Saturday, March 9, 2019

Yeah, Yeah, I Know

Been a while since I posted here.  I got my tits all in a twist by the monopolization of the internet by Alphabet and it's ilk.  I am kinda over it, but I have decided not to come back here to Bloggerland. 

I have made several attempts to leave Googly in the past. I tried WordPress, but just didn't like the upselling.  Then JMG moved his secondary blog over to Dreamwidth and I found that I could work with it and I was reasonably productive. 

So, hopefully this is the last time that I will write on this website about my new site. 

Please feel free to visit me at the new site:


Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Slacking?



As a side note, this piece was started while hiding from family interactions this most recent Thanksgiving. It is well past that, but I thought that I would take the time and finish it up and post it

Sitting in the morning before dawn at the M&M bed and breakfast. Tio just barked a welcome and Hazel came over and gave me a kiss. A good start to a day.

Last night was an excellent discussion of who does what to who in this country. The consensus is that there are a lot more folks out there who are catchers than there are pitchers. The pitchers appear to be working overtime to ensure that the catchers get their unfair share.

I think that there are a growing number of folks my age who either understand, or who are coming to understand that things might not turn out all that well. Now, in the manner of true cowards anywhere, we are examining the possibility that we might be able to sneak out of the endgame by conveniently dying before the endgame gets serious traction.

I can’t really say that I am above this attitude. I have tried to live a simple life with as few luxuries as possible (hate to say it folks, that is what constitutes a environmentally friendly lifestyle) and I think that my “carbon footprint” is pretty damned small compared to a lot of other folks. But this little non-effort of mine and its associated nodule of self-righteousness hasn’t truthfully made the world any better.

So, armed with my sword and buckler of self-pity and self righteousness I foray into looking at the future and my place in that uncharted land. Unfortunately, I think that I am a forerunner, and moreover, a lot of people will be following into the pathless land. The big problem is that most of the folks won’t be following me willingly. They will be dragged into the future kicking and screaming and wanting desperately to go back to their flavored and carbonated sugar water and McDonalds happy meals.

I can’t really say that I blame them. The ease and quantities of stuff available to a slacker in a land of lotus eaters is a pretty strong drug. Folks set up a powerful set of sneers for the twenty-something living in a parents basement, on an old couch, smoking dope, playing some shooting game on his x-box, and hiding from the world.

But truthfully, I don’t see a variation of this as out of the question for my dotage. And with that ugly little secret out in the open, I want to explore that possibility.

Think about that fellow you are sneering at. Can you really for a moment think that his life and aspirations are any different than yours, oh scion of the Man in the Grey Flannel Suit.

Monday, December 17, 2018

I've Lost Seventy Pounds.



The chika's at work are always asking me how I have done it.  I always tell them how, but they never like the answer.  Eat less.  Exercise more.

That's.Fucking.It.

But when I think about it, I guess it isn't really all that simple.  Oh, yes, from a practical point of view it is a 100% accurate statement but from the interior of my brain, the primus mobile comes from a different place.  Now, I don't want anyone to think that, even for a moment, I have developed a case of unwonted virtue, far be it from the case here.

What I have developed is a revulsion toward the never-ending consumerism and status-seeking that have held me in thrall.  As discussed in an earlier post, I knew a long time ago that there wasn't a chance in hell that the forever-forward-to-the-stars-humanity-achieves-it's-godlike-destiny never had a chance in hell of succeeding.  But I was greedy and fatuous enough to think that I could hit and run and get out of the way.

Well, that didn't work.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Musings


I remember in the long ago (80’s) past that I once tried to get friends to read a book.  The book was “Voluntary Simplicity” and it was a leftover from the hippie-dippy days of the late 60’s and early 70’s.  Basically day late and dollar short, the ideas and, in those days, even the title went over like a turd in a punch-bowl.

Looking back, at the time I was both moderately surprised and even mildly offended that no one wanted to read such a tome.  We youth that then occupied the bodies that later became us aging boomer's were busily shucking our ersatz hippiedom and working overtime to make certain that our credentials and education were in place to move on up to the elite and score our larger-than-strictly-appropriate-to-our-contribution share of the pie.  Being both charitable and cautious, I decided that I had better spend more time doing the same and getting with the program.

Well, here I am, as of today I am eligible for Medicare.  I am also about a year or so into the process of rejecting the world that I helped to create and trying to get back to the path that was forsaken so long ago.  But this interlude came back to me and I realized that all I am doing is trying to patch back together a morality that I threw over for greed.

I don’t want to even bother re-reading the book I am remembering.  I can’t even work up the enthusiasm to google the book to provide you with an author for your own edification.    Nope, the title is the book and should distant memory serve me at all, the writing wasn’t particularly good nor the concept all that alien.  The best comparison I can offer is that it was to Walden what Mindfulness training is to Meditation, a pale copy without the commitment.  Voluntary poverty was what we needed, a phony, well-supplied pursuit of status, convenience, and comfort is what we ended up with.

It is the response that I remember.  No one was interested in the least.  Some even were angry that I would dare suggest that their way was wrong.  My great shame is that I tagged along and went along.

But I think that, looking at the now, I am going to be rejected just as thoroughly as I was then.  Truth be told, I will the rejection will probably be even more forceful and anger filled.  This is simply because I am guessing that folks my age, who have played by the rules and built up their supplies of stuff will be forced down this path against their will.  Unlike the ancient fable of the ant and the grasshopper, the ants will watch their savings and plans snatched away from them and there is a fair chance that they will end up no different than the grasshoppers in that cautionary tale..

So, I am going to go forward anyway, and try to be kind and charitable.  It is not that any will starve among me and mine, but very few will still have or will be able to obtain what is currently considered their due.

Now, I suppose that I should take a moment here to explain how it wasn’t really out fault.  That the decisions and compromises that we took were forced upon us by an uncaring and demanding world.  But I am not going to do that.  Primarily because it isn’t in the least true.

I made my choices, I always knew the consequences of my actions, I just thought that I could duck out by dying at a reasonably ripe old age before the chickens came home to roost.  But current conditions make me think that the news and the world today are nothing but a bunch of chickens coming back after being ignored for these past fifty years.  In this, I am not unlike 95% of my generation.  The only difference between me and most folks out there is that they can’t believe that their way of thinking and their life choices won’t have any consequences.

We are just now starting to see the consequences gaining traction.  The world we are going into is going to be a lot less comfortable with a lot fewer amenities.  The pollution generated by a consumer economy is not magically going away anymore.  The oceans and air are not getting cleaner.  The climate system is changing in ways that even the best meteorologist doesn’t understand.  The oil that fuels the whole shebang is teetering on a downslope.

Here I sit, trying to come up with a life (or maybe ten more years) of not being a part of the problem.  Harder to do than you can ever imagine.  The world we have created here in middle class America is both seductive and insidious.  The really hard part is to come up with a way of earning one’s vittles and still attempt to hold to the “right livelihood” aspect.  I am not going to go-a-begging, and even beans and rice and a bit of pork as a condiment gets spendy in todays world.

Trying to lead a life that doesn’t contribute to the problem is a bit of a pickle.  It is just kinda sad that it took me so long to get to this place where I can finally start trying to live the life I should have.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Hobnails



"History is only the pattern of silken slippers descending the stairs to the thunder of hobnailed boots climbing upward from below." -Voltaire


Really Liberals.  Really, really think about what you are trying to do.

You might think that your current version of a Utopian vision has a chance?

Most of what you are proposing doesn't have any historical precedent except in failed states and dying communities.

I think that the current set of pipe dreams are an odd lot, propagated through an educational system that seems to be more interested in generating a dependable and compliant revenue stream than providing anything resembling an education that allows one to get the occasional glimpse behind the veil of Maya.

I live in Portland, actually, kinda on the edge of Portland, in an older neighborhood that the hipsters haven't got their fingers into yet.  Truth be told, Portland is a case study for the elite sneering associated with the current liberal ideal.   I think that the hammer will come down hard here, and the hammer probably won't be wielded by the left-of-center.  The desire of the trans-vegan-cis-wymen denizens of the high-tech condos won't matter for much when the globalized money that lends them power goes belly up. 

The opposite of these elite are the deplorables and the gilets jaunes.  These folks have begun the process of recovering the dignity and the political voice that the liberal society has tried to denigrate and marginalize, to insist that the needs and simple aspirations of those who don't choose to whore themselves out to the global elite are not important.

The fight will be between an armed class of deplorables and the moneyed elite who are doing their damnedest to set up the rules that will allow them to live in their bubble of privilege.  They have spent the last twenty years militarizing the police force and indoctrinating the young in to thinking their utopian vision is the true one.

But the indoctrination and the machinery of repression really only exist on the coastal areas, the large swath of red-tinged unbelievers that runs through the middle of the country.  The center of the country won't be the battleground.  The battleground will be cities, and the more liberal the city the harder will be the fall.


Wednesday, December 12, 2018

To Know One's Limits


The whole purpose of posting my most recent "Idea seed" was to bring into focus just how thankless a task trying to figure how things work and what constitutes a "Primum Movens".

Look, it isn't a bad choice of things to fail at.  There is some damn fine company in the ranks of people have failed.  Truthfully speaking, there is no evidence anywhere that anyone has ever succeeded.  So what the hell.  Thinking about "whether not, at last, nature will be understood" is probably the best thing that a person can do.

So, lets talk about how things look from the inputs that the blob of tissue residing inside my cranium uses to make sense of the world..   Having spent the last 35-some-odd years thinking that I had a handle on things, I have come to the conclusion that the word fatuous best defined this misconception.  Oh, don't get me wrong, as stated before, I am in great company.  But it is time to take a stand down and resharpen the tools. 

In a sense, I have to get back to my roots.  I have to go back and revisit those certainties of twenty years ago, the ones that I discussed obliquely earlier this week.  Nature being understood isn't going to happen in a cage surrounded by artifacts of the mundane.  Simply put, the mundane is a drag on the spirit and the mind.

I think that the only way that I am going to get a handle on the way that the world works, my only chance of understanding nature is to continue my current choice of being a "Mad Monk" and remove the physical distractions in my life.

Now, I am not going to sit around, mumbling some nonsense about jewels and lotuses, I think that you have to still contribute to pay for your vittles.  So I will continue being the resident curmudgeon at the VAspa for the next little bit.  I will read things, and I will mix what I read around in that mass of tissue between my ears, and if I come up with anything interesting, I will write it down here and you are more than free to criticize. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

An Intriguing Question


What would happen if a person who has a license to a book were to remove that e-books digital Rights Management and then create a document that had that book, or a major portion of it, without digital Rights Management.  Seems to me that this is allowed.  In my mind, I purchased the concepts and the stories, not the medium.  If I want to use those concepts and stories in my thoughts and for personal use, I think that is exactly what I paid money to accomplish, so I am thinking that the DRM is not required for the books I buy as long as I don't give the information away or sell it. 

The next question would be, what would happen if after that was done you were to send that particular unprotected document to a person who owns a copy of the original book ?  Since you both have purchased the books, and you are both owners of the ability to read the text.  So there you go.  What are you buying when you buy an e-book?.  What constitutes "fair use"?

Mostly, I think that the whole idea of copyright and patents need to be ruthlessly addressed.  Simply put, these are put into place to protect the revenue stream of publishers.  With the exception of a couple of folk, the writers are contract workers with little rights and less income.  Oh, I think that a reasonably skilled and active writer can probably make a middle-class living, but the big money is up in the distribution system.

I think that the current system is approaching its pull date.  But it will take a while to let the system let go of its hammerlock.   I think that the scientific publishing industry will be the first to let go, but that is a guess of stupid proportions.  I still think that it will roll that way.


Monday, December 10, 2018

Hunter-Gatherers


Riding to and from every day is a mixed blessing.  I am freed from slavery to a machine and I don't have to drive on an roadway system which is grossly undersized for the volume of traffic that it carries.  I don't waste fossil fuels, but I have to view both kindnesses and strangeness more frequently than I care to.

Homeless folks here use the Max to get around.  I bitch a little bit when they are in the cripple seats, but I really can't say too much because my crippleyness is going away as I lose weight and exercise, and truth be told, they have a shitty life and I certainly won't go out of my way to make it worse.  They probably need the warmth and sleep.

But what fascinates me is how they are busting ass to get by, just on a much-diminished scale.  It appears that one of the sub-specialties is the collection and return of bottles/cans for deposit.  Good on them.  Like it or not, I kind of look upon this activity as a hunter-gatherer sort of deal.  But the homeless folks do tend to use the Max for the hauling of large, smelly trash bags of empties, so my fascination is tempered.

But one thing that homeless folks have is their cell phones.  Cheap cell phones abound.  I am OK with this, this is in no way a negative comment, I just find the idea of spending money on a what used to be considered a luxury kind of ... well  ..weird.  But then I had an epiphany, that the cell phone is a no longer a luxury, it is an accepted and necessary part of our society.

Which, on further thought, made me even sadder.  I guess that the idea that in Africa more people have access to cell phones than running water carries true here.


Friday, December 7, 2018

Stratification


Yes we do it, and the mindset that allows such a thing has been forging for the fast fifty years.

Our society is being systematically stratified by credentialism and education.  We rejected the idea of the "Creative Minority" and went whole hog at being the "Dominant Minority".  Well, we got our wishes and became those which we most feared.

Again, us boomers are the folks who pulled the trigger.  Way too many of us were told we were smart enough to be part of the ruling elite.  We didn't think that this would require hard work and creativity, we thought that following the rules and taking home the paychecks was all that was needed of us.

I think that we are entering the times of payback. 

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Initial Rebuttal



Working in the Netherworld between the Transcendental and the Mundane

Or

Shit Mike: I still work for a living, I can't stay up all night pondering stuff like this (or maybe I can)
Anyway, I have two dozen of the recreational cookies available for consumption at my place anytime anyone shows up.  However, considering the vagaries of the region between our current enlightened attitude here on the left coast and Jeff Seesions, and not discounting my lack of desire to be raped in a federal prison, I believe that I will allow any and all to to come and fetch them.

I guess that I am looking at this in a different way.  I think that A.S. is trying to tell us that our minds are structured around the mundane necessities of the world that we live in.  The categories that we use in analyzing the mundane are survival characteristics, hardwired somewhere in the regions between the basal ganglia and the neocortex. To be a human is to engage in pattern recognition, it is both a gift and a trap.

The mundane world requires this ability as the price that one pays for survival. We need the ability to recognize pattern and extrapolate from them is to be able to survive in a changing world. But that ability too colors our ability to analyze that of the transcendent, we keep wanting to use our patterns of this world to analyze that which is not.
Here is where the problem lies, that is why I wonder (but have in no way accepted) the roles of magic in the world. Our minds tend toward the appreciation and cataloging of phenomenon. In order to know “how we are to solve the riddle of this dream of life” something more is required. What that something consists of has been the source of heated discussions for millennia.

Religion and some flavors of philosophy have taken up the challenge and came up with some remarkably awful (at least in my mind) explanations of the origin and meaning of the world. Most of them posit mankind serving as a central, and perhaps dominant role in this worldview and explanation of the riddle. But these century-old explanations, built upon a western worldview and a Judeo-Christian mythology are looking shopworn. Other religions seem to dance around the problem and have equal problems.

Science and the general populace have taken an easy way out. With the insistence on experimental proof and “common sense” they have slyly taken religion and faith out of the game. They insist that the patterns that define the mundane are the only patterns that can be proved and that “matter”. But non-spaciotemporal “things” are difficult, if not impossible to understand in a way that is consistent with the patterns that our minds use to make sense of the mundane.

But Philosophy keeps trying to push past the constraints draped on it by these patterns. But to use language itself is to fall into the trap. To understand the transcendent, and to explain such to another meat-unit requires words. And words themselves come preloaded with meaning. To say things like bench and glass brings in a density of meaning and patterns. To say infinite opens up the universe for discussion. To say non-spaciotemporal merely brings sullen silence.

What I think A.S. is saying is; that we need to develop a set of tools to recognize a different class of patterns. The tools we have just aren’t up to the job.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Cicero's Reponse



Please send some of the recreational cookies that you ate before you composed this message.   

Seems that A.S. was criticizing philosophical explanations of the so-called transcendental type - meaning that the resolution of a question/problem is not purely a matter of logic or mathematics and it lies beyond the scope both of sense experience and of the proper use of theory answerable to sense experience. I knew this, but I got this definition from the Oxford dictionary of Philosophy - a great little 408-page book that can make anybody seem way smarter than they were before they looked up the meaning of a word.

Distinguishing/separating what is transcendental relies on the idea that objects are what they are to us (the world is what it is) only because our minds are structured such that that these are the categories we impose upon (the complete manifold of) experience. It seems A.S. is saying that we should not regard this limitation as a characteristic that can be overcome once (simply because) it is understood.

Do you disagree with this proposition? In other words, does your petitio principii apply when you break the message down to this proposition - is it a fallacy that the human mind must impose the method/categories we employ to develop understanding? I suppose that a drive to investigate magic means that you are inclined to reject it. Perhaps A.S. is suggesting that you stay away from magic.

How can you be sure? Is it not a good idea for A.S. to work out an understanding that applies if there is no possible way get around establishing the categories that we employ? If nothing else, such an understanding would apply to the vast majority of humanity. 

If A.S. is correct, then everything you say in (B) can be accurate, but he might respond: “yes, but so what? - suck it up and accept this fundamental human limitation.

But A.S. was a strong believer in a Christian god, so he must not disagree with the points you are making. I get the sense that you and A.S. are very close in your thinking, not far apart.

Possibly the main point of (A) was to bring recognition to where the concept/category of faith applies versus the existence of any truth/proof that can be exposed by philosophical methods - where a line should be drawn between philosophy and religion/faith. In other words, he is not recommending that a firm limitation be placed on where the human mind wanders as you seem to be interpreting, but rather that humans are limited to relying on faith (versus philosophy or science or anything else) whether we like it or not.

It is a common understanding that philosophical skepticism originated as an argument against religious doctrine, but the opposite is true - it originated as a tool to argue against automatically accepting science over religion.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Discussion Beginning


The Failure of Philosophy

by Arthur Schopenhauer, translated by Thomas Bailey Saunders

THE FAILURE OF PHILOSOPHY: A BRIEF DIALOGUE.

A: PHILOSOPHY has hitherto been a failure. It could not, indeed, have been otherwise; because, instead of confining himself to the better understanding of the world as given in experience, the philosopher has aspired to pass at one bound beyond it, in the hope of discovering the last foundation of all existence and the eternal relations of things. Now these are matters which our intellect is quite incapable of grasping. Its power of comprehension never reaches beyond what philosophers call "finite things," or, as they sometimes say, "phenomena;" in short, just the fleeting shadows of this world, and the interests of the individual, the furtherance of his aims and the maintenance of his person. And since our intellect is thus immanent, our philosophy should be immanent too, and not soar to supramundane things, but be content with gaining a thorough grasp of the world of experience. It surely provides matter enough for such a study.

B. If that is so, intellect is a miserable present for Nature to give us. According to your view, the mind serves only to grasp the relations that constitute our wretched existence as individuals —relations which cease with the brief span of our temporal life; and is utterly unsuited to face those problems which are alone worthy to interest a thinking being—what our existence really is, and what the world means as a whole; in short, how we are to solve the riddle of this dream of life. If all this is so, and our mind could never grasp these things even though they were explained to it, then I cannot see that it is worth my while to educate my mind, or to pay any attention to it at all; it is a thing unworthy of any respect.

A. My dear sir, if we wrangle with Nature, we are usually in the wrong. For Nature does nothing that is useless or in vain—nihil facit frustra nec supervaeaneum.1 We are only temporal, finite, fleeting beings, creatures of a dream: and our existence passes away like a shadow. What do we want with an intellect to grasp things that are infinite, eternal, absolute? And how should such an intellect ever leave the consideration of these high matters to apply itself again to the small facts of our ephemeral life—the facts that are the only realities for us and our proper concern? How could it ever be of any use for them again? If Nature had bestowed this intellect upon us, the gift would not only have been an immense mistake and quite in vain; it would even have conflicted with the very aims that Nature has designed for us. For what good do we do, as Shakespeare says,

We fools of Nature,
So horridly to shake our disposition
With thoughts beyond the reaches of our souls.2

If we had this perfect, this all embracing, metaphysical insight, should we be capable of any physical insight at all, or of going about our proper business? Nay, it might plunge us for ever into a state of chill horror, like that of one who has seen a ghost.

B. But surely in all this you are making a notorious petitio principii.3 In saying that we are merely temporal, fleeting, finite beings, you beg the whole question. We are also infinite, eternal, and the original principle of Nature itself. Is it not then well worth our while to go on trying if we cannot fathom Nature after all—ob nicht Natur zuletzt sich doch ergr√ľnde?4

A. Yes; but according to your own philosophy we are infinite and eternal only in a certain sense. We are infinite and eternal, not as phenomena, but as the original principle of Nature; not as individuals, but as the inmost essence of the world; not because we are subjects of knowledge, but merely as manifestations of the will to live. The qualities of which you speak are qualities that have to do with intelligence, not will. As intelligent beings we are individual and finite. Our intellect, then, is also of this character. The aim of our life, if I may use a metaphorical expression, is a practical, not a theoretical one; our actions, not our knowledge, appertain to eternity. The use of the intellect is to guide our actions, and at the same time to hold up the mirror to our will; and this is, in effect, what it does. If the intellect had more to do, it would very probably become unfit even for this. Think how a small superfluity of intellect is a bar to the career of the man endowed with it. Take the case of genius: while it may be an inward blessing to its possessor, it may also make him very unhappy in his relations with the world.5

B. Good, that you reminded me of genius. To some extent it upsets the facts you are trying to vindicate. A genius is a man whose theoretical side enormously outweighs his practical. Even though he cannot grasp eternal relations, he can see a little deeper into the things of this world; attamen est quodam prodire tenus.6 It is quite true that this does render the intellect of genius less fit to grasp the finite things of earth; just as a telescope is a good thing, but not in a theater. Here we seem to have reached a point where we agree, and we need not pursue the subject further.
1Cf. Leucippus: "Everything that happens does so for a reason and of necessity."
2 Hamlet, I., Sc. 4.
3a fallacy in which a conclusion is taken for granted in the premises; begging the question.
4(to see) "whether not, at last, nature will be understood"
5 Translators Note. This is a favourite remark of Schopenhauer's. Some account of his interesting theory of Genius touched upon at the conclusion of this dialogue may be found in the concluding section of another volume in the series, The Art of Literature.
6Best I can work out is “It is still worthwhile to do it”

Monday, December 3, 2018

Scandalous


I feel that, when I talk to some of my friends, that they are judging me constantly in my unwillingness to vilify Trumpolino.  To them, Trump is the personification of all evil.  I get the impression that they just can't hear me when I say that we should not consider "moral judgement" at all.  Simply put, in evaluating the performance of a man in the seat of power for the project of running a rapacious empire which they profit from, morality is simply not an applicable criteria.

I would probably be willing to accept such criticism by a person who has not profited from the empire, but, truth be told, they appear to be pretty scarce on the ground.  The empire's wealth pump brings goodies to most of our society.  Our poor would be considered pretty well off in other countries.  Our welfare is problemmatic in the sense that it has a rather large proportion of obesity.

The Trumpster, and his motley crew of Randian followers are simply following the rules set down over the past thirty years by the corporate oligarchy.  You know, the ones from which folks draw their swollen paychecks.  In my lifetime I have watched the corporate power swollen to bursting and transitioning from making and building a business to unfettered short-term greed and worship of stock price and shareholder profit.

Did you think for a minute that they would allow Trumpolino to look at it any other way?  Did you imagine that Trumpster looks at in a way not sanctioned by the Wharton Business School?

But it is easier for us to think of me as an evil Machiavelli than someone who has decided that good and evil do not come into it.