetition because one is reaching ever higher levels of excellence in the activity.

With respect to BAD repetition, the MIND would see this type of repetition as literally generating a foundation or framework of staleness from which one is experiencing life and reality. Each repetition- and certainly each repetition beyond the first 100 or so repetitions- dulls the MIND since it already knows what the experience will be like. The body is the same way; repetitive exercise thrown at it- day after day- results in a plateaued fitness level as the body is never forced beyond this level. The MIND necessarily is not sharp and keenly aware of each incoming sensation when stuck in this type of repetition. BAD repetition would also be loathed by the MIND as it would appreciate that BAD repetition absorbs precious time and prevents one from doing other things with one's time that would be far better than continuing to do BAD repetition.

(5) In actuality, human minds are not in a perfected state with respect to the evaluation of repetition. In actuality, human minds are often unable to appreciate and eliminate bad repetition because of three considerations. First, there is the problem of ADDICTION. When one is addicted either to a behavior or thought pattern, then bad repetition is not seen for what it is. Watching football for hours every weekend is a form of BAD repetition; but if one is addicted to gambling on football or simply wasting away hours on it to distract one from more difficult issues in one's life, then this will not be appreciated.

Second, there is the problem of comfort and habit. One becomes gradually comfortable and habituated to various behaviors and thought patterns, finding them at least "ok" and not likely to generate death, illness, or other calamities. This is in itself not an error; after all, these behaviors have passed some slightly low bar. So these behaviors and thought patterns need not be totally eliminated. They simply need not be repeated so often. Third, there is the problem of a weak and feeble imagination. Any behavior begins with some desiring and imaging of what good the behavior can generate. In many, the imagination has been so weakened and "out of use" that it would be a literal miracle for it to come back alive and generate different desires and imaginings than repetitive ones.

Third, there is the simple lack of self-knowledge. While less blameworthy than either addiction or comfort/habit, this lack goes a VERY long way in explaining why humanity is flooded with so much BAD repetition. One keeps doing repetitive stuff, keeps thinking repetitive thoughts, and keeps judging things in repetitive ways. But one is never aware that any of this is repetitive; it all seems like individualized experience that is different every time.

(6) Play and amusement are OUR preferred methods of getting out of repetition. Because these are activities of simply play and amusement, one can and should experiment with them in all sorts of ways to GET ONESELF OUT of repetition. On a lark, one should do these things and they should have no real connection with whatever else one has done previously. On a lark, one decides to go to the opera and see what sort of experience that would be; on a lark, one decides to attend a real estate seminar and see what sort of knowledge that will produce; on a lark, one watches a documentary on space or the universe and sees how that alters consciousness; on a lark, one decides to read a new blog and see what effect that will have on consciousness; and so on and on.