Greece is the word

The following lengthy quote is from a learned Greek scholar:

So revolutions broke out in city after city, and in places where the revolutions occured late the knowledge of what had happened previously in other places caused still new extravagances of revolutionary zeal, expressed by an elaboration in the methods of seizing power and by unheard-of atrocities in revenge. To fit in with the change of events, words, too, had to change their meanings. What used to be described as a thoughtless act of aggression was now regarded as the courage one might expect to find in a party member; to think of the future and wait was merely another way of saying one was a coward; any idea of moderation was just an attempt to disguise one’s unmanly character; ability to understand a question from all sides meant that one was totally unfitted for action. Fanatical enthusiasm was the mark of a real man, and to plot against an enemy behind his back was perfectly legitimate self-defence. Anyone who held violent opinions could always be trusted and anyone who objected to them became suspect. To plot successfully was a sign intelligence, but it was still cleverer to see that a plot was hatching. If one attempted to provide against having to do either, one was disrupting the unity of the party and acting out of fear of the opposition. In short, it was equally praiseworthy to get one’s blow in first against someone who was going to do wrong, and to denounce someone who had no intention of doing any wrong at all. Family relations were a weaker tie than party membership, since party members were more ready to go to any extreme for any reason whatever. These parties were not formed to enjoy the benefits of established laws, but to aquire power by overthrowing the existing regime; and the members of these parties felt confidence in each other not because of any fellowship in a religious communion, but because they were partners in crime. If an opponent made a reasonable speech, the party in power, so far from giving it a generous reception, took every precaution to see that it had no practical effect.

Revenge was more important than self-preservation, And if pacts of mutual security were made, they were entered into by the two parties only in order to meet some temporary difficulty, and remained in force only so long as there was no other weapon available. When the chance came, the one who seized it boldly, catching the enemy off his guard, enjoyed a revenge that was all the sweeter from having taken, not openly, but because of a breach of faith. It was safer that way, it was considered, and at the same time a victory won by treachery gave one a title for superior intelligence. And indeed most people are more ready to call villainy cleverness than simple-mindedness honesty. They are proud of the first quality and ashamed of the second.

Love of power, operating through greed and through personal ambition, was the cause of all these evils. To this must be added violent fanaticism which came into play once the struggle had broken out. Leaders of parties in the cities had programmes which appeared admirable – on one side political equality for the masses, on the other the safe and sound government of the aristocracy – but in professing to serve the public interest they were seeking to win the prizes for themselves. In their struggle for ascendancy nothing was barred; terrible indeed were the actions to which they committed themselves, and in taking revenge they went farther still. Here they were deterred neither by claims of justice nor by the interests of the state; their one standard was the pleasure of their own party at that particular moment, and so, either by means of condemning their enemies on an illegal vote or by violently usurping power over them, they were always ready to satisfy the hatreds of the hour. Thus neither side had any use for conscientious motives; more interest was shown in those who could produce attractive arguments to justify some disgraceful action. As for the citizens who held moderate views, they were destroyed by both extreme parties, either for not taking part in the struggle or in envy at the possibility that they might survive.

As the result of these revolutions, there was a general deterioration of character throughout the Greek world. The simple way of looking at things, which is so much the mark of a noble nature, was regarded as a ridiculous quality and soon ceased to exist. Society had become divided into two ideologically hostile camps, and each side viewed the other with suspicion. As for ending this state off affairs, no guarentee could be given that would be trusted, no oath sworn that people would fear to break; everyone had come to the conclusion that it was hopeless to expect a permanent settlement and so, instead of being able to feel confident in others, they devoted their energies to providing against being injured themselves. As a rule those who were the least remarkable for intelligence showed the greater powers of survival. Such people recognised their own deficiencies and the superior intelligence of their opponents; fearing that they might lose a debate or find themselves out-manoeuvred in intrigue by their quick-witted enemies, they boldly launched straight into action; while their opponents, overconfident in the belief that they would see what was happening in advance, and not thinking it necessary to seize by force what they could secure by policy, were the more easily destroyed because they were off guard.

Certainly it was in Corcyra that there occurred the first examples of the breakdown of law and order. There was the revenge taken in their hour of triumph by those who had in the past been arrogantly oppressed instead of wisely governed; there were the wicked resolutions taken by those who, particularly under the pressure of misfortune, wished to escape from their usual poverty and coveted the property of their neighbours; there were the savage and pitiless actions into which men were carried not so much for the sake of gain as because they were swept away into internecine struggle by their ungovernable passions. Then, with the ordinary conventions of civilised life thrown into confusion, human nature, always ready to offend even where laws exist, showed itself proudly in its true colours, as something incapable of controlling passion, insubordinate to the idea of justice, the enemy to anything superior to itself; for, if it had not been for the pernicious powers of envy, men would not so have exalted vengeance above innocence and profit above justice. Indeed, it is true that in these acts of revenge on others men take it upon themselves to begin the process of repealing those general laws of humanity which are there to give a hope of salvation to all who are in distress, instead of leaving those laws in existence, remembering that there may be a time when they, too, will be in danger and will need their protection.

Although the passage is descriptive of contemporary events in Greece, it was written by Thucydides about 2,500 years ago. Actually, it could apply throughout history. How soon until it arrives on our civilized shores?

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This essay is permalinked at Plan B Economics, Pacific Free Press, and The Refreshment Center.

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Please join me in supporting Mike Sosebee’s film. To learn more, click here.

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The three-page version of my personal story was published in October 2011, upon invitation, by the leading journal in my field. It’s here, as pdf. A brief comment was published today in the same journal, and I was allowed to respond to the comment. The exchange is here, also as pdf.

Comments 104

  • The Germans will come back to Crete, just like 1941.

    Churchill might spin in his grave, but if Britain didn’t mess with the Germans on 1914, none of these would have happened.

  • Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
    Albert Einstein
    Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/a/alberteins133991.html#qrboh7IzRZzIBoPf.99

  • •• Greek philosopher Plato (427 – 347 BC) compared hills and mountains of Greece to the bones of a wasted body: “All the richer and softer parts have fallen away and the mere skelton of the land remains.”
    http://www.radford.edu/wkovarik/envhist/1ancient.html

    So exactly when did the human species go insane?

  • Will Rogue Fundamentalist Christian Military Leaders Start a Nuclear War in the Middle East?
    Posted on May 18, 2012 by WashingtonsBlog
    at the link you can access the stories he links to http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2012/05/will-rogue-fundamentalist-christian-military-leaders-start-a-nuclear-war-in-the-middle-east.html

    Before You Write Off This Threat … Read This

    Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said that if the U.S. invades the sovereignty of countries like Syria or Iran, it could lead to nuclear war. And see this.

    Russia and China have previously stated that an attack on Iran would be considered a direct threat to their national security.

    And Iran and Syria have had a mutual defense pact for years. China and Russia might also defend Syria if it is attacked. So an attack on Syria could draw Iran into the war … followed by China and Russia.

    Of course, while the Middle Eastern wars are mainly driven by oil (and perhaps protecting the dollar) – and while real conservatives are anti-war- many in the U.S. military view the wars as a literal crusade, and see Islam itself as their mortal enemy.

    For example, Wired reported last week:

    The U.S. military taught its future leaders that a “total war” against the world’s 1.4 billion Muslims would be necessary to protect America from Islamic terrorists, according to documents obtained by Danger Room. Among the options considered for that conflict: using the lessons of “Hiroshima” to wipe out whole cities at once, targeting the “civilian population wherever necessary.”

    If this sounds nuts, remember that millions of evangelical Christians want to start WWIII to speed the “second coming” … and atheist Neocons are using religion to rile them up to justify war against Iran.

    And Professor Michel Chossudovsky documents that the U.S. is so enamored with nuclear weapons that it has authorized low-level field commanders to use them in the heat of battle in their sole discretion … without any approval from civilian leaders.

    What could possibly go wrong?

  • On Zerohedge today:

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/guest-post-face-genocidal-eco-fascism

    The author says it all. And the commentators agree with him whole-heartedly. I have seldom heard the other viewpoint (freedom of the market and growth) put quite so succinctly.

    Quote:
    But really he is just another freedom-hating authoritarian — like the Nazis and Stalinists he so admires — who desires control over his fellow humans. Ecology, I think, is window-dressing. Certainly, he seems to have no real admiration or even concept of nature as a self-sustaining, self-organising mechanism, or faith that nature will be able to overcome whatever humanity throws at it. Nor does he seem to have any appreciation for the concept that humans are a product of and part of nature; if nature did not want us doing what we do nature would never have produced us. Nature is greater and smarter than we will probably ever be. I trust nature; Linkola seems to think he knows better.

    And further:

    The real problem with centrally-planned Malthusian population reduction programs is that they greatly underestimate the value of human beings.

    More people means more potential output — both in economic terms, as well as in terms of ideas. Simply, the more people on the planet, the more hours and brainpower we have to create technical solutions to these challenges. After all, the expansion of human capacity through technical development was precisely how humanity overcame the short-sighted and foolish apocalypticism of Thomas Malthus who wrongly predicted an imminent population crash in the 19th century.

    My suggestion for all such thinkers is that if they want to reduce the global population they should measure up to their words and go first.

  • Precisely why the human species is on its way out. They use the most tortured and twisted “logic” to arrive at their belief and no facts are going to change that.

  • And http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2012/05/beware-false-flag-attack-on-chicago-nato-summit-by-us-war-criminals.html

    About a week ago someone sent me something about some of the FEMA coffins stored in GA being shipped north. All speculative for sure.

  • 30 city tour of Architects and Engineers for 911 Truth starting soon – “9/11: Explosive Evidence – Experts Speak Out” – WORLD PREMIERE TOUR – http://911expertsspeakout.org/911-explosive-evidence-experts-speak-version-12/

  • Victor,

    So for breakfast (in the US) you present us with two paths forward, Pentti Linkola vs the guys at Zerohedge, both devoted to destruction. As those commenting on Zerohedge are quick to point out we can take the red pill or the blue pill, drastic population control by a ruthless dictator or unrelenting slavery to the “market” (and ultimate drastic population control by collapse). So, we can give up our souls or our toys.

    I’m guessing that you would subscribe to neither of these choices, either controlled by some self appointed despot or controlled by unrelenting greed until collapse, because they are not choices at all. Most here at NBL are making plans for surviving the collapse-by-greed scenario. Is there no other way forward? Is there no green pill?

    Michael Irving

  • Michael Irving:
    Is there no green pill?

    Perhaps Germelshausen?
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Germelshausen

    Okay, not very helpful, but I guess it’s just as probable as the scenario I used to hang my hat on: salvation via space travel. 🙂

  • Michael Irving

    We are past pills now. All paths now lead to the same end – even if we tried to turn around and return from whence we came. You will know you have almost reached your destination when you meet four riders on the road – on a white horse, followed by a red horse, followed by a black horse and lastly a pale one…They’ll take you the rest of the way…. 😉

  • Here’s something for The Virgin Terry:

    http://www.businessinsider.com/matt-mcmullen-created-life-size-sex-dolls-2012-5

    And no relationship hangups!…. 🙂

  • Michael, as I wrote on the last topic with a few additions

    Per Guy we need to end industrial civilization very soon (lights out) or climate change will not be stopped and will become an extinction event.

    If we end industrial civilization today the grid will come down and the nuclear power plants and their fuel pools will go into meltdown in about a week. (no cooling water can be pumped without electricity or diesel and no diesel can be pumped out of tanks without electricity)

    Decommissioning takes about 5 years. Many already decommissioned have been done so by the SAFESTOR method “This option postpones the final removal of controls for a longer period, usually in the order of 40 to 60 years. The facility is placed into a safe storage configuration until the eventual dismantling and decontamination activities occur.” After the grid goes down, no eventual dismantling and decontamination can occur.

    So if every country were willing to start decommissioning today it would take 5 years of continued industrial civilization to complete the project in some form or other. If Guy is right 5 years is too long and would commit us to irreversible climate change that likely would lead to extinction.

    Pick your doom.

    Extinction by climate change might take a bit longer than extinction by 400 Fukushimas, but well extinction is extinction.

    In other words no matter what pill we take humans are very likely to go extinct.

    Survival is never absolute. Any here who want to stick it out for a while will just die later than those who expire earlier. It is unclear that that is the better fate because both exacerbated climate change and collapse of industrial civilization are not likely to be pretty.

    Well there is however another pill – all out nuclear war in which case many will not have to suffer as long before they die as they might in the other two scenarios. The best place to be would be some target location where you might get vaporized.

    I find it essential to remind myself there is no survival. There is longer survival vs. shorter survival but we cannot in the end survive as we are mortals. The situation we are in does not change our inevitable end, it only changes the timing and method of our demise. I have seen enough people suffer for years in nursing homes to think that quick ends are better even if life is shorter.

    “While man is growing, life is in decrease;
    And cradles rock us nearer to the tomb.
    Our birth is nothing but our death begun.”
    Edward Young

    We live between not existing and no longer existing.

  • “Watching a peaceful death of a human being reminds us of a falling star; one of a million lights in a vast sky that flares up for a brief moment only to disappear into the endless night forever.”
    Elisabeth Kuebler-Ross

  • You will not be surprised to learn that the outcome of the G-8 summit was that “growth” is the be-all/end-all of our collective direction forward.

    http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2012/may/20/g-8-leaders-endorse-growth/

    Domenico Lombardi, a senior scholar at the Brookings Institution in Washington, called the summit outcome “very positive” and said it indicated that Merkel, with her insistence on austerity, had become isolated within the G-8. The communiqué, he said, “underscores that the objective end of any policy action must be geared toward growth.”

    But there is another interesting note about oil:

    “The G-8 leaders – representing Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, Canada, Russia and the U.S. – also signaled they may have to tap the world’s strategic petroleum reserves in coming months to keep oil flowing during a possible supply shortage.”

    They did claim that this supply shortage would come as a result of our efforts to bring Iran to heel. You believe them, right?

    Michael Irving

  • TRDH,

    Hmmm. Not a bad idea. If we are to believe quantum mechanics I guess we could figure out how to have various communities winking in and out of our universe, into parallel universes. Appearing for a day only once in every hundred years would certainly cut down on resource extraction on the home front. My rough calculations (on my official G-8 calculator) say our earth could then support 255.5 trillion people at the same level we see today (or maybe 1 trillion at the level enjoyed in the US). Over-exploiting some other hapless universe is not any great concern anyway, any more that gutting rain forests in New Guinea to plant oil palms is now. Out of sight, out of mind.

    Michael Irving

  • http://deathby1000papercuts.com/2012/05/extreme-radioactive-black-substance-discovered-5-kilometers-from-tokyo/
    A mysterious black substance five times more radioactive than the Chernobyl-Belarus mandatory evacuation zone was discovered 4 kilometers from the center of Tokyo, the Hirai Station. The mystery radioactive black substance discovered close to Tokyo on the heels of the discovery of Cesium in Fukushima Prefecture 122 times higher than in Belarus evacuation zone.
    I can’t vouch for the web site, but given the previous thread thought people might want to check out the full story at the link.

    As Robert Atack commented on the last tread, “When you look at the above photos (at the link he posted), apart from the extinction of humans I can’t see anything good coming from Fukushima.” We may be nearer than we think, one way or another.

    As Robert Frost commented

    Some say the world will end in fire,
    Some say in ice.
    From what I’ve tasted of desire
    I hold with those who favor fire.
    But if it had to perish twice,
    I think I know enough of hate
    To say that for destruction ice
    Is also great
    And would suffice.

    Looking more like fire – rising temps and failing or falling nukes.

  • Looking more like fire – rising temps and failing or falling nukes.

    Should we start a betting pool?

  • The communiqué, he said, “underscores that the objective end of any policy action must be geared toward growth.”

    Growth is normal. But it invariably is constrained by the Limits to Growth. It is not abnormal (not conforming to rule or system; deviating from the usual or normal type) unless it is widely recognised by consensus as abnormal.

    To the yeasts in a vat of sugar, growth past the point of overshoot is “normal”. They have been around that block so many times that they have evolved spores to tide them over the “hard times”. No organism of the complexity of vertebrates has evolved spores or cysts – yet (to my knowledge).

    We are not at par with yeasts in this adaptation. To accept such growth as normal without such adaptation is to risk species suicide.

  • Victor, I’m on for nuclear war beating out Fukushima and Climate Change. I wager 4 yellow squash.

  • Years ago on a Peak Oil website people were saying that when the collapse starts the Mexicans will all be coming across the border to the US – watch out they are going to get us sort of talk. I suggested that when things get bad why wouldn’t they want to go back to Mexico and at least experience the bad with family and friends that care about them instead of sharing the US bad with people who are prejudiced against them. The tide of immigration is turning and my point exactly is expressed on this youtube

    “If I am going to be poor here I might as well go home and be poor with my family in Mexico”. Too bad I didn’t make a bet on that prediction 🙂

  • Someone else probably noted this already on NBL and I just missed it, however, Ernest Callenbach, author of “Ecotopia” and “Ecotopia Emerging”, died in mid April. He left a message on his computer that was his take on where we are and where we are headed and ties it back into the two books. He begins his “Epistle to the Ecotopians” like this:

    “To all brothers and sisters who hold the dream in their hearts of a future world in which humans and all other beings live in harmony and mutual support — a world of sustainability, stability, and confidence. A world something like the one I described, so long ago, in Ecotopia and Ecotopia Emerging.”

    http://carolynbaker.net/2012/05/07/ernest-callenbach-last-words-to-an-american-decline/

    Any of you who felt the pull of Ecotopia and believed after reading the books that Ralph Nader was right when he said that “None of the happy conditions in Ecotopia are beyond the technical or resource reach of our society” might be interested in this assessment. Most of you on NBL would question whether those resources are still available. In any case, Callenbach does not come off (to me) as a total Pollyanna, and he does not paint a very pretty picture of the world we are leaving to the next few generations. But he does see some reason for hope that if people find a way to embrace the decay of our present civilization they will be able to make it through the collapse of empire and invent a new and better society.

    It’s worth a look just to revel in his anger with the looter class, the maggot class, as he characterizes the 1%.

    Michael Irving

  • So, here we are at the end of humanity. I know that some will welcome our demise, but I find it tragic and profoundly sad; a species with so much promise, failed.

    I was thinking that if we could do anything to make our time here on this planet into something other than a complete and total loss, it would be to document where we went wrong and what we did right and preserve that information in such a way that when it is dug up in a few million years, maybe we could prevent our successors from making the same mistakes. Does anyone know of such an effort?

  • Dr. House:
    If Homo sapiens goes extinct, there is no guarantee that Nature will produce another species with the same intellect: the first attempt produced dinosaurs. 

    Nearly sixty million years later, one-fifth of a million years ago Homo sapiens was on the scene. One-twentieth of a million years ago, they burst out of Africa. They  are adapted to a very tropical climate. By the invention of clothes they have technologically adapted to places where they do not have a biological adaptation. So they act as an invasive species over most of our planet. Mea culpa. 

  • If Homo sapiens goes extinct, there is no guarantee that Nature will produce another species with the same intellect: the first attempt produced dinosaurs.

    Perhaps, but nature seems to hit an amazing number of lottery odds, doesn’t it!….. 😉

  • Does anyone know of such an effort?

    TRDH

    You have hit upon a current problem being worked on by preservationists (here in the UK, it is the National Archives tasked with this challenging mission) all over the world, I suspect. Your main problems here are language, the media used to communicate that language, and the preservation of that media for long periods of time.

    Language
    What was English 500 years ago? Hardly understandable from a modern view. What about 2000 years? Didn’t really exist. What about 1 million years? What about the audible aspect of language? Would English be a known spoken language? Likely not. Would the character base of a future language be translatable to our Latin, or Oriental, or Cyrillic styles? Nope. The only reason we can translate any of the ancient languages is because we have found things like Rosetta Stones that help us to do that. If, however, you have a break in species, and a new species arises after winning a long, long, long, long series of lotteries, then will that species communicate in the same ways as we do? Probably not. And will they have Rosetta Stones to help them? No at all.

    Media

    What will you store the message on? Person-to-person stories down through the ages? Not likely – no people. Paper? No, it disintegrates and rots. Parchment? Not likely. Electronic media? How would you then read it? What with? Would the technology be there to do it? You would need hardware and software that could do the job. What are the chances of someone in the far future even knowing that our media is…well….media? We could leave a PC behind to read it with, but would they know what a PC is, and how to turn it on, and navigate to the message? Would they have the electric grid infrastructure in place to plug the PC into? Perhaps they are just lumps of metal and plastic forged for some unknown cause.

    Media Preservation
    And today, we do not have any form of media that can hold electronic forms of media beyond a hundred years or so (and I’m being very optimistic with that!), much less the technology required to read it. You might be able to preserve a disk, but its electronic content would have likely disintegrated many years prior. You will need an entirely different technology to hold the message, and a whole set of technologies to then read from that media. And as with the PC, would their technical infrastructure be equivalent to ours?

    If and when mankind is made extinct, all our knowledge will go with us. Never to return. It will have to all be re-created in the Great Lottery of Nature. Our civilisation will be the subject of archaeological digs of the future, as those creature of the future forage through our landfills and buried cities, looking for clues as they try to solve the puzzle of these mysterious creatures of old and how they, in the midst of flourishing, seemed to suddenly disappear from the scene.

  • I’m on for nuclear war beating out Fukushima and Climate Change. I wager 4 yellow squash.

    I’ll see you with a slug-ridden gogi bush and a handful of strawberries.

    I still have my money on Climate Change, though Fukushima is coming up fast on the inside lane. Should be nose-to-nose at the finish, however.

  • Craig Dilworth has documented what went wrong – we are “Too Smart for our Own Good” and he concludes “too dumb to do anything about it”. If his thesis of the vicious cycle is right it couldn’t end up any other way. We wouldn’t have crashed so spectacularly if we hadn’t have found the extra energy for one last round of the vicious cycle.

    I have in the past described it as “not being programmed to win the lottery”. His book is a long slog but attempts to frame all of “sapiens” 200,000 year history into a theory – perhaps it always had to be true that at some point a top predator would evolve that would be too damn good for its own good.

    I expected to find the book depressing, I found it long and sometimes tedious but strangely comforting.

    I have been thinking about this the last number of days since Mary P posted her essay. The monks she mentions are doing something but even she notes it is not something that is going to save anyone in Japan, just something that gives some people comfort. In the movie The Grey Zone, based upon the story written by a Dr. who was there, there is an attempt by the prisoners to blow up the Crematoriums. In the process they face a number of moral choices, the major one based on whether to kill one girl to save the plan, or try to save her and risk the plan. In the end two crematoria are blown up. Does this lessen how many died? It was near the end of the war. Perhaps it saved a few, but the plotters are captured and layed on the ground where a German guard methodically shots them one after another. Our two main characters are next to each other. As the German nears they meet eyes and reach out to hold hands just before they are shot.

    To me the answer is just to do what feels right to you to do, and hold someone’s hand as our future rises up to meet us.

  • They did claim that this supply shortage would come as a result of our efforts to bring Iran to heel. You believe them, right?

    Well, yes….and no. Oil is short of supply already in a very big sense, because global production has not kept up with demand, erasing much of the global spare capacity. So any interference in current production is likely to have magnified effects, esp in pricing.

    If you took out all of Iran’s capacity to serve its customers, it would be a mess, regardless of their optimistic view on opening up strategic reserves and having the Saudis open the tap more. Can the Saudis open the tap more? Big question. But it had better be a lot if the sanctions, both current and new ones targeted at Iran’s oil shipping industry, take maximum effect. Iran normally produces about 4 mbd. Sanctions thus far have reduced that by up to 0.5 mbd. If sanctions hit Iranian oil container ships, then they won’t be able to sell much oil at all – unless the Chinese step in to help – which of course they will. Can the Saudis open their tap that much? I think not. And neither does the Empire, thus the comment on opening strategic reserves. Doing that, of course, would lead to a stand-off. Strategic reserves are just that – reserves – once gone, they are gone, introducing great risk to the markets. On the other hand how long can Iran go with seriously reduced oil income? Not long, I should imagine. So who will blink first? If Obama is wrong and the prices do go up as a result of his insane actions, then what? Iran wins big as the Americans are forced to ease off on sanctions. And Iran has already shown that at the current level of sanctions, it can survive, though with difficulty.

    And in the midst of all this, you have the oil markets going wild. Obama says they won’t do anything to disturb the volatility of the markets, but he is full of shit. Just looking at the markets the wrong way will ensure a price increase. Remember – the oil price reached $147 per barrel before the wheels came off the economy in the last round. We have a much more fragile economy now attempting to come out of a depression – a depression caused by an oil spike in the beginning. How much of a further increase in price can it take before the wheels come off again? I think it would happen at a price point something below the $147 level. But who knows? Obama is taking a BIG risk here.

  • Craig Dilworth has documented what went wrong – we are “Too Smart for our Own Good” and he concludes “too dumb to do anything about it”.

    Craig Dilworth sounds a lot like Wm Catton. They seem to draw the much same conclusions – only Catton would put it in a bit more professorial terms…. 😉 So would certainly recommend Catton’s Overshoot and also Bottleneck.

  • Victor, it is only the title that is “unprofessional”, the innards are so professional that it took some perseverance to slog through it. Occasionally the emotions that prompted the title creep in.

    I have thought to get Overshoot and Bottleneck but I think Dilworth probably expands on Catton’s work (which he quotes often) as he takes the vicious circle principle all the way back to the first sapiens who made tools and fire. It would seem that the worst mistake that homos made was not agriculture per Diamond, nor even fire and tools as I have thought, but the mistake was becoming sapiens.

  • High possibility of Mt. Fuji’s eruption
    Posted by Mochizuki on May 20th, 2012 · 5 Comments

    http://fukushima-diary.com/2012/05/high-possibility-of-mt-fujis-eruption/
    Professor Emeritus, Kimura from Ryukyu university warns eruption of Mt. Fuji in 3 years is the bigger risk than possible earthquake caused by the active fault.

    He points out these 2 facts below

    1. From North east to South west of the crater, water eruption is observed. This is the water version of eruption instead of magma,but the mechanism is almost the same as normal eruption. In Fujinomiya city beside Mt. Fuji, water has been springing every few months since 2 years ago. Water level became higher all of a sudden at Fujigoko lake located at North to Mt. Fuji.

    2. Huge holes appear in the Fuji maneuvering ground of Japanese Self Defense Force. Natural gas is coming up from the holes. The temperature is 40℃ ~ 50℃. It is not the volcanic gas directly coming up from magma but considering water eruption as well, it is highly likely to be the omen of major eruption.

    According to the simulation of Cabinet Government, volcanic ash will be accumulated 2~10cm even in Tokyo, where is 100km away from Mt. Fuji. In the worst case, 14,600km of road will be closed. 515 flights will be cancelled a day. 1,080,000 houses will be out of power. The estimated economical damage will be 2 trillion and 500 billion yen.

  • Investigation of underground structure by Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology and Earthquake Research Institute of Tokyo University suggested that active fault runs for 30km directly under Mt.Fuji on 5/10/2012. This investigation was conducted from 2009 to 2011.

    It may cause M7 class of earthquake to collapse the body of mountain by sediment and mud flow.
    This active fault may have caused the collapse of the mountain 2900 years ago.
    http://fukushima-diary.com/2012/05/30km-of-active-fault-underneath-mt-fuji/

  • Japan just goes from bad to worse. My son-in-law, a Japanese national and physicist working for the Large Hadron Collider project in Europe, took one look at the Fukushima incident when it first happened, and groaned – “This is the end of my country, Japan”. He hasn’t backed off that statement in the least.

  • It would seem that the worst mistake that homos made was not agriculture per Diamond, nor even fire and tools as I have thought, but the mistake was becoming sapiens.

    Biological evolution operates on timescales that permit selection for long-term adaptive advantage: short-term advantages that are outweighed by their long-term adverse consequences are selected against, in the long term. 

    Human innovativeness operates in a timeframe well within the timescale of a human lifetime. Successful innovations that are adaptive in the short term can have maladaptive long-term consequences  Even when adverse long-term consequences appear, the usual response is further short-term adaptation.

    The problem is cleverness unbalanced by wisdom. 

  • Robin, Kathy C,

    Although I agree with both of you I see the problem differently. It’s the results that are the problem, not the process. The evolutionary process is working perfectly.

    Humans are animals and as such are governed by the evolutionary principals that govern all animals. Evolution works toward maximizing the opportunity to perpetuate the species. The process selects for the best adaptive characteristics. The broadness of the gene pool ensures that if there is a selective error, if a species starts down a path that under extant environmental conditions offers survival advantages but when change comes leads to an evolutionary dead end, the extremes will provide the genetic resources for selecting a new path. When a species progresses far enough down a path of increasing specialization then the breadth of the gene pool is narrowed to the point where, when faced with some evolutionary/environmental challenge, there is not enough resiliency to allow backtracking to a more generalized organism. In that case the species becomes extinct.

    In the case of our species we have been evolving down the road to specialization, in this case a specialization emphasizing an increasing dependency on culture. Over the long term selecting for culture has worked to the advantage of our species. We’ve managed to be fruitful and multiply, or in terms of process have fulfilled the species imperative of reproducing in abundance, thereby providing a large enough population to weather hard times.

    In our case the evolutionary process is working great. We, as a species, are doing just what every other species does, testing and winnowing the edges of the gene pool. As Robin notes, however, we are following the same path as multiplying yeast, but without the fallback position (spoors) to carry us beyond over-shoot. So the question is, will the evolutionary process continue to work for us as a species? Does our gene pool have enough breadth to allow some line at the extremes to make it through this evolutionary bottleneck of our own making?

    If, as Kathy says, the problem is sapience, will we be wise enough to think our way out of this problem? Or if, as Robin says, the problem is culture, will we be able to formulate a new culture that is resilient enough to see us through to the other side of collapse? I’m still an optimist, in that I hope we will be smart enough to figure out what we need to do to invent a new way of living in the world. Very likely, however, it is evolutionary process that will be the final arbiter.

    Perhaps god doesn’t play dice with the universe, but evolution does and that process is beginning to ask if there exists in our gene pool a subset of man smart enough and flexible enough to survive the coming collapse. Or it could be asking if there is a subset brutish enough to survive at any extreme. More likely both the philosopher and the brute will be tested. Perhaps Thucydides has outlined a plan.

    Michael Irving

  • Perhaps god doesn’t play dice with the universe, but evolution does and that process is beginning to ask if there exists in our gene pool a subset of man smart enough and flexible enough to survive the coming collapse.

    No, actually, I think you are asking that question, not ‘The Process’. We seem to know all about the evolutionary process, yet we can’t explain why the so-called pinnacle of evolution, homo sapiens, is killing the world and committing suicide. A clear case of murder/suicide. Is that the best evolution can come up with, a suicidal murderer psychopath?…. 🙂

    But, one might say, evolution can’t fail. Natural selection can’t fail. If the species lives, it’s because natural selection has chosen it for survival. If the species dies, it’s because natural selection has not chosen it for survival. All things derive from its eternal process. And all things that die out are de-selected from it. The theory can not be falsified. Do you not see the scientific fallacy here? Of course not – it’s like God. It is all-knowing, omni-present and controls all life.

    Indeed, it IS the god of the atheist (we al need a god, don’t we – someone we can blame for all the shit we create!). And there can be no other god, no other god that holds the power of life and death. It is a god without beginning. It is a god without end. Unfortunately, it is a god without purpose, and its creatures live without purpose. But like god, it can not be doubted or challenged without social consequences.

    In the end, however, it has failed. It failed with the dinosaurs. It has failed with homo sapiens. And it will fail with the next derivative of the roach, if, of course, even the roach survives the work of its highest creature.

  • The nuclear industry wins again:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/21/gregory-jaczko-resigns-nrc-nuclear-regulatory-commission_n_1531805.html

    Gregory Jaczko Resigns: Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Steps Down.

    The industry does not have the safety of the American people at heart. Only profits. Jaczko had to go.

  • Robin, OK Too Smart for our own good, too lacking in wisdom to fix it. But too dumb to fix it sounds better (however that is not part of the title but the last chapter title). Dumb, Smart, Wise, Unwise are words with lots of shades of meaning and emotion. I don’t see quibbling over them worthwhile. To be unwise is after all pretty dumb. I read one review that suggested a better title was “We’re Toast”.

    Michael – evolution just is – it doesn’t work right or wrong, good or bad, its just what happens when critters start reproducing and using up resources and space. It has no agenda. What works in one environment doesn’t in another, and when environment changes it is not a failure of the species. What Dilworth outlines in 548 pages is how the specific programs we have as instincts, are upset when we change our own environment by use of fire and tools – particularly our means of keeping population under some sort of control. We have, especially in the last 10,000 years not had enough time to evolve new genetic programs.

    Here is Dilworth discussing part of his theory in 12 pages instead of 548 http://montreal.degrowth.org/downloads/papers/K074_Dilworth.pdf

    Of interest was a study I found about the !kung people – when they were nomadic they carried their babies with them – 4900 miles in the normal 4 years until a child could walk on its own on the long trecks – mothers carry in front for 2 years and on the back for 2 years. They could have 2 year spacing but it would be harder. They do have a 1 year taboo on sex which insures pretty much at least 2 year spacing. The rest is accomplished by strong, regular, frequent nursing. They don’t gather many foods that are easy for children to digest so the kids nurse a lot. When they begin to settle down, there is more food that kids can digest and the necessity to carry is not there. The 10 year study showed that the more settled they became the shorter the spacing going down to as little 20 months (which would seem to indicate that the sex taboo was still pretty much still in place – 9 mos + 12 mos = 21 months – so the 20 month deliveries represent cheating on the taboo by 1 month 🙂 )

    At any rate this backs up Dilworth IMO on how the programs to prevent overpopulation are disrupted as we kept changing our environment. Being smart we keep using up resources forcing us to make new arrow points or whatever to exploit new resources, which give us a surplus, so we expand numbers and then we use up the next set of resources forcing us to exploit new resources by inventing new technology – etc. We are in the last round of the vicious circle. Well I don’t know if my quick summary is totally correct – after 548 pages I was a bit bleary.

  • Victor, i love you and I do not mean that in a condescending way.

    “we can’t explain why the so-called pinnacle of evolution, homo sapiens”

    Science says we are one leaf on the end of one twig, nothing more, nothing less.

    What is meant by “pinnacles of evolution” ??? Every species alive today is the current “pinnacle” of evolution. As long as that species exists, it is the “current” pinnacle. If it gives rise to yet another species -both concurrent with each other – then BOTH of them are “at the pinnacle.”

    If they go extinct – they both “fail” by definition (they did not leave offspring – for whatever reason).

    No “good” “bad” etc – just “is.”
    ——-

    “But, one might say, evolution can’t fail. Natural selection can’t fail.”

    That is like saying: “But, one might say, change can’t fail. The causes of change can’t fail.

    ———————-

    “If the species lives, it’s because natural selection has chosen it for survival.”

    I think you are confusing the process of natural selection with “God.”

    According to natural selection/evolution, a species lives as long as it continues to reproduce.

  • (oops, cut-off)

    ” Unfortunately, it is a god without purpose, and its creatures live without purpose.”

    Victor, you and I do not get a vote in the matter. The laws of thermodynamics will continue to govern whether or not you understand them or believe in them. And as long as the laws of thermodynamics continue to govern, there will be life – and if it reaches self-awareness, it will be confused about its origins for millions of generations….;)

  • i found catton’s ‘overshoot’ much more engaging reading than dilworth’s ‘too smart’. dilworth puts me to sleep.

    ‘The problem is cleverness unbalanced by wisdom.’

    a.k.a. stupidity or insanity. imo anyone who thinks any aspect of american culture is either intelligent or sane is demonstrating their own lack of intelligence and sanity.

    ‘if there exists in our gene pool a subset of man smart enough and flexible enough to survive the coming collapse’

    this wrongly assumes that some amount of intelligence can overcome the momentous natural changes coming. it flies in the face of the title of this blog: nature bats last. nature is in charge, not humans. human survival at this point is wholly dependent upon the grace of gaia, or lack there-of, to put it poetically.

  • Q. Is Too-Curious George clever enough?

    A. I have no idea. Clever may have nothing to do with it – just a trait we fixated on (like guys and the wieners, girls and their teets).
    ———————–
    Q. Is the process of evolution a vicious cycle?

    A. Is the formation of stars a vicious cycle?
    —————————————–
    ——
    A. When a supernova occurs, is it:

    “good/bad
    fair/unfair
    moral/immoral
    ethical/unethical”

    Q. ah…

    ————–

    A. Which is more ethical, a supernova, a tsunami or an army of ants attacking a small mammal in the forest?

    Q. ah…

  • Jeez folks, I just thought that evolution stuff was about critters humping (yeast excepted Robin).

    Victor @ 5/21/3:01am “Obama is taking a BIG risk here.” Brilliant!

    Kathy—Yup, I agree, evolution just is. Just goes to show you that I am not at the pinnacle of evolution as a wordsmith.

    Michael Irving

  • Navid

    I can’t say that I love you, in truth. But I can say that you amuse me…. 😉

    Evolution v Laws of Thermodynamics – Yes, I quite believe the the Laws of Thermodynamics (emphasis on ‘laws’, as opposed to what at best should be referred to as a hypothesis). Esp the second law concerning entropy, which has to be highly stretched to accommodate the origin and progress of the evolutionary process which demands the creation and maintenance of self-replicating, functional complexity. But we have had this conversation before, haven’t we…;-p

    And as one leaf to another, I would agree, technically, that from an evolutionary perspective, perhaps humanity could be considered just one leaf among many selected for survival. But really – the human is more than that, wouldn’t you agree? Indeed, rarely do I hear the human being referred to as just another ‘leaf’ by anyone with the possible exception of yourself, a couple other biologists and an occasional philosopher. How many times have we heard from so many who are advocates of evolution that man is the crowning glory of the evolutionary process? We have so many traits that distinguish us at an entirely different level than any other creature. Indeed, those unique differences make for the tragedy expressed by Michael Irving and others on this site. We are the one creature on earth with the capacity to destroy it, and that is exactly what we are set to do. No, we are not just another leaf.

    According to natural selection/evolution, a species lives as long as it continues to reproduce.

    Sorry, but I believe you to be entirely wrong on this point…. if a species stops reproducing, it is because it has been de-selected for survival. I don’t mean to be picky here, but if a species’ environment changes to the point that it can no longer reproduce, then we might well say that that species is being de-selected, and because of that, it can no longer reproduce. Otherwise, the species will continue to reproduce, for what species would of its own volition choose not to reproduce unless it were acted upon by an external force – natural selection. And if it did somehow choose to not reproduce, then we could in no way say that it had been de-selected for survival by natural selection, since the species itself did the deed. Of course, you could say that natural selection was the inspiration for the species’ decision to no longer reproduce, but again, it is de-selection that has preceded the act. Your logic suffers, I suspect.

  • Michael, I think you are a fine wordsmith, the problem for all of us is that it is almost impossible for us humans to talk about things like evolution without inserting some intentionality language. Looking for intentionality is part of our program, a program that helped get us here. Since many other things in nature have intentions, we find it best to apply intentionality rather broadly to be safe. Is that bush moving, is it the wind, is it an animal, is the animal a predator, is it after me. The title of the book The Selfish Gene is such an example, the gene has no intents but Dawkins suggests using a word that implies intents helps us “get” the concept he is trying to convey (also helps sell books).

    Unfortunately in a discussion it can be hard to tell if one is using the intentionality as a short cut, automatically, or because one actually thinks evolution has intent 🙂

    And yes for those that sexually reproduce it is about some version of humping 🙂 No wonder Georgia O’Keefe painted flowers the way she did. Flowers are all about sex (of course flower sex draws in a third party).
    http://drawingatduke.blogspot.com/2010/11/georgia-okeeffe-beyond-flowers.html (the author of this blog that shows some of her pictures clearly doesn’t get it)

  • How rural america got fracked
    http://www.energybulletin.net/stories/2012-05-21/how-rural-america-got-fracked
    Every time we hear one horror story about our environment we should steel ourselves for the next one. In Wisconsin they are mining sand for fracking elsewhere.
    snip
    “Yet this peaceful rural landscape is swiftly becoming part of a vast assembly line in the corporate race for the last fossil fuels on the planet. The target: the sand in the land of the cranes.

    Five hundred million years ago, an ocean surged here, shaping a unique wealth of hills and bluffs that, under mantles of greenery and trees, are sandstone. That sandstone contains a particularly pure form of crystalline silica. Its grains, perfectly rounded, are strong enough to resist the extreme pressures of the technology called hydraulic fracturing, which pumps vast quantities of that sand, as well as water and chemicals, into ancient shale formations to force out methane and other forms of “natural gas.”

    That sand, which props open fractures in the shale, has to come from somewhere. Without it, the fracking industry would grind to a halt. So big multinational corporations are descending on this bucolic region to cart off its prehistoric sand, which will later be forcefully injected into the earth elsewhere across the country to produce more natural gas. Geology that has taken millions of years to form is now being transformed into part of a system, a machine, helping to drive global climate change.”

  • So big multinational corporations are descending on this bucolic region to cart off its prehistoric sand, which will later be forcefully injected into the earth elsewhere across the country to produce more natural gas. Geology that has taken millions of years to form is now being transformed into part of a system, a machine, helping to drive global climate change.

    Kathy

    I think you will find water is also a target of these multinationals – it takes huge amounts of fresh water to drive the process. And water is becoming a more scarce resource as you know.

  • Michael, I think you are a fine wordsmith, the problem for all of us is that it is almost impossible for us humans to talk about things like evolution without inserting some intentionality language.

    Michael

    I would agree with Kathy, but also add that there is a reason why we often feel it necessary to personify the evolutionary process. It is because the evidence demands an intentional designer involvement. We simply can not imagine the process as being anything other than somehow a purposeful act if we are to properly communicate it.

    From the idea that fish decided that it was to their advantage to convert their fins into legs, convert their gills into lungs and roam the earth to the idea that reptiles decided to grow feathers, change the distribution of their internal organs and radically modify their bone and muscle structure to fly. You are not alone. Virtually every film you see on nature preaches the same thing – the creature decides to change its design because it sees some advantage to it, or evolution decides for the creature, selecting some to change and others not to.

    The only problem is – that just doesn’t happen in real life….. 😉

    The evolutionists personify it because they can’t otherwise explain why or exactly the process involved that resulted in such a change. It is not that it is easier to personify the change: it is necessary, as there currently exists no other explanation.

  • I don’t understand a lot of the complicated stock market stuff but this piece by Tyler Durden says that JP Morgan’s losses may be quite a bit bigger than the $2 billion full story at this link http://www.zerohedge.com/news/did-fed-just-give-us-very-big-clue-just-how-big-jpms-cio-loss-may-be snip below
    “Does this imply that the CIO losses, as conferred by JPM to the Fed in private, have a statutory loss potential of over $31.5 billion through Q4 2013? Or is the hit to just this quarter so substantial, that spreading the loss over a period of time has become meaningless, and the Fed has barred JP Morgan from any other future buybacks, i.e., capital outflows, until such time as the trading/realized loss has been offset and the hit to the balance sheet has been undone?”

    Since it looks like 435 more nuclear plants are going to go Fukushima no matter what, because no one is seriously talking about decommissioning them, the sooner the industrial civilization collapses the less climate change will happen, the less mountains will be blown up, the less water will be compromised by fraking, the less…. etc. to add to the radiation from the nuclear plants. So perhaps the heroes of the hour are Jamie Dimon and the London Whale?

  • Victor,

    I say I love you because you like to think about this stuff and you have a good sense of humor and do not seem to take things too personally – not because you “amuse me.”

    I am a cell and molecular biologist. I am not trying to compete with you – “argue for” evolution. I am trying to clear up some misunderstandings you have.

    The biggest problem – you continue to see evolution as some sort of “guided” force with a purpose – it is not. Evolution is a completely blind process – no different than a flowing water sorting the sand grains into sandbars on a river. Blind. No sorting by “good” or “right” etc – just “is.” Those labels we humans attach based on our biases.

    ————-
    Evolution/Science does Not say “man is the crowning glory…” That is what some laypeople say, and what all creationists say. Science sees humans as just another organism.

    —————-

    “According to natural selection/evolution, a species lives as long as it continues to reproduce….Sorry, but I believe you to be entirely wrong on this point…”

    No Victor – that is it. “Does this set of genes in this environment survive to reproduce?” That is it.

    —————

    2nd law – How does evolution “stretch” it? No energy is created or destroyed.

    Evolution is just chemical and physical reactions powered by “energy gradients” ( the same forces that cause the wind to blow or water to flow). As for the origins of life – ask a biochemist about the origins of self-replicating molecules, or the origins of proteins, carbs, fats and nucleic acids.

  • Michael

    “Jeez folks, I just thought that evolution stuff was about critters humping (yeast excepted Robin).”

    Humping is just one form of reproduction. Non-humping life was around a couple billion years before the humping-life got started ;).

  • Apparently the Greeks got there first, as usual.

    Freud’s Civilization and Its Discontents isn’t the most exciting book to read, but it details the conflict between our dual existence as individuals and social animals, and identifies consciousness as a collective phenomenon subject to breakdown. He also identifies our cultural death-wish and suggests it comes from the rebellion of millions of individuals against the consciousness that has been imposed upon them.

    Interesting insights, published and widely discussed in the first half of the 20th century, but all but forgotten now. Add to those the all-but-forgotten contributions of Jung, Rank, Adler, Nietzsche–a flowering of genius that would probably morally justify humanity’s brief conscious existence, even in the absence of a god–and you can think that our collective purpose, at this late date, is to forget what we were and what we were capable of.

  • Victor,

    “No, actually, I think you are asking that question, not ‘The Process’.”

    I feel somewhat discussed with myself for anthropomorphizing the evolutionary process. I was taking some literary license with the idea that some man behind the curtain was making decisions about the future as we speak. Of course there is no conscious decision-making intelligence at work. It just is.

    Your invocation of natural selection as “the God of the atheist” might indicate that you regard atheists as weak-minded people seeking to reject authority, like angry children, while all the while still needing the father figure to help them make sense of the universe. In other words, if religious people need a god to be subservient to then atheists must also. Your subsequent comments of the failure of natural selection as a replacement god is a straw-man argument, comparing natural selection to an omnipotent creator and finding it wanting. In response I would say that I cannot imagine an atheist thinking of natural selection any differently than how he/she thinks about gravity; it just is, and the theory only describes it.

    Now I know you know all that, so I am guessing that when you say natural selection “failed” with regard to the dinosaurs, and “has failed” as well with Homo sapiens you were using the same kind of literary license I was. Of course we both know that natural selection did not fail with T. rex, and is not failing with H. sapiens, any more than the earth orbiting around the sun is a failure of gravity. I’m sure you also know that natural selection is not an atheist’s replacement old-guy-with-a-beard-living-in-the-clouds.

    Michael Irving

  • Michael I have been somewhat “discussed” with myself a lot too…. 🙂

    Now for some fun ya’ll – I think I found this on Zerohedge and I think they said it was from Saturday Night Live. Well its just plain funny
    so indulge in 2 1/2 mins of fun at the expense of the investment bankers (I started to write bakers but perhaps since their jargon is so full of hot air that might have worked too)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=_GS_pvhcI5c

  • John,

    “a flowering of genius that would probably morally justify humanity’s brief conscious existence,

    Who judges that and how ?

    “even in the absence of a god–and you can think that our collective purpose”

    Why do you feel we have a collective “purpose?” Who determines our purpose – or how is it determined???
    ——————-

    In general concerning this topic:

    Consciousness, hunter-gatherer, farming, industrialism, opposable thumbs, bipedalism etc . etc

    – none of it has to be “justified”

    – none of it is “good/bad/moral/amoral”

    Do we use the same criteria for other life forms – i.e. Is their a moral justification for the existance of frogs? For wasps that lay their eggs inside catapillars, so their offspring can eat the caterpillar alive?

    ———

    Like everyone here, I get very frustrated with our predicament. I also feel “Humans are destructive idiots” most of the time. But I know we are a product of nature, we belong here, and we are doing what comes naturally for us.

    We do not make history, history makes us. Afterwards we look back on events and make up a story that seems to make sense – that seems to explain what/how/why. And of course, we always “star” in that story, we are the center of the universe – so we convince ourselves “we made history”… and around and around we go, in a circle of illogical half-truths…

  • Kathy

    Excellent vid. Very funny….and very true. In the fine print of the contract investors make with folks like Goldman-Sachs there is a standard clause in the fine print that says quite explicitly, that if you hand your money over to us, it gives us permission to transfer your account over to our London office without your knowledge or consent, re-hypothecate the hell out of it, and if we lose, you lose all your money and you have no recourse in the courts.

    And their clients sign on the dotted line. Why? Because all the Goldman-Sachs of the world operate in the same way, and are therefore the only choice to invest with. The investors know this, know what Goldman and their ilk are doing to them, and yet also realise that they have no other choice but to play the game if they have any chance to get the returns their customers are seeking.

    What a sick and criminal world we live in.

  • Navid:
    Please allow for some sardonicism when I refer to morality in the absence of a god.

    NBL is full of moralists who don’t believe morality has any basis, purposeful livers who believe life has no purpose. I’m one of them, although I must confess a fascination for consciousness and for the writers I mentioned who attempted to study and define it. None of them confused it with opposable thumbs or agriculture or investment banking.

  • Navid, you hit the nail on the head. There is no bad/good/moral without a judger, so unless you believe in a god there is no judging. If you believe in a god that is responsible for this mess then we might well judge that god as very bad.

    Wrote a whole bunch more out of the pain I feel about what a crappy species we are but deleted it. No point.

  • Ok on further thought I will say this. We are conscious, highly intelligent (for earth at least) species, and self aware. If we also have free will then those other traits damn us, not justify us. If we don’t have free will, well those traits just are and damn us in the sense that we can see what we have done, the torturers know what pain they cause, the killers of babies know what pain their mothers and fathers feel, the rapers of the environment don’t want to live in the hell holes they create, and we all fear death which is inevitable. We are a either damned by the inability to do otherwise, or damned by the ability to destroy each other and our homes. A quadrillion conscious thoughts, a trillion books on philosophy, a trillion art works or concerts does not justify the rape of one little child sold into sex slavery – not one. Damn….

  • I just posted a guest essay. It’s here.

  • Kathy C, Navid,

    Conscious, intelligent, self aware, product of nature, center of the universe, destructive idiots——all good descriptors of Homo sapiens. What about selfless, heroic, empathetic? Don’t they apply as well? Kathy, what was your point referencing the movie “Grey Zone”?

    I am reminding you that even though most of the trends now for Homo sapiens look exactly like the population graphs for Robin’s yeast, we are not yeast. There is ample evidence that in exigencies people sometimes rise to the occasion, behaving selflessly and heroically. There is also ample evidence that many people care about our environment and the other beings that share the world with us.

    Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance—from Kubler-Ross. What is reaching acceptance when facing the challenges ahead? Is it rolling over and giving up or is it rolling up our shirtsleeves and getting to work? The easy answer is that the problems are too big and people are too shallow and no matter what we try to do, all is lost. That easy answer suggests that working for change is denial, a failure to believe what is really happening. Are all the activists around the world, desperately working together to wake people up, suffering from some collective denial? Or have they rather reached the stage of acceptance regarding what is happening and are putting aside their grief and rolling up their sleeves?

    Michael Irving

  • ‘We do not make history, history makes us. Afterwards we look back on events and make up a story that seems to make sense – that seems to explain what/how/why. And of course, we always “star” in that story, we are the center of the universe – so we convince ourselves “we made history”… and around and around we go, in a circle of illogical half-truths…’

    navid, thanks for this and your concise explanation of biological evolution. (sigh) too bad such rationality and comprehension are so rare among our ‘special’ species.

    ‘(of course flower sex draws in a third party)’

    kinky 3-way! lol ‘Now for some fun ya’ll’

    ‘Wrote a whole bunch more out of the pain I feel about what a crappy species we are but deleted it. No point.’

    kathy, i do this just about every evening. sigh.

  • Kathy,

    I share your disgust (I guess all of us here do).

    I think you nailed it with the idea that there is no god and consciousness is in a way a cruel trait – we get to be aware of what is happening and how cruel nature can be. All life experiences it – we are lucky enough” to get to ponder it 😉

    I try to remember that seemingly cruel and obscene things happen on a regular basis in nature – the lions, chimps etc that will kill an infant (and eat it) to make the mother go into heat, my cats playing with their victim for hours before killing and eating it, dolphins that stalk and kill porpoises for “sport”…

    I try to think of us humans as having Consciousness-version 1.0. Our attempts at ethics/morals have often been nothing more than another form of pack-animal behaviors. But… over the millenia we may develop morals that we can actually stick too.

    About Free-will –

    1) I think how much of it any of us has at any given moment varies greatly, but even at our strongest, we still really have very little control over ourselves (we are always under the influence of our hormones and subconscious reflexes etc).

    2) Deliberate practice at self-control can over time increase our “free will” score.

    3) the degree of Free Will we might have at any given moment is directly proportional to our physical health,- and – inversely proportional to the amount of mental stress we are under (whether due to “threats,” information overload, or pursuits of pleasure (“good” or “bad” stressors0).

    4) Consciousness (and therefore free will) is always one step behind the subconscious (quick brain vs slow brain) due to the wiring of our brain – our senses alert the “old brain” first, our conscious brain (“new”) is second in line for all information (and is also subject to the reflexive response already initiated by the subconscious “old brain”).

    I think Nate Hagens explains some of the details here”

    Fleeing Vesuvius: The psychological roots of resource overconsumption

    Humans have an innate need for status and for novelty in their lives…

    …When addressing ‘demand-side drivers’, we must begin at the source: the human brain…

    http://fleeingvesuvius.org/2011/05/10/the-psychological-roots-of-resource-overconsumption/

  • Thank you Terry.

    *Heavy Sigh* is right.

  • Thank you Terry.

    I join you and Kathy in recounting our crappiness ever night. *heavy sigh- and bitter smile (glad I have company0.

  • Michael, sorry I didn’t make my Grey Zone reference clear. The point is you try to do what you can, the thing that feels right to you and is perhaps in your power to do, it may in the end do some good or it may be a futile gesture, but there comes a point in time when you realize its over and what is left to do is connect to someone you care about.

    The right thing is often not clear and involves more than often moral choices. Is saving the little girl and putting your creamatoria blow up plans at risk, or should you start what the germans did (when unloading bodies from the gas chamber they found this one girl had survived) and go ahead and kill her so you can perhaps save more by depriving the germas of the means of disposing bodies? At the end should the two men jump up and try to kill the guard and take down one more german before their inevitable death. Plot spoiler – they save the little girl and take down two crematoria, but the Germans kill her in the end anyway.

    My point is that perhaps there is a point when the right thing is just to hold someone’s hand, connect with someone you care about.

    Personally I have seen too many people with causes make the cause so important that they run over their helpers, family, everyone for the “cause”. Yet the world keeps getting worse. I think it is time for holding the hand of a loved one, causes over, we did what we could. My husband and I both have a long history of being involved in trying to make the world a better place with only small or short term success. Now I think it is time to just be there for each other. Call that giving up, rolling over whatever.

  • Navid, yep plenty of cruelty in nature. Cats of course are domestic – I don’t know if wild animals play with prey – perhaps wild mother cats bring home partly disabled small prey for their young to practice hunting. If the neonteny arrested childhood theory of domestic animals is right that might explain domestic adult cats playing with mice. Some think humans are also domesticated and have their development arrested at a juvenile stage and that also might explain a lot. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neoteny

    But your cat, or the hawk that was eating one of chickens alive etc do not have the ability as far as we know of thinking about what that other creature is feeling. We do. And yet we seem to take such behavior to extremes that nature cannot begin to match. We design tortures that cause as much pain as we can without leaving marks and apply it over and over again. Of course some places they don’t care about leaving marks and have more options available. We threaten others with death. Since we may be the only creatures that understand death at a conscious level, to use such a threat to taunt or torture another must surely be unique. We use it on other humans, we understand that use threats on a dog we raise a hand or stick and they know they will get whacked, we don’t say “behave or I will take you to the pound to be put down”.

  • I think you nailed it with the idea that there is no god and consciousness is in a way a cruel trait – we get to be aware of what is happening and how cruel nature can be. All life experiences it – we are lucky enough” to get to ponder it

    Navid, you hit the nail on the head. There is no bad/good/moral without a judger, so unless you believe in a god there is no judging. If you believe in a god that is responsible for this mess then we might well judge that god as very bad.

    Excellent comments by Navid and Kathy. Bullshit, yes, but they zero in on an important issue. The very fact that we are discussing ‘morality’ is evidence that it is something each of us is concerned with, consciously or unconsciously. So we can’t have morality without a judge. And since there is no judge, then there must not be morality. That’s very interesting. On the one hand you rail about the evil in the world, man’s inhumanity to man, creatures’ cruelty to other creatures, the destruction of the planet by a rapacious, immoral, greedy creature and on the other hand you and Navid (and I presume most others on NBL) posit that there is no morality, no evil – it’s all simply natural behaviour on the part of evolutionary leaves – not bad, not good, no such thing as morals, no such thing as ethics.

    And yet you instinctively recognise the evil, the immorality of murder, and torture, and waste, and pollution, and a host of other ‘natural behaviours’ on the part of evolutionary leaves.

    Do you not recognise any inconsistency with what you say out of each side of your collective mouths?

    Kathy, you rightly go on about good and evil behaviour and the reality of the state of mankind frequently. And then remarkably you agree with Navid when he says “There is no bad/good/moral without a judger, so unless you believe in a god there is no judging.”. If I were you, I would be challenging quite strongly that assertion, especially given your statements on such behaviour as you have experienced them over the years.

    If you are now saying that there is no evil, no immorality, no good, no bad, because we are simple leaves on the evolutionary tree as Navid seems to believe, then what the fuck are you going on about, and why do you think it so evil to kill children, starve people, steal their resources, and all the other shit our species delivers to the world?

    And you, Navid, if you truly believe what you say, and yet near the end of all that make a statement like “But… over the millenia we may develop morals that we can actually stick too.”, then I have to believe that you really don’t believe what you are saying – the very fact that you recognise that morals exist and are something to be attained indicates quite strongly to me that you believe firmly in morals and the existence of ‘proper’ behaviour.

    I believe there is such a thing as evil. I believe there is a moral standard that all of us instinctively recognise and pursue or judge the actions of others by. I do not believe we are simple leaves of evolution just like every other leaf of evolution. I believe that there is a right and a wrong and that it is not always easy to distinguish between them. And if there is a right and a wrong, there exists the awareness of it. And if there is an awareness of it, there must exist the understanding that that concept arose in us and has a Source.

    So no, I refuse to join the love-in amongst us on how intelligent and progressive we all are here on NBL as against the rest of the world out there. And I also stand in defiance of this whole idea that we are nothing more or less than the rest of the animal kingdom as behaviour goes, as if that justifies the evil we as a race have brought upon this planet.

  • Kathy C,

    1. I was generalizing about the rolling over, not pointing the finger at you. I understand that you have done much good work over the long haul.

    2. I am a firm believer in incremental changes. If each of us does what we can then we may be able to make improvements. For example, and politics aside, I would submit that there has been a sea change in the position of black people in America when compared to the 1930s. I think the same applies to civil rights and acceptance of gay people; many people working, small changes, a lot of time.

    3. Yes I agree we should have started making big changes 30 years ago if we were to control climate change. We didn’t and it’s here. But there has been a change in the level of understanding of the nature of the problem. Most people are now conversant with the concept. The old people may be too locked in their comfort zone to make a change (perhaps it is time to send them out into the blizzard) and it will be the young who will force the changes. For them the future will be shit. But, if you take my meaning, perhaps it will be horseshit and not catshit.

    4. My reference to “Grey Zone” was rhetorical.

    5. Even old people like you and me get tired of being beaten up and need to take a rest from time to time. I was not suggesting that you had not done your part at trying to make the world a better place. You may not see it, but the work you’ve done has been part of what really could be called ‘Change we can believe in.’

    Michael Irving

  • Kathy,

    So, what you are saying is that the industrial peoples are the Adult-Sized Children of the world (Homo sapiens neoteous ???). And the earth is our sand-box… too bad there are so few “Adults” left…

    Yes, it seems Domestication altered the cat’s normal behavior: apparently “cruel” mouse-play is the way they cope to satisfy their natural urges.

    And, yes, it appears humans were also domesticated by the dogs, cattle, etc – it altered our behavior dramatically. Maybe that explains some of our cruelty – our “cruel” behaviors are adaptations (perversions?) of our natural instincts. And the perversions got worse as we moved from the woods and plains into the concrete jungles of today.

    For example: Today’s TBTF Bankers, like cats, play with their victims for extended periods of time before they kill them. 😉

  • Navid

    For example: Today’s TBTF Bankers, like cats, play with their victims for extended periods of time before they kill them.

    Now you are speaking profound sense…. 🙂

    So Michael Irving

    I am an oldster….is it now my time?

  • Victor:

    Morals are guides for behavior. WE make them up. We are “the judge.” And different populations of humans have different “morals.”

    I do hope that our “codes of behavior” will be refined towards less cruelty over the millenia – but that is just my hope – it is not necessarily what will happen.

    Our descendants, assuming we have some, might have morals that more closely resemble those of Genghis Khan… or not.

    “Evil” does not exist. It is an opinion, a judgment made by the observer. That is all, nothing else.

  • Navid

    If what you have to say about evolution and the lack of evil in the world is true, then we have no need for morals, or ‘codes of behaviour’. We should do what comes natural to us – kill and maim and destroy for territory and short-term interests. Not only among nations, but within towns and cities across the globe. Survival of the fittest. The strong will overpower the wek – it is natural and the only real code of behaviour that counts. To paraphrase Mao, ‘Survival comes through the barrel of a gun. Nothing personal. Kill or be killed. You are either humter or prey. It’s simple. Absolutely no morals needed.

    Of course that would mean a huge population drop, but that’s really what we need anyway.

    And as only the most powerful would survive (if ANY were to survive), then the process is well-served. That is all. Nothing else.

  • My latest conversation with Sherry Ackerman was published today at Transition Voice. It’s here.

  • Victor,

    You will note that I did not say oldsters should take a rest (as in die). I said instead they get tired sometimes and should take a rest “from time to time” in response to being beaten up over a long period. I’m convinced that some of the boundless energy of youth is available simply because of hormones and is just an overflow of sexual energy. We oldsters keep telling them they should get out of the sack and do something with their life. If it weren’t for us oldsters nagging, the youth would spend ALL of their time being fruitful and multiplying. When have you really heard of a young person doing anything important, outside of mathematics, or physics, or literature, or art, or political activism, or … But I digress. Harnessing our personal resources is important and one of those resources is our energy which, when depleted, needs to be replenished with a modicum of rest. So, yes, it may be your time to take a break, although you seem to me to be in great form and, as we say, running on all cylinders.

    Michael Irving

  • Victor,

    “If what you have to say about evolution and the lack of evil in the world is true, then we have no need for morals, or ‘codes of behaviour’.”

    I do not know what you mean exactly by having “no need” for morals or codes of behavior.

    There is not need to assume “kill, maim, destroy for short-term interests”. That is not always the way through the “eye of the keyhole” in evolution.

    The aggresive approach sometimes culls the aggressive, leaving the Meek to inherit the (earth)territory.

    My favorite example: Red Claw crayfish from Australia.

    They are aquaculture favorites over two other species of Australian Giant Crayfish. They are favored because they are relatively docile – they will tolerate living in high densities, the other species fight and kill each other.

    The Red Claw live in an arid environment… which caused a great deal of competition during the dry season… and the aggressive members killed each other off.

    The “meek” – those that could tolerate close quarters – survived.

  • Victor,

    ” Morals” – the “new brain” trying to make rules of behavior.

    Instincts – old brain behaviors that remain – behaviors and drives that helped our ancestors survive and reproduce.

    Morals are the attempt to control our drives.

    Each population develops its own “morals” or codes of behavior in any given environment.

  • Victor, Dilworth says morals are behavior that benefits the group (tribe) and species at the expense of their own genetic fitness. He says individuals do this because individuals and their offspring or kin cannot survive without the species. Such moral behavior might be spacing children, infanticide, or risking your life in warfare.

    Not many in our society of course would call infanticide moral.

    The problem as you note in talking about morals is that we have programs for morals such as Dilworth notes and it is hard for us to talk without such words as evil creeping in. Same kind of hard as talking about evolution without words of intentionality creeping in.

    If someone says that consciousness or art justifies our existence I can say our existence is neither just or unjust it just is. But that doesn’t carry any impact. The reason we can conceive of evil is because we have evolved to be able to mirror and feel the emotions of others. Mirror neurons might do that job for us. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirror_neuron When a hawk downed and started eating on one of our chickens I could imagine what it would feel like to be eaten alive. I don’t think the hawk is evil because he cannot know what the chicken feels. On the other hand I can imagine what a young child feels like to be violated painfully both physically and emotionally by an adult. I can put myself in another’s place. It is evil in the sense that the perpetrator could also imagine what the child feels but goes ahead anyway. I would like him to feel it is evil so he won’t do it. The courts say it is evil and should be punished (sometimes), the church says it is evil and should be covered up. But when we have a rooster try to mate a dying hen laying out on the ground we are angry, but is it evil. Evil is a construct of our human minds and when we are extinct evil will cease to exist.

    Have I made the case for extinction of the human race? We created evil, when we are gone evil will be gone.

  • In Blindsight, Peter Watts makes the case that the elite of the world might be by selective breeding, becoming less conscious (in the sense of self aware) while still highly intelligent. Since this is a novel I don’t know if he holds the view himself or not. Since it is available on line http://www.rifters.com/real/Blindsight.htm I may try find that section to post. If humans lost self awareness are they capable of evil?

  • From Blindsight –
    So sentience has gotta be good for something, then. Because it’s expensive, and if it sucks up energy without doing anything useful then evolution’s gonna weed it out just like that.”
    “Maybe it did.” He paused long enough to chew food or suck smoke. “Chimpanzees are smarter than Orangutans, did you know that? Higher encephalisation quotient. Yet they can’t always recognize themselves in a mirror. Orangs can.”
    “So what’s your point? Smarter animal, less self-awareness? Chimpanzees are becoming nonsentient?”
    “Or they were, before we stopped everything in its tracks.”
    “So why didn’t that happen to us?”
    “What makes you think it didn’t?”
    It was such an obviously stupid question that Sascha didn’t have an answer for it. I could imagine her gaping in the silence.
    “You’re not thinking this through,” Cunningham said. “We’re not talking about some kind of zombie lurching around with its arms stretched out, spouting mathematical theorems. A smart automaton would blend in. It would observe those around it, mimic their behavior, act just like everyone else. All the while completely unaware of what it was doing. Unaware even of its own existence.”
    “Why would it bother? What would motivate it?”
    “As long as you pull your hand away from an open flame, who cares whether you do it because it hurts or because some feedback algorithm says withdraw if heat flux exceeds critical T? Natural selection doesn’t care about motives. If impersonating something increases fitness, then nature will select good impersonators over bad ones. Keep it up long enough and no conscious being would be able to pick your zombie out of a crowd.” Another silence; I could hear him chewing through it. “It’ll even be able to participate in a conversation like this one. It could write letters home, impersonate real human feelings, without having the slightest awareness of its own existence.”
    “I dunno, Rob. It just seems—”
    “Oh, it might not be perfect. It might be a bit redundant, or resort to the occasional expository infodump. But even real people do that, don’t they?”
    “And eventually, there aren’t any real people left. Just robots pretending to give a shit.”
    “Perhaps. Depends on the population dynamics, among other things. But I’d guess that at least one thing an automaton lacks is empathy; if you can’t feel, you can’t really relate to something that does, even if you act as though you do. Which makes it interesting to note how many sociopaths show up in the world’s upper echelons, hmm? How ruthlessness and bottom-line self-interest are so lauded up in the stratosphere, while anyone showing those traits at ground level gets carted off into detention with the Realists. Almost as if society itself is being reshaped from the inside out.”
    “Oh, come on. Society was always pretty— wait, you’re saying the world’s corporate elite are nonsentient?”
    “God, no. Not nearly. Maybe they’re just starting down that road. Like chimpanzees.”
    “Yeah, but sociopaths don’t blend in well.”
    “Maybe the ones that get diagnosed don’t, but by definition they’re the bottom of the class. The others are too smart to get caught, and real automatons would do even better. Besides, when you get powerful enough, you don’t need to act like other people. Other people start acting like you.”

  • Navid, thank you so much for the Red Claw Crawfish info!!!!

    Another thing I have noted, many will tell you that passing on your genes to the greatest number of offspring is winning – so the poor of the world are winning. Not only do they have the greatest numbers but they do so in the most dire of circumstances, often living on $2 a day or less. How many kids could any of us raise to adulthood in a cardboard shack?

  • Navid,

    Your response to Victor sounds as if it was ripped from a Wall Street banker’s self-help manual. Such a text might include the following:

    “Remember, there are no rules, power is the only currency that counts.” “It does not matter who is hurt by your actions, it is the ends that justify the means.” “Demonstrate your strength through ruthless action.” “ Be willing to take every play to the brink.” “Never show mercy, it is a sign of weakness.” “In the end you are the only important person in the universe.”

    Evil does exist in the world. To say that it is only an opinion trivializes the entirety of human existence. I understand what you are saying but I am submitting that you are wrong.

    You might argue that the Aztecs (for example) believed it was not evil to practice human sacrifice, but we hold that to be wrong today. Therefore, you might argue, whether or not human sacrifice is evil depends only on the cultural norms of a particular civilization; it’s just a matter of opinion whether or not a practice is considered evil. In response I would ask you to consider the opinion of the sacrificed or their parents. You will have trouble convincing me that very many went to their deaths with a smile on their lips or that their parents would not grieve for their loss.

    Your statement, “And of course, we always “star” in that story, we are the center of the universe” applies to the powerful people who are making the rules. The rules, like the divine right of kings, are always considered moral by the rule-makers, but the common, oppressed people know the truth of the matter.

    Consider an example from today’s newspaper, Obama’s drone war. Obama, a Christian, presumably a “moral” person, under orders from his deity (Thou shalt not kill), has still managed to screw his brain into such a knot that he finds it acceptable and right (moral) to assassinate people without due process. That twisted moral judgment also makes “collateral damage” (read dead women, children, old men) acceptable and moral in that it just falls into the category of “Oops we didn’t mean for that to happen.” There is evil in the world and just having the powerful change the rules from time to time does not change that.

    Michael Irving

  • Evil is a construct of our human minds and when we are extinct evil will cease to exist.

    Yes, Kathy, I think you are right. Humans are unique among all creatures both to understand the concept of evil, to be able to recognise its reality in the world (with the possible exception of some) and to propagate it. When we are gone, evil will be gone. You simply can’t say that about any other creature.

    And I would add that I believe that we are also the only creature to recognise the concept of ‘good’ and to propagate it. And when we are gone, ‘goodness’ will be gone as well.

    And the flora and fauna of the world will continue as it always has – surviving. And never giving ‘good’ or ‘evil’ even a passing thought… 😉

    And then perhaps the salmon will return….

  • There is evil in the world and just having the powerful change the rules from time to time does not change that.

    So true. Indeed, perhaps changing the rules depending upon circumstances is one of those short-term strategies ensuring the powerful remain on top of the heap and perpetuate the evil they propagate. As long as we accept the principle that ‘evil’ is in the eye of the beholder, we will be subject to those who change the rules to suit themselves.

    One might even be able to make the case that a psychopath lacks the capacity of seeing evil and might well not even know he is doing it. How many times have you seen a banker interviewed who professes that there might be some chance that he has done evil to others? I have never heard one say that. They are nearly always shocked that anyone should even suggest such a thing. They are convinced that they do only good and that their fraudulent acts are the foundation of a properly functioning society, even when they are destroying it.

  • Kathy –

    You are very welcome for the Red Claw stuff.

    And thank you for alerting me to “Blind Sight.”

    I have been dying for another good fictional story.

    I really strongly recommend Paolo Bacigalupi’s short fictional stories about our future. For free samples of a couple stories see half-way down the page @ http://windupstories.com/pumpsix/

    – The Fluted Girl – What would you do to another person in order to impress your friends and be famous?
    – The People of Sand and Slag – What if every problem really has a technological solution? (“A DOG !?!?! … but I thought they died out with the dinosaurs”)
    – The Calorie Man – Giant Ag Companies rule the entire world(no nations left 😉
    – Pump Six – like “Idiocracy,” only dimwits are left (until the machines stop running …)

    —-

    I like your thinking – and thanks for the info from Dilworth, very interesting .

    I agree about our vocabulary and these kinds of topics. It is like when I say, “Collapse” => wow, what a loaded word !!! No one I talk to understands it in an academic sense, they only know it from “movies” so they of course assume I am a crazy person 😉

    Re. The poor passing on genes and “winning” – that is a very interesting point… this might be like a “Red Claw” example where it is counter-intuitive. One possibility: the poor have the most kids, but they also end up dying in the greatest numbers – and one or more groups of “selective” breeders among us “win.”

    Like maybe a few small bands of “selective” hunter-gatherer breeders in an area remote enough not to go down with the rest of us (a human ‘red claw’ tribe? 😉

  • Michael,

    I am just saying “morals” are our opinions. Some people -like wall street bankers – actually do choose the code you describe. We will see how that works out for them…

    Assuming “evil” does not exist, and that it is only in the eye of the beholder, is not trivializing it. It is recognizing reality. Evil is a term we use when something is so horrific we feel the need to condemn it as strongly as possible.

    – “we always “star” in that story”, we are the center of the universe” applies to the powerful people who are making the rules… ”

    That is mostly true. Like the old saying, “history is written by the victors.” But like you said, the common people know the difference (well, not necessarily, now they are mostly confused and distracted).

    I think Obama is the equivalent of a Zombie – as are 99.999% of the people around me.

    -“Consider an example from today’s newspaper, Obama’s drone war. Obama, a Christian, presumably a “moral” person, under orders from his deity…”

    I suppose Obama is a “moral” person in the eyes of others who hold the same beliefs has he does (and who look the other way when it is convenient for them…).

    I personally think Obama is a sociopath. I don’t think he is evil, he is just another animal – albeit a very dangerous one.

  • Re. “Zombie” – noun – people who act without thinking about the consequences of their behavior, and who are in general unaware of what is happening in the world (except for their favorite reality TV show, or celebrity droolin/bedwetting contests, or other misc. trivia the MSM and Dear Leaders provide).

  • Navid thanks for the heads up on the stories, I am also always on the look out for fiction that challenges thought while entertaining. Blindsight is my all time favorite – I read it first about 4 years ago and I have read it 5 or 6 times since. I never do that. There is a Vampire in the book – amazingly he makes it work to further the story and the questions about consciousness that he raises.

    Victor “And I would add that I believe that we are also the only creature to recognise the concept of ‘good’ and to propagate it. And when we are gone, ‘goodness’ will be gone as well.” Yes that is true. If you want an exposition on why the lack of good by non-existence is less harm than the coming into existence where harm is inevitable you might find “Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming into Existence” by David Benatar to be of interest. https://www.amazon.com/Better-Never-Have-Been-Existence/dp/0199296421 I don’t follow every argument he makes because I am not a professional philosopher but I am of the opinion that he makes a good case for not coming into being. He does not feel his case applies to those already existent, unless their existence is extremely bad for them. In other words he is not making the case for suicide but rather for not procreating.

  • “Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming into Existence”

    Which ending did you favor for the movie “The Butterfly Effect” ???
    ———–

    The actions he takes, and those he enables others to take during his blackouts, change the timeline in the new future where he awakes. As he continues to do this he realizes that even though his intentions are good his actions have unforeseen consequences…

    There also is a third alternate ending (listed as the director’s cut on the DVD release) where Evan watches his own birth video when he is in the clinic, which makes him travel back in time to the moment of his birth when he was in his mother’s womb. Evan decides to kill himself and thus he was never born…

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Butterfly_Effect#Plot

  • I got off the doom train when I realized it was just another meta-Christian narrative, complete with Eden and The Rapture & The Apocalypse, Chosen People, and the Regaining of Heaven.

    Guy’s “look, lots of socioeconomic people, not only privileged white exprofessors like me, can go back to the land!” reminds me of white guys who say “how can there be racism anymore in America when we have a black president!”

  • Navid, never saw The Butterfly Effect, will have to check it out.

  • Court Merrigan,

    What an interesting assessment. Throwing unsupported verbal bombs is always fun and self-congratulation gives me such a warm fuzzy feeling. How’s it working for you?

    Michael Irving

  • Michael – Ditto

  • Speaking of Apocalypse, how about ‘genopocalypse’?

    http://www.naturalnews.com/035965_epigenetics_inheritance_synthetic_chemicals.html

    Quote:

    Groundbreaking new science reveals that the harmful effects of exposure to synthetic chemicals are passed from generation to generation via “epigenetics,” causing measurable damage to future generations even if those offspring are never exposed to the original chemical. The phenomenon of “Epigenetic Transgenerational Inheritance” (ETI) has now been demonstrated in live animals, and if the implications of this research are fully understood, it would force human civilization to radically rethink its widespread use of synthetic chemicals in agriculture, medicine, food, construction materials, personal care products and elsewhere.

    Another quote:

    The study, which was funded by a sub-group of the National Institutes of Health, found that exposure to a common fungicide caused neurological and behavioral changes that were passed on to future generations of offspring, even when those offspring had no exposure to the original fungicide. Furthermore, the mechanism of “transgenerational inheritance” was epigenetic, meaning it was “above the genes.” It was not coded into the DNA of sperm and egg, in other words. Instead, the expression of the DNA was altered and inherited through some mechanism other than DNA.

  • We have a black president?

  • Brain Games

    “… how our brains create the illusion of a seamless reality…

    … through our memory, through our sensory perception, and in how we focus our attention.

    http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/channel/brain-games/